You don't need anyone to tell you that being a mother is a challenge. Of course, it's one of the most rewarding things you will ever do in your life. The amount of love you will feel for your child is unlike anything else in the world. You look at them with awe, no matter how good or bad they've been! The problem when you have a baby is that it's almost impossible to look at your partner in the same way.
They may be super dad or supermom, but your life is thrown into complete disarray when that first child makes their appearance in the world. We all know the impact a baby has on our priorities, but we look at life in terms of life admin, as opposed to personal happiness. In many ways, it's survival of the most organized. This means that your partner is way down the pecking order of priorities. The reasons for not spending as much quality time with your partner, especially during the first two years of your baby's life are ones we’ve all heard before: there are more important things to do, we can't get a babysitter, or we're just too tired! But let's get this sorted- here are some reasons that lack of time together can impact your relationship, as well as some suggestions to fit it in around your busy lifestyle.
You Don't Get The Help You Need
We always feel that we're not getting as much support as we deserve when we are in the midst of looking after our baby. This is true for both partners. It's not a one-sided feeling. Whether it's support to do the household chores or emotional support, we always could do with a little more. Is it because your partner is just not doing enough, or is it because you're not communicating your feelings properly?
Communication is something that can be done a little bit more in any relationship. And communication is one of the main reasons that we have issues with the other person. We don't vent our feelings enough, or they don't, or we just don't discuss them at all. If you feel you're not getting the help you need, voice your opinions.
The big problem that occurs when people voice their opinions is that they do it in such a manner that the other person feels they are being reprimanded for not doing enough. This is where arguments start. And you're not in a position to argue, not while you've got something more important than the two of you to look after. Throw into the mix a lack of sleep or a myriad of life problems, be it work or outside pressures like money, and you've got a melting pot of trouble.
Your Life Settles Into A Permanent Routine (That's Not About You And Your Partner Anymore)
This is especially true during the first few months of a child's life. While it is survival of the fittest at the very outset, you end up settling into a routine that appears to suit everyone, at least at the very beginning! If you make concessions for the sake of the baby, such as cuddling them to sleep every night, and either you or your partner sleeping on the couch so the other can get a good night's sleep, these little sacrifices can build into a routine that takes over your entire life. It's at this point that you find that you've been sleeping in separate beds on and off for 6 months, and you haven't had a good amount of time with your partner at all! What makes it worse is when you hear other parents talking about how their baby sleeps through the night, and they always did! Yes, this may be true for them, have they made concessions in other ways?
Don't compare yourself to other couples, this is dangerous. Instead, if you found yourself in a routine where you know it's affecting your relationships, it's time to make some positive changes. If you both realize you've hit a lull, then this is where you can both start to plan ahead. This is where careful scheduling comes into play. Once you have discussed the issues of your child sleeping patterns, feeding patterns, etc., and things have evened out, you need to start planning an event you can both look forward to.
In fact, this is something you should actively look to do because it forces you out of the house. Get those concert tickets you've been mulling over, go for a drink with friends, and it's these little nuggets of socializing that will let you decompress. You might not realize how wound up from the stress you were. And yes, you may feel tired, but getting out is good for your temperament. We feel so upset the night we give our baby over to the grandparents or the babysitter, but millions of others before you have done it and have felt the same feelings. By all means, check in and see if they're okay, but you're out to enjoy yourself.
You Resent Each Other
This is dangerous territory. It can get to the point where you both feel you don't have your needs fulfilled, and you end up resenting each other for the smallest of reasons. This is belying of a lack of communication between the two of you, and resentment can ride high for months, or even years after the baby is born. It's very difficult if you've already got to this point because you will struggle to undo this resentment.
If you do resent each other, it might be for a very small reason. This means you've got to talk more. And in talking more, you might just realize you're on the same page. The resentment could be due to something completely trivial, at least in the grand scheme of things. The big one is always sex: there's no time for it, you don't have the energy, and the reasons go on and on… But it could very well be that you haven't spent time as a couple in order to feel in the mood.
How do you rectify this? You spend that time together! You've got a beautiful baby together, as you've created something that's more important than the two of you. Yes, this means that you will spend more time looking after them than anything else in your life, but it should make you realize the happiness you can feel. And this should extend to you two as a couple. Leave resentment for something that's actually worth a damn!
You Haven't Got The Money
A very common problem now… Some parents can't get paternity or maternity leave, and so they are forced to save up their finances so they can provide the basics for their baby. Not having the money to go out is not the end of the world, especially when spending more time with your partner is concerned. The solution is very simple, you've got grandparents and friends eager to spend more time with your beautiful child, so make some time in the calendar for you and your partner to have a meal together, sit down and relax, or even watch a movie at home! It doesn't have to be about the event you've picked, it's more the fact that you spent time together that will help.
You don't need money to spend time with each other. Of course, that first time you go out as a couple, whether it's for that meal, or to a concert, you will be checking your phone constantly. This is normal. But if money is so tight, that doesn't mean you can't do something worthwhile. And, as time goes on, you can save up money for a big event, or you can put it towards something you have both really wanted to do as a couple. There have been times in the past you’ve had no money, and what did you do then? You had a meal together that one of you cooked, but the point is you need to actively make this happen. It's a cliche, but you need to work at a relationship, and this is doubly so when a baby is added to the equation. You've now got to share your life with another being, and this can play havoc with your life at the very start.
But if you focus on two different things, your baby, and your partner, and your significant other does exactly the same, you are all looking after each other equally. It's not just about looking after your baby, it’s about looking after your partner too. You need to spend more time with each other, and not just in the superficial sense such as being sat next to each other, but this does help because we've all seen those parents who don't even sit next to each other, because of external reasons. If you can dedicate yourself at the very beginning of your baby's life to actively making time for each other, no matter how little it is, you will both feel the benefits. And remember, your child will feel the benefit too! We all tend to forget that our babies can pick up on bad feelings, and you don't want to push these anxious feelings and thoughts onto your child, but it happens. If you don't even do it for yourselves, at least do it for your child!
Talk to me in the comments, please:
What do you and your spouse do to ensure you get quality time together as a couple?