Ask the Mamas: How Do We Get the Spark Back in Our Relationship?

life-after-baby

Each week we will ask our mamas a question from our readers that pertains to babies, toddlers or parenting. Make sure to check back each Tuesday to see their responses!

Do you have a question you’d like to ask the mamas? If so, send us an email with your question to askthemamas@mamasaywhat.com.

Mama Say What reader Jodi asks:

My little man is 6 months old. It has been at least that long since I had some quality alone time with my husband. We haven’t really found time for a date night and once the baby is asleep, we veg out and watch TV on the couch or go to bed. Any ideas for how to get spark back in our relationship?

I am a firm believer that while it’s obviously crucial to care for your little ones and meet their needs daily, it’s equally important to nurture your relationship with your significant other. Even though it might be tough for some mamas to leave their kiddos with a sitter, I would recommend biting the bullet and DO IT! Your little one will be fine (they often surprise us) and you will hopefully have an enjoyable and relaxing night away. Plan for dinner and a movie and ask a friend or relative to come and babysit. If you want to slowly work into it, have the sitter come over after they fall asleep.

Also, find times when you’re at home to snuggle with your husband after your little one is down for the night. Sit together on the couch, hold hands, cuddle together and try to remember what it was like when you were dating. It takes two to get the spark back! Good luck! ~Mary Ellen M.

Image by Cari Hollis Photography

When my oldest was about seven months old, I put her to bed, lit some candles, ordered takeout and brought out a bottle of champagne. I set up pillows and blankets on the floor. We watched a romantic movie. We had a little “picnic” on our living room floor. It definitely put the spark back in our relationship. ~Bonnie N.

We make it a point to go to bed without the TV at least a couple nights a week… we sometimes have a date night at home and play a board or card game. A couple favorites are Bananagrams and Would You Rather? ~Miriam R.

Image by Cari Hollis Photography

The first year or so of parenthood was difficult for us in this department. I was working but desperately wanted to be a SAHM, my MIL was living with us so she could be our daycare provider and my son was still waking three to four times to nurse throughout the night. Between lack of sleep and discontent, most of my energy was spent trying NOT to build resentment toward my husband and MIL. Needless to say, maintaining some spark in my marriage was not a priority.

We rarely had date nights because both my husband and I wanted to spend all of our non-working time home with our son. Weekends were spent reconnecting as a family. We knew it would be good to have the occasional date night, but it wasn’t a priority for either of us.

It wasn’t really until our son was 12 months old before we started doing things solely as a couple. We did the occasional movie or dinner out but we were always home before TJ’s bedtime so I could nurse him to sleep.

These days I’m happily a SAHM but we don’t live close to family and friends anymore, so we very rarely get the opportunity to go out somewhere without our son.

A date night for us can simply be watching a movie together at home or catching up on our favorite shows on the DVR. We like to make a batch of hurricane popcorn (it’s so yummy!) or share some ice cream and enjoy the time together watching grown-up shows or movies. For us, a “date” doesn’t have to involve a sitter and dinner out of the house, it can simply be time we spend together while our son is asleep.

Even something as simple as sitting and talking together while we watch our son play at the park can really feel good and keep us connected as a couple.~Alex T.

This was/is really tough for us. We did put our relationship second for a good amount of time but I totally agree on biting the bullet with the sitter and taking a night out to enjoy. When my little man was about that age, we dropped him off with grandma and grandpa (even though we were still co-sleeping at the time) and went to a bed and breakfast for the night, we had a wonderful dinner with a shared bottle of wine and a good night’s sleep and were revved and ready to go for another month! We also try to take time a few nights a week after our little ones go to bed to have a glass of wine and chat on the couch just to remember we have adult lives. ~Corey P.

Image by Cari Hollis Photography

Before my child was born I imagined evenings alone with my husband while the baby slept peacefully in his crib. I imagined romantic weekend getaways where we could reconnect as man and wife because I knew how important it was to nourish that foundation for our family.

But the reality of my baby’s needs and our circumstances turned out to be quite a different story. We had no family or friends around who could babysit for us. Hiring a stranger only caused traumatic screams and breath-holding episodes that terrified everyone. I had breastfeeding issues that meant I couldn’t be away from my baby for longer than an hour tops, and that was around the clock.

He couldn’t sleep longer than 15 minutes without me touching him so that meant I went to bed when he did. At six months I still wasn’t getting longer than two hour stretches of sleep, so exhaustion was overwhelming.

My husband and I would tell each other every day how much we missed each other. We found out the hard way that sometimes a baby’s needs overwhelm your entire world. So we made a sort of pact with each other to take this time out and know that we would find each other again at the end.

We stole our moments when we could, tried to hold hands, hug and kiss to connect physically every chance we had, always remind each other what we love about our spouse, show gratitude for everything, and remind each other daily that this would be temporary.

That was the best we could do with what we had at the time. We became so grateful when we would get 30 minutes alone together. I think it actually made us more appreciative of each other since we were forced to prioritize our time together.

Remember that even when reality falls short of your expectations, you can still make it work in your own way. “Date nights” are a wonderful thing but they aren’t the only way to still “date” your spouse. It’s often just the little acknowledgements throughout daily life that make the difference.

The unexpected compliment, the random pat on the behind as you walk by, the thoughtful act that makes their day a little easier, the sincere expression of gratitude for all they do for you and your children, the pat on the back that lets you know they understand you’re giving everything you have to your child right now and that’s OK.

The most important thing that got us through that time was not pressuring ourselves or each other to do more than we could at the time. Modern society makes you feel like if you aren’t perfectly juggling every aspect of your life at every single moment, then you are failing. Sometimes you do have to take things one at a time and do your best.

At six months I felt I was failing. I wasn’t able to have date nights with my husband so I felt like a terrible wife and therefore like a terrible mom for letting my family down. Six months felt like an eternity. But looking back, I realize six months wasn’t very long at all for us all to adjust to this new life. So take your time, don’t worry if you haven’t perfected it yet. It’s a process and for some it can take longer than you wanted to find your balance. Don’t be too hard on yourself for that.~Laura K.

Image be Cari Hollis Photography

The first few months of adding a new life to a family is hard on ANYone, my family included, and I had the world’s “easiest baby.” A lot of my issues of “reconnecting” with my husband after our son was born stemmed from my resentment toward him in those first couple of months.

What seemed to me at the time that, while my life was completely totally irrevocably different, his life had pretty much stayed the same. While I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and my entire life, being and existence had changed overnight… he still went on as normal. That was HARD for me to swallow and I felt extremely cut off from him, myself and our relationship.

Date nights, which we did consistently pretty much from two months on, helped but we still were not seeing eye to eye and I still felt like we would never get back to our normal selves.

What helped?? In all honesty — time. I think settling into our new roles and new responsibilities was a big adjustment for us and when we finally accepted them and got used to our new lives as parents we were able to then focus on “us.” Getting out and spending alone time is only so good if you can honestly connect with one another and if you are both on the same page.

Once I felt comfortable in my role as “mommy,” it was SO much easier to bond and relate to my husband and from there on it was smooth sailing. I was able to give myself more to him AND our son and felt like “myself” again.

We’re now expecting our second child in a few months and I know we will go through another adjustment period, but I hope that because I have already accepted this new life and have learned to adore being a mama it may be a bit easier on the “us” part of the puzzle. ~Melissa T.

 

The advice given here is solely based on our individual experiences and in no way is it going to be perfect for every mama, every baby, and every situation. None of us are medical doctors. If you have a question regarding a medical topic we can give our opinions, but please consult with your doctor. We are not liable or responsible for the results of following any specific advice in any given situation.

One Response to Ask the Mamas: How Do We Get the Spark Back in Our Relationship?

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Postpartum Warnings Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

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