It is very common for couples to argue more after the arrival of a new baby. Research shows that first-time parents argue on average 40% more after their child is born. It’s no surprise, you’re under more pressure, have less free time and are getting less sleep than usual.
So what can you do about it?
Below are some tips of what you can do about this to ensure your relationship stays strong during this massive change in your family.
1. Recognize that this is hard for both of you:
“It’s human nature to feel resentful or play the ‘who has it worse game,” but try and remember that each of you is dealing with a major identity shift. Your experiences may look different and still be equally intense.
I have to be honest and say that I was very guilty of this “who has it worse game”, when our daughter was first born. Unfortunately our daughter has never been a good sleeper and when you are always tired, it’s easy to play the victim role.
My hubby found it very challenging as well and the way he put it was “it was like losing your best friend overnight”.
We have gone from spending all the time in the world together, to no time together at all.
Once you communicate with your partner and understand that there is no “I have it worse”, then it’s much easier to communicate and adjust to the new environment.
2. Set aside time to work through difficulties:
When you are exhausted it can be so easy to complain about what your partner is or isn’t doing. By setting aside time to talk about it to your partner things may have calmed down and then you will both be more open to talking about things instead of just complaining.
It’s amazing how many problems “solve themselves” simply by setting time aside to talk about what is bothering you.
3. Communicate effectively:
When you are angry and frustrated it can be hard to talk to your partner without offending him.
Try to be as specific as possible, i.e. instead of saying “You don’t help” say “I feel tired, can you bath the baby tonight”?
Of course we expect our partners to “know” what is bothering us and that they should take the lead and offer to bath the baby, we shouldn’t have to spell it out right?
Remember though, we are all fighting our own battles. Although it would be nice for our partner to know what we need, don’t let this affect your relationship.
4. Schedule in time to spend together:
As you adjust to life with a new baby and become more confident you may be tempted to leave the baby with a family member or a friend. At first it may be only a few hours to go for a drink or a movie or just to relax. Quality time should never be underestimated in any relationship.
Although it would be nice to be spontaneous when spending time together, having a baby can really change the entire dynamic. It doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous, it just means you need to find new ways to be spontaneous.
We do not have the luxury of having grandparents or any family members to help out so instead our “date night” is when our daughter is in daycare.
What is your ideal “date night” given the new circumstances?
5. Understand that this time will pass:
When we get caught up in the moment we can forget that this is just a phase and feel like it will never end. Babies don’t stay tiny forever and toddlers will grow out of their tantrums.
Your relationship with your partner may require a lot more conscious effort so you need to decide and plan ahead.
When you have a sleepless night, or your baby is teething or your toddler is throwing tantrums, remember the phrase “This too shall pass”!