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Mother & Baby Magazine
Having a baby can be a shock to couples when their lives change so drastically, but with a little thought for each other, having a baby can turn your relationship into a real partnership.
Your partner may feel envious of the time you have with your baby while he is at work. ‘Both of you are working equally hard in different ways,’ says Relate counsellor, Jo Young. ‘Make it clear you value your partner’s hard work and tell him that you need to feel valued for what you are doing, too.’
If you have put your career on hold to care for your new baby, or given up work altogether, you may find it hard to adjust to your new role as a mum. Jo Young advises, ‘If you are planning to return to work, look on this time as a wonderful break.’ And remember, whether you are temporarily or permanently stopping work, caring for a child is a worthwhile way to spend your days.
It can be hard for you and your partner to find a balance in caring for your new baby. He may feel inadequate because you get more experience through caring for your baby during the day than he does.
‘You may resent the fact that you are doing the lion’s share but, at the same time, find it hard to let your partner help,’ says Jo Young. ‘It’s important to help your parnter learn how to care for your baby. Don’t let him feel he can’t volunteer help - you’ll only end up feeling exhausted and resentful.’
A new baby can take up all your time and energy, and it can get to the point where you and your partner take it in turns to sleep or rest, while the other cares for the baby. ‘New parents can feel as if they are working shifts,’ says Jo Young. To break this pattern, make the effort to spend time together, just the two ofyou, even if it is only for an hour a day. Take advantage of grandparents or close friends who can help out, or book a babysitter. It can be hard for a new parent to leave their baby, but it’s vital to remember that you and your partner are still people with lives of your own.
Couples talk about their relationship and parenthood
‘We neglected each other in the early days’: Elaine, 28, is married to Jim, 28. Their son, Charlie, is nine months old.
Elaine: ‘Jim and I thought we could easily fit a baby into our routines, but the minute Charlie was born, our lives were turned upside down! Charlie became our top priority and we did neglect each other in the first few weeks. ‘Now Charlie is older, things are easier. When it comes to Charlie’s bath and bedtime, instead of saying ‘It’s your turn,’ we do it together. During the week, we each try to have a separate night out with friends. Socialising separately actually helps us feel closer.’
Jim: ‘I didn’t realise how much work a newborn requires. When I first went back to work, we both found it quite hard. I felt Elaine knew more about looking after Charlie than I did. Now he’s older, things are easier. We can leave him with friends occasionally and he even stayed with Elaine’s parents while we went away for a week together.’
‘We’ve changed - we’re more serious.’ Linda, 28, is married to Jeremy, 32. Their son Ben is three months old.
Linda: ‘We don’t spend as much time together now - at least not while we’re awake! When Jeremy gets home from work, I hand Ben to him and he gives him his last feed and puts him to bed. We sometimes have one hour together before we collapse into bed. Jeremy and I might have little time together, but because we share Ben, we’re closer than ever.’
Jeremy: ‘I knew my life would change when Ben was born, but it was still a shock. I was completely unprepared for life with a newborn. We’ve both changed since we became parents. We have to be more serious, because we’re responsible for another person.’
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