Love, Lust and Little Babies- 8 relationship truths nobody tells you

Not so long ago, you promised each other solemnly, “a baby won’t change OUR relationship.” The truth is, once a baby enters your life, your relationship with your partner will never be the same again. Ever. And there are things about losing those loving feelings that even your closest friends will probably never tell you (you probably wouldn’t believe them if they did). For Instance:

  • Relationship truth 1)  Foreplay can be reduced to “are you awake?”

If you don’t yet have a baby, think of how tired you were in the first trimester of pregnancy and multiply it by any number from ten upwards. Exhaustion can have a ripple effect on your relationship. Be kind to yourself.  Recognise the high price to your family of unrealistic expectations of perfection – those ‘insta-perfect images’ are posed bullshit, anyway.

Learn to rest when baby sleeps (do chores with baby in a sling when he is awake so you don’t feel ‘guilty’ about snoozing or at least, taking it easy, during the day). Say “no” to invitations that will be tiring and discuss sharing the load with your partner (or anybody else who looks willing and able – even if you have to pay them). And, for some tips to help your baby (and you) get more sleep, check out Pinky’s book ‘Sleeping Like a Baby’.

  • Relationship truth 2) Spontaneity’ will not happen without careful planning.

You won’t just have to make plans for ‘spontaneous’ lovemaking.  Everything from a walk in the park to dinner for two or a dash to the bank will require forward planning.  On the other hand, you could also be forced to learn the real meaning of spontaneity – seize the moments and
make them special.

  • Relationship truth 3)  You’ll discover the true meaning of the term ‘Coitus Interruptus’:

This is not just a family planning method for teenagers and optimists.  When you do get around to making love, even if your baby is soundly sleeping, you can bet your boots he or she will yell just as you get to the moment of bliss.  This waking seems to have little to do with hunger, noise or movement and more to do with a primitive survival response.  It is probably related to the same deep connection between mother and baby that has a mother waking from a deep sleep just before her baby stirs, or triggers a milk letdown as her baby cries – even if she’s up the street and her baby is at home.

Try making love when baby is awake –you are less likely to be interrupted. Little (immobile) babies can be easily amused by flickering candle-light.  Yes, the “quickie” was invented by resourceful parents!

  • Relationship truth 4) It’s not only lovemaking that will be interrupted.  Your train of thought will seem permanently derailed by baby demands.

This can be a challenge, especially if you are having a deep and meaningful conversation with your partner, but with experience you will learn the valuable skill of maintaining your thread of conversation and pick up discussions exactly where they left off with the same emotional intensity.

  • Relationship truth 5) He wants sex.  He thinks that making love to you will reassure you his feelings for you haven’t changed.  You feel all “touched out” after giving to a baby all day.  You see sex as one more demand.  You want cuddles but you withdraw because you know cuddles will lead to sex.  He withdraws because he doesn’t want to pressure you, or he feels rejected.

You both need to be nurtured and maintain your close connection with each other.  Before a baby came, lovemaking was probably the main expression of your connection for each other, now you may need to find other ways to stay close.  Try cuddles, a massage, and a meal together, without pressure to have sex. Understanding and respect for each other’s feelings will see passion return at a greater level than if resentment is left to simmer or you simply drift apart.

  • Relationship truth 6) Jealous feelings are not just for left out partners or usurped toddlers.

Most partners feel irrational when jealous feelings are aroused by their own helpless dependent offspring having their needs lovingly met.  You too may have similar twinges of the green-eyed monster as your partner gives all their adoration to your little baby and seems to hardly notice you, especially if they take to calling you “Mummy” (heaven forbid!).  Feelings of jealousy (for either partner) can be due to a deep psychological awakening that could be echoes of early experiences of sibling rivalry or unsupported needs.  Share your feelings with your partner and talk about what you need to feel supported (like reminding them you have a name). It is also important to be able to say, “that’s not really supportive,” without your partner being offended.

  • Relationship truth 7) Resentment, a cousin of jealousy, can be a big dampener on relationships.

You feel trapped as you see your partner driving off to work, joining the real world.  He or she feels trapped as they drive off to work, ‘knowing’ you have a free day to meet friends for coffee or lunch. In spite of rational role planning, emotions play havoc if you can’t empathise with each other’s adjustment to your new responsibilities. It is never too late to develop good communication skills. However, it would be best to practise BEFORE a baby comes along, because when we are under stress, it is all too easy to fall back on bad habits, like shouting and screaming, rather than listening and respecting each other’s feelings.

  • Relationship truth 8) Sometimes it helps to ask for help.

Most of us plan for practical and physical support when we are having a baby. We need to acknowledge that there will be profound changes to our relationships and see support for this as legitimate too. Talk during pregnancy about how infancy and childhood was for you and try to understand what feelings may arise. You can then discuss ‘how can we share these feelings?’ and ‘do we have friends we can have these conversations with?’ If you feel dissatisfied, distrustful, or can’t talk any more, these are symptoms outside help is called for. It may just take a couple of sessions with a counsellor to set you on the right track. It’s not a slur on your ability to cope but may save your relationship.

Pinky Mckay is Australia’s most recognised and respected breastfeeding and gentle parenting expert. She’s a mum of five, an iBCLC lactation consultant and best-selling author. If you are a new parent or parent-to-be check out Pinky’s book “Parenting By Heart”

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  • Jan

    This article hits home. My hubby and I haven’t had sex since we conceived our baby–almost two years ago. I am the one who has been begging for it, but he is the one who keeps pushing me away. I’ve been bringing it up a lot lately as its starting to become a MAJOR issue for me, and his response is, “only when baby is asleep.” But the problem is, when baby is asleep, so am I. And even when she is asleep, he makes up excuses. It’s really hard. I’m seeing a psychologist but he isn’t. She is very concerned for us, but he won’t do anything about it. I’ve given everything to be a diligent mum but it seems I am no longer what he wants. Wish me luck! xo

  • Yarni

    Jan, you are not alone. I could have written that myself! Only I have all but given up, being pushed away so many times means I’m to fragile now to even try. It’s such a knock to your confidence, particularly having been through such a change and needing to feel as though you are still loved & wanted, or that you are still ‘you’ despite the physical & mental change. No one talks about this though. I’m at the point now where I don’t even want to be around him as I just feel like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world but with me, it’s so obvious he feels ‘stuck’ in this situation for our son. I feel that if we are thinking staying together is best for him then we have to commit 100% to making it work but apparently he doesn’t feel this way. I’m thinking that counseling may be our only option. Good luck to you. x

    • Jan

      I’m so sorry to hear that Yarni. I feel exactly the same. My body changed dramatically during pregnancy. I put on 30kg , my tits balloooooooned from nice perky E cups to massive gravity-pulled J cups. I feel like a monster. At first this was why I hesitated with sex, because who would want me when I don’t even want myself? But I got so crazy I started to ask again. But like you, stopped asking because the rejection hurts more than not having sex.
      I feel like I have become an extremely “selfless” person since my bub was born, putting every ounce of strength into her needs, rather than my own. However, I’ve noticed hubby is still the same, is still very selfish and expects me to be able to handle everything I used to do PLUS all my new responsibilities as a mum. In the first few weeks after birth, during that time when every little minute of sleep counts, my hubby would wake me up if I was snoring. Yeah. I ended up banishing him to the spare room. Almost a year later he is still there, as I co-sleep now, and love having my own baby space. I thought we’d end up making love in his room, and then going to bed separately, like the good old royals used to do it.
      Boy was I wrong. Before this post turns into a book; seeing a psychologist has been the best thing I’ve ever done. She’s helping me to learn to love myself again.
      I hope everything works out for you Yarni, and thank you for your wishes. I wish you all the best too. Love yourself, take one step, one day at a time.
      Keep living and enjoying your life, we don’t get another one. I’m applying this, and hoping my hubby will see what he’s missing out on, and join me somewhere along the way, because despite everything, I’m still madly in love with him. xoxo

  • Suzie

    My husband has no interest in sex, I feel rejected and unlovable. I finally convinced him to see his GP as he has struggled with the transition to fatherhood after wanting children his whole life. Diagnosed with depression, in therapy and on anti-depressants. Still no sex drive and he is still quite selfish a lot of the time but definitely making progress and returning to the man I fell in love with. If your husbands won’t see a psychologist or counsellor they may at least see a GP as there is less stigma. Hang in there ladies, but remember your needs and your child’s needs are just as important as your partners needs.

  • Tabitha

    Omg jan u r speaking to me too. We all got rrally sick w flu last winter bubs was 3 months pld
    .hubby on night shift he started sleeping in spare room. He is still there n by morning bubs is co sleeping w me. We try for sex but unfortunately his sex drive with me has deminished. We both want to but nudda! We have gone to cpuples counselling 3 times n it has helped. We stopped bc it was $$$ but slowly we r working on us.

    Everyone talks how hard it life is w a baby but forget to mention how hard it is on ur relationship!

    Good luck.