How To Keep The Romance Going With A New Baby
With a 6 month-old to care for, time is at a premium around our house. And I worry that he's feeling pushed to the wayside - or that maybe even I will start to feel pushed to the wayside soon. How can I keep the romance going and let him know he's still my perfect match on a regular basis?
I deeply appreciate your sensitivity to your husband. You are thinking wisely and pro-actively. For example, you will do fine if you voice this kind of thing on a regular basis: "You mean the world to me and are my perfect match."
I call this "respect talk" toward a man. Men respond to respect talk. In a moment, let me come back to the idea of "respect talk."
Because many practical suggestions exist from outstanding parenting experts on handling a newborn and a husband who feels pushed aside, let me restrict my comments to one dimension: the attitude of love and respect in your marriage.
If during this stressful time of having a first-born infant, your husband feels second fiddle and unimportant, he could feel disrespected and unloved. Many men pull away during such moments. Oddly, they expect their wives to decode why they are pulling back. Instead, as they withdraw and stonewall, these wives question the husbands' commitment and love. If such a wife voices to her husband that he lacks maturity as a husband and father, not only will he feel pushed farther away but he will push back with anger and silence. This, of course, devastates his wife.
These couples have entered what I call the Crazy Cycle. When a husband feels insignificant, neglected and disrespected, he reacts in ways that feel unloving to his wife. When a wife feels insecure, misunderstood and unloved, she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. This cycle feeds itself.
From your insightful words above, I know you want to avoid this cycle. You commented, "I worry that he's feeling pushed to the wayside - or that maybe even I will start to feel pushed to the wayside soon." You get it! You foresee both of you feeling pushed away, and then pushing back. Suddenly two good willed people are negatively reacting to each other way beyond anything they thought possible.
What can you do to head this off at the pass? Use "respect talk." In my book, The Language of Love and Respect, I explain in depth the mother tongue of men. For instance, ask your husband this question: "When I focus on our child, do you feel that I prefer our baby above you, and that I do not respect you and your needs?"
If he says that he might feel this way on occasion then ask, "How can I make sure that I don't appear disinterested in loving you and honoring you as the most significant man in my life?"
Such a question may feel unfair to you, but I believe this question gets at what your husband might feel and enables you to influence the situation. The mere fact that you have asked these questions lets him know you understand his feelings as a man, and keeps his spirit open to you. Let him talk without passing judgment on his feelings as immature.
After you have empathized with his feelings, ask him to help you with your feelings. For example, you might say, "Can you help me? When you pull away from me, I feel alone and even unloved. Though I am focusing on our baby, I need your strength and support during these exhausting times. Will you let me lean on you when I feel vulnerable and inadequate as a new mommy? I really need you. Can you trust me when I say that I am not trying to dishonor you during these stressful times?"
This is "respect talk" and respect talk motivates a husband to move toward his wife. Though such language may sound unnatural to you (expects you to move first), such word choice will draw your husband towards you rather than pushing him away. And that will keep the romance going!