When I got pregnant my husband’s main concern had nothing to do with the baby. He kept bringing up how he was worried about how I’d be constantly snapping at him when I was sleep deprived and stressed. Clearly, baby proofing your relationship before baby is as imperative as after!
“Making a pact with your partner to keep nourishing the bond between you can make or break your post-baby love life,” says Lori Zaslow, co-founder of Project Soulmate. “Try making a contract, but in a cute way – this is not a prenuptial agreement. Remember the little things. Gestures that take minimal time, money or effort can go a long way. Buy each other small token gifts while out doing an errand and write each other sweet notes.” You can also, like in my case, pay a postpartum doula to remind your husband that it’s totally normal to say awful things in labor, delivery and in the first few months of parenthood – and neither parent should take things too personal in this difficult adjustment period.
Beyond that, Zaslow underlines that once a week date nights are a must. “Even when the baby is a newborn and asleep. Have a romantic dinner at home – don’t forget the candles and music. Take a bath or shower together. Get an in-house couples massage or a cooking lesson. When the baby gets a little older leave the house. Make sure you have family close by or babysitters on-call, and be sure to commit to a solo trip away once a year.”
It is also important to work hard as partners to ensure as little drama as possible. “Plan a Will. No one wants to think about this, but as parents, you must. Who will get your child or children if you both aren’t present? This can be a huge point of contention,” says Zaslow. “Decide where you want to live. One of you may like the urban life, one may prefer the suburbs. Where are the best schools? What about religion? Financial responsibilities? Make sure you are both on the same page.” It’s so important to start discussing these things before baby’s arrival when you can think clearly and not have your attention clouded.
Once baby is here, plan with your partner for the first child to help each of you do something sweet and small for your spouse. “Involve them in the picking out of token gifts, making notes (toddlers and young kids can scribble with crayons and dictate while a parent writes what the child wants to say),” says Zaslow. “It’s not only an adorable gesture from one parent to the other, it’s also great modeling for the child. You’re teaching them how to be warm and affectionate and how to expressive your feelings towards someone you love. And always remember: no matter how tough it gets – sticking to that commitment of consistent alone time together for your marriage is non-negotiable!”