Aaron and I went to the same high school. He was the cute older football player with long surfer boy hair and he had no clue that I existed. It was a pretty typical teen romance story, except that he didn’t give me a makeover as part of a bet with his friends that he could make me popular, and we didn’t dance together at the senior prom. It was actually four years after he graduated that we officially met and our love story began.
The timing was perfect and our relationship progressed quickly and effortlessly. Within three months we were sharing an apartment together, and six months after that we were engaged. When it’s right you know it and we were excited to start our lives together as husband and wife. After 13 months of dating, we said our vows in an intimate ceremony with our close friends and family. Five months later, we found out we were expecting our first baby.
We knew early on that we didn’t want to wait long before starting a family together, and we were overjoyed to have our first baby on the way. We started preparing for our new addition right away. Every detail from the color of her room to how we would bring her into the world was carefully planned out, but we left out one very important thing. We underestimated the affect a new baby could have on our relationship so we didn’t plan ways to ensure we remained close to each other.
When Isla was born, we were so caught up in our new roles as parents that our first roles as partners went to the back burner. I was, and still am, breastfeeding our daughter, so by the time we finally felt comfortable enough to leave her with her grandparents for a date night, we were limited in how long she and I could be separated. I also noticed that all Aaron and I ever talked about was our daughter. Not to mention the difficulty finding time for intimacy.
Of course it’s perfectly understandable that you would want to talk about your sweet baby all the time, but if you want your marriage to stand the test of time, you need to keep reminding each other of why you fell in love in the beginning.
I’ve made a list of 3 things my husband and I make a point to do to be sure the other person knows he or she is loved and wanted. They may take a conscious effort in the beginning, especially if you’ve already fallen into a routine that revolves around your new baby, but before you know it they will be second nature again just like when your romance began!
1. Physical Touch
I’m a WAHM so the best time for me to complete tasks is when my husband is home from work and able to care for our daughter. I would be busy doing something and he would come up behind me and wrap his arms around me. I used to shrug him off because it was slowing my productivity, unknowingly hurting his feelings and our relationship. It took months for me to realize what I was doing, and that was only after he finally admitted I was hurting him.
We’re all busy, but most of the time whatever we are doing can wait. Slow down and hug your partner. Hold hands, give him a massage, run your fingers through his hair, or slap his butt and tell him it looks nice. It will mean the world to him.
2. Be Present
It’s easy to completely absorb ourselves in social media, text messaging, and online gaming these days. There were times I completely forgot where I was and what I was doing because I was so consumed with something on my phone. Not only was I not being present for my husband, I was setting a poor example for my daughter. Put it away and enjoy the precious time with your family!
Dinner until bedtime is designated family time. The phones get put away and our undivided attention goes to each other. We talk about our days, cook together, and play with our daughter without allowing our phones or other devices to divert our attention.
I viewed date nights as a huge inconvenience for several months. It takes a lot of time to pump milk for the baby, pack her diaper bag, make sitter arrangements, and get myself looking presentable. When we finally get out, the outing is limited to only a couple of hours unless I want to manually express milk in my car. Talk about a mood kill.
Yes, date nights take a lot of planning and preparation when you have a baby. There isn’t much room to be spontaneous and exciting, but that does not mean it won’t be worth it. Partners need one-on-one time so they keep feeling that spark and connection.
Aaron and I now commit to weekly dates. Sometimes our dates are baby friendly, and sometimes they don’t even involve leaving the house. The point is to do something fun together, whether it’s sharing a bottle of wine and watching a movie after Isla goes to sleep, playing a board game, casting a line into the pond down the street, or the occasional splurge at a nice restaurant.
It’s too easy to fall into a routine where you get home, eat, watch tv, go to bed, and repeat. If you feel the fire dying down in your relationship after having a baby, I hope you find these three tips useful in building that old flame back up.
If you and your partner do something special to stay connected, please share in a comment!