Danielle Aubin, LCSW
How to Rekindle Intimacy After Baby Arrives
Your bundle of joy is here and life will never be the same. The exhaustion, the laundry, the never-ending googling of all things baby. It’s been weeks, months even and you are starting to feel more like co-workers than romantic partners and intimacy has taken a backseat to the immediate needs of your new baby. How to rekindle the romance after a baby turns your lives upside down? It takes some intentionality and planning but it is possible.
Intimacy and romance are not automatic processes. They take forethought and creativity, especially while managing the needs of a young baby human. Even before your wife gets the “ok” from her doctor to begin having intercourse again, you can still make time for romantic massages or one on one time. What is important is that both of you make space to engage in special time together that feels intimate and connected.
Written below are some tips to help build intimacy back into your lives as new parents. Intimacy will not build itself without both of your efforts as a couple. It takes two to tango and both of you will need to want to make it happen. This will require communication and agreement on both sides. Intimacy is vital to the health of your relationship and the health of your relationship is laying the foundation for you to have a healthy home.
Set up regular couples time
When the baby arrives, the idea of couples time seems like a distant dream. With enough planning and support, regular couples time is possible. Hire a babysitter, ask Grandma, ask a trusted friend and get it on the calendar. Try to have a special couples date at least once per month. You can either have the special couples time at home or go out on a real bonafide date out on the town. Go somewhere new, try a new activity. Create a couple's identity beyond being tired new parents. Put your phones down, stare into each other's eyes, and make the time count.
Engage in self-care together
Self-care becomes absolutely essential once the baby arrives. Being responsible for a tiny human is exhausting and you will need to find ways to refill your cup often. Self-care is even better when it is a shared experience. Are there self-care activities that both you and your spouse enjoy? Such as going out to coffee, jogging, and watching funny tv shows. Sit down with your spouse and write down all of the self-care activities you both enjoy and schedule days to do them together. If both of you like massages, have a spa day and take turns giving each other massages every week.
Appreciate each other
One thing that always strengthens a relationship is making sure your spouse feels appreciated. When a baby arrives, there can be a lot of stress around who is responsible for what and who is doing what and how well, etc. Sometimes this can cause our partners to feel underappreciated because they are working hard but not receiving an acknowledgment. Make sure to build in ways to appreciate your spouse every day. You could write them letters, send them sweet texts or spend a special moment each day to listing all of the ways you appreciate them. Make it a regular daily practice.
Support each other with getting enough alone time
One thing we tend to forget is that absence makes the heart grow fonder. We all need time away from our spouses to have an independent live and engage in activities that help us have an identity outside of just our family. Some people have a stronger need for this than others but we all generally need time away from home. Support your spouse with their need to be an independent person and make sure that they have enough support to get out of the house at least once per day to engage in meaningful activities. This time away from home is helping your relationship because it gives it space to breathe. Too much time together can cause irritation. Time away can soothe and restore your relationship back to balance. Also if you are having conflicts, a little space can clear the air and help both parties see things more clearly.
Make room for sex
Once the doctor gives the “ok” for intercourse, it then becomes more of a logistics problem. The baby is up at all hours and everyone is exhausted. Sex may be the last thing on your mind yet sex is vital for the health of your relationship. Talk with your partner about how to incorporate sex back into your lives. You might need to figure out some logistics (e.g. learning to schedule sex into your day so that it can happen when the baby is asleep in the other room, etc). You can incorporate self-care or appreciation into your foreplay if that makes things easier/smoother. What’s most important is that everyone feels comfortable and you find a way to incorporate sex back into your lives that feels good for both of you.
Address conflicts right away
Having a baby is stressful and you are bound to have some conflicts come up. Conflicts cannot be avoided all of the time. What is important is that you address the conflicts right away. Don’t let them simmer, don’t walk out of the house and come back acting as if the conflict isn’t there. The conflict will not go away. If you feel like both of you struggle with addressing conflicts in a healthy way, I highly suggest looking into the work of Marshall Rosenberg who wrote Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Take a training on NVC if you can. You will be able to use the skills for the rest of your life.
Intimacy after baby can be EVEN better than it was before
Sometimes we think that the arrival of a baby means intimacy and a couple's relationship is going to become worse. That is not necessarily the case at all. Facing a challenge together such as having a baby and figuring out how to take care of it can bring you both closer together. Conflicts can help you figure each other out and improve your relationship. With enough creativity, you can find time for intimacy and you can build a strong relationship together. If you find your relationship has dramatically weakened since the birth of your baby and none of these tips help at all, then it might be time for professional help with improving your relationship.