Relationships after Childbirth
It can take time measures in years to adjust to the transition from two to three and it is one of the most profound challenges a couple will ever face. Becoming a parent is a new identity that might changes how you relate to yourself, to your partner and also other people.
Most parents today are overwhelmed by the demands of work, parenthood, and everyday life. You may struggle to adjust to your new role, suffer from a chronic lack of sleep, and battle with changes in your daily routine. The overall idealisation of the parenthood fairytale might cause new parents to feel alienated and lonely.
“It can be so easy to lose the ‘couple’ now that you see yourselves as a ‘family'” says Martina Bador, Couples and Psychosexual Therapist at Leone Centre. “Although you’ll be busy nurturing the new member of the dynamic and being ‘coupley’ might feel irrelevant or just another thing to add to the endless list of to-dos, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that you are what holds it all together.”
All of these challenges might make returning to a normal sexual life with your partner difficult, causing a loss of emotional and sexual intimacy.
What Percentage of Couples Stay Together After Having a Baby?
A renowned relationship researcher, John Gottman of the Gottman Institute in Seattle, Washington, U.S., found that most couple separations during the first seven years happened due to the couple becoming parents.
According to Dr Gottman’s findings, 67 per cent of surveyed couples reported a decrease in satisfaction with their marriage following the birth of their first child.
Relationships after childbirth – How Do You Have a Relationship After Kids?
New parents transition from being a couple to a family. This period of adjustment can be stressful and confusing. The huge responsibility of being a parent mainly affects women in heterosexual relationships.
According to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, one in every ten women has postpartum depression within a year after giving birth. Postnatal depression can also impact spouses and fathers.
You may be stressed out trying to balance your family and career while maintaining intimacy with your partner and keeping your marriage happy.
However, when you become a parent, your whole focus shifts to the child. Your priorities change. You may have identity issues because you no longer have the freedom you once did, as your new responsibilities far outweigh your liberty. You may have to let go of previous habits, relationships, and hobbies when you become a parent.
You may eventually lose your couple identity, too, getting entirely immersed in your new role.
How to Rekindle Your Relationship with Your Partner
The shift in self-concepts that occurs after having a child can impact your emotions, mental health, and sense of self. For example, you might feel isolated, exhausted, and anxious, have difficulty making decisions, and be unable to relax and enjoy sex the same way you used to.
But if you still love your partner, you might ask yourself, “How do I reconnect with my partner after children?”
So here are some tips to assist you in understanding how to improve communication and restore sex intimacy with your partner after having children.
Take it Step-By-Step
To rekindle postpartum intimacy, take things one day at a time in the first several weeks after having a baby. Cuddling, kissing, massaging, or having a warm bath together are all great ways to be intimate and relate to one another after becoming parents.
“And if sex is on your mind, try to remember that physical intimacy through cuddling and being close, is key. There’s no need to push yourselves to have penetrative sex, if one of you isn’t ready.” Martina Bador – individual, couples and psychosexual therapist at Leone Centre
Spending quality time together might help you shift your focus from sex to emotional connection and communication, which could lead to a feeling of closeness and safety.
Discuss Your Sexual Life Openly
The discrepancy in sexual desires and needs is very common for couples after having children.
However, incompatible libidos and different desires around intimacy can lead to emotional distancing, communication issues, adultery, and separation or divorce.
To overcome the barrier of different sexual needs and desires, you must be open and honest with each other about your bedroom issues.
The partner with the higher sex drive usually feels rejected and ashamed, which can hurt their confidence. At the same time, the partner with a lower libido might feel pressured and guilty for not meeting their partner’s expectations.
So, try communicating your feelings about sex without blaming each other or being defensive.
Schedule Your Couple Time and Sex Dates
Intimacy in marriage might take a bit of planning. Although spontaneity and excitement fuel sex desire, they are nearly impossible to maintain once the new baby arrives.
“It would be great to have date nights, but that’s often impractical.” Leone Centre therapist Martina Bador suggests. “Try to fit in a couple of 10–20-minute slots in the week, with no phones or screens, time to just be together, and check in. How are you feeling, what’s troubling you, what’s bringing you joy? 10-20 minutes might seem like a low bar, but it’s good to start somewhere!”
You could also decide when you both want to have sex. Open communication about sex can help you schedule the time when you both have the most energy and want to be intimate.
Set the mood for intimacy by having a regular date night, taking a warm bath together, lighting candles in the evening — whatever helps you relax and get in the mood for sex.
Seeking Couples Therapy
Couples counselling can help you openly talk about your worries, understand each other’s standpoint, and develop a plan to make your marriage more intimate again.
Through couples counselling, you may work through difficulties, be more honest about your sexuality, and find strategies to satisfy each other’s needs and restore the loss of intimacy.