AUGUST 12, 2023
By Chelsea Skaggs: Postpartum Coach
Embarking on the journey of parenthood is a transformative experience that profoundly reshapes your life, your identity, and inevitably, your relationships. As your heart expands to accommodate the immense love for your little one, you may find yourself grappling with the new dynamics in your relationship with your partner. Welcoming a new baby into the world is wonderful. And, the early postpartum period can be a roller-coaster ride for couples, presenting both unique challenges and opportunities.
Personally, I was very unprepared for this after our first child. I wish someone had walked us through proactive conversations to have and how to share the load of parenthood. I wish someone would have told me to expect and not judge myself or my husband for how we sometimes felt like strangers, disconnected, until we found our new groove.
To help you navigate this new chapter, I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide filled with practical tips and insightful suggestions, all aimed at fostering a deeper connection with your partner post-baby. But remember, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide. Every relationship is unique, and what works for one couple may not necessarily work for another. This is why I offer couple’s coaching where we get into the specific needs, goals, desires, and strengths of you and your partner and the relationship. There’s a reason my couple’s refer their best friends- having this space is transformative. If you’re interested in couple’s coaching, schedule a free chat with me here.
Prioritizing Communication: The Bedrock of Your Relationship
First and foremost, let’s talk about communication. Essentially the heartbeat of any relationship, effective communication becomes even more vital during the postpartum period. Speak openly about your feelings, needs, and expectations, and create a safe space for your partner to do the same. But, don’t do this at 2am after no sleep and another diaper blowout. Be intentional to have the important conversations when you can both show up as best as possible.
Consider utilizing tools like a shared white board for lists or reminders. Couples often tell me that by the end of a long day, when they have time to connect, their brains are fried and they don’t know where to start. In these cases, I recommend something like the Love Lingual deck to help facilitate these conversations in a fun and non-threatening way.
Revisiting Love Languages: Tailoring Your Expressions of Love
You’re probably already familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. However, post-baby, you might find that your or your partner’s primary love language has shifted. Revisiting these love languages and adapting your expressions of love accordingly can pave the way for deeper connection and understanding. (I wrote a whole blog post on this: The 5 Love Languages After Having a Baby)
Carving Out Couple Time: Rekindling Your Connection
In the whirlwind of new parenthood, prioritizing couple time can feel like an impossible task. However, spending quality time together – even if it’s a shared cup of coffee during the baby’s nap or a quick cuddle before bedtime – can help keep the flame of your relationship alive.
It’s okay if it doesn’t look like it “used to” right now. If you continue to tend the the relationship with teamwork, communication, and small connections, you will find this season will pass and you WILL have more time and energy for each other again. Consider investing in quality baby monitor to provide you with some peace of mind during those precious moments alone with your partner.
Embracing Shared Victories: A Source of Joy and Strength
Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories, whether it’s your baby finally sleeping through the night or managing to have a sit-down meal together. Sharing these joyous moments can create a strong bond and a treasure trove of beautiful memories. Make it fun to honor these moments that once felt so simple and now are massive wins. If you want a way to look back on these days, try to capture these memories with a fun instant-camera and put the photos up in your room. Another option for this, if you like a scrapbook feel, is to snap the pictures on your phone and create a mixbook (customized photo books you can have on your coffee table or gift your baby one day).
Enlisting Help: Taking Pressure Off Your Shoulders
Parenthood is a beautiful journey, but it’s also a demanding one. I will say this every day of my life: There is no reward for doing everything yourself. Consider this: Years ago people lived in villages. Then, they lived in close communities, often close to family. Now, we live in a society that is very individualized and our homes, work, and schedules can make it hard to have natural support. You and your partner aren’t supposed to do this alone and no, people haven’t been doing it themselves for years. Most generations had more systematic and societal support. (End rant.)
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your support network when you need it. Find a babysitter you trust. Invest in a professional postpartum coaching service. Find a gym with drop-in child care where you and your partner can exercise together. Tell your family YES, you do need their help. Remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but an act of self-care.
Healthy Conflict Resolution: Strengthening Your Partnership
Arguments are inevitable in any relationship, more so during this emotionally charged time. Therefore, equipping yourself with healthy conflict resolution skills is crucial. A lot of what I teach couples is based off of The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver. This book highlights the skills necessary for a successful marriage, based on scientific findings. Marriage and relationships take work. As you continue to grow and life continues to change, investing time and energy into these skills is like oiling the machine.
Real Talk: Relationships After Baby Take Work
In closing, nurturing your relationship post-baby is an ongoing process, requiring patience, understanding, and a lot of love. But with mindful effort, it’s entirely possible to turn these challenging times into a period of tremendous growth for both you and your partner. Remember, you’re not just a parent; you’re a partner too. By focusing on your relationship, you’re providing a loving, secure environment for your baby. After all, the best thing you can give your children is a strong relationship between you and your partner.
And lastly, mama friend, remember to give yourselves some grace. You’re doing an amazing job, and it’s okay to not have it all figured out. This journey is not meant to be walked alone, so reach out, lean on your partner, and remember, love is a verb – it’s all about the actions you take each day.
If you are interested in couple’s coaching created for expecting and new parents who want to use this time to grow into their best selves, schedule a chat with me here and we can talk about how coaching can connect and empower you.