Relationship changes

If you’ve recently gone from ‘man’ to ‘dad’, you’ll know it is no small adjustment. Here we look at how relationships change when partners become mums.

You’re busy riding the rollercoaster of love, stress, fun, hard work, laughter and exhaustion that is parenthood. And the relationships in your life can get overlooked, including the one you have with the mother of your child. Here are some dads' views...

The ups

Sharing the love: “We've got the best thing in the world that we get to hang out with every day and it's a joy to share that. It's like when you reminisce about a great holiday or a party but a million times better. And that's just if they’ve giggled or done something random.”  James, dad to Millie, 14 months

#Teammumanddad: “We are a team more than we were before. You have to work as a team because there’s so much more to do. It’s a more grown up kind of relationship.” Karl, dad to Jake, four months

Champion: “I’m now my wife’s biggest champion. Going through pregnancy, labour and then learning how to look after this baby that’s suddenly there – it’s no picnic. I’m slightly in awe. I try my best to remember to tell her what an amazing job she’s doing at regular intervals.” Darren, dad to Lillie, six weeks

In-law love in: “Having a child has brought me closer to my in-laws. They do so much for our children; and in turn, for us. We are so lucky to have them. Feeling closer to them has made me love my wife even more.” Joe, dad to Jimmy, three, and Lexi, one year

Driven daddy: “Having children has given work more purpose for me. I now have a clear reason to work hard and progress in my career, which makes it more fulfilling. It’s been good for our relationship as I’m happier in my job now than ever before.” David, dad to Gracie, four, and Jake, one year

New mutual love: “It’s a new common interest and something to bond over. No different to bonding over a mutual love of travelling, fondue or the films of Vincent Price. People judge parents for always talking about their kids, even if they're trying to have a date night. So what? Good conversation will gravitate towards the thing that is shared front of mind, be it friends, work, holidays, hobbies or indeed children.” Tim, dad to Eliza, two years, and Ivy, four months

The downs

Powerless to help: “My wife had a tricky birth, which I found difficult to deal with. I was completely out of control and couldn’t do anything to help. Seeing the person you love going through something like that and feeling so helpless is tough.” Jayden, dad to Zane, seven months

Great relationships take graft: “The main difference in our relationship now is that you have to work at it more. Any relationship takes a bit of work. But when you have children, your capacity to do that is greatly reduced. You’re knackered, you’re angry, and there’s always someone else demanding your time. ” Peter, dad to Alex, three years, and Thomas, one year

I miss my wife: “I love my son but when he was born, I felt that I lost a bit of my wife. She has become an amazing mother and I love her more than ever. But part of me misses the fun and carefree person she used to be.” Jim, dad to Ruth, nine months

TV dinners are off the table: “At first, it affected every moment of our lives. Little things we took for granted, like having our tea together watching TV in the evenings, went out the window. We had a new, frantic, evening routine. Cooking something quickly, hurriedly eating, grabbing naps, and taking turns tending to our daughter. And this was just the prelude to a night full of crying, feeding, rocking, sleeping; repeat. It goes without saying that to have any sort of sex life in these conditions is ambitious to say the least.” Luca, dad to Emma, three years

Tiredness takes its toll: “We bickered before we had kids but now it’s off the scale. I know it’s just because we’re both tired all the time. The early mornings and the exhausting demands of looking after a toddler and a baby take their toll on both of us, and we are quick to snap at each other.” Kris, dad to Oles, 16 months

Baby bonding: “I felt a little bit like a spare part in the early days. For such a long time before it was just the two of us. When our baby arrived, my wife had this amazing bond with our baby from the get go, but I was somewhat on the sidelines. I wasn’t sure what my role was meant to be. When our daughter started giving smiles and giggles, I found it a lot easier to bond with her and find my way as a father.” Daniel, dad to Ella, three years

The ups AND downs

Good times and bad: “We both agree that having a baby is by far the most wondrous, overwhelming, incredible thing that’s ever happened in our lives. It’s also really, really hard work. It’s all-consuming. On the one hand, we have very little time left over for each other – something we took for granted before. On the other, we feel profoundly united in the most noble, selfless act of raising a child.” Mike, dad to Amalia, one year

Baby as conduit: “For a while, your relationship becomes entirely channeled through your baby. If they do something cute/clever/good (like sleep through for a few hours) you’re both happy. If they’re crying/not sleeping/being difficult you’re both frustrated and irritated. It’s no longer about each other. But my daughter is older now, so I know this does pass.” Luke, dad to Frankie, four years

Let’s talk about sex baby

Bedroom banishment: “I was sleeping in the spare room for what felt like an age when we had our little girl. I know it was the best thing for all of us, and yes I was grateful for the sleep, but… I did miss my wife. Obviously, sex was not on the cards during this arrangement. Only once our daughter was settled into her own room was I allowed to return.” James, dad to Eloise, 14 months

Too tired for a twosome: “It goes without saying that sex is not going to happen for a while. For obvious reasons at first. But even after that, the tiredness takes over. Often she goes up to bed early and is sparko by the time I get up there.” Matt, dad to Artie, 10 months

It’s all about the money, money, money

Money worries:Money worries are more of an issue since having a baby. With my wife on maternity leave, we have to manage things more carefully. She hasn’t decided what to do when maternity leave is up. The thought of having all the pressure of supporting the family financially on me is totally stressful.” Jon, dad to Cora, six months

Striking the right work-life balance: “As a freelance working dad I need to take on more work and work longer hours or weekends, to continually provide for my family. There’s always the pressure of keeping us going. The weird thing is my career has also taken a back seat since I became a father because I’m desperate not to let work get in the way of spending time as a family. But the work/life balance is a constant struggle.” Rich, dad to Ted, two years

It’s worth remembering that relationships aren’t always easy. And neither is parenting or dealing with change.

Check out our articles on how things change when becoming a father and coping with conflict for more information. 

This page was last reviewed in December 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

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