Family Life

Relationships go down-hill after a baby: here's what to do about it

Sleepless nights; a total change in routine; bickering over nappies… sure, having a first baby is pretty much the most incredible thing that a person can experience… but it's also not without its difficulties. 

Indeed, several studies show that around two-thirds of marriages take a nose-dive in aftermath of their first child's arrival. Other research is equally damning; the ERSI, for example, says married couples are 30 percent more likely to split after they become parents. 

In short, bringing a small person into your home will seriously test the bond you and your partner had when it was just the two of you. 

However, before you start to Google 'divorce lawyer', there are simple things – for both men and women – that make a really big difference to your relationship. 

Here are five to consider…


1. Keep talking:

Vocalising any problems that crop up is key (your mum was right when she said to never go to bed on an argument!). Sometimes it's difficult to know what to say, but saying something – anything! – is better than staying silent.

So hold your spouse's hand; tell them that you love them; acknowledge that you know things are tough going right now but that you believe you can get through it together.

2. 'Stuff' won't make things better:

Some people are more inclined to try and 'fix' a situation by showering their loved-ones with gifts and grand gestures. But those things should be associated with positive milestones or periods in your relationship – anniversaries, for example – rather than rocky patches and heartache. 

And flowers or the latest iPhone won't fix underlying problems – your spouse knows that too. Putting in the effort and making genuine attempts to improve behaviour or rectify bad habits is worth 100 iPhones.

3. Learn to say sorry:

People make mistakes; they mess up – especially when they're ticking along on three hours of broken sleep. But admitting regret – and meaning it – goes a long way. So take a deep breath, apologise – and definitely DON'T follow up your 'I''m sorry…' with a big fat 'but…'

4. Don't gloat:

If you're the one in the right – don’t start down the ‘I told you so’ road. Practise empathy, acknowledging that parenting a newborn is seriously tough. So if your partner has a moment of madness that’s out of character, reflect on the circumstances you’re both in and cut them some slack.

5. Pull your weight:

It’s amazing how a pile of dirty dishes or a full laundry basket can cause lasting resentment. Before you had a child maybe you both split the chores equally, or perhaps one person took on the lion’s share because their work schedule allowed it.

Regardless, your domestic set-up will need to reevaluated in light of the new arrival. Firstly, there will be more chores to get done (the washing machine will NEVER stop) and secondly, if mum is breast-feeding or up all night with the baby, she’s not going to be then able to make dinner from scratch too.

Draw up a weekly list of things that HAVE to be done, specifying who is doing what. Swap them around regularly so one of you isn’t landed permanently with toilet cleaning.

And don’t forget to thank your partner when the job is done.

Search results for
View all