After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (formerly known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) are now preparing to welcome a new baby into their lives. Making the transition from married couple to new parents is one that should not be taken lightly. Just as many relationship experts will tell you (including myself) preparation is the key to a successful long-term relationship and marriage. Beyond the wedding and the honeymoon, the more work you’ve done to prepare for this new position in life, the better. The same holds true for parenthood. It is easy to romanticize becoming a parent. Shopping for baby clothes, decorating the nursery, developing a birthing plan can be incredibly exciting. But no one is ever truly prepared for how bringing a new life into this world makes you feel. The stress and strain of a new baby can wreak havoc on your love life. It may even bring up issues from your own childhood that you have yet to heal from. While the transition from being a family of 2 to 3 can be challenging, here are some tips to get you through:
Discuss your expectations - Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations of reaching certain milestones in our lives. What parenthood looks and feels like will likely differ tremendously from what you had in mind. And partner’s response to a crying baby may surprise you even more! While it may seem premature, take the time to discuss some of the logistics you’ll need to sort out. How soon will you and your partner go back to work, if applicable? How will middle of the night feedings and diaper changes be divided up? When these scenarios have not been explored prior, your relationship can suffer tremendously.
Rally your support network for help - Many new parents wait until they are in desperate need before considering reaching out for help. The problem is that when you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, you may be even less likely to seek out support. Before your new baby arrives, start the habit of accepting help from others when it is offered. Accepting assistance from others doesn’t always come naturally, but with practice and time it gets much easier.
Find parenthood mentors - Balancing a healthy relationship with your spouse and a little one can be tough, but it is possible. Seek out other couples with children who have gotten through this stage of their marriage with their sanity in tact while continuing to prioritize their relationship. These mentors can give you fresh ideas to help you stay connected with your spouse when time and energy are in limited supply.
Banish ideas of perfection - Trying to live up to ideals you’ve built up in your mind since childhood can definitely take it’s toll on your marriage. Your partner will never be the perfect parent and neither will you. Much of the beauty of parenthood will be experienced in imperfect situations and circumstances. Embrace that this time in your life may be messy and chaotic (and that’s ok!).
Make a plan to prioritize your relationship - It’s not enough to simply state that you don’t want to lose that spark with your spouse. This will not happen magically and may not happen as spontaneously as it once did pre-baby. Whether a friend watches the baby while the two of you enjoy an uninterrupted dinner in another room or you plan a more elaborate date, do your best to commit some time to one another, however small.
Parenthood is a journey that can put a strain on any marriage, but committing to support one another throughout the process will help your relationship and your little one thrive.