How do you show your husband he’s important when you have a new baby and you’re exhausted?
A reader asks this question:
I’m wondering what there is that I can do to make sure my husband feels looked after in the time after a baby arrives. We just welcomed our first 16 days ago and I feel bad for my husband because taking care of the baby takes so much time I feel like I have no time to take care of his needs too. Do you have any advice? I know it’s very soon after baby but I want to make sure my husband knows he’s still a priority despite how much the baby needs.
That is a challenge, isn’t it? I’d say carve out “us time” when the baby goes in the swing for half an hour, but my youngest was colicky and that wouldn’t even have been an option. So I asked Arlene Pellicane, author of Growing Up Social and 31 Days to a Happy Husband, to share her best tips for letting your husband know he still matters to you.
When our first baby came into the world ten years ago, he was like little Simba being presented in the Lion King. That exalted, tiny 7-pound lump was about to cause some serious changes to the kingdom of our home. When baby makes three, it’s extremely helpful to realize that baby is prince (or princess) but daddy is still king.
If you’re not intentional about it, your husband can become like wallpaper in your home, quietly existing while all your attention goes to your sweet baby.
Here are the TOP TEN ways to make your husband feel special after baby:
Keep gazing into his eyes.
The picture of a mom gazing into her baby’s eyes is powerful and iconic. Deep bonding happens through this eye contact. Make sure you spend time gazing into your husband’s eyes too. You don’t have to stare at him for hours, but whenever you have the chance, savor each opportunity to look into his eyes. By the way, this includes putting your phone down more often and looking him in the eyes when talking.
Oxytocin is for him too.
Oxytocin is the bonding hormone – if you’re breast feeding, oxytocin is produced so you feel close to your baby. When you kiss or hug your baby, your oxytocin level goes up and you like your baby more. Guess what? Oxytocin is necessary for you and your husband too! Don’t forget to kiss, hug, and make love (once you’re physically able to again) to your man. It will make you like him more and vice versa.
Kiss everyday for 5 seconds.
In my book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband, I interviewed sex therapists Dr. Cliff and Joyce Penner who suggested a daily 5 – 30 second kiss. Since you have a baby, I’m making the assignment easier: 5 seconds will do! Let your husband know that this daily kiss is not the “GO!” signal. It’s just a way that you want to stay close and keep the pilot light lit between you. These 5 seconds will speak volumes to your husband. Just 5 seconds will let him know you still find him desirable and you care about him.
Bring on the babysitter.
Whether it’s a grandparent or a trusted teenager, hire a babysitter so you can go out. Sometimes mothers are afraid to leave their precious baby, but trust me on this one. As long as your baby is being watched responsibly, your baby will not remember that you went on a 3-hour date when he or she was 6 months old. (But your husband will).
Skip the donut.
I had three babies and two miscarriages in my 30s. My weight went up of course with each pregnancy, and it meant a lot to my husband when he saw me trying to lose that baby weight. Men are wired to be visually stimulated so don’t be mad at your husband if he would love to see your “before pregnancy” body back. Obviously your body changes through the years. But when you skip the donut and grab the apple instead, it communicates you are doing your best to by physically healthy which means a lot to your husband.
Plan for sex.
Exhausted and sleep deprived, you may not want to have spontaneous sex for a very long time! But when your body is able, plan for romance and put it on the calendar. Dr. David Clarke says parents who don’t schedule their sex, don’t have sex. I agree! You’ve got to make room in your calendar for what’s most important to your marriage and lovemaking falls into that category.
When baby naps, you nap.
It’s hard to be a caring wife, let alone an amorous one, when you are so sleepy and tired. When your baby takes a nap, leave the laundry alone. Fall off the planet with social media. Don’t watch TV. Take a nap instead. The more you can snatch pockets of time to catch up on your zzz’s, the nicer you will be to your husband and everyone else.
Connect with other positive moms.
You need time with adults who are not burping, drooling, or needing to be changed. This way you’re not expecting your husband to meet every conversational need in your life. Join MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) or other mom group that will connect you to positive moms. Or you can have a weekly playdate with a friend who has a child similar in age. Just make sure that the moms you hang out with are positive. Avoid moms who constantly complain about their spouses and their kids. Complaining is contagious and that’s a virus you don’t want to catch.
Pray for your spouse.
My friend Sharon Jaynes has a wonderful book, Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe. It’s easy to use, giving you Scriptures to pray over your man to protect and bless him. As you bring your husband to God in prayer, he will feel your prayers and love. And your heart will turn towards your husband. When you’re praying for your husband, it’s hard to be irritated or callous toward him.
Respect his opinion.
Yes, you may know more about how the baby should be burped and when she was last changed, but when your husband has something to say about parenting, listen to him. Continue to show him respect in your marriage, especially in this new role of child rearing. So many men feel inept as fathers because their wives make them feel foolish. Instead view parenting as a team sport, where both husband and wife have something valuable to offer.
Okay…which way are you going to practice today to make your hubby feel special? After all, it’s awfully hard to compete with a 7-pound lump of cuteness and perfection!
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (co-authored with Gary Chapman), 31 Days to a Happy Husband, and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.
Arlene has been featured on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, The Better Show, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, and TLC’s Home Made Simple.
She and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. You can learn more about her ministry at www.ArlenePellicane.com