“Where there is great love there are always miracles.”
I was reading an article the other day titled “making out after baby”. The piece discussed some common beliefs around ‘delivery-room trauma’ and sex after childbirth. The collated responses had been from both males and females, with the likes of, “I wish someone had told me after going through childbirth my husband would no longer see me as sexy. We are now separated. I’m not prepared to spend the rest of my life in a sexless marriage.”
Or another, “ We have been intimate five times in the last six years since our child’s birth.(Ed) I feel like we are almost a brother and sister looking after our common interest, our child.” Some other males continued with comments such as we feel like we are just “a financial handbag” or ‘walking ATMs‘. At this point I must admit I did throw the article down on the bench and look around for the first male I could slap who may have been clutching to a similar “victim mentality.”
Fortunately this particular writer did continue by saying that witnessing his daughter’s birth had made “for a bonding experience of incomparable intensity” between he and his wife. However reading the varied responses, it would seem that there are a distinct minority of couples who would hold a similar view.
Why is this so?
In all authenticity, most couples with children are likely to have experienced similar emotions at some point.
So what is it that enables one couple to linger briefly with these frustrations yet move towards a resolution, and other couples to stay “emotionally frozen” (almost like a deer caught in headlights), stunned by the enormity of parenting? Here, their relationship becomes so fractured and disconnected, that the appeal of family life vanishes all to soon.
There is no denying that parenting itself brings enormous challenges and yet no one promised us that marriage was challenge-free either. At the risk of sounding like an evangelist for marriage (in the idiosyncratic sense of the word, with or without the certificate), I’ve come to realise that a ‘commitment to communicate’ is fundamental for any relationship, irrespective of whether we have children or not. The more I learn about the art of communicating the more I realise it is a real a skill. One that requires focus and time.
So what are the post-birth/child issues at hand?
Yes there’s the labour itself, however with the right (mental and visual) preparation and guidance, couples can use this experience as a momentous celebration. Interestingly, the less clinical your birth is, the easy it is to foster an environment of love and intimacy. Whether you are birthing at home or in a hospital, there are many, many ways to help ensure you create your desired birth. Preparation is key to using labour as a positive benchmark for your relationship. In ‘Well Adjusted Babies Second Edition‘ we discuss “Birthing” in-depth, Chapters 10 -15.
In the first few years after children (even without text-book post natal depression thrown into the mix) there are generally a feast of issues at hand for couples to conquer. There’s the necessary time needed for a woman’s body to heal. Preparation for birth helps males be aware that it is likely that, for about six months, sex will not be one of her top priorities. Whenever Simon thought he might perish from a lack of nooky he’d remind himself of my explanation of our first child’s birth, “Imagine having to poo something the size of a small dog!” So be patient with each other.
Other issues include the stress of learning how to cope with the constant needs of a new born, there’s lack of sleep, exhaustion and hormonal challenges. There are identity issues for women, where we assess our ability to mother, and learn how to balance career and family. There may also be “body or physique” issues as finding the time to exercise between the demands of children, domestics and work, requires careful planning.
Here A Few Tips To Help Move Through Post Baby/ Children Blues.
Communicate with yourself then your partner
With children, comes the unspoken demand for both parents to clearly communicate their needs. For most couples the combination of fatigue and broken conversations (children are prone to inopportune interruptions) creates unrelenting tension and voicing these resentments and frustrations requires careful consideration and planning.
In retrospect I tend to find that I communicate at my best when I have taken time to sit with my feelings and discover what are my “core” issues. This generally then allows me to communicate from my heart (versus simply retaliating) and allows me to make my point without, hopefully, injuring another. It also enables me to genuinely bring solutions to the table. Take some time to be still and hand your problems over to Spirit and ask for guidance and support.
Another key element to communicating is – keeping quiet! Yep that’s right – shutting our mouths and actively listening to our partners perspective. Sometimes we need to let our partners feel heard and really be heard before they feel like they are fully able to listen and appreciate what we are going through.
Now active listening is is not always easy, but a great tip is to wait until you are willing and keen to active listen someone rather than forcing it to happen. It is extremely tricky to active listen when we are angry so wait until emotions have cooled down and the environment is less heated, then agree to try an understand each others needs.
There are no rules as to who goes first. Often who ever is feeling more centred will happily let the other ‘off-load’ first. When you active listen, try to reiterate what your partner has told you, so that you really grasp what they are saying. Use phrases like, “So if I understand what your saying corectly – you feel really hurt/upset/angry etc when we I …….?” Is that right? Is there more about that?…
and let your partner just keep talking until they say something like, “No that’s all I feel like expressing”
Then reverse roles until you both come to a feeling of resolution.
Bring back the humour.
Parenting can be really tough at times, so it’s wise to commit to trying to stay light-hearted, to see the humour in the day. Life can be too serious.
Try to make each other laugh about the llittle things and look out for what’s right about your life and your world.
Get your thinking back on track.
Most days I have to wonder how people survive without chiropractic care. Whenever I have “stinky thinking,” whenever I am not centred or grounded in my body, there are generally two factors at play, I’ll need an adjustment or I need to meditate. Sometimes both.
Your nervous system governs every function in your body. Your ability to digest food properly, your ability to concentrate, the quality of your thoughts, your sleep, your energy levels. If I go more than a week without being adjusted I know I struggle to see the depth of beauty in my life.
Many chemical reactions take place with thought creation. Studies show that being overwhelmed or feelings of “hopelessness” create a stress overload in our nervous system which in turn may create body malfunction. This may occur in the reverse order as well, whereby existing nerve dysfunction (vertebral subluxation) can promote chemical imbalance and in turn a lack of harmony within the body. This imbalance may affect areas of your brain responsible for emotion and this alters your perceptions and moods. The specific work chiropractors do with the nervous system can have a significant effect on our ability to think and behave.
Mental health, or the lack there of it, can be just as debilitating, if not more, than poor physical health.
Share the load of family life.
Today’s males are generally not immune to these challenges and will either willingly or with loving guidance, quickly learn how to multi-task and job share. Remember some of our mothers will not have fostered male domestic skills and the trick is to ask for what we need, encourage all efforts and not critique.
Give yourselves some distance “as a couple” away from your children.
Arrange some time in your week, where you have space away from children. Have regular adult moments over the weekend where you sneak 10 minutes to finish a conversation or have a “cuppa” together. Simon and I will chuckle that generally a lack of nooky for us goes hand-in-hand with a lack of conversation.
Create a “date-night” ideally once a week or once a fortnight (at a stretch once a month) to re-connect and finish all of those interrupted conversations. Pre-plan this date though, otherwise it is unlikely to be a consistent event and pre-arrange a weekend or night away every 4-5 months to really romance your relationship.
Make time for regular exercise.
Everyone feels better when they exercise – endorphins are a great thing!! Help each other prioritise the time for exercise, tag-team runs or gym sessions, ie one of you go for a run, then the other. Alternatively arrange family exercise that’s done together as well.
Cling to what you hold dear, to what is precious.
Children bring great adventure and wonder to life. I often wonder whether ‘little-people’ simply highlight the inadequacy’s of our relationships rather than actually creating them. While we may feel tethered by our parental responsibility’s, we ( as partners in parenting) have a choice to make a fresh connection to each other each day, rather than holding onto to resentments and judgement.
If the relationship you and your partner shared pre-children was something precious, a bond that you both cherished, then it’s important to cling to that during the “not-so dreamy” stages of your relationship. If possible, let go of ego and fight for what’s important to you.
Stay in gratitude – it has a ripple effect.
If I find myself out of gratitude for the enormous privilege I have of sharing my life with Simon, if I’m having a “bugger you” moment, then the quickest way I can bring myself back to gratitude is imagining my life without him. I take a moment to imagine if I was married to a ‘chauvinist’ or to a ‘playboy’, or God forbid, if life decided his time here was done. The sick feeling I have imaging my life without him reminds me there are no certainty’s in life, and that I am adult enough to resolve issues quickly.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you
There are many couples I know who are juggling family life. I don’t mean they are simply task-oriented they are genuinely enjoying the ride of family chaos. Their relationship has deepened over the years to new levels of friendship and bliss, and through learning better communication skills their sex life has also re-surged.
I encourage you to find some other couples with children, who are achieving an authentically happy life and surround yourself with positive people. We become like the people we surround ourselves with, so find people who fascinate you and inspire you.
Wishing you every success in all aspects of your life.