New Baby, Distant Husband
“Ever since I had the baby, my husband has been distant.”
In the midst of all the excitement of new baby, especially the first baby, you rarely hear expectant parents talking about how this child will change their marriage. Babies are wonderful, let’s be clear about that, but they are also one of the biggest changes a marriage will ever go through. Like all aspects of parenthood, it helps to be prepared.
Before the baby comes it’s just the two of you and it’s easy to give each other the love, attention and affection you need for a healthy marriage. As soon as a child enters the family, that focus changes. Babies have a lot of needs and they cannot wait. Much of the attention you were giving to each other is transferred to the child, which can leave one or both partners feeling alone.
So what do you do when you realize that your relationship has taken a hit? First of all, take heart. Distance between new parents is extremely common. If you’re feeling distant, left out, overworked, tired, neglected, unheard or overlooked it does not mean that your marriage is doomed. It just means that you had a baby. The good news is that your marriage can definitely improve.
June Black, a frequent speaker at marriage enrichment conferences suggests the following:
1. Focus on connection rather than communication. In marriage we’re always told how important communication is. It is important, but with a new baby time is short. You may not have the time or the energy to really communicate so make connection your goal. Make time – you may need to schedule it – for the two of you to connect. Even if it’s as simple as a cup of coffee in the morning, make sure there is some point in the day when you focus on each other. Once you’ve connected, communication can come later.
2. Don’t forget to have sex. Pre-baby it might have seemed impossible to forget about sex, but in the early days of parenthood, it happens. If you’re feeling distant, especially if your husband feels distant, ask yourself “When was the last time we had sex?” There are going to be some days right at the beginning where sex is impractical, but as your body heals, make physical togetherness a priority.
Ladies, you may find that you don’t miss sex as your need for physical touch may be satisfied by cuddling and nursing your infant. Many husbands return to work after the birth and do not have as much contact with the baby. I know that you’re both tired, but he needs physical touch too. Cuddle your husband, kiss him and don’t forget to have sex.
3. Remind each other that you matter. It can be easy to lose your identity in the chaos of a new baby. If you and your spouse only ever talk about the baby, ask about the baby, or tell stories about what the baby did today you may find yourself feeling lost. Don’t forget to speak love to your spouse. If your husband leaves your bundle of joy each day to go to work, thank him. If you wife gets up three times a night to feed the baby, thank her for that. Remind each other that you matter, and that you are loved for who you are, not just what you do.
If you are experiencing distance in your marriage as you parent a new child here are three excellent books to read:
How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Dr. Patricia Love
And Baby Makes Three by John & Julie Gottman
Great Parents, Lousy Lovers by Gary Smalley, Ted Cunningham
Take the next step: