1. Address marital conflicts before baby arrives. Issues that spark small disagreements before baby comes can cause all-out arguments when you add stress and sleep deprivation to the equation.
2. Avoid other high-stress situations at this time. If possible, put off changing jobs or moving to a new home around the time baby is due. “A lot of people buy a house when they’re expecting, and it’s the worst time,” says Los Angeles psychotherapist Marcia Bernstein, L.C.S.W. “You’re already going through a stressful transition.” Wait at least six months or whenever you resume some sense of a daily routine before taking on a new project or financial obligation.
3. Set limits on visits from relatives. A nonstop stream of house guests can challenge any marriage, but more so now than ever. Agree to time limits, communicate them to visitors and stick with those limits, suggests Bernstein.
4. Talk to other new parents. To be stuck in the house with a newborn for weeks on end can make both of you feel out of touch with the world and resentful. Reach out to other new parents who are in your neighborhood or whom you may have met in a childbirth-education class.
5. Adjust to the family bed. Sleeping together as a family in one bed has its advantages, but if you go the co-sleeping route, make sure you find other comfortable places in the house for cuddling and sex.
6. If the road gets rocky, seek help. Don’t wait until you’re on the verge of divorce to talk with a marriage counselor. Sometimes just a few sessions with a qualified therapist can open clogged lines of communication. For a referral to a licensed counselor in your area, contact the National Association of Social Workers at (800) 638-8799.