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Do you miss your husband? Tiny actions can make a huge difference in boosting your bond

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 experience a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of a baby’s life and this often persists 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. One study revealed that working couples felt their daily workload increased by four hours each day after they had a baby, not to mention the sleep deprivation which, research suggests, also greatly diminishes your ability to stay positive, communicate and manage your emotions.

Couples notice a 40 percent increase in arguments after having a baby, and two-thirds of these couples admitted these were often "silly" arguments caused by stress or exhaustion.

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 “the moment of reunion” 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.

Hugs also help you buffer stress, help you avoid getting sick, relax you, and boost your mood. Research suggests that people feel more loving and affectionate toward their partner when they cuddle.

This simple act also inspires feelings of love, happiness, comfort, satisfaction, bonding and feeling appreciated. Cuddling 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

When participants in a relationship study were asked, “What two things do you like best about your relationship?” they mentioned small words, gestures and actions—like having their partner cook a meal for them.

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 positive interactions 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

Thank your partner via text message, post-it note, comment or card. Each day, pinpoint one thing about your partner that you're grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful “booster shot” for romantic relationships.

Gratitude predicts how happy someone will be in their marriage, improves levels of commitment to a marriage , improves the quality of intimate relationships , and makes it more likely that partners will stay together over time. Gratitude even guards and protects against the negative effects of arguing.

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 text messages 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. Researchers 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.

Plus, going to bed at the same time makes female partners interpret daytime partner interactions more positively the next day.

When couples talk after sex—“pillow talk”—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 looking at your phone 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.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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