5 Tips If You’re Constantly Arguing After Baby
We get it. Now that baby’s here, you just can’t find time to do things anymore. What’s worse, you’re constantly at each other’s throats, over the most minor things. He just won’t shut up about the dishes. She’s always putting things where I can’t find them.
Even some of the personality traits you found endearing about your partner pre-baby are starting to bug you. Being “cautious” becomes being “obsessive”. That funny noise your partner makes when they chew makes shared meals torturous.
You’re not alone. According to the Gottman Relationship Institute in Seattle two-thirds of new parents experience this affliction. With more research being done on the post-baby phenomenon, we at Lifecake are in a good position to give you a lifeline.
1. Split chores fairly
This won’t inject fire into your relationship, but the perception of fairness becomes hugely important after Baby is born. Your normal workload doubles, and if there’s even the suspicion that one partner isn’t pulling his/her weight, all hell can break loose.
Write down a list of what needs to be done at the start of each day, and divide up your chores accordingly. This avoids the perception that your partner is being lazy, whilst making sure that you aren’t being nagged too much. Once that peace treaty is signed, the real fun of rekindling your relationship’s former closeness can begin.
2. Understand that you have different approaches to parenting
Good cop, bad cop. One hears Baby crying and reaches for the dummy, the other lets them cry it out. One wants to take amore time off work to stay home, the other wants to keep a steady income going.
If you’ve recognised these differences, you’ve already argued about it. These disagreements sometimes seem insurmountable. The thing is, both points of view are valid.
Baby does occasionally need a pacifier, especially if their crying has lasted for hours and you’re running on empty from lack of sleep. But Baby also needs to cry sometimes. Compromise. Sit down with your partner, explain your rationale and work out a regimen for an approach you can both get behind. Give and take.
3. Make time for each other
Here’s the fun part. Now that you’ve worked through thornier issues, you can start to pay attention to each other again.
This may be difficult at first. When you’re alone together, all you talk about is Baby. This isn’t bad, but it’s important to make time for yourself. Are there moments when, having put Baby down for a nap, your free time converges with your partner’s? How about watching a movie together?
What about friends, relatives? Once Baby is born people make a lot of well-intentioned gestures and say things like I’d be delighted to babysit for you sometime! Hold them to it! Use the opportunity to take your partner to dinner. If you can wrangle a few nights out of your well-meaning friend/relative, take a staycation at a local inn.
Time alone, no matter where it’s spent, can revive a relationship. Run a bath for your partner, go on long walks, talk about books, share a bottle of wine.
4. Learn to appreciate sleep
If you’ve been arguing over trivial things, zombie nights have a lot to do with it. Lack of sleep is scientifically proven to affect irritability, how quick you are to anger, and random mood swings. This leads to arguments, and that’s understandable.
Baby comes first, but most other things can be put on the back burner if it means prioritising your health. Alternate between the morning and night shift. If you’re more behind on sleep than your partner and the sink is filled with dirty dishes and toys cover the living room floor, ask them politely if you can catch a nap while they sort it out. If you can manage to budget for a cleaner, that can help you both focus on other things.
Some psychologists even advise sleeping in separate beds if your sleep cycle converges with your partner’s. Annoying habits like snoring and fidgeting seem worse when Baby arrives. Keeping well-rested avoids unnecessary conflict later on.
5. Baby is your bond and you’re a family
Your mutual love of Baby is the one thing you can rely on as a couple. Baby is the reason your lives have changed, and it’s smart to accept that this is both life-affirming and disconcerting at the same time. Raising a child is probably the most important thing you’ll do together.
Happen upon your partner rocking Baby on their knee, tickling Baby’s stomach, or sleeping beside Baby at nap-time? You’ll look back on those moments forever. Enjoy it.
Talk with your partner about what your concerns are. Discuss strategies for child-rearing. Fill your partner in on everything that Baby did while they were away. Those things needn’t be burdensome. Much of the time you’ll both obsess over the same details. If you do have disagreements, it’s only because you both love and care for Baby.
Welcome to parenthood, intrepid explorers. It’s all right.