Baby’s crying, dinner’s boiling over, phone is ringing, your two year old just erupted and your partner (who’s really a great parent) asks you where the remote is.
Hmmm – not exactly the stuff of a great romance novel is it?
This week is Valentine’s Day, and for parents, Valentine’s Day can be particularly challenging.
These days, most of us marry for love, and we choose, as an expression of that love, to have children and raise a family together. A very romantic idea!
But as we walk back and forth trying to comfort a crying baby, and we’re hungry, tired and overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget that it was love and romance that brought us together as a couple.
Once we become parents, the day to day demands of parenting can overwhelm the romantic feelings we felt for our partners before our babies were born. Research indicates that the arrival of a baby, while a time of great rejoicing, puts a strain on many relationships. Whereas before the baby you were each the centre of each other’s attention, once baby arrives, much of the focus (if not all sometimes), is on this new little person the two of you brought into the world.
You suddenly have very little time for each other. You are both so tired and your nerves are frayed and that can cause tempers to be short. Rather than supporting and loving each other, you may find yourselves arguing more and being less patient than before.
It is important to remember that if you are having these kinds of stresses in your relationship, you are definitely not alone. While it’s not pleasant, what you are experiencing is very normal – and there are steps you can take to make things better.
Here are some ideas to sustain, enhance and rekindle the romance.
- Acknowledge each other: say “Thank you” for the little things you each do for the other, no matter how small. And say “Thank you” for the big things you do for each other, like taking care of your baby, going to work each day, running interference with the in-laws
- Smile at each other when you are doing the most boring day to day tasks.
- Put on your partner’s favourite music
- Give each other a five minute shoulder rub
- Snuggle up on the couch together when the baby sleeps – even for a few minutes.
- Go outside. Pop the baby in a carrier or stroller and go for a romantic walk together. Remember to hold hands.
- Avoid the “who is working harder and is more tired” argument. This will get you nowhere and just breeds bad feelings and resentment. You are both working hard, you are both tired, you are both under a lot of pressure. Acknowledge this for each other.
This Valentine’s Day, try to take a moment, however so brief, to look into your partner’s eyes, remember that you love each other, light some candles with a take-out dinner, put on your favourite music and dance, even if you have to hold the baby at the same time.
Happy Valentine’s Day