6 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong After Having a Baby

marriageA new, rather unsurprising study has concluded that newborns can wreak havoc on marriages. Shocking, I know. The study says that following the introduction of an infant into the family, husbands and wives can experience a phenomenon know as "baby quakes", which shake up the relationship and make one, or both, parties shun intimacy. Sad.

As someone with what I think is a good relationship, I can say, yes. Babies do shake up marriages. You're sleep-deprived; you have no idea what's going on; and everything you knew your entire life has been turned upside down. It's a learning experience, and it can bring out your worst. But one thing you don't want to do is let your marriage fall to the wayside. It's the thing that created that sweet (loud!) bundle of joy in the first place.

It may not be easy, but here are 6 ways to keep your marriage solid during the chaotic throes of parenthood.

1. Find someone you trust. Leaving your precious child in the hands of someone else is hard, so you need to find someone you really trust -- and make them the de facto "go to" person when you need a little time away. Not only will it make the whole leaving thing easier for your child, it will make finding time away a lot easier for you.

2. Take time for yourself -- individually. Having a solid relationship is almost impossible if you never have a second to yourself. It may sound corny, but you need to nurture yourself, in addition to nurturing your family. It's a crucial part of having good relationships. Try allotting one night a week where you each get to do one thing for yourself after the baby's gone to bed. It will make a world of difference.

3. Think outside the box when it comes to date nights. You don't always have to do dinner or a movie. My family recently moved, and one night, before we were in our new home, my father agreed to watch my daughter. My husband and I had a million things we wanted to get done, so instead of using the time to have a nice meal and a glass of wine (like we felt obligated to!), we grabbed a burger and went to Home Depot. Romantic? Actually ... yeah. We hadn't run an errand together since having a child. It felt like when we first got together -- when any old thing is fun and exciting. Totally wasn't expecting that!

4. Go away. Full disclosure, I can't speak from experience here, as I haven't yet left my daughter for the night, but this summer, my husband and I have plans to go away -- just the two of us -- for one night. To be honest, it was scary making the decision, and there was a part of me that even felt like a crappy mom, but now that we've decided to go for it, we couldn't be more excited. Yes, we'll miss our little doll like crazy, but an entire 24 hours without a baby (wine! sleeping in! makeup!) sounds like sheer heaven, and I have no doubt it will be good for us.

5. Don't let yourself go. Fact: It's not nearly as easy to take the time to get gussied up when you have a kid, but not wearing sweatpants and a ponytail every day goes a long way. I've started showering at night after my daughter goes to sleep (dry my hair and all!), and I feel it's really made a difference. I feel better about myself, which makes my marriage better.

6. Think before you snap. Snapping at one another is pretty common when there are kids involved, but try this tactic instead: Don't say anything at all. Ever heard the saying "silence is golden"? By not immediately firing back after a salty comment from your partner, it'll give them a minute to reflect on what they said, and odds are, they'll realize they didn't mean it.

What tips do you have for keeping your marriage solid?


Image via Thomas Abbs/Flickr

baby first year