Being a new dad is exciting, but it can put extra pressure on your relationship with your partner.
So, how do you navigate the bumps that can come up with the demands of looking after a baby?
When your baby comes home, you will find that your life is suddenly structured around their needs – their feeds, sleep, settling and daily care.
In the early days, you often do not get a lot of sleep.
With less sleep, you may get irritable and more easily annoyed. During these times it is easy to say or do things that can cause misunderstanding or hurt the other’s feelings.
You will find that suddenly you have less time to think about your partner’s needs and that you have less time to yourself. You may be the sole provider for your family and that comes with its own pressures.
What can I do?
It is often a good idea to negotiate your expectations and roles early on to smooth out any potential bumps in the road.
Pregnancy is a good time to discuss who will do what once the baby arrives and whether you have different parenting believes.
This worksheet can help you and your partner decide who does what and when, but remember it is important to be flexible and adapt as your baby continues to grow.
As your relationship changes and evolves as parents it is important to:
- Listen to each other
Good listening is the most important communication tool as it helps you understand from your partner’s point of view and their feelings. Show you are truly listening by stopping what you are doing and giving your partner your full attention.
- Talk about your relationship
When you talk about your frustrations, happiness or joy – remember that “I” statements are easier to listen to that “you” statements, which can sometimes come across like a criticism. For example, you could say “I feel a bit lonely when we spend less time together” rather than “You don’t make any time for us anymore”. Ensure you set time aside to talk.
- Accept your relationship will change
Your relationship may be in a new phase rather than off track, so it is good to talk about what the new phase means to you both and how you manage it.
- Manage conflict
You will have difference of opinion and talking about this can help you understand each other better. It is OK to disagree, and you can use the tips on listening to find out what you parent means rather than arguing your viewpoint.
- Stay close as a couple
Simple things like asking your partner what was good and not so good about the day can help you feel connected. Small gestures also show your partner that you care. Make sure you spend together as a couple to talk, reconnect and enjoy each other’s company.
Most couples do get their sexual relationship back on track eventually but putting more time into talking and spending time together can help you feel closer, and this helps your sex life. Just like time together, sex might also need scheduling in the early days.
It is important that in the early days you be kind to each other – you are both learning as you go.
Try and stay positive and enjoy the journey together.