There’s no avoiding that the dynamics of marriage change when adding a baby to the mix. It’s easy to put marriage on the back burner during the haze of the infant stage, and maintaining a happy marriage during the sleep-deprived early months takes effort. Even the most solid of couples must work to find a groove after adding children to their family.
I expected things to be different and braced myself. For my husband, he expected everything to stay the same. And it wasn’t. That alone made it difficult!
The hardest part was remembering to take time for our marriage. It is easy to go along in auto-pilot and when busy days blur together you forget to take time as a couple. For us, we were great about taking split shifts to make time for ourselves, but over time we realized that we needed to do the same for our marriage. Putting monthly date nights on the calendar was the refresh that our marriage needed after months of feeling like co-parents stumbling through new parenting together and not much else.
Here are six ways to prioritize your marriage during the infant stage:
1. Remember that your example sets the tone
A stable marriage sets the tone for your family. If you are relaxed, your baby will likely follow suit. On the flip side, when you are stressed and keeping score, it’s inevitable that your baby will pick up the vibe. Having a baby is a huge life change, and it’s normal for your marriage to feel strained — be patient and know that you will soon find your groove.
2. Remind yourself that little things are big things
In the throes of sleep deprivation, recovery, and figuring out exactly why you were entrusted with another human’s well-being, the little things matter. If you are making yourself a snack, plate a second for your partner. Take turns doing baby duty to allow each other “me time.” Gift them an hour to run a quick errand or take a long, hot shower in peace. These things will bring life to your marriage in the early parenthood days!
3. Redefine responsibilities
Successfully co-parenting requires teamwork and communication. Sit down to discuss priorities as individuals, your family, and goals for your children, and find ways to make them all happen. This will help create a successful day-to-day and encourage a smoother transition to your new normal.
4. Aim for an early bedtime
It takes effort to get your baby on a schedule, and you’ll get a lot of opinions on how to go about it. Regardless of your approach, do what works for your family. Something that worked for us is an early bedtime. Many parents swear by putting their baby down on the early side. Those extra hours will feel like a victory lap and allow time to get things done and focus on each other – with something as simple as having dinner together or catching up on the day’s happenings.
5. Start family traditions
Embrace this stage and start new traditions. Take advantage of your new living alarm clock and go out to breakfast as a family every Sunday morning. Find a new place every week and make it “your thing.” Order pizza every Friday night. Go on a family walk in the afternoons. Finding little traditions will help bring routine to your weeks and help you adjust to this stage more quickly.
6. Hire a sitter (when you’re ready)
Eventually, you will feel like you have a handle on parenthood. It may even feel like you have found your new normal. Congrats, you have now found your groove! Celebrate with a date night out and hire your first babysitter. It will be hard but, by the end of the night, you will wonder what took you so long!