Tips on How to Negotiate Your Sexual Relationship after Baby Arrives

Having a baby creates a big change in the life of new parents. It is a vulnerable time for couples, who are now fully responsible for their new, precious and fragile human being.  Couples go through a steep learning curve in bathing, feeding, changing nappies, swaddling and getting baby to sleep. As both partners adjust to the new reality, baby becomes the main focus for some time. It is normal at this time for the couples relationship to have less of a focus. Sex usually takes a back seat for at least a few months. This new reality can be difficult if each person has differing needs. Usually for her the focus is on baby, and he might take some time to adjust to his needs not being met. Her body has been through a lot regardless of how she gives birth, and he needs to be patient with wanting sex. If she has had physical complications giving birth, then he needs to be extra patient. However, if intimacy is neglected for too long the couple can drift apart from each other, life becomes more stressful and this can be difficult to recover from.

How can you prevent this?

You both need to accept that baby is the number one priority at least in the first six months. You can still have an intimate relationship, it may just be different than before baby. Think more massages and emotional support, less intercourse. By giving each other support and affection without having intercourse it shows you really care about the person, rather than just focussing on what you want them to do for you physically. Be open with each other about what you are both experiencing – communicate with respect and empathy rather than bottle up or be too judgmental. Talk about each others practical and emotional needs when you are not coping rather than just get angry.

Good communication is about you sharing how you feel rather than telling them what they are doing wrong. Communication killers include ‘You only wanted sex to have a child, now you don’t want sex because you don’t care about me!’ (typical male accusation) and ‘All you care about is sex and getting your sexual needs met, you don’t care that I’m constantly tired and busy with baby’ (typical female accusation). These accusations can cause serious damage to the relationship. Men in particular must understand that sex is not a right they are entitled to just because they are in a relationship, but a privilege that is earned through mutual respect, love, care and kindness. Believe it or not, you can actually survive without it for some time, and this is an opportunity to improve your emotional support of her and your intimacy skills beyond intercourse.

If one person is not interested in sex at the moment, their partner needs to respect this and not take it as rejection. You take it too personally when you are only focussed on your own needs not being met. Instead, try to understand what your partner is going through, and show that you care. You are both tired and stressed at times, so just be careful that your expectations of each other are realistic.

Taking care of baby is a great opportunity for you both to reinforce your good teamwork with each other. The better you work together, to get through this stressful time, the easier it is to maintain some level of intimacy. The key here is to maintain a high level of respect for each other.

And don’t blame the baby! You can still explore your sensuality with each other and keep the romance alive, you just need to make the most of the small moments of opportunity for this to happen. Showing that you care for each other through physical affection, doing practical things for your partner, and appreciating what they do for you, accepting the situation and that it will get better, and acknowledging what your partner is going through, all count in keeping a close connection with each other through what is a difficult time for most couples.

More hints and tips about emotional connection in relationships can be found in Peter Charleston’s  book Closer – find happiness in your life and relationships with the 7 principles of connectedness, now available online through Amazon and booktopia.

At Charleston Consulting, we offer a variety of services that can help your psychological needs. If you would like to learn more, please check out the Thrive Learning Program course which can help to improve your quality of life.

Feel free to send me an email and tell me what you think. I am happy to have a chat with you about how coaching psychology could help.

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