We all know that relationships are important. After all, it’s because of our relationship that we end up with our little bundle of joy in the first place.
Once baby comes along though, we can forget to focus on our relationship as much as we get swept up in a whirlwind of nappies, feeding, sleeping, washing, tidying, cooking etc.
And that’s ok to a certain extent. It can be tough adjusting to being a new parent (even if it’s baby number 2, 3 or more). No one really expects you to be able to juggle looking after a baby, sleep deprivation and being the best couple ever!
But there are good reasons why you should work to maintain or improve your relationship after a baby. It has a bigger impact than you think it does so it’s well worth the effort both in the short and long term.
Here are my top 5 reasons why your relationship is even more important after you’ve had a baby.
#1 – It’s your biggest source of support
Hopefully your partner is the person you are most likely to turn to for support. And (unless they are an a***hole) the person most like to give it. Feeling like your partner has your back on anything, not just motherhood, will make you feel far more able to handle whatever life throws at you.
Our partners are the ones we most likely see more than anyone else. The ones that we are most likely to want to talk to or confide in. If our relationship is strong then we’re able to do this and that, more than anything else, will help you deal with any ups and downs that come your way.
In a good relationship we can also get reassurance from our partners or their advice on what to do if we’re unsure. Just knowing that someone else thinks you are doing a good job can overcome any of the normal self doubts we sometimes feel as a mother.
And it’s not just verbal support that you can get from your relationship either. Just getting a hug when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed can make all the difference. It makes you feel like you’re not alone and that you can always rely on your partner to be there for you.
#2 – It sets a good example
Our children learn by what they see. They take it all in and it sets up their expectations for later life. If you and your partner argue constantly then this is what they will come to expect from their own relationships. If you do everything round the house then this might be the domestic pattern that they think is appropriate. Perhaps you and your partner aren’t always respectful to each other or don’t think twice about shouting insults in a row.
On the flip side, you can show your children that you are always considerate of your partners needs (and him of yours). That you can sit down and talk about disagreements to find a compromise that makes you both happy. Or that you help each other out and try to make sure one partner isn’t doing more than the other.
As a mother of two daughters I’m always very conscious of the example I’m setting. I don’t want my daughters to grow up with the gender imbalance and disadvantages that can be prevalent. I want them to be equals in any relationship and to expect that their partners do their fair share of all chores. This means that this is what I have to model in my own relationship. My husband and I split chores pretty equally and try to demonstrate affection, cooperation and respect. This way, my children will grow up knowing that this is what they should expect and not tolerate anything less.
Creating a good relationship is not just for your benefit but for the benefit of your kids too. It shows them what they should aim for in a relationship and how they should expect to be treated.
#3 – It impacts on your baby at a subconscious level
Having studied psychoanalysis the one take away I got from it was this. Everything about the first year matters. A lot.
The way we talk to, treat, care for, meet the needs of and act around our children matters. Think of babies as computers for a moment. We start programming them the minute they are born. We give them input that they learn to make sense of as they get older. If we respond to their needs they grow up learning that they are worth being cared for. If we neglect them then they grow up feeling they aren’t worthy of being loved.
It might seem like a standard joke when we picture Freud saying “tell me about your childhood” but it really does make that much of a difference!
Now when I say this, I’m not so much talking about how you are as a couple but more how happy you are as individuals (which can in part be driven by your relationship). So if you aren’t happy because of your relationship then this will impact on how you are around your baby. If you are tearful, stressed, withdrawn, anxious, angry or confused then baby will pick up on this. If the household is tense or if you are arguing a lot around the baby then this will have a big impact on them too.
So it’s important to sort your relationship out if you are struggling. Having happy parents means a happier baby and a better, emotionally adjusted adult in the longer term.
#4 – It makes parenting easier
This one is simple. Two of you sharing the load is much better than you trying to do it alone. Ok, there will be times when he’s not around and you have to do it singlehandedly but hopefully, you are both sharing the baby duties, household chores and day to day errands as much as you can.
If the two of you can work together to be parents then life is so much easier. If you agree on how you are going to bring up your children then you can avoid arguments. Or if you can talk about things like the expected involvement of in-laws, what your policy is on weaning or preferences about childcare and resolve differences it will make parenting much less stressful.
Also, in a good relationship you’ll ditch any competition that can arise after you have a baby. Who’s more tired? Who is doing more for the baby? Who has it easier – the one out at work or the one left at home? The truth of the matter is that you are both fucking exhausted. You both do a lot and you both have stressful days. If you have a good relationship you’ll be able to see this rather than feel resentment towards each other. You’ll be able to recognise when one person needs a break and ask for some help when you need one. You’ll be able to work together to make sure you both find things a little easier.
Remember, parenting should be a partnership. Not a battle ground. Having a strong relationship helps you to create this and means you will work as a team.
#5 – It makes you feel good!
Saving the best reason for last – having a great relationship will make you feel amazing. Our relationships are such a big part of our lives that when they are not going as well as they could, it has a massive impact on how we feel overall. If you have a strong relationship, however, you’re going to feel great about yourself and able to cope with much more than if you don’t.
Being happy at home is important. Feeling loved is important. Feeling supported is important. Knowing your partner wants to rip your clothes off – also important. Being able to talk to someone close is important. Having a satisfying sex life – important. Need I say more?
If you’re not feeling it in your relationship at the moment then that’s OK. It’s tough to maintain things once baby comes along. If you need more advice then why not read these two posts on 5 ways to baby proof your relationship and 5 ways you can improve your relationship.
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