Relationship changes

Everything changes when you have a baby. Not least your relationship with your partner. We asked mums about their feelings and experiences as two became three

 

Yes, you love them but sometimes you might hate them a bit too. Here's what some mums said about how their relationship changed after having a baby...

For better…

#teamwork: “One of the nice changes to our relationship is how we’ve grown as a team. When you become parents you have to work together. For instance, in the evenings, one of us cooks while the other does bath and bed. We lean on each other more and I feel I can rely on him more. It’s made us stronger.” Sophie, mum to Eva, 15 months

Parenting pride: “We don’t get to do much together just the two of us, like the old days. But the family time almost makes up for it. And then, when our kids are (finally) asleep, we often sit down together to look back at photos and videos we’ve taken that day. So much happiness and pride for the little people we made and are bringing up together.” Lucy, mum to Freddie, four, and Doris, two years

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: “Having a baby has brought us closer together. There’s a different kind of intimacy that comes with parenting. You see each other at your absolute worst and absolute best.” Leila, mum to Anil, six months

Family friendships: “We met some people we clicked with straight away on our NCT course and it’s been a lovely experience building these new friendships together. We have group family days out, as well as ‘mum nights’ and ‘dad nights’ at the pub. We’ve always been very social as a couple so this stuff is important to us.” Karen, mum to Olivia, one year

All the feels: “Seeing my husband become a dad has made me fall in love with him all over again. Watching how much our children adore him and have fun with him gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling. Of course when you become parents you lose some of the stuff that your relationship was built on, but you gain so much new stuff at the same time.” Jacinta, mum to Anton, nine months

For worse…

Sleepiness = snappiness: “We’re both constantly exhausted so we snap at each other for silly things all the time. It’s draining. He has been amazingly supportive and is a great dad, though. I hope he knows I appreciate everything he does for us, despite the bickering.” Sarah, mum to Ottilie, 18 months

I’m not your mum: “When I went on mat leave my husband suddenly started treating me like his mother. He lost the ability to even put his own cup in the dishwasher. And yet feels he deserves credit for doing just one small job badly. Like putting one towel in the wash, but not in the tumble.” Jenny, mum to Dexter, two years

Relationship resentment: “We used to have a fairly equal relationship. But now, he gets on a train to work every day to earn a crust, while I stay at home. I resent the time he gets to spend in the city and at work. He resents my jolly life having coffee and cake with my mum buds. Even though we both respect and value the contribution each other makes, we argue constantly about who has the hardest ‘job’.” Louise, mum to Emily, one year

Identity issues: “When I had my baby, I felt like everything I was before was gone. Meanwhile, my husband carried on living life footloose and fancy-free. It was only when I went back to work and started to regain my sense of self that I stopped being angry with him for that.” Susie, mum to Daniel, five, and Jacob, three years

The Mum Load: “I’ve found that as a mum I automatically take on a lot of the ‘mental load’ when it comes to our daughter. I’m never able to switch off. I’m always thinking about whether she needs changing, or feeding, or a sleep, or if she’s bored etc. My husband, on the other hand, can just zone out whenever he wants.” Emily, mum to Freya, 11 months

Our article how to talk to and listen to each other might be a useful read and may help you address some of these problems head on. Yet you are not alone in arguing. Our article Why does no one talk about arguing shows plenty of other new parents aren’t getting along in those early days.

Let’s talk about sex baby

Do you dare do the deed? “After giving birth I lost any desire whatsoever for sex. I felt totally unsexy with my new soft tummy, and boobs threatening to leak milk at the slightest touch. And I was scared about how different sex might feel. I put off doing the deed for months. In the end, when I did pluck up the courage, it didn’t feel so different. I wouldn’t say things were quite back to normal (because of course we’re tired all the time), but at least it feels familiar again now.” Charlotte, mum to Mia, 16 months

Craving closeness: “After having my first I craved physical intimacy with my husband. Everything was changing and I felt like I needed us to have that closeness.” Rebecca, mum to Seb, one year

Shhh don’t wake the baby: “Having sex with a baby in the room always felt a little bit wrong to me. I was glad when those six months were up. Snuffly noises at just the wrong moment – so off putting.” Katherine, mum to Jack, ten months

You’ll rarely find a couple whose relationship hasn’t been changed by having children. Whatever happens, take a deep breath, have a hug and keep your sense of humour. These can all help when you think the only alternative is all-out war. 

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.

Read further articles on relationships in our dedicated section here.

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