As a new parent, I am surprised how much life changes in just a few months. I have a new appreciation for a hot shower, a cooked meal and the restorative power of sleep. I, also, recognize there are some struggles to figure out such as that huge hole where a marriage used to be. It isn’t easy to have the same marriage you once had with your spouse after your baby arrives. In fact, the marriage may never be the same, but that doesn’t have to be bad.

Express Appreciation to Your Spouse

Dr. John Gottman, author of And Baby Makes Three, highlights the importance of maintaining friendship with your spouse. To accomplish this, he suggests starting with small gestures, like saying ‘thank you’, or ‘I appreciate…’, as often as you can. This is the opposite of pointing out your spouse’s faults by instead drawing attention to what he or she is doing well, which is something new moms and dads really need to hear. These small tokens of appreciation do not take much time or effort, but going months without these affirmations can cause damage to your relationship. You are both exhausted, yet accomplishing so much. Acknowledge it and thank your spouse.

Prioritize Your Marriage

It is impossible to take care of a new baby, work, keep the house clean, have any time to yourself, and maintain your marriage. Choose what you want to prioritize and don’t worry so much about the rest. Prioritizing your marriage gives you the freedom to let go of tasks and be present minded for your spouse.

Participate in Marriage Counseling

Going to marriage counseling can help you and your spouse see things from a different angle. Counseling can help to relieve tension and enable you to create a plan for dealing with conflict in a safe environment. Even going for just two or three sessions can give you the tools you need to make the small changes that have a large impact.

Having a new baby in the house certainly feels all-consuming, but taking these small steps can alleviate stress. Invest the energy you can into your marriage. You will find comfort in feeling positive about the person you chose as your partner. You will not regret the time and effort you put into staying connected.