A new baby is a source of unadulterated joy for parents. As they bring their new bundle home from the hospital, they can hardly contain their happiness and excitement.
However, studies show that their happiness soon takes a sharp nosedive as they settle in at home. Research shows that new parents quickly report feelings of dissatisfaction with their mate and unhappiness with their marriage. In fact, the stress of raising a child together can often lead to anger, tension and even divorce.
New parents are at particular risk as research shows that women almost immediately report less satisfaction in their marriage after having a baby, while men report the same unhappiness just a few months later.
It is easy to understand why this occurs. Lack of sleep, coupled with the physical pain of recovery and hormonal changes, can make a new mom feel overwhelmed and depressed, especially if she is also dealing with the challenges of nursing and nighttime feedings. Meanwhile, her partner is pushed to the back burner. She is so busy touching, kissing and cuddling her new baby that she often doesn’t have the time or need to touch, kiss and cuddle her spouse, so it is no wonder that his own dissatisfaction slowly grows.
And, as difficult as it might be to admit, the reality is that many men might struggle to feel the same attraction to their mate as they watch their partner become a mother. Childbirth might be beautiful, but it is also gory and overwhelming. It can be hard to see your sexy wife in such a graphic scenario, especially when you later see her breasts change from purely beautiful to newly functional…and occupied most of the time!
No wonder so many couples struggle to stay committed after having a baby. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help safeguard your bond. It is possible for passion and parenthood to coexist. Here’s how:
1. Help out wherever possible.
Men often feel useless and in the way as they watch their partner bond with their new baby. Unlike moms, a dad’s role seems undefined. He can’t breast feed the baby and it often seems like Mom is the only person who can soothe the little one.
First, rest assured that your time will come. Soon you will be the one giving piggyback rides and play-wrestling with your growing child. But, for now, step up and be Mom’s helping hand. Help keep the house clean and stay on top of the laundry. Run errands for her (such as grocery shopping) and make sure to relieve her of her childcare duty whenever possible so she can take a shower or even hit the salon for much-needed pampering.
The more you can take off her plate, the more time she will have time to reconnect with herself and feel sensual once again.
2. Accept that sex might be less frequent…for now.
Every relationship has ebbs and flows. Sometimes you and your partner can’t take your hands off each other and sometimes you are too busy and too tired to have frequent sex. That’s okay. Just try to make sure that you are making time for your relationship and your intimacy, even if it is just making sure to kiss your partner every day or maybe by giving her a sensual massage. Find time to kiss, touch and cuddle together even if you don’t always have the energy for a full sack session.
3. Help her feel sexy again.
It can be incredibly difficult for a new mom to feel sexy after giving birth. Between the weight gain, stretch marks, lack of sleep and leaking nipples, it’s no wonder she doesn’t feel desirable! And a woman who doesn’t feel desirable often doesn’t want to have sex. That’s why it’s crucial for her to know that you still want her and you still find her incredibly sexy and attractive. Buy her sexy lingerie to fit her new frame and be sure to compliment her frequently…remember, the more appreciation you give, the more you get in return!
4. Don’t hold onto the past.
This is a new stage in your relationship and it’s not going to be like it was before. But, that’s okay. You are now moving into a deeper and more intimate stage that can be just as passionate and rewarding. However, it will require more effort and preparation for that to happen. Maybe you can’t stay out all night and or have spontaneous sex whenever you want, but you can carve out time for a special date night once a week or even time to reconnect each day, whether it’s by taking a bath together or sharing a bottle of wine while the baby is asleep.
5. Check in with each other.
Make sure to communicate during this time of change and upheaval. Talk about what you are feeling and check in with your mate to make sure that she is doing okay. Honest communication can save your relationship during the hard times, so don’t be afraid to reach out and open up. Remember, modeling a healthy relationship for your new baby is the absolute best gift a parent can give!
Laura Berman, PhD, is a world renowned sex and relationship educator and therapist; popular TV, radio and Internet host; New York Times best-selling author; and assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Dr. Berman is a New York Times best-selling author of many books on sexual health and pleasure, a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, and host of the radio program "Uncovered with Dr. Laura Berman."