Becoming new parents is a wonderful experience, however, it also involves high expectations, strong emotions, and various other practical issues. Very often, such a huge change can trigger a relationship crisis once the baby is born.
This isn’t caused by a lack of feelings or love within the couple, but it’s mainly due to the family balance being disrupted, literally overnight, by the new arrival.
Your relationship will certainly be put to the test, especially during those first few days, however, you may also find that parenthood reinforces the robust bond you have.
Let’s try to understand together how the dynamics of a couple change following the arrival of a baby into the family, and how you can avoid or overcome this ever-feared crisis, by forming an even stronger and deeper love for one and other.
Couple life: how does it change after having a baby?
The arrival of the first baby, can pose a challenge for even the strongest and most stable of couples. Parenting only seems quite simple in theory, but don’t let that discourage you.
It goes without saying that, both you and the new dad, have to learn and adapt to your new roles especially during the first few months. However, with a little effort, you can also make time for you as a couple and rekindle that extra special bond you had which prompted you to extend your family in the first place!
Parenting: the role of mum and dad
In recent years, the role each parent plays in raising a child is a lot more flexible and varied than it was in the past. However, one thing that’s still true is that a woman becomes a mother as soon as she discovers she’s pregnant, while men take a little longer to internalise their new father figure role.
This is not just a cultural issue: their physiology also ensures women accept the life growing inside them right from the very beginning, and develop a close bond from the start.
A woman also starts preparing and practising for motherhood during her early years: playing with dolls, watching closely and curiously other women in their family as they look after their young, eagerly taking on small jobs such as babysitters... all this, combined with hormonal and practical aspects - such as breastfeeding - mean that it’s the woman who undertakes a central role when a baby is born.
The man, on the other hand, has to learn almost everything from scratch. This doesn’t mean the father figure is any less important: quite the contrary! The father figure is essential for the child's psychological and social development, despite him often feeling side-lined from both couple and family life at the beginning.
Often, mum’s and dad’s bed becomes a crib for the baby as the infant prefers sleeping with mummy, this also can impact on the loss of intimacy of the couple as well the physical side of their relationship.
All these changes have emotional implications and, as we’ve already mentioned, can lead to a relationship crisis. Fortunately, however, with the right amount of love, care, and attention, you can learn to balance the time you have for yourself, your partner and for your life as a family.
5 tips on how to avoid a couple crisis after having a baby
If you’re a new mum (or if you have a friend who has just become a mum), you know that looking after a new baby requires a great amount of time and energy.
Having to adapt, literally overnight, to a completely new unfamiliar rhythm of life, can allow for tiredness, frustration, and a sense of not being good enough to set in, even leading - in some cases - to post-partum depression.
How can you prevent this leading to a couple crisis after having a baby? Here are five important tips.
#1: Mutual solidarity
When a baby arrives, the most important element of a couple's relationship is solidarity. Mutual support is shown by the smallest of gestures: dad can cook, while mum feeds the baby and changes their nappy, or the baby can stay cuddling up with daddy while mum has a relaxing shower.
#2: Set aside some time for you as a couple
You can still share the romance and intimacy you shared together before your baby. It’s important to set aside some time for just the two of you: maybe dinner at a restaurant, a romantic evening or weekend away, leaving grandparents to babysit. Have fun dating each other again and long live your love!
#3: Accept your new reality
Life as a parent is certainly not all sunshine and roses: it is full of affection and delight, but it also comes with less appealing aspects. Burying your head in the sand and carrying on as usual is futile as well as unhealthy for you both: it is much better to accept your new roles, warts and all. This is also what makes family life so intense and exciting!
#4: Don't forget who you are
We’ve talked about how important it is to dedicate time to your love life following the birth of a child, however, it is just as important not to forget that, as well as being a mother and a wife, or a father and husband, you are an individual. A woman and a man with hobbies, friendships, passions, and feelings: never forget that.
#5: If you need to, ask for help
If you’re struggling to cope with parenthood, you can do two things: first of all, chat to friends who have already been through similar. Their empathy and support will make you feel understood and less alone, and consequently, everything will feel that much easier.
The second thing to do is to ask for professional help. There are many different professionals who can offer advice and guidance for couples and new parents: their external, expert eye can truly make all the difference.
Of course, we don’t want to frighten you with all of the above: a relationship crisis doesn’t always happen after a having a baby. On the contrary, in some cases the transition from couple to family goes smoothly and it actually reinforces a couple’s bond.
However, it is not uncommon to encounter difficulties within your relationship: if this is the case, don't feel like you’re the only one. Follow our tips, combine them with the love you feel inside, and you’ll see that everything will work out for the very best.