Keep Your Marriage Alive While Caring for a Newborn
- Thursday, September 22, 2005
The first six weeks after a baby is born can be one of the most stressful times a married couple experiences. If you have a newborn or expect one to arrive soon, your son or daughter’s constant demands can drive a wedge between you and your spouse. But it doesn’t have to work out that way. When you stay focused on your marriage’s needs during this challenging time, it can also be an exciting time that results in a stronger relationship between you.
Here’s how you can keep your marriage alive while caring for a newborn:
Don’t compare yourself to other parents. Realize that every newborn – and every marriage – is unique. Don’t feel bad if strategies that work for other parents don’t work for you. Seek solutions for your individual family.
See this as a valuable time of learning. Understand that the changes you’ll have to make with a newborn can help you and your spouse both develop stronger relationship skills. Make it your goal to emerge from this time with a more mature marriage. Assure your spouse that you still care for him or her, even when you may be too busy to show it in the same ways you previously did. View this time as an adventurous journey you’re taking together.
Remind yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around your baby. Realize that, as important as your newborn is, you shouldn’t let baby care completely consume your life. Let family and friends know specific ways they can help (such as be preparing meals that can be frozen for when you need them), and accept that help to keep your life in balance.
Confront unrealistic expectations. Talk about you and your spouse’s expectations for parenthood together. Discuss whether or not you think they’re realistic. Get advice from family or friends who have older kids. Then agree on a list of tasks that you both consider important, and a separate list of tasks that aren’t as important and can be dropped as necessary.
Break down large tasks into small projects. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by a seemingly endless stream of responsibilities. Instead, plan to complete small projects (such as bathing your newborn) as you can, and congratulate each other on your achievements as you go. Remember that all care you give your child is significant in God’s eyes.
Manage your money well. Work out a budget before your child is born to take your lifestyle changes into account. Pray about it and think about it. Ask other couples how they prepared themselves financially to have children, and use some of their ideas that fit well for your own family. Realize that not everything for the baby has to be new. While it’s a good idea to purchase a new car seat and crib for safety reasons, you can find many great deals on other baby supplies at consignment sales or through hand-me-downs from family and friends. Talk to grandparents and others who plan to buy gifts for your baby about what you need.
Recognize the power of words. Don’t allow your stress to cause you to speak negative words to your spouse. Realize that negative words will hurt your spouse and your marriage, while positive words will strengthen your bond as they bring hope, encouragement, refreshment, and healing. Affirm and encourage your spouse verbally as often as you can. Ask yourself how you can alleviate your spouse’s anxieties and bless him or her with your words. Then do so!
Help each other get the sleep and space you each need. Work out a fair schedule that allows you to swap baby care responsibilities with your spouse to give each other the breaks you both need for sleep and time out of the house. Take into account which times of the day and night you each function best, and try switching roles on the weekends. Make sure that you do everything practically to relieve each other in a genuine partnership, so the responsibilities don’t fall too hard on just one of you. Work to reach compromises so that no situation ever becomes desperate for either one of you.
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