Having a new baby can be such an exciting event. But it can also mean a whole host of new pressures on your and your partner’s relationship.
Establishing a feeding regime, changing nappies, adjusting to interrupted sleep patterns… New babies can be demanding as well as adorable, and in those first few months even the best prepared couples often find themselves feeling drained and over stretched. It’s not surprising that many find themselves arguing a lot more.
While this can be frustrating and worrying, especially if you’d assumed that the baby was going to bring you closer together, it’s perfectly normal for you to take time to adjust to your growing family. Conflict can be a natural part of adapting to change.
How do we argue less?
If you’re finding things difficult, you might like to think about the following:
- Try to have realistic expectations of each other. Trust that you’re both doing the best you can under the circumstances and be aware of how your partner’s physical state and emotions might be affecting them. This will help prevent you taking petty squabbles too seriously and make you more likely to want to say sorry if you have been arguing
- Work out how you can both get enough sleep. It could be that you could take it in turns to soothe the baby at night or that you rest together during the day while your baby naps
- Try to maintain intimacy together. If you’re not too tired, you might like to use time when the baby is sleeping to re-establish your connection. It doesn’t have to be anything really active – it could mean cuddling on the sofa, rubbing each other’s shoulders, having a hot drink together or running a warm bath. When you feel relaxed, you’re more likely to start talking, sharing feelings and reconnecting as a couple
- Make lists together. Being clear about what groceries are needed and which tasks have to be done helps prevent miscommunication. Highlight the priorities and tick items off as you go – it might also feel good to decide that certain things aren’t absolutely essential
- Agree to manage visitors to reduce pressure on yourselves. If this means asking them to wait for an invitation or come a little later than planned, so be it. Don’t be afraid to explain that you’ve had a difficult night or that it’s taking a while for your baby to settle
- Ask for help when people do come over. Perhaps they could grab some shopping on the way or pop out with the dog when they arrive. Those who really care will be happy to help and won’t mind taking out a few bin bags or hanging up the washing when they visit. Close family members might jump at the chance to change or bathe the baby while you both put your feet up
- Talk to your midwife/health visitor. They will offer reassurance and have tips up their sleeves to help you through the first weeks of parenthood. They also understand the signs of more serious issues like postnatal depression and will refer you to your GP if you need further help
- Understand that this time will pass! Babies don’t stay tiny forever and, like most children, yours will start to sleep through the night. The intensity of looking after a baby will ease and you’ll soon be able to look back proudly at how you managed to get through it as a team