The Dating Game Keeping Your Marriage Alive NowDale Kiefer
It may be hard to grasp, but married life needn't -- and shouldn't -- come screeching to a halt just because there's a baby in your lives. While there's a natural tendency to allow your newborn to become the focus of your life, it's important to remember that you and your wife were a family before his arrival, and you'll still be one long after he's flown the coop.
Granted, the postpartum period can be more than a little trying for new parents. When all the celebrating subsides and the midnight feedings begin, parenthood begins to take its toll. Your wife needs plenty of time to heal physically. And emotionally, she's liable to be somewhat fragile. Hormonal storms can leave her feeling asexual and even depressed, and lack of sleep is probably making both of you irritable and stressed. Add to that the stress of being a new parent and the challenge can seem overwhelming at times. New parents worry about doing the right things at the right times in the right ways. They wonder when their baby will sleep through the night, or how they'll survive a bout with colic.
Obviously, intimacy is probably the last thing on your minds when you and your wife get a rare, precious moment of quiet time together. In the earliest days after you return home with your newborn -- thrilled with your new status as parents, and exhausted by the relentless demands of a helpless newborn -- it's only natural that you will desire, and require, as much sleep as possible, whenever possible. But eventually, you have to begin paying attention to your own needs as a couple.
Hire a Baby Sitter
Your first approach to a resumption of intimacy also a new challenge - hiring a baby-sitter. This may prove more difficult than logic would predict. Getting your wife (the brand new mother of your child) to agree to invite someone into the house to care for your child however briefly may prove more difficult than labor and delivery. Believe it or not, some women view this seemingly innocuous event as an immensely distasteful, even dangerous milestone. Some even refuse. Others insist on close family members. Most will be nervous, no matter what you arrange. Your job is to take all this seemingly irrational fear into stride. Reassure her. Let her phone home every ten minutes. But don't give up and stay home. Leaving your child with another responsible adult is a hurdle that you'll need to clear sooner or later. Better now that later, for the sake of your marriage and possibly, your sanity. She'll thank you one day, guaranteed.
The First Date
Your first few dates needn't be elaborate, and they needn't be lengthy. But you must go out of the house. For one thing, your wife will probably go stir crazy by now. Being a primary caregiver to a newborn is draining in more ways than one, with the lack of adult fellowship and outside stimulation playing no small part. A change of scene, in other words, will probably do wonders for your wife's outlook.
Dinner out would certainly be nice. Chances are your wife is so tired of warming and cleaning bottles, or is so drained by the physical demands of breast-feeding, that she'll welcome the chance to have others server her for a change. If she's unwilling to spend that much time away from the baby, perhaps you could arrange to go out for coffee and dessert, a movie, or maybe even a stroll through the park. The point is to get out, and spend time as a couple alone. You need to get back in touch with the intimacy you once had, the closeness you've probably been compelled to put on hold. You'll be glad you did one day, and your children will benefit in the long run, too.
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Dale Kiefer is a freelance writer living in northern New Jersey with his wife and two young sons. Born in New Jersey some 40 years ago, Dale was raised in Kentucky, where he spent most of his life, graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Biological Sciences. You can see more of Dale's articles at his Suite 101 page devoted to expectant fathers
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