Remember when you and your partner used to talk about having a baby? The cuddles, the coos, the Instagram-worthy family photos? Ah, those were the days. And then, reality hit. Suddenly, your once romantic relationship has turned into a non-stop circus of dirty diapers, sleep deprivation, and more bodily fluids than you ever thought possible. You find yourself longing for those good ol’ days when you could go out on a date without having to schedule a briefing with the babysitter or enjoy a conversation without a soundtrack of baby cries.
While it may not exactly be a walk in the park, it is quite to navigate through the landmines successfully, and maybe, just maybe, even stay ahead of the game.
Before we deep dive into the work of steering that ship back on course, let’s understand why your romantic relationship changes in the first place.
Why romantic relationships change once you have a child together
Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience that brings a lot of joy and excitement, but also brings challenges to romantic relationships. If you think your relationship is immune to the changes that come with having a baby, think again. As someone who has gone through this transformation, I understand the ups and downs that come with it. There are many reasons why romantic relationships change once you have a child together.
Lack of time
Well, having a baby is like being hired by a tiny CEO named Theodore, just like in the kid’s animated movie “Boss Baby“. He may be small, but he demands your attention 24/7 and expects you to prioritise his every need above everything else. Suddenly, all the free time you had before becomes a distant memory as you find yourself knee-deep in diapers, feeding schedules, and constant soothing sessions.
As a couple, you may find yourselves with barely enough energy to exchange a high-five, let alone have a date night.
Changes in priorities
Nothing makes you put all existing priorities through a meat grinder than having a tiny human who is completely dependent on you. You’re smitten, hypnotised and everything in between. You’re less concerned with going on romantic dates and more concerned with finding someone who can change a diaper without gagging. Your priorities shift when you become a parent, and your romantic relationship may not be at the top of the list anymore.
Need I say more? But for the sake of covering all bases, yes it can play havoc on your romantic relationship. When you’re sleep deprived, your sex drive can take a nosedive. You find yourself less interested in physical intimacy unless your partner can shapeshift into a soft pillow for you to catch some Z’s on.
Babies are cute and everything, but they can also be financial vampires turning your romantic relationship with your partner into a financial battleground. To begin with, suddenly the amount of gear taking over your house makes you wonder if you’re raising a baby or launching a NASA spacecraft.
Plus, you and your partner are constantly shelling out money left and right for diapers, wipes, formula and let’s not even discuss the guilty trips to the baby clothing stores. Yes, I am also referring to the stash of baby clothes you’re hiding in the closet because you couldn’t resist. Any guesses on how I know? Yours truly is guilty too. In short, children are expensive, and financial stress can put a strain on your romantic relationship.
Migrating from being a couple to being co-parents can shake your relationship into a whole new dynamic. Before, you may have been the romantic, spontaneous, fun-loving couple who stayed up late watching movies and going out for fancy dinners. After the baby, the only spontaneity you’ll experience is deciding which parent gets to change the diaper while the other one nicks the easy chores.
This brings to mind the time before we became parents. Each Halloween, my husband and I would have a feisty Halloween party, dressing up like we were auditioning for the next horror movie, living it up. Our firstborn was born on Halloween. Yep, our coveted party as a couple was spookily hijacked by our little pumpkin and that’s how, each year after, our Halloween became a real scream. Dressing up and partying like there was no tomorrow turned into hosting a kid’s birthday bash each year. It’s still a frightful affair. And let’s not forget the looming horrors of cleaning up after the party. So yeah, becoming a parent definitely leads to changes in the roles you used to enjoy.
With all the above-mentioned changes happening, it’s inevitable to find yourself with fewer opportunities to connect with your partner. The communication turns into talking about practical things like schedules and responsibilities. As joyful as it is to nurture your child, it can create a feeling of loneliness, frustration, and at times even resentment.
It is important to recognise that a change in the amount of time you spend together doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. But it does require effort and commitment to maintaining a sense of closeness and connection, even when life gets busy. And the fact that you’re already looking for answers is a sign that you’re proactive and care about making things work.
Ways to maintain a strong and healthy relationship
When time is in short supply, your relationship might start to feel a bit like a wilted plant that needs some serious TLC. Suddenly, you’re communicating less, cuddling less, and spending less time in each other’s orbits. It’s like you’re two ships passing in the night, but instead of being full of pirates and treasure, you’re full of laundry and dirty dishes. You might start to feel like your partner is a roommate with benefits, rather than the love of your life.
With a little bit of creativity and a lot of determination, you can rekindle that spark and make time for each other again. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good rom-com-worthy love story with a happy ending? So here are some of the ways to nurture your relationship after having a child.
Communication is key to any successful relationship. Make an effort to communicate regularly and effectively. Nothing throws you in a frenzy of self-doubt harder than becoming a parent. Your partner may have a hard time realising their self-worth and may need validation of feelings to keep the communication pathways going. If you come across challenges and need support, communicate how you feel and how it affects you. Communicate openly as it helps partners work together to tackle the challenges and find solutions. You’re still a team.
Make time for each other
It’s important to remember that after having a baby, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and forget to take time to enjoy each other’s company like you used to. Your relationship existed before the baby, and it should continue to exist after the baby.
Having a baby can be a real rollercoaster ride, but it’s important to remember that your partner is your co-rider, not the cause of motion sickness! If you don’t make that effort, you might start seeing your partner as the cause of all your stress, when they are more like a stress reliever. Want to test the theory? Next time, you’re stressed, just hug it out. So don’t forget to schedule some couple time and remind yourselves that you’re in this together. Your partner is your teammate, not your punching bag.
Bringing a tiny human into the world is no easy feat, and it can put a strain on even the strongest of relationships. That’s why it’s crucial to seek support from friends, family, or even a professional therapist, to help keep your romantic connection alive through the sleepless nights, feeding schedules and endless diaper changes.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. Whether it’s from a friend, family member, or therapist, support can make a big difference.
Think of it as putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others. You can’t take care of your baby – or your relationship – if you’re running on empty. So go ahead, pamper yourself a little, and watch your love blossom and thrive.
Becoming a parent is like being thrown into a whole new world of chaos and cuteness. It’s a rollercoaster ride of challenges and rewards, and it takes a lot of effort to keep your romantic relationship strong and healthy. By prioritising communication, emotional connection, and self-care, you can navigate this journey together and create a positive and fulfilling future for your family. It is justlike in the movie, you realise that all the hard work and sacrifices are worth it when you see that little boss smile, giggle, and achieve milestones. In the end, you may even thank Theodore for making you a better individual and a stronger couple.