When baby Dan came, the relationship between my husband and I took a drastic turn. This is certainly not news; we have heard success and failure stories time and again, from both our extended families and friends. My husband Jerry and I often dismissed the gloomy cautionary tales; we often shook it off and said 'We will be different.' However, with Jerry chasing deadlines for his marketing projects and me managing my own handmade jewelry business from home, things got a bit out of hand. A couple of months ago, when Dan was six months old, Jerry and I sat down for our own 'professional review' of our performances as new parents.
It came to our attention that baby Dan was doing fine, but our relationship wasn’t. Not centered merely around the (lack of) fun time in the bedroom, Jerry and I were having increasingly frequent arguments; some ending up in crying fits on my part and others silent treatment on Jerry's part. The calm and reasonable talk we managed to have two months ago has proven extremely helpful at resolving our issues; we came up with a few pointers for ourselves. I thought it would be helpful to share our story for our fellow new parents. Remember, you are not alone!
Communication is key
This statement might be as cliché and overused as it can get, but it is a cliché because it is true. Communication takes on a whole new level of meaning when baby Dan cries his lungs out at 3 a.m. for his night feeding or changing of his diapers. On many nights, our overly exhausted bodies make following the tried and true fundamentals of good communication an Everest size feat! It is difficult not to keep score and too easy to make up excuses and accusations when your heads are throbbing and eyes burning from lack of sleep. This goes to all baby and non-baby related tasks in the household. Jerry and I, being organizers by nature, draw up schedule for each week and stick to it. We discuss our individual plans every Sunday night and talk through the whole thing before going to bed. Any amendments to the master schedule must be discussed 24 hours in advance. It may sound rigid, but organizing our home similar to a business has been working for us. It's really a matter of establishing processes that fit your personalities as people and parents.
If not careful, however, the weekly discussion can turn into a heated argument over whom does more with plenty of finger-pointing. When communicating frustration or negotiating, I've found it is important to put myself in Jerry's shoes before making demands; Jerry does similar. We avoid attacking each other, especially with back-handed comments. We also leave the ego out of it, as parents we are officially equal in our responsibilities. Remember this isn't really about winning an argument, that misdirected focus doesn't help a family flourish in the long run.
You (and your relationship) are as important as the kids
Often times, it is easy for new parents to forget about themselves and their partner as they put the children as the top priority. Not only does this lead to unhealthy and unnecessary feelings of jealousy and abandonment, it destroys the parents’ relationship and their individual self-esteem.
I can still remember that moment of pure horror when I looked at the mirror three months after giving birth. I had basically let myself go for the most part of it; and it took me a while to fully notice the shaggy split ends on my head, the whole new set of wrinkles, and my alarmingly jaded look. It does not take much time to schedule an appointment with the hairdresser or hit the gym once or twice a week for a yoga lesson. With better physical and mental well-being, parents can much better cater to the needs of their baby, and as importantly, partner. So do not hesitate to call up a babysitter for an hour or two if a bit of exercise or a little pampering on a spa visit allow you to return to your child and your job fresh and vitalized.
Try a little tenderness
Nothing inspires and renews your passion as good quality time together. Jerry and I decide to set aside every Friday night and Saturday morning as our alone time, when we can have a little date night or simply order some Chinese and curl up on the couch watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother for the tenth time. It was difficult for me at first to be romantic again, after giving birth, I was not feeling exactly as sexy as I used to be. It took a bit of time and effort to spend time together, but it is all worth it by the end.
More importantly, small gestures go a long way. A ten-minute shoulder massage before bed can be both relaxing and sensual at the same time. After our little talk two months ago, Jerry and I introduced a positive-incentive system to our household task scheduling. Instead of constantly nagging and complaining, a little appreciation by making tuna casserole for dinner (Jerry’s favorite dish) is in order when Jerry volunteers to take over dish washing duty for the night. Just be spontaneous and have some fun with it!
If you need help with juggling the various responsibilities of your home and expanding family, remember you can always submit a request to www.myezbz.com for assistance!