Like there are things people don’t tell you about marriage after a wedding, they also don’t tell you about the relationship problems after having a baby, that couples inevitably face.
Can having a baby ruin your relationship? We might sound terrible but the fact is it could if you are not paying attention to the relationship and feeling too bogged down by nappy changing routines.
On a sunny Friday morning last winter, my best friend and her husband brought home a tiny bundle of joy and soon their social media profiles were flooded with people congratulating them on the blissful beginning of parenthood. As a couple, they have always been really active in the virtual world with frequent check-ins to the hippest restaurants in town, vacations in Dubai and the Maldives, gorgeous display pictures from those locations and romantic updates for each other.
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It’s only been 5 months as new parents and their availability on social media has dropped considerably. When I met them a few weeks back, I asked my friend how she is enjoying this new phase of life. “I’m very happy, but massively stressed. I feel like I haven’t been able to sleep for ages or take a bath in peace, but most of all I think I’m starting to hate Hiten (her husband),” she replied.
Even though she sounded pissed with her husband and noticeably strained with the new load of responsibilities, I knew for a fact that what she was experiencing happens to every couple after having a baby.
Why Do Relationships Fail After Having A Baby?
No matter how head-over-heels in love a couple is, when a baby comes into the picture, inevitably their relationship goes for a toss.
A leap from two to three, going through the magic of creating a life together is exciting and all sorts of wonderful, but it also means the new parent has to go through a relationship breakdown. It’s definitely worrisome, but every couple goes through this, and the reasons are mostly non-exclusive.
When a baby comes to your life, along with the euphoria you feel, you also feel a storm has hit you and you don’t have a moment to yourself. That’s when relationships start going downhill. It is said that having a baby could be a solution to a strained relationship. But it could be the other way round. Can having a baby ruin your relationship? Yes it can and we tell you why you have relationship problems after having a baby.
- Instead of focusing on romance, couples strive hard to become efficient. This means they focus on being the best provider and nurturer for the child, instead of being partners
- Maintaining a marriage needs time and energy, exactly the two things every new parent has the most shortage of
- Sleep deprivation, raging financial pressure, crazy hormones, no quality time together and no time for sex – all lead to the relationship breakdown
- Post-baby, the change in the dynamic of a couple’s relationship is unavoidable. It’s obvious – so far it’s just been about the two of you, but now you have this cute, tiny, fragile, adorable baby who needs all of your attention
- It’s a beautiful experience watching the baby grow, but this also changes the way your partnership worked before
- The craving for normalcy could lead to major mood swings
- Also if both partners are no involved in nurturing then resentment grows
But you must remember, not every change is a bad thing. All you need is to give it the time to sink in. So instead of thinking of killing each other, you and your spouse need to address the most critical problems couples face in their life after a baby and program yourselves to focus on the solutions.
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10 Relationship Problems After Having A Baby With Solutions
According to the Gottman Relationship Institute in Seattle, about two thirds of couples become dissatisfied with their relationship within three years of becoming parents and the relationship problems after having a baby take off.
No wonder the new challenges pose as a divide between you and your spouse, but there are ways you can most definitely rekindle your relationship despite all the life changes coming your way, with these solutions.
Problem 1: Decreasing spontaneity after a baby
Before the baby arrived, as a couple you used to love hitting the shopping mall during weekends, going for late night drives or having a Sunday brunch. You probably used to get some quality ‘me time’, too, when you and your spouse did your own things that made you happy as individuals.
But now that the baby is here, you don’t get any free days. Your freedom becomes scarce. As a result you tend to get involved in frequent fights. Do couples fight more after a baby? Of course, they do and they have reasons to.
Solution: Take help
Speak up when you need a break. Ask your spouse to take care of the baby for an hour or two for you to have some ‘me time’. Ask your parents to babysit to have some ‘we time’ to reengage as a couple.
If they are not available, ask your close friends or neighbours to look after the baby once in a while so that you two get some time out.
Problem 2: Responsibility for household chores
With the baby in the picture, the household duties seem to get doubled, and now you have to finish the work even faster. Couples tend to keep score – I did this, so now you do this. It helps no one.
Solution: Appreciate each other
When you need help, don’t wait for your husband to volunteer. Men tend to respond better to direct requests. Remind yourself that he is not taking a vacation either.
He is just as overworked and stressed as you are. When he does share the household chores, don’t forget to say thanks. It will help him act more receptive to future requests.
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Problem 3: Fight over money and expenses after a child
Having a baby means one of you has to quit their job, at least for some time, to take care of the little one – which means now only one paycheque is coming to your home with an extra family member.
Naturally, the concern over money shoots up and since you can’t lash out at your child, you lash out at your spouse.
Solution: Save before the baby arrives
There are two ways to go about it. Try living on one paycheque even when you are bringing home two, for six months or a year. Save the unused salary as an emergency fund. By the time your baby arrives, you will be accustomed to living on a budget.
But if it’s too late to try that out and now the baby has arrived, have a clear discussion with your spouse about the changes you need to make to survive as a family. Prioritise the baby’s needs and your own. You must also realise that even with two incomes, raising a child in this world economy you are not likely to feel financially secure.
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Problem 4: Criticism on parenting style
It’s one thing to talk about child-rearing philosophies with your spouse when you are expecting and feel like you are meant to do it together. This is one of the most frequent relationships problems after having a baby.
It’s often found that couples have frequent fights over how much the baby should sleep and eat and how she should be disciplined. Almost always, one of you takes a stricter approach in raising the child, while the other is more laidback.
Solution: Develop a parenting style together
Understand that you both are equally responsible for your child’s upbringing, but snapping at each other on the parenting style creates tension for both your marriage and the baby. If you think your spouse’s approach is not right, let them deal with the consequence of their method.
For things like sleep and food, follow a strict guideline given by your paediatrician. For other issues, read and watch about the right parenting style together and discuss what’s best for your child.
Problem 5: Sex after a baby
Sex is now less fun, and more of a hassle. You are tired and sleep deprived even though you love sex. Your husband feels neglected with the lack of physical intimacy, and as a result fights seem to get doubled.
Solution: Take proactive steps
How do you rekindle love after having a baby? There are many ways to have sex after a baby and feel intimate again. Try scheduling sex. Keep your bedroom baby-free. Ask your friends to babysit when you two go out for a hot date-night.
Remember, having less sex doesn’t mean lack of love. You are just going through some major life changes and need to take some proactive actions to rekindle your sex life.
Related Reading: 7 Ways to Get the Romance Back After Having a Baby
Problem 6: No quality time
Couple time is now family time. Sure you spend more time together now, but no time alone. You also don’t get to go out on girls’ night out or have a beer night with the guys. It’s a challenging time, sure, but there are ways to manage some quality time. This is one of the major relationship problems after having a baby.
Solution: Meet for ice creams
Besides scheduling sex and date-nights, plan ‘brief meetings’ beforehand where you can discuss baby issues, things that happened at work and catch up on some idle gossip.
End the meetings on a good note with ice cream or leftover chocolate. Also, don’t feel guilty about taking some off from family to have your solo outing times back. Ask your spouse to be cooperative in this regard, so that you can come back home re-energised.
Problem 7: Interference of in-laws
Grandparents are a big help to take care of the newborn, but they also want a lot of time with the baby. If you care about having your privacy, then giving your in-laws or parents 24-hour access to your home can get on your nerves. This could lead to major relationship problems after having a baby.
Solution: Set boundaries with in-laws
Setting your boundaries is the solution here. No matter how generous and helpful they have been, you have the right to say no.
But instead of hurting their sentiments, ask them to come during weekdays, specifically during the time you need help around the baby and the house.
Problem 8: Post-partum mood disorders
New mothers go through an upheaval of mood swings after delivering the baby as a result of post-partum mood disorders. As a result of the spiking hormones, we tend to react more harshly than usual, get crankier than normal and feel distressed with small changes regarding the baby’s wellbeing.
It’s not only a stressful time for you, but takes a toll on your husband as well. As a result, your marriage goes through severe relationship breakdown. This is one of the relationship problems after having a baby that couples find hard to deal with.
Solution: Seek help
The only way to get through the post-partum phase is by having your husband’s support. Talk to him about the rush of feelings you are having. Read about the phase together and discuss how you can face the challenge together and what kind of help you would need. Seek professional help to deal with it.
Problem 9: Weight issues of women
Women find it hard to knock off the pregnancy weight and they start feeling unattractive and develop severe issues with their body image. If husbands start body shaming wives at this point then be sure you have ruined your relationship after having a baby.
Solution: Love her body like never before
A woman’s body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy and it takes time to get back to shape. Be with her in this journey of weight loss and hold her hand and make her feel desirable.
If you are sensitive to how she feels at this point then you can help her get her confidence back.
Problem 10: Men can be less involved
If a wife is grappling with feeding, sleeplessness and is pumping milk at work, then she comes home to see that the husband has taken off for his usual bar night, she could be a mighty angry woman.
Men often get to keep their part of life going despite having a baby and this is something wives find hard to accept. This could gradually lead to bitterness in the relationship.
Solution: Devote time at home
If not to baby duties but to the household chores. Make your wife feel that you are in it together. It’s a matter of few months before you can get back to bar hopping, till then be ready to make some sacrifices.
Remember, having a baby together doesn’t just come with a new set of challenges and problems, but it’s also a great way to grow a stronger bond together despite the ups and downs. Watching your partner sing a lullaby to your baby or teaching her how to swim makes you fall in love with them all over again. Take the early days of parenthood as a boot camp; if you survive this, you can survive whatever bumps life may bring in future.
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