Things can get quite… Disorganised, shall we say? After a baby is born. One of the pieces of advice my husband and I took to heart was to not forget about our marriage and each other, and to make space for one another.
We have found that the devil—or in this case, the angel?—is in the details. We made sure to have some form of physical contact every day, even if it was only holding hands. We made sure to pray together, even if it was only a small prayer. We made sure to listen to the other person state how they were feeling and what were the biggest challenges of the day. We listed a couple of things we were grateful for every day. In short, we took some of the simplest things that experts recommend couples do to strengthen their relationship and made time for them. And because these were the simplest of the bunch, we always managed to make the time.
Something that we thought about only later that we feel might have added even more intimacy in our marriage in our first year as parents was to have a set of questions to ask each other. It would have been nice to have a question a day—that each day of the week be dedicated to delving into one question.
Here are some of the questions I would have added on this list.
What Did You Do Today That Made You Think “I Can Do This”?
Being a new parent is overwhelming and it can be easy to focus on everything we don’t know how to do. But a lot of the things we have to do really are instinctive. I was amazed and proud to see how quickly—I mean, within minutes—my husband became comfortable holding our baby. By the end of her first day in this world, he looked like he had been holding babies forever.
Listing the things that we did well would have gone a long way into assuaging our fears, especially in the face of all the unsolicited and outdated advice we were getting from older parents, who, however well-meaning, often left us feeling less-than-adequate.
What Help Do You Wish You Had Had Today?
I’ll be honest: the answer to this one might have been, at times, “A wet nurse” or “An in-house nanny.” I even once found myself wishing for a personal driver! Funnily enough, when I shared this with my husband, we went on a tangent in which we drew out a ridiculously lavish lifestyle. After that bit of hilarity, we actually were often able to figure out something humble yet simple that would make our lives a little easier.
How Was Today Different With Baby Different From Last Year Without Baby?
Needless to say, dates and outings change drastically once baby is born. There is a period of adjustment and, for some, of grieving. Discussing these changes openly—and using things like Facebook memories to remember life pre-baby—can help let go of the way things were and accept the new reality parents face. You should of course ideally have discussed all of this beforehand, but a lot of parents don’t really delve into this and are taken by surprise at how different things are post-baby. But it’s OK! This is what this question helps with.
What Did You Do To Take Care of Yourself?
Parents let go of a lot when they have a child—and sometimes, they let go of things they shouldn’t. It really helps to look at what they are doing to take care of themselves—either they will realise they are not doing anything at all and start doing something, or they will be able to slowly add on to whatever they are doing to better take care of themselves. Taking showers? Great! Now add on moisturizing. Stretching in the morning? Fantastic! Now add on a couple of deep breaths. Saying one prayer in the evening before bed? Lovely! Now add on reading a little bit from Holy Scripture or inspiring quotes. For your baby’s sake, learn to take care of yourself amidst the chaos.
What Do You Miss About “Us”?
This is another question that helps deal with the grief some parents go through for their old life. A friend of mine started asking herself this question regularly and would cry for the life she and her husband had had before their three kids, and her resentment towards them, which she had been fighting for years, melted like snow in the spring.
Having a child can do wonders for a marriage—but only if you let it. A strong foundation can be built on even in the chaos of a baby’s first year, with small but systematic steps. If it works for you, create a list of questions, print them out, and put them somewhere visible—and go through them, one at a time, with your spouse. You’ll be amazed how far such a little something can go.
Any tips on how to strengthen a marriage after having a baby? Drop them below!