When The Baby Comes And Romance Wanes, Focus On Teamwork
By Yasmine Abbasakoor
PHOTO © Jozef Polc/123RF
Sep 18, 2018
In other cultures, places and times, childbirth is treated like the serious medical situation it is. But for some reason in Western culture we’re lauded if we pop ‘em out, hit the gym and make passionate love to our partner within days. It’s absurd. Not just for the mother, but for the whole family.
What about reframing a couple as a team temporarily? If the teammates have the occasional moment of amorousness that’s a bonus....
Our post-baby expectations are way too high and these misguided hopes strain a relationship. Like mine for example — after my first was born, I barely had energy to nurture the baby, let alone my marriage.
If you’re into sexing it up when you’re knee-deep in diapers, great. But maybe marriages often struggle postpartum because reality can’t match up to our anticipation? Celebrities always cite date night as the trick to keeping a marriage happy post baby — and frankly, that’s not fair. Most new parents do not have the caregivers, energy or resources needed for a successful date night.
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Three weeks postpartum, I went out for dinner alone with my husband. My husband had good intentions, but I still had low iron, a recuperating vagina and a baby who was feeding constantly. There’s a picture of me that night, sitting (gingerly) on a swing trying to be free-spirited. I was going for “I AM A RELAXED EARTH MOTHER WITH ENDLESS LOVE TO GIVE.” But all I think when I see the photo now is “that poor woman, why didn’t someone put her to bed?”
We’re going to do this marriage thing for the rest of our unnaturally long lives, so we have forever to snuggle up under the stars ... or make out with unforced passion.
I tried desperately to enjoy something I wasn’t ready for because I wanted to make my husband happy. Do that once, OK — but repeated attempts to make someone else happy in the midst of pelvic strain could cause resentment.
What about reframing a couple as a team temporarily? If the teammates have the occasional moment of amorousness that’s a bonus, but lower the romantic expectations to get through the toughest spots together. Even a good baby is so much work. Talk to your partner about what the priorities are around the house and with the baby, so you’re both on the same page. Raking the leaves might take a backseat to bottle washing, and sometimes these things have to be explained.
When the romance naturally wanes during this time period, there can definitely be hurt feelings. My husband said he felt left out for the first few months. The baby wanted me and I just wanted to be alone when my duties were done. This is a pretty common sentiment I hear from partners. I get it. It sucks feeling less loved than you’re used to.
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You know what else sucks? Waking up three times a night to be milked, not being able to walk up and down the stairs because your vagina might fall out and realizing college boys will never look at you the same way. So I have advice for partners feeling temporarily less tended to: Turn your head to the little one relying on you and do a deep dive on the parenting. That doesn’t suck at all. That’s the most fulfilling and rewarding work you’ll do. And I promise, the love will return from all directions.
We’re going to do this marriage thing for the rest of our unnaturally long lives, so we have forever to snuggle up under the stars, enjoy a meal at a restaurant or make out with unforced passion. We have borderline too much time. Now that my husband and I are out of the newborn jungle he often looks at me and simply asks, “You again?”
The irony of dropping the pressure on the romance for a bit is that once you start working as a team, both partners will feel more in love than ever. After all, there’s nothing sexier than a partner who asks how naptime went, and really means it.
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