Remember that time when you were a couple?

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A friend of a friend said to a friend “You put everything you’ve got into caring for this baby. Then a year or 18 months later you work out if you’ve still got a relationship with your wife.”

He’s divorced now.

Whilst it seems like a big mistake, what he said does ring some truths that I can relate to. He’s totally right that it’s so easy to spend all of your time caring for your new child that you don’t pay attention to your partner. We’ve been guilty of this for a few days at a time, a week or so at most, I can imagine that if that rolls on and on for months to years that a relationship could be in serious trouble.

On top of all the extra duties you now have as a father, I believe you have to work harder than ever to remain a couple.  So what can you do?

Date Nights

An extremely popular option is to set up a regular date night with your partner.  Nothing too flashy, but if you can leave the baby behind for a night, or a day, and go do something for you. Something to keep you going for the next month.

1 Minute Hugs

This came up in our NCT classes. Try to hug for one minute a day. It releases Serotonin, the happy hormone.  I mean, obviously, do it when the kid is asleep! I can’t imagine you’ll find one whole minute to do it when he’s awake!

Talk About Something Else

Anything! There are other things out there. Trust me, I’ve seen them.  Or I heard about them once, on the news.

Make Them Happy

Work out what makes your partner happy and do it. Even if you don’t love it too, or it’s hard work. This is not necessarily about sex.

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It’s a small world

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… after all. I’m regretting this headline already. I’ll be humming it for a week. If you’ve never heard the song, your life is better than mine. Don’t YouTube it.

Little things become really important during your baby’s first few weeks. You’re so focused on the baby and yourselves that nothing else matters and the world just passes you by. If you can take a mental step back from how goddamn tired you are it’s quite a nice sensation.

But then paternity leave ends and the real world comes crashing or seeping back in to your life.  Thing is, that doesn’t happen for your partner, or at least nowhere nearly as quickly.

For a while – and I’m right in this zone now – you go out and deal with the world and come back and deal with your world, but those worlds don’t really talk to each other. Not on a level of any understanding. Nothing you say about your work or job will feel important to your partner. Conversely, things that seem pretty small to you are your partner’s big event.

This is a true story my wife told me (truly).  “I was walking to rhyme time and I saw that the salvation army shop had a rack of clothes for 50p. I thought one of the tops looked really cool and thought I’d get it on my way back.  When I went to get it, it wasn’t very nice. So I didn’t get it.”  I mean… what am I meant to say to that?!

Or a conversation at dinner may go like this:

Dad: I absolutely nailed my PowerPoint presentation today and that earned the company twenty-five gazillion pounds!*

Mum: That’s nice dear… Kiddo went 4 hours in the same nappy and Jane’s son across the road rolled over.

*I don’t actually have a businessy office job. I imagine that’s what it’s basically like everyday, right? Water-coolers and stuff? Jeff in accounting said what?!

I’m talking about things for the parents here, not the baby. Everything your baby does new is genuinely amazing, but your partner is also going to get excited by some pretty mundane shit. Occasionally literally.

Finding a nice feeding room in town (probably John Lewis) is a big deal. Walking to the supermarket and not having the child scream the roof off the place is a big deal. Drinking an entire cup of tea whilst it’s still an acceptable temperature is a big deal. You know what’s not a big deal? What Jeff in accounting said.

I don’t mind admitting that I’ve become inwardly frustrated at this conversational stalemate once or twice. I want to chat about things that are on my mind from my job and whilst she does participate, I know it’s not really registering.  That’s cool. The world will come back in time but it’s currently full of something too big to allow for anything else.

Great thing is that your child will provide enough conversation topics for a long time