“Sometimes it might be easier to think of myself as single because that’s how it feels for me when I talk to my partner. I don't get any of his affection or his time anymore. I know it shouldn’t feel like this, but I am lonely.” Emily
It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to talking about the relationships worries and challenges that we can face during pregnancy and motherhood. It can be a rollercoaster of a ride that can make you and your partner feel like you would rather get off at times, than enjoy and embrace the experience.
People often look like they have the perfect relationship. But I compare this to reading a book in a busy environment when you only skim it and get half the reality. If you were to sit down with the book and take the time to focus, you would see it properly. This is just as you would know the relationship reality of couples with or without children, if you spent more time with them.
When I first became a mother, I found it hard to make time for anything else. Every second seemed to be taken up by a to-do list for my baby. I forgot to nurture the relationship with my partner. I can relate to mothers who feel like they lose all time and energy for their partners without even realising it is happening. Before having children, I can imagine you were both used to leaving the house when you wanted, to visit the cinema or to go shopping and for a bite to eat, and bedtime would be your own time and space.
The truth is that nobody wants a relationship to go off track and become something that you don't enjoy or feel passionate about. Losing someone from your life hurts no matter how tough we appear to be. There is something deep about a separation that can make you question your whole life.
But if your partner loves you, that love carries on through the difficult times. Yes, having a baby affects your relationship, of course it does. You’ve both got this new responsibility, this tiny little life who depends on you for everything.
The dynamics of a relationship can change massively. This doesn’t have to be in a negative way. After all, having a child is a sign of how much you love one another and the start of your family life together. But the whole relationship can steer itself to focus solely on your baby’s needs forgetting about the needs that your relationship requires to nurture it and keep it healthy and content.
My solution would be to try and make time together to do things that you both enjoy which remind you just how much you both love each other. If you're anything like me and my husband, you’ll spend the first hour talking about how you think the kids are getting on at home! But try to switch off and appreciate the time together, and yes that means putting those phones aside.
In the past I know my husband has called during the day and my mind has been somewhere else, thinking about the things that need doing or an upset with the children. I would try to contribute to the conversation, but the challenges of getting the kids ready, doing the tea or answering that email back, would outweigh his voice. I would end up asking him repeated questions, trying my best to show him I was listening. It’s tough having a partner who works away and who can’t take over the bedtime routine, homework or one to one time with the children while you have that long soak in the bath you’ve been dreaming about all day.
So, how can you make the ‘Mummy-Time’ and ‘Me-Time’ I’ve previously mentioned and ‘Husband/Boyfriend/Partner-Time’ work? How can you fit it all in? My main tip would be to communicate and plan. I know this isn’t easy when you have such a busy lifestyle and a new baby, but writing in a family calendar that everyone can see can help you to keep one step ahead.
You could also try and write down all of your vulnerabilities and concerns as a couple. This may include sleep deprivation, money worries, the children’s development or just thinking that one of you is doing more than the other. Seeing it in black and white can make you both realise how you can support each other and enjoy your parenthood and relationship at the same time.
Always here if you need support.