- Express fondness and affection for your partner.
- Be aware of, and responsive to, what is going on in your partner’s life.
- Approach any problem you may encounter as a team and as something that is solvable.
This may sound like so much common sense, but in the hurly-burly of taking care of a baby, it’s often easier said than done. A new mother is consumed by the skin-on-skin care of her baby, diminishing her energy to initiate intimacy with her husband. This, not surprisingly, can be distressing to the man of the house. So what’s a couple to do?
Make time to connect
Six weeks after baby Aaron was born, Joe Gerber of Irvine, Calif., told his wife, Hillary, that he missed the affectionate gestures that had been so common pre-baby. “We agreed that we would make the effort to preserve and treasure our relationship,” says Hillary. “We really had to make the time to cuddle, talk and be together.”
But even the best-laid plans can be usurped at a moment’s shriek. The baby in the next room is the rough equivalent of a time bomb, short-circuiting attempts at intimacy. This is why some couples set aside one night a week as “date” night, even if that means just going to the park to sit on a bench together. “Early on, I got sitters so we could have special time for us,” says Lisa Levin, who lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif., with her husband, Dan, and 14-month-old son, Alexander. “It was hard at first to leave Alexander, but it was good for us.”
And, ultimately, what’s good for the marriage is good for the baby. As Barnes says, “The best security cushion for a baby is a strong marriage.”
About a year after my first child was born, my husband and I went to see a marriage counselor. We forged a détente there. I learned how deeply he missed “us” (read: more sex, please), and he came to understand how radically the birth and care of a baby had drained me (read: more sleep, please). With help, we learned to build a bridge back to one another by lovingly responding to each other’s needs. It worked: The lessons we learned endured when we had our second child.
See, we did have sex again.