I am totally sleep-deprived, and our life routine has been completely thrown out over the past month. My husband and I welcomed our fourth child into the world just under a month ago, and it's been quite the ride. Relationships can be challenging on their own, but throw in chaos, sleepless nights, and new worries, and your relationship can be tested like no other time in your life.
We all know that a newborn changes your life - you have a lot of new responsibilities, your routine will certainly change, and you will need to adapt to having far less sleep and far more noise in your life than you previously had. We spend a lot of our pregnancies reading up on what to expect during this month and what products we will need when the baby arrives. We hear stories about how amazing a baby will be in our lives and the challenges we should expect. We hear very little about how this new baby will challenge our relationships and how even the most healthy, strong ones will have a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning.
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My marriage has been through four children now, and even though we have what I would consider a strong, healthy marriage, every new baby brings its challenges to our marriage. We handle these challenges far easier now with our fourth child than when we welcomed our first because we now know that this transition in our marriage is normal, and we will come through it all stronger and happier than ever. We've learned some tips on how to make sure this time in our lives is as easy on all of us as possible and have adapted some tips on how to make sure we're still nurturing us as a partnership as well as our new family.
If you're about to welcome a new baby into your life or you just have, here are some tips on keeping your partnership healthy through the transition.
1. Be Realistic
Being realistic in how your life will change can help frame your expectations. Know that with a new bundle of joy in the house, sometimes your relationship may need to take a backseat to parenting. And that's OK.
2. Be Forgiving
Sleep deprivation can do a number on you, and being forgiving can go a long way. If your partner is snappier than usual, forgetful, or irritable, be forgiving! Understand that it's temporary, and every relationship will go through this.
3. Ask for Help
You both made the baby, so you should both take turns taking care of the baby. Just like you had to discuss how to break up the household duties, you should talk about who will take what when it comes to baby care. If mommy feeds baby, perhaps the other partner can be in charge of diapers, or home or bath duties. Take turns getting a nap in if time allows, and be as fair as possible.
I have been asked a handful of times how I manage the chaos of a larger family, and my answer is prioritizing. I have become quite good at triage when it comes to getting things done around the house. Make your marriage a priority in terms of spending time and affection - it's the reason you have a baby, and it needs to be nurtured too.
5. Share Responsibility with Your Partner
If your relationship is anything like mine, we have come to terms with certain roles in the house. I do the cooking and the grocery list, the husband does the dishes and the grocery shopping. I get the kids up in the morning, and he reads them their bedtime stories and puts them to bed. When you welcome a new child into the mix, you need to sometimes rework those chores to make the roles more fair.
It's really important you take time to connect with your partner and talk. Even if you only have 5 minutes, make it worth it and talk about more than just what the baby did that day.
7. Be Direct
I have this terrible habit of being passive-aggressive and talking under my breath when I am sleep-deprived and upset about something. It's not a good thing for anyone and certainly not effective. Learn from me, and don't do that! Instead, be direct and say what you need. Your partner can't read minds!
-By Devan McGuinness