If you’re feeling a little disconnected from your partner these days, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that about 67 percent of couples a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of a baby’s life and this often into subsequent years.
Though many couples are over the moon about their new bundle of joy, they also struggle with work-life balance, loneliness, financial stress, friendship changes, more chores, and minimal free time. revealed that working couples felt their daily workload increased by four hours each day after they had a baby, not to mention the which, , also greatly diminishes your ability to stay positive, communicate and manage your emotions.
But there’s hope.
By committing to science-backed tiny actions that bond, repair and boost a relationship, couples can avoid unnecessary arguments as well as a “silent drift apart after baby.”
These “micro-behaviors” (that often take two minutes or less), can protect your relationship from stress and grow it to the next level:
1. Make greetings and goodbyes count
Have you ever walked in the door only to hear your partner bark, “You forgot to take out the garbage!” Researcher Bill Doherty argues that the most important moment in your marriage is “” when you greet each other.
He suggests that if you consistently greet each other well, you will maintain a sense of excitement about seeing each other. Set out to greet your partner with a positive comment like, “Morning, beautiful!” or, “So happy waking up with you!” or, “Thanks for watching the kids all day!” or, “Wow, you made a great dinner and painted with the kids this afternoon? You’re my superhero.”
During goodbyes, try something warm and gracious like, “I’ll miss you today,” or “Thanks for working hard for our family today.”
2. Stir up some oxytocin
Parents are often so busy snuggling their kids they forget to snuggle each other. Touching releases the feel-good neurochemical oxytocin (nicknamed “the bonding hormone”), so hug, kiss, or put your hand on your partner’s shoulder.
This simple act also inspires feelings of love, happiness, comfort, satisfaction, bonding and feeling appreciated. is a time when many people go deeper in conversation and talk about relationships, the future, work or school, and friends and family.
3. Complete kind gestures and surprises
A thoughtful holiday card, pouring a partner’s coffee, a surprise breakfast in bed, letting a partner sleep in, ironing a partner’s work clothes for the week, buying a partner their favorite food at the grocery store, or even playing a partner’s favorite music add up to create goodwill between you.
Marriage researcher John Gottman found that there need to be five times as many between partners as there are negative for a relationship to be stable. Kind gestures are the perfect way to achieve what he calls “the magic ratio.”
4. Thank your partner at least once a day
5. Send positive text messages throughout the day
Researcher Lori Schade and colleagues found that while aimless texting or arguing over texts can hurt a relationship, using to express affection enhances relationships and creates a stronger partner attachment.
Sending a loving text is even more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than receiving one. Try sending your partner texts with compliments, happy memories, flirtatious phrases, activities you’re looking forward to, positive “Yes!” moments, or kind hearted jokes.
6. Go to bed at the same time as your partner, at least a few nights a week
Go to bed at the same time as your partner at least a few nights a week, with time to talk, connect, cuddle and be intimate before falling asleep. found that couples whose wake and sleep patterns were similar had less conflict, spent more time in conversation and had more sex than couples who had different sleep schedules.
When couples talk after sex——oxytocin can make it more likely that partners will disclose positive feelings for each other. Remember to keep your phone out of the bedroom, as while talking to your partner can lower relationship satisfaction.
Relationships after having a baby are tough. But there are simple ways to stay connected that will help you thrive as a couple and as a family.