The transition to parenthood is challenging for most couples. Studies show that there is a significant dip in relationship satisfaction after the birth of a first child. It is natural for new mothers to be very baby-focused. However, even the most understanding man can, at times, feel shut out of mother/child dyad. Here are five suggestions to help you stay connected with your partner:
1. Compliment your husband and speak well of him in front of others. Men thrive on being appreciated. They are especially sensitive to any criticisms that they are not good providers or don’t spend enough time with the family. Before critiquing your husband for something he did (or didn’t) do, first ask yourself “Is what he did wrong, or is it just not the way I would do it?”
2. Prioritize your marriage; start with a date night. A romantic partnership is the foundation of a stable loving family. Try to let go of any guilt you may be feeling in taking some time away from your child. Remember, the long term goal of an intact two-parent family structure outweighs any short term discomfort you or your child may have with separation.
3. Understand that you are the emotional support for your husband. A typical woman has many people that she can talk with regarding a range of emotions, from angry to sad to scared. In our society, men are trained to be “strong” and independent. You, as his female partner, may be the only person he feels comfortable sharing his emotions with, particularly his fears. Give him messages of support that you have confidence in his abilities. Be available to him as he complains about work or expresses any feelings of self-doubt.
4. As you need to connect emotionally through words, most men need to connect physically to feel close. He too needs to feel desired. It makes him feel that even though you have seen his vulnerable side, you still view him as masculine. Women tend to boil down physically intimacy to the physical act of sex. Understand that for men, it is a whole lot more than that. It is the way he feels valued, special, and that you still view him as “your man.”
5. Strive to be a “good enough” mother. Your husband looks at you and thinks you are a great mother. He worries that you are stressing yourself out over whether you are “perfect” enough. It doesn’t allow you to relax and have fun. It’s not your fault. From the moment a woman is pregnant she is bombarded with society’s view of what a mother “should be.” It can lead a woman to feel that she is constantly failing. You aren’t failing. Chances are, if you are wondering if you are a good mother, you are a good mother. Bad mothers don’t typically wonder if they are bad mothers. Feel good about your choices and yourself. Relax and have fun.
Caroline Madden is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Burbank, CA. She specializes in helping adults have more satisfying relationships. She is the author of several relationship books including: How To Go From Soul Mates to Roommates in 10 Easy Steps (A Tongue & Cheek Guide to Marriage) Contact Caroline at: (626) 644-1609 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit CounselingWithCaroline.com or @CMaddenMFT for more relationship tips.