And Then There Were 3...How to Keep Things Hot After Baby
A typical Saturday night in the life of a single couple usually looks like this: getting dressed up, dinner out, maybe a movie afterwards followed by some sex if you're lucky. And then a baby comes and EVERYTHING changes. Your nice outfit? Yeah, it's likely yoga pants and no bra. Dinner out? It's called take-out, and it's luxury because you need to save to pay for all those pricey diapers. Movie? You won't see a movie in a theater above a "PG" rating for a decade. And sex? What's that? Ironically, what you did to make the baby is really hard to do once he or she actually gets here. Nap time becomes the only time for intimacy, and usually you just want to nap too!
So what's a couple to do to keep the romance alive? All is not lost! While 'date night' often has to be amended, it doesn't have to disappear. Because it should not. Having time together to connect as a couple is essential. While it is true that you do connect with your partner while you watch them care for your child, it's not the same. That is "mom" or "dad" role, not exactly sexy.
Take some time, even with baby (but preferably not if you can get grandma to babysit), to break out of the norm and get dinner out or go to the beach for a picnic. Those small things are important to break the monotony and force each of you to remember each other as people, not just parents. Keep the baby talk to a minimum. Slap on some makeup or grab a collared shirt and just go.
When it comes to the sex part, things can be tricky. Once you're cleared to do it by your doctor, the desire may not be there. Your body is destroyed and that baby weight for some odd reason didn't all leave with the baby! Dad may have also gained some sympathy weight, leaving you both feeling not so hot about your naked bods. But reconnecting in bed is also important to keeping the flame alive after baby. I suggest having sex even if the initial desire isn't there because it will likely be sparked once you get going. And it's also something you did before baby that will be a little or a lot different, but reminds you of who you are and who your partner is, along with why you love them and find them attractive.
Take the time as well to feel good about your own body as well. When baby goes down for a nap go for a walk outside with him or her strapped to you. But no matter how much exercise you get, the hard truth is that your body will never be exactly the same. It's hard to learn to accept that things are different when you look in the mirror, but exercising and putting effort into how you look (hair, makeup) does go a long way to help a new mom feel pretty again. And to the dad's out there: never, ever tell your wife/girlfriend they look anything other than amazing, because they basically just pushed a brick out of a pinhole so be quiet or complimentary, those are the only two options.
The last piece is the day-to-day new normal that you both have to adjust to. Gone are lazy Sundays spent in bed or having endless mimosas at brunch. Bye bye going ANYWHERE without being at least 15 minutes late and needing to pack the entire house. Seriously, why do 8-lb babies require so much crap?! While it's true that little errands like grocery shopping have become entire day-long events, they can still be a time to hang out with your partner. Instead of trying to do everything on your own (speaking to the primary baby caretaker in the relationship), spend weekends together doing some of those errands together as a family. It will make it easier on you as well, since doing anything with a baby is basically impossible.
Remember to communicate, communicate, communicate! If not, resentment is bound to build up. No partner should feel ignored or overly responsible in the relationship. Use 'date night' or after the kiddo has gone to bed to catch up with each other, and not just with your DVR'd shows. Although that is also good bonding too! Yes, things have changed and life is 100% different. But with a little prioritizing, things will only get better from here. Trust me, there is nothing more endearing that seeing your partner rock his newborn son to sleep or more hysterical that seeing him get peed on. These are the things that will bind you together even through the sleepless nights.