This post is proudly brought to you by Little One’s Nappies
Bringing a baby into the world (especially your first) is without a doubt, one of the biggest tests your relationship will ever endure. The way you approach intimacy early on in your child’s infancy can set the tone for family harmony and permanently affect the bond you have with your partner.
With all of the attention focused on tending to your baby’s constant needs, romance often comes to a screeching halt. It’s not surprising, considering both mums and dads are likely to be battling sleep deprivation, mental and physical exhaustion, and stress, as they learn to adapt to all-hours nappy-changing, feeding and laundry. Whilst romance might not come naturally at the start, it’s important to recognise that maintaining some form of intimacy is a basic need for mums and dads – just as eating and sleeping is.
Couples should make a conscious effort to recreate physical and emotional intimacy on a daily basis. Don’t just wait until the ‘right’ or convenient time, or else it may never happen! We’ve canvassed some great tips for new parents – inspired by relationship experts – to help you keep the intimacy alive and strengthen your bond.
Allow yourself intimacy
Actually allowing yourself the opportunity for intimacy is the crucial first step. It’s surprisingly common for one or both parents to fall into the dangerous trap of thinking or feeling that they can be close to their baby, or to their partner, but not to both. They presume that intimacy must take a back seat until their child is older; not realising that the longer intimacy is gone, the harder it is to get back.
Although your experience with intimacy will not be quite the same with a newborn compared to your pre-baby days, couples can still maintain affection and desire without neglecting their responsibilities as parents. Remember that the best gift you can give your newborn is a strong, healthy relationship between the two of you.
Develop a culture of appreciation
Intimacy evolves when kids enter the picture, and the significance of emotional intimacy grows. Raising a newborn means relying on your partner for support like never before. It’s a chance to see them in a whole new light, as they demonstrate incredible strength and devotion for your child, and by extension – you. It’s important to celebrate those efforts, give verbal praise and show gratitude when those moments occur.
In high-stress situations, we can get caught up in pointing out what a partner is doing wrong, so catch them when they’re doing something right! Don’t assume your partner already knows that you appreciate what they’re doing. Even if they do, hearing that validation and approval first hand from you will work wonders for cultivating emotional intimacy.
- Reassuring them with statements like: “You were so great with the baby earlier today. It really made me smile”, but also making it about them instead of the baby: “Even with no sleep, you’re still gorgeous. How did I get so lucky?”
- Telling your partner “I love you” at completely random times can help reduce stress and break tension.
- Creating hand-written notes for your partner to find (or text messages if you insist), telling them how much they mean to you, adds excitement and spontaneity.
Practice small acts of service, daily
You’ve probably heard about the ‘Languages of Love’, and applied to the context of new parents, research has found that small acts of service daily are more effective at rebuilding lasting intimacy. While ‘special occasion’ activities such as weekly date nights are also valuable, relying on these alone can set you up for failure if things don’t go smoothly. Simple gestures repeated daily will cement trust and get you back into a rhythm of intimacy more quickly.
- Prioritise departures and arrivals with a proper kiss (not just a passive peck on the cheek!) and longing embrace with your partner – it sends a message that their absence matters, and that their return is a highlight of your day.
- Surprise your partner by relieving them of their duties for the morning/evening. It might mean stopping at Woolworths on the way home for a fresh supply of Little nappies, and taking care of all nappy-changing duties for the night while they recharge.
- Offer to give them a foot or back massage to provide physical touch and intimacy. Do this without pressure of it being a precursor for sex, and lovemaking should eventually follow!
Commit to a daily chat to check how each other is feeling.
Keeping your partner in the dark about how you’re feeling is never a good idea, and particularly when a newborn is involved. It’s important to create a safe space to voice any internal conflicts that may spill out into the relationship. Pre-planning a 15 minute chat as part of your daily routine is usually the best way to go about it, otherwise you’ll likely find excuses to postpone it.
Take steps to make it a judgement-free zone, and practice mindful listening by giving your partner your complete attention. Validate how your partner feels before offering advice, or else it may seem like lecturing. Remember that stress relating to children is often rooted in a person’s fear that they are failing their partner and their child, so don’t give them more reasons to doubt themselves.
- Show empathy: “That sounds overwhelming. I’d be at my wits end too. I can totally understand how you feel.”
- Show them you can help: “Let’s work through this together and find a solution.”
- Show affection: “Come here. I bet you could use a hug.”
These chats are also valuable in addressing any physical intimacy problems such as a low libido, which is often emotionally driven. When both partners experience trust and feel understood, closeness is bound to follow and bids for intimacy will be more readily embraced..
Never stop dating your partner
Okay, so dating may never again be quite as spontaneous as it was when you were childless and carefree, but welcoming a newborn doesn’t mean that you stop having fun or enjoying the chemistry you had when you first fell in love. As we’ve explored above, using emotional intimacy to encourage physical intimacy is key, but sometimes you need more to ignite desire.
It’s important to rediscover the shared passions and traditions that brought you together in the first place. Dates also allow for a sense of spontaneity that new parents are often longing for (and no, the surprises your baby leaves in their Little Ones© nappies don’t count!). These activities will allow you to reminisce on simpler times and remind each other that you do have an identity beyond just being a mother or a father.
Whilst your baby will naturally remain your #1 shared passion, baby-free activities are healthy, so enlist the help of your support network to make room for those times.
- Plan monthly date nights out in kid-free zones
- Keep shared hobbies sacred
- Have a ‘date night in’ with home delivered food, meaning no cooking or cleaning up to get in the way of your romance
- Lighten the mood where possible with playful/cheeky text messages during the day to know you still desire them
To reiterate the key takeaway from this article – don’t wait until the ‘right’ or convenient time to recreate intimacy, or else it may never happen! Raising a newborn is a challenge for even the strongest of relationships, but it can also cement unconditional love for one another and add a new dimension to your love.
“This post is proudly brought to you by “Little One’s Nappies”
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