The leap we take hand-in-hand with our partner into parenthood is as miraculous and love-filled as it is stressful and life changing. It can take its toll on our relationship in ways we could never have imagined. . The sleep deprivation, 24-7 demands of a child, the new roles we’re negotiating ; it’s no wonder the majority of divorce occurs within the first 7 years of marriage. Babies have an innocent knack of pushing everyone and everything to its limit!
During the early parenting years, transitioning from a couple to a family unit can put even the strongest of commitments to the test. But it doesn’t have to make-or-break us.
Whilst any sort of intimacy may feel like the LAST thing on your mind, there are inroads through our crazy parenting schedules that can help couples remain connected.
Yes, I’m here to remind you that intimacy lives on (but yes it may take on a new form)! With a little creativity, patience and perseverance we can tend to our relationship in nourishing ways and find the connection we intended to maintain all along.
The experiences in the first 7 years of a child’s life sets the tone for their health, wellbeing and their future relationships. Let this be the inspiration for making small efforts in the name of love
Here are four approaches to cultivate an ‘alive’ and connected relationship, where intimacy moves with the ebb and flow of parenthood.
Trust the Process
It takes time to learn to parent. You are becoming a new person, as is your partner. You’ll be getting to know yourself in this role as well as a parental version of your partner! It’s a process. Learn to trust it.
The first year of parenting could more accurately be termed a Year Out of Time – a small window of time in the big timeline of your relationship. Many couples find reframing this first year as a mere moment in the bigger picture of their life together helpful as they wrap their head around the newness and their relationship takes a back seat. It is one big transitional year so give your partner the gift of time to make the transition, then set the intention to revisit anything that has changed about your relationship.
A helpful way to view your relationship is to break it down in two parts: the ‘business’ and the ‘connection’. The business is the mechanics and the smooth running of the day-to-day. Feeding, sleeping, changing, cuddling, settling – repeat!
The connection is getting to know and love one another each day.
It’s up to you and your partner to carve out time for re-connection despite your family routine and regardless of whether you are in the mood for sex. The connection, not the sex, is what brought you together in the first place, so allow this love to continue to grow. It has the power to re-ignite connection as a couple within your beautiful family.
Commit to Your Relationship Evolving
Once you become a parent your relationship will never be the same; you will both be called to evolve. Strengthening your relationship may need to take priority over work, friends, family or even your child, on occasion. It’s important to remember that even though you are a family, you are also an individual and still a couple, so each element of this triad needs to be respected and tended to lovingly.
Committing to this new chapter of re-discovering each other can be a fun and exciting journey of deepening your feelings and appreciation of one another. It’s not unlike the joy of discovering everything about this special person when you first met. Re-igniting attraction and desire in your relationship is no different to then, if you approach it with curiosity and a sense of endearment for the person your partner is growing into. You may notice you have both changed significantly and this can be an enticing experience that naturally leads to intimacy.
Enjoy Skin-on-Skin with Your Partner
It’s no secret that most new mums lose interest in sex and more often than not, one partner feels ready for sex earlier or wants it more often than the other. This mismatch can make landing that first intimate moment quite tricky.
So, we have to adapt. I suggest this effective tool to stir intimacy in a way that is more doable with the set of parenting circumstances that have become your ‘new normal’
Skin-on-skin time is precious bonding time not solely preserved for you and your child but can be the glue that keeps you and your partner intimately bound as well. Due to the release of oxytocin it stimulates, a couple can benefit immensely from skin-on-skin time enacted for as little as once a week. It evokes openness, relaxation, safety and connection, which are the essential ingredients for deepening intimacy. It’s a great way to start exploring intimacy again that is free of expectation, end goals and pressure to perform.
Take Time Off Together
together time a reality.
- Find a babysitter – and have more than one up your sleeve! Ask family or friends or hire a babysitter and plan a date together.
- Have a date at home – be creative. Is there anyone in your neighbourhood i.e. teenagers who can occupy your child for short periods while you share an uninterrupted cuppa or skin-on-skin session?
- Plan a daytime date – for when your child is not yet ready for an overnight stretch of time apart.
I often encourage couples to have a ‘staycation’ in their own neighbourhood, during the day! Yes, you can book a lovely hotel and stay from morning until evening and still make it home in time for your little ones bed time.
Above all, be willing to allow your relationship to show you a greater level of love previously unknown when you weren’t yet a family. It is pointless to force your relationship to return to how it once was, so roll with the new changes, get creative and strategic with your time and take small steps towards creating intimate moments. Consider it a blessing that you get to fall in love with the same person, again! And trust that the journey is evolving. As your baby grows, so do you all.
Belinda Bailey is a relationship specialist and has been working in the field of human potential and transformation for more than 25 years. With a professional background in Transpersonal Psychology and Neuro Linguistics and a growing education in Quantum Psychology, Neuroscience and epigenetics. Her mission in life is to help people to attract and have healthy relationships and reform the way couples interact. Removing the battle and misunderstanding and replacing it with a balanced, harmonious and safe connection for both partners.