Where Did the Spark Go When the Baby Arrived?
Have you noticed a change in your relationship with your partner since your baby arrived? Perhaps the passion is not as passionate – the flame merely a spark and the romance postponed until tomorrow, or the next day, or…the day after that.
Are you so tired and by the time you get to bed that the thought of anything other than sleep seems unbearable? Do you wonder what’s happened to the passion and if your relationship with your partner will survive? Be comforted – you are not alone.
Becoming a Parent
Throughout this developmental stage of becoming parents, couples re-define their relationship. There are not many events in life that challenge people as intensely as the transition from COUPLE to FAMILY and from PARTNER to PARENT.
I invite you to pause for a moment and consider the changes that may have occurred since your beautiful bundle arrived:
- Sleep deprivation
- Hormonal changes (need I say more?)
- Transformation of the woman’s body (and perhaps the partner’s – if both of you ate for two)
- Role re-definition
- Relationship changes
- Less/different couple time
- Changes in your sexual relationship (perhaps decreased sexual desire/contact)
- Reduced income
- Increased responsibility
Celebration and change
While this is a time of great celebration, it is also a time of far reaching change. Sharing your feelings in a way that allows both of you to be vulnerable and willing to change, is the key to maneuvering this developmental stage. It is a process! Not a one-time event. You became parents overnight, however, but parenthood is a lifelong journey. You’ve got lots of time to get used to.
So what about the dimming spark?
So what about the dimming spark? Is it an accurate reflection of the quality of the relationship between couples learning the parenthood dance? And what, if energy permitted, could re-ignite the spark – and keep the home fires burning?
What you can do
Commit to discussing the changes and to sharing your feelings without blame, or expectation for repair of what feels wrong (just listen without fixing), is a good place to start.
Parent versus Partner
Most people want to be good parents. When confronted with the reality of that job, lots get so focused on being good parents that they forget to be good partners.
Sometimes they lose sight of how important their partner really is to them. It is much easier to be a good parent when you have the support of someone that matters to you. Remember you are balancing the needs of your couple relationship and the needs of your new baby, while getting used to being a parent. So what can you do to balance these often competing needs and roles?
Balancing competing role demands
- Recognize the developmental stage your relationship and family is in.
- Be honest with yourself and your partner about what you need and how you feel.
- Find expression for every part of yourself – not just the parental parts.
- Parenthood is a process – you became a parent overnight, but you embody the role of parent over a lifetime.
- Remember that you are allowed to make mistakes.
- You will model a healthy couple relationship – a model based on honesty, integrity, intimacy, imperfection, apology, patience and compassion.
- Take heart as you embrace the many challenges of parenthood and know that you are not alone.
Be kind to yourself and your partner
Be kind to yourself and to the one you have chosen to chart this course with. Give that person the benefit of the doubt. And assume that they are every bit as confident and confused as you are. The developmental stage you’re in will not last forever. Before long you will find yourself wondering when you should add another dancer to the dance.
Rekindle the flames
While you get used to your role as parent, be sure to show your partner how important he or she is to you. And before you add another dancer to your family, rekindle the flames in your relationship by taking your valentine out for a dance.
Originally written for “The Mom & Caregiver” Magazine in February 2005
by Elizabeth Lacey