The “Golden Rule” for Exhausted New Parents to Keep the Romance Alive

 / 

,
golden rule

Research by Dr. John Gottman shows that small actions practiced daily are the biggest predictor for keeping romance, intimacy, and connection alive during the transition to parenthood. Going the extra mile means everything with a new baby in the mix.

As life with a little one begins, Parents often find themselves sleep-deprived, overwhelmed with a laundry list of to-do and the feeling that there’s never enough time in the day to do it all.

New parents often believe that in order to meet the demanding needs of the baby, they have to sacrifice the needs of the relationship. There is a sense that “I can either be close to my spouse or my baby, but I can’t do both.” This leads to resentment and isolation.

But Bringing Baby Home research has shown that couples can be engaged parents and protect their relationship without sacrificing the bond with their child. With just a little effort, couples can maintain emotional closeness by following the “golden rule” of relationships: small things often.

Tuning in and turning towards each other, especially in moments of heightened stress, creates a sense of connection and emotional intimacy. Practicing simple gestures to preserve the relationship makes for a more manageable transition to parenthood.

If you’re a new parent or expecting a little one, consider incorporating the following strategies into your relationship so that you’re not just staying afloat, but fully thriving as your family grows.

Turn towards bids for connection

Requests for connection happen between partners all the time. Sometimes they are extremely subtle, such as a touch on the hand, or very straightforward as in, “Take a look at this for me. What do you think?” Dr. Gottman’s research in his Love Lab has shown that successful couples respond to bids more frequently than distressed couples do. If partners bids are consistently ignored or disregarded, they form a negative view of the relationship and distance themselves from their partner.

Happy couples, however, are more aware of what to look for and make the conscientious choice to turn towards, rather than turn away, from requests for affection, emotional support, and sex. Responding to bids is important because in small, everyday moments, you’re creating the building blocks that maintain the foundation of the relationship. Here are some examples of bids:

  • A bid for conversation: “I’m worried that the baby might not be getting enough nutrients.”
  • A bid for sex: “You look so sexy in that outfit.”
  • A bid for affection: “Will you hold me?”
  • A bid for attention: “Can we talk?”
  • A bid for humor: “Have you heard this joke yet?”

Express fondness and admiration

Dr. Gottman encourages couples to “catch your partner doing something right.” Research shows that if couples are in the habit of viewing their relationship from a negative perspective, they miss half of the positive things their partner does.

It’s important for couples to find ways to praise each other for their positive traits. You can do this by creating a “culture of appreciation.” You can appreciate their parenting style or how they help with the baby while still making time for the other things they do to keep things running smoothly. Remember to share them with your partner. They yearn to hear it.

  • “You were so great with the baby last night. It really made me smile.”
  • “You’re an awesome dad. You’re so calm and patient with the baby.”
  • “Thanks for making dinner tonight. I know you have your hands full.”
  • “Even with no sleep, you’re still gorgeous. How did I get so lucky?”
  • “Thanks for keeping things together when I can’t. I really count on you!”

Make partings and reunions a routine part of your day

Don’t neglect each other as you rush out the door. Spend a few minutes to develop an atmosphere of love as you part for the day, and again once you return. Here are some examples of rituals of connection:

  • Send your sweetie off with a to-go cup of coffee for the day.
  • Kiss each other goodbye for six seconds and wish them well.
  • Wake up early and take care of the baby while the other gets some much-needed rest.
  • Leave a quick note to say how much they mean to you.
  • Make the bed before you go.
  • Say goodbye with affection and words of encouragement.
  • Greet each other with a “6 second kiss.”
  • Put your phone away and genuinely listen to your partner’s day. Express empathy and understanding.
  • Help with dinner.
  • Clean up the dishes.
  • Take over the night routine like bathing, singing, dancing or reading to your little one.

Have a daily stress-reducing conversation

Conflict is inevitable in all relationships and tends to spike after a baby is born. Work stress, new financial strains, and balancing the added responsibilities of being parents can create strain on the relationship. The Bringing Baby Home research found that having a daily conversation that includes understanding, support and affection helps manage the external stressors separate from the relationship.

  • Stay mindful and present while showing genuine interest in what your partner has to say.
  • Seek understanding before giving advice. “That sounds overwhelming. I’d be at my wits end too. I can totally understand how you feel.”
  • Offer support. “I really wish your boss would lay off on you.”
  • Show affection. “Come here. I bet you could use a hug.”
  • Help aid in problem solving. “Do you want my advice? Let’s worth through this together.”

Never stop dating your partner

One of the greatest gifts you can give your baby is a strong relationship between the two of you. Date nights provide an opportunity to stay connected, increase intimacy, and balance life as a team.

  • Plan monthly date nights.
  • Keep mutual hobbies sacred.
  • Make “date-night in” a regular part of your week.
  • Watch a comedy together. Laughter and humor raise endorphins and lighten the mood.

Parenthood is tough, especially in the beginning. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that the best gift you can give your baby is a strong relationship between the two of you. Don’t forget how important it is to spend time together, lift each other up, show you care, and nurture the relationship by practicing the golden rule of doing the small things often.


By April Eldemire, LMFT
This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Blog.

For more insight on how to build a positive, lasting relationship after a baby arrives, get your free copy of 7 Signs Your Relationship Will Last here.

You may also like

keep the romance alive

— Share —

— About the Author —

Response

  1. Sarah Huppert Avatar
    Sarah Huppert

    There is no Golden Rule, the nymphomaniac wants to kill me.

Leave a Reply



Up Next

Codependence and Interdependence: What Truly Sets Them Apart?

Codependence and Interdependence: What Truly Sets Them Apart?

The question ‘What is the difference between codependence and interdependence?’ In reality, it asks whether a relationship is dysfunctional or healthy. Well, in today’s Best Day Blog, I will be taking you through the differences between the two and how to recover from codependency.

Dysfunctional Relationships

I talk a lot about what dysfunctional relationships can look like, but how do you develop a healthy relationship, and what does a healthy one look like?

Unfortunately, the idea of relationships we all grow up with from movies and TV is unhealthy. The relationships shown are romanticized



Up Next

10 Riveting Movies About Broken Marriages: How Love Crumbles Over Time

Best Movies About Broken Marriages: How Love Dies

Marriage is supposed to represent love and commitment, but it’s not always a fairy tale. Below are some of the movies about broken marriages that challenge the “happily ever after” stereotype!

Sometimes, things start falling apart — from within or without — and this is frequently caused by different pressures and conflicts.

Broken marriage movies have taken up this subject widely, giving us stories that are sad, or even hopeful around relationships.

Below you’ll find ten such unhappy marriage movies that show how love can breakdown and be turbulent – each films look at human



Up Next

Friendship Marriage: Japan’s Latest Relationship Trend Explained

Friendship Marriage: Japan's Latest Marriage Trend Explained

Friendship marriage is the latest relationship trend taking the world by storm, and it’s got everyone talking. Forget the traditional notions of romance and commitment; these couples are rewriting the rules of marriage and how!

This unique approach has not only got people talking, but it’s also challenging many societal norms when it comes to marriage, romantic relationships, physical intimacy and cohabitation.

So, are you ready to unravel what the friendship marriage in Japan is all about? Let’s go then.

Related: 5 Simple Ways To Strengthen The Friendship In Your Marriage<



Up Next

Should I Start a Family? 10 Reasons That Might Convince You

Should I Start a Family? Reasons That Might Convince You

Two paths are diverging before you at a crossroads. You can either continue with your present life which has the comforts you know so well, or you could choose the other path which goes into the unknown. 

The decision to start a family is one of those big adventures in life that leaves us breathless with awe; it is filled with twists and turns and love upon love.

This article takes you on an exciting journey of decoding parenthood: an adventure that is both daunting and thrilling, and joyous as well as demanding.

Whether it is from the depths of unconditional love or soaring heights of leaving a lasting impact, each reason acts as a lighthouse in this respect.

Therefore, let’s examine these 10 reasons why to start a family!



Up Next

8 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Want To Avoid Marrying The Wrong Person

Marrying The Wrong Person? Important Questions To Ask

Picture this: you’re standing at the altar, surrounded by beaming friends and family, moments away from saying “I do” to the person who you thought was your soulmate and the love of your life. But deep down, you can’t ignore the nagging feeling that something doesn’t feel right. Could it be possible that you’re marrying the wrong person?

The fear of marrying the wrong person lingers in the hearts of many, and it’s a fear worth exploring, because this is your life we are talking about. In this article, we’ll dive into eight essential questions that you should ask yourself before taking that leap into forever.

So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let’s unravel how to avoid marrying the wrong person.



Up Next

63 Conversation Starters For Deep Dialogues With Your Partner

Conversation Starters For Deep Dialogues With Your Partner

Why conversation starters? Over time conversations with your partner might begin to feel shallow and focused more on the daily grind than topics that actually matter. This is normal. It’s probably not a dangerous red flag that your relationship is about to end, but it is likely unsatisfying and monotonous.

It’s quite easy to reignite the spark with your partner by enjoying deeper and more meaningful conversations just by becoming more intentional in carving out time to talk.

We all know that communication is key to a healthy relationship, but let’s be honest; talking about what’s for dinner or whose turn it is to walk the dog just won’t cut it.

If you’re yearning for a deeper connection, it’s worth dedicating ten to fifteen minutes a day to one of the most important people in your life.



Up Next

When You Outgrow Love: What Is Grey Divorce And How To Thrive After

What Is Grey Divorce and How to Redefine Your Story

Divorce is never an easy decision to make. But sometimes life happens and you have to do the unimaginable. Grey divorce is one such experience that can feel like an unthinkable decision, yet, you know you just need to take the step. But what is grey divorce?

In life, at a certain stage we may feel that it is absolutely crucial that we start over, not only to survive but also to thrive. It becomes necessary that we step into the unknown regardless how scary or irrational it may sound. And the same goes for a marriage. 

Even if you may have shared a lifetime together and created lasting memories and experiences, a divorce may be the only option left for a happier, healthier and better life. That’s the reality for an increasing number of couples who find themselves in the realm of “grey divorce.”