Some new parents gush non-stop over their baby but somehow find lots of fault in one another.
MAYBE you used to greet your partner at the door with a smile and a kiss, but now, when he arrives, you launch into a fight because he’s two minutes late and you need to take a shower or have a moment of baby-free sanity. That’s pretty typical for new parents.
It’s going to be a tough first few months; having a baby really does change everything (no one was lying about that). But just because you two are clashing about parenting doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track and agree to, well, agree.
Cathy O’Neil, co-author of Babyproofing Your Marriage shows us how to move past the biggest new-parent obstacles without bodily harm.
1. Whose sleep is more important?
“My husband always sleeps in and won’t get out of bed before 8.30am on the weekends, except to do something he wants to do.”
What to do: Agree to make sleep a priority – for both of you.
Someone’s got to get up with baby in the morning. And one partner might think that because they were up at night, they’re entitled to sleep. The other might think that because they worked a 50-hour week, they should be the one to snooze late. But really, you both should be allowed to catch a few extra Zzzzs here and there.
So make a pact to make sleep a priority for both of you. That may mean skipping the weekly soccer game with buddies, or not immediately tackling the sink full of dishes, and sleeping instead.
2. Keeping score
“We’re constantly tallying up who did what, especially when we’re tired – so pretty much always!”
What to do: Lay down your weapons, and hand over your martyr badge.
Remember, you two are on the same team. Instead of making lists after the fact, think ahead to the future.
Make one master list of everything you both need to do and then divide it up.
3. Screen time during family time
“My wife says I’m on my work e-mail and phone too much when I should be focused on family.”
What to do: Set aside a time and place for working at home.
Remember your kids are only little for a short time. When you’re with them, be present. This means designating a certain room, or even a chair or desk, as a home workspace, and specific times when each of you takes a turn there.
When you or your partner is working, the other should respect that time. But when you’re not in the work seat, put down the cellphone, close the laptop and enjoy some quality family time.
4. Which is the ‘right way’ to do it?
“We fight about what we each feel are wrong decisions the other makes for baby.”
What to do: Step back, even if it’s hard.
The parent who’s around baby most usually feels in charge of how things should go. But if you find yourself constantly telling your partner how to parent, he or she will never know the basics. Plus, you may end up resenting always having to be in control.
So take a close look at what they did “wrong.” If it’s not critical in the grand scheme of raising your child, just let it go.
5. Big things that go unappreciated
“I work really hard for our family, and I never feel like it’s enough for her.”
What to do: Say what’s on your mind.
It’s easy to feel like you are unappreciated. But remember, it goes both ways. It doesn’t take grand gestures. A compliment here and there creates a more positive, supportive dynamic between you two. If you need validation, speak up.
Tell your partner exactly what you need to hear to feel valued; sounds self-explanatory, but so many of us find it hard to be open and honest when we’re trying to survive the new-parent phase.
6. Lack of sex
“He wants to do it at as often as we did before, but by bedtime after breastfeeding all day, I need space.”
What to do: Schedule some romance.
There’s no wrong way to feel here; you both are right. Try to see your partner’s side of it. Is there anything that would put you in the mood? Maybe it’s more one-on-one conversation, fewer chores during the day or a little extra romance (chocolates and a rom-com, anyone?). If so, tell him.
Some new parents find that switching up the time of day they have sex helps. Heck, why not schedule some sex?
Sure, it sounds not so spontaneous or exciting, and it might not be at first, but eventually, once you’re both back in the swing of things, you’ll get back into your old groove. – TheBump.com/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services