Couples’ physical relationships often change after having a baby. And, this is okay. It is important to have reasonable expectations and know that this is likely to happen and is not necessarily a reflection of the strength of your relationship. As you begin to get more sleep, and feel calmer in your new role as parents, your physical relationship will likely begin to look like it did pre-baby. While it is important to accept that your physical relationship will change after baby makes three (for a while at least), this does not mean you should neglect it completely. You might just need to be creative. Too tired for romance at night? Try naptime! You get the idea…
Archive for February, 2009
Has your physical relationship taken a hit since your baby arrived? When baby is finally fast asleep, the first thing on the minds of new parents is often sleep, not sex! Furthermore, new moms often don’t feel like themselves after having a baby. Aches and pains, leaky breasts, and self-consciousness about that last bit of baby fat lurking in all the wrong places can certainly sap romantic feelings. One of the best ways you can keep the romance alive is by communicating.
When one or both members of a couple routinely say, “Not tonight, honey,” all sorts of incorrect assumptions can be made – “He doesn’t find me attractive anymore” or “She is giving all her love to the baby and has none left for me.” It is essential that new parents openly discuss how they are feeling about their physical relationship. This is the only way to ensure that misunderstandings don’t ensue. Similarly, if you and your spouse are feeling angry and resentful about day-to-day things, you are unlikely to feel affectionate toward one another. So, use your best communication skills to solve day-to-day problems….your love life will surely benefit.
When we are feeling badly about our appearance, we believe that everyone notices (and judges us badly because of some real or imagined flaw). Thomas Gilovich, a psychologist at Cornell University, does research on the “spotlight effect.” He defines the spotlight effect as “the tendency for people to believe that their actions and appearance are more likely to be noticed, judged, and remembered by others than is actually the case” (Gilovich, Kruger & Medvec, 2002). In a particularly clever experiment, Dr. Gilovich and his colleages asked college students to wear a particularly embarrassing t-shirt (I believe it sported a picture of Barry Manilow!) as they walked in front of a group of observers. The students in the study wildly overestimated how many of people in the group of observers noticed their shirt. What does this research teach new moms? If you are sporting a slightly larger roll of stomach fat or slightly saggier breasts than before you had your baby, it is quite likely that these differences are way more noticeable to you than to others! What will people notice when they get together with you after your baby arrives? Your baby – not your tummy.
There is no doubt that getting out for that one date each month is hard. Finding a babysitter who you can trust, who is available to come when you need them, and who you can afford is daunting. But, remember that you don’t need to leave the house to inject a bit of romance into your lives! You can….
-Save some affection for each other: Don’t give all of your kisses, hugs, and coos of endearment to your baby – save a few for your spouse too! A warm hug can communicate a whole lot with no words at all. And, don’t try to use the “I don’t have the time” excuse. A hug or a kiss only takes 10 seconds, tops.
-Reserve time for just Mom and Dad: On at least one evening each week, have dinner with your spouse after your baby goes to bed. Light a candle, have something special to eat (rather than a half-eaten chicken finger from baby’s plate!), and listen to what one another has to say. Even if you are tired and frazzled and have brought a stack of work home from the office, keep in mind that staying connected in this way is the best gift you can give to your baby.
Given that your baby weight won’t immediately disappear after having your baby, try some quick fixes to body dissatisfaction. Buy a few new outfits that fit you properly when you are too skinny for maternity clothes, but too big for your old clothes. Treat yourself to a cute new haircut. Make sure you are wearing well-fitting, supportive undergarments under your clothes (especially if you are nursing). These little fixes can make you look and feel better about yourself.