When you welcome your little bundle of joy into the world, things change. Things change for you, they change for your partner, and they change for your marriage. Lazy evenings in cuddling on the couch and binge-watching Netflix with a bottle (or two) of wine become a distant memory, sleep becomes much less predictable (mostly for mommy) and your responsibilities increase drastically. Through the first 7 months of our post-baby marriage, here’s what I have learned.
1) Communicate. Communicate in abundance. Communicate clearly. Communicate directly. I in no way am perfect at this – quite far from it, to be honest – but it has become blatantly clear to me that communication is your best friend.
2) Follow Through. Your wife needs to see that you are reliable, dependable, and that you can be trusted not only to support her but to take care of your child as well. So when you tell your wife you are going to take care of something for you, it is in your very best interest that you do what you say you are going to do.
3) Support your wife emotionally. When – yes, when – your wife struggles emotionally with the taxing job of motherhood, be her rock. You have no idea what she is going through, and she doesn’t expect you to. What she does expect, and rightfully so, is that the person she chose to go on this journey with will be there to lean on in tough times. Being a mother is a total bear of a job, including and not limited to changes to the body, lack of sleep, hormone changes and, for some, balancing a work/life/parenting balance. Fellas, you will not know what she is going through, and don’t try to fix her problems, but be a kind ear for her to talk to.
4) Clean. Yes, clean. Clean the kitchen. Do laundry. Again, this is something I struggle with. The last thing I want to do is clean after work, before dinner and while watching the baby. But trust me on this one, it goes a very long way. I know this one may sound obvious, but it’s a very big deal. A clean(ish) house creates a sense of relaxation and peace.
5) Be a present parent. Showing your wife that you are in this with her, participating with your baby and not looking to mommy to fix every problem, will take a load of pressure off her. If baby needs a diaper change, do it. If your baby is crying, figure out what they need. Play with your baby. Entertain your baby. Read to your baby. When mamma bear sees you hanging out with her child, it will give her a chance to catch her breath and kick her feet up. Even if only for a minute.
6) Spend time with your wife. Life gets very busy when baby comes home, but after a few months, you start to find your new “normal.” It can be very easy to get into the habit of not spending quality time with your wife, but do it anyways. Find a sitter, go out for a grown up dinner in grown up clothes, go to an art gallery showing, go to a sporting event – whatever it is that you and your wife enjoy doing, go do it. That quality time to be able to invest in your marriage again, to show her that you are still the man she fell in love with, is priceless. Make the investment.
Men, do these things successfully, at least most of the time, and you will be well on your way.