Close to home ~ How to Avoid Relationship Overwhelm After the Arrival of your Baby
In my neighbourhood lives a young couple who have recently welcomed their first child. The other day I was talking to them and their story struck a chord with me. It isn’t an uncommon scenario.
Before the baby, Mum was the major bread winner, with a job that paid well. Dad’s income was considerably lower but they were comfortable and happy. They’ve been together for almost four years now and so far it all worked out fine.
Since their beautiful and much-loved baby was born, their situation has changed quite dramatically. They hadn’t planned their finances and were struggling to make ends meet on just one income. After many discussions, they agreed that she would return to work part-time as they both believed this arrangement would provide a decent work/life balance.
The plan worked on paper, but in real-life, their story was much different.
Mum and Dad are both stressed out. The baby is not sleeping through and they are all exhausted. His job is interesting but does not pay enough to support everyone long-term. Her job is fulfilling, but because of the expenses of child care, there is not much to show for it at the end of the day. They are also still trying to find their way around their new roles as parents. Needless to say, their loving relationship has taken a back seat and is no longer the focus for either of them.
It’s a recipe for disaster.
Tried, stressed, busy with the baby, financial worry and the realisation that parenting is not always easy – this young couple are just barely making it through each day, let alone enjoying their journey together. They would like more quality time, more moments to share, and more energy for sex as well.
My hope for them is that in time, they will be able to step back from the chaos a little, just enough to re-assess the situation in new light.
Are you a new parent in the midst of your new, crazy-busy life? Are you concerned that there is no time left at the end of the day to really connect with your partner? What could you take away from this story?
A new born baby can be disruptive to your sleep, to your intimacy, to your finances and to your freedom. Be aware and discuss this openly with your partner. There are no wrong answers here and worrying about the lifestyle changes you are making in no way indicates you love your baby any less than you do. It is a natural transition, and it can be scary, so sharing your insights together will at the very least allow you both to acknowledge each other’s feelings and handle the challenge together.
Children are very resilient. You need to make sure that you are happy first. I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy about putting on your own oxygen mask first in the case of an emergency before tending to others. It rings true here. If you are not happy with your situation, talk to your partner about it and discuss it together. Perhaps introduce some Me-Time each week where you take turns taking the baby for a walk so the other can enjoy a hot cup of tea or a long shower. Get in to bed early together. Enlist the help of a parent or trusted friend to help around the house or to take care of the baby while you both share a meal. Outsource tasks if you can so that you can focus on yourself and each other.
Plan your finances ahead of time with your partner. Revisit your budget and financial plan regularly so that there are no shocks and that you are not left feeling like you are ‘working for nothing’.
Lack of sleep, lack of money and increasing stress can inhibit your ability for good decision making. Discuss any matters that require action together with your partner in a calm and respectful manner and take your time.
If you want to engage the help of your parents on a regular basis, talk it through with your partner. You need to set boundaries of what you both want for yourself, for your relationship and for your baby.
It may be easier said than done but try not to put unnecessary pressure on yourself or your partner. You are in this together, and you are doing the best job you can for your baby. Be kind to yourself.
I help couples who have hit a rough patch in their lives to get back on track without them needing to ‘air dirty laundry’. If you’d like to learn more, you might want to register for my next webinar, which are free, fun and completely anonymous. www.inspiring-relationships.com.au/webinar