Babyproof Your Marriage: 10 Things New Moms Need

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 44 comments

Want to really Babyproof your marriage? I put together a free guide to discussing the 10 expectations that mess up most marriages. Get your copy here and get your marriage ready for baby now!

Yesterday I shared 10 Things New Dads Need to Know About New Moms, and today it’s Mom’s turn to learn a thing or two… or ten.

  1. New Dad misses you. This baby is getting all of your attention. All of it. And when the baby finally doesn’t need your attention, you’d rather sleep. Not only does he miss you, but I’d bet that during your pregnancy you guys were bonding more than usual. You were planning and decorating the nursery together. You were having spirited debates about names together. You were washing and folding tiny onesies together. You were dreaming together. Then the baby came along and your bonding time went from 60 to 0 in no time flat.It’s so easy to feel like New Dad is being completely inconsiderate and totally selfish. He’s a grown man! This is a baby! Of course I choose the baby! But remember that it isn’t about being selfish or needy, it’s about simply missing a person that you love deeply. It will be hard, no doubt, but let him know you miss him, too and show him how you’re carving out time for him (even if it’s just 15 minutes).
  2. New Dad feels left out. New Dads are left out on many levels once the baby is born. There’s the obvious: feeling left out of the Mom and Baby bonding.And there’s being left out of the celebration of the transition into parenthood: no one really cares how New Dad is doing. There are no gifts for New Dad. No one is coming to visit or check on New Dad. No one is asking New Dad about his birth story (if he was in the room when Nugget comes out he has a birth story). His world just changed in a monumental way and most of us fail to recognize it.Remember that this is a big change for him, and one that may be more abrupt than expected (for lots of dads the whole Becoming a Dad thing doesn’t become real until they are holding their little one). Ask him how he’s doing, what he’s thinking, and what he needs and encourage the community around you (family and friends) to do the same.
  3. New Dad is capable. Dads have instincts and abilities, too. And their style of parenting (typically more flexible, playful, relaxed) is just as essential as mom’s style. Your child needs to know their dad, not a man trying to do everything the way mom does it.When you let New Dad do him there is so much good to come. Your kid gets to bond with him. You get a break because you’re not having to do everything, and New Dad feels more confident and needed in his home. So, listen up, Control-o-Mom: Let dad do his thing.
  4. New Dad wants direction. Fine, I just told you to let him spread his wings and fly, but he still wants some direction. New Dad didn’t grow up playing house, and unless he raised his siblings, he probably isn’t completely comfortable with his baby holding/feeding/burping skills quite yet. Let him know what to do and what you need, especially in the beginning. Unlike you, his identity isn’t tied up in how things get done so he’ll gladly accept directions without becoming defensive. Just remember not to slide down the slippery slope of micromanaging.Also, let’s talk for a minute about the magic of a To-do List. In a dude’s eyes, telling him what you need from him is a godsend. All of a sudden the chaotic and scary world that is a woman’s mind gets crystallized down to a simple To-do List and he loves you for it. If there is ever a time to drop the “if he loved me he’d read my mind” mentality bringing a baby home would be it.
  5. New Dad misses his old life. Things got real when baby was born, and there are days that New Dad misses his old life. He misses watching tv in silence. He misses being able to work late or hang out with friends without feeling guilty. He misses spending the weekend in the workshop “tinkering”.This new baby stole time and added guilt. The worst part? When New Dad tells New Mom that he misses “the good old days” she gets offended (“You don’t love our baby! Wah!”). Not cool, New Mom. Not cool.Let New Dad feel how he feels. Just because that hole in your heart has been happily filled by a baby doesn’t mean his has been, too. And be mindful of his need for some down time WITHOUT the side of guilt.
  6. New Dad is scared. Just like you. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and something as simple as a crying baby can easily be misinterpreted by New Dad as the ultimate sign of failure. Because New Dad isn’t as comfortable expressing those feelings he will probably look more stressed than scared. Make a point to be encouraging when you see him getting flustered or anxious because he needs to hear that everything is going to be ok (just like you do).
  7. New Dad wants to bond, but it can be hard. Dads bond with their kids by being physical, rolling around, playing catch, tickle fights. You can’t do any of that with a newborn. Add to it the likelihood that mom does most of the feeding and rocking and you end up with a dad that feels pretty disconnected from the Nugget.Most dads don’t really bond with their baby until they are about 6 months old. By then babies are responding to tickles and laughing at New Dad’s silly faces. New Dads love the feedback that a newborn just can’t give.The key is to be patient and encouraging. Encourage New Dad to spend some kangaroo time with the baby, and guard yourself from believing that he doesn’t care or love the baby like you do.
  8. New Dad needs sex. Just like they bond by being physical with their kids, New Dad bonds with his wife by being physically intimate. Unfortunately, physical intimacy isn’t at the top of most New Moms’ to-do lists. The reality is that us wives need to remember that physical intimacy communicates SO MUCH to a man. When you touch him you communicate that you love him, that you need him, and that he is a man. These are all things that he needs to hear from you. Even if full on intercourse isn’t happening right now it doesn’t mean that you guys can’t squeeze in some old-fashioned cuddling or make-out sessions. The important thing to remember is that your touch says so much. Heh.
  9. New Dad needs to be asked what he needs. Again, most of the things on this list are experiences from my marriage and conversations and arguments my husband and I had. To find out what your New Dad needs requires taking the time to ask him.
  10. New Dad needs a thank you. I know, I know. Moms have the hard job. You are the one that deserves a thank you, goshdarnit. And you do deserve a thank you for your hard work, but so does New Dad. So many New Dads are like wilted flowers begging for someone to acknowledge them and the things they do for their families. New Dads need to know that what they are doing matters and a thank you is a perfect way to do that.

P.S. I put together Babyproof Your Marriage: 10 Expectations Every Couple Should Discuss Before the Baby Arrives, a free guide to entering Married with Children Status with your eyes wide open!

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    44 Comments

  1. As a soon to be mom of two, this is an excellent reminder of the things I totally neglected to notice/do the first time around. Thank you so much for listing it out like this; it’ll sure come in handy in 3 months.

    • Congrats on the new baby, Meagan! And good luck venturing into the world of two :) I’m with you, I’ll be doing things differently the next time around for sure!

  2. Great list. The only thing I would add is New Dad feels stressed about finances. Money and providing for mom and baby are one of the top three if not the top issue that stresses new dad out. Mom is not working and some mom’s are taking 12 weeks of unpaid baby bonding time. Dad is not only worried about protecting and providing for mom and baby physically but also financially. The key here is open communication. Let new dad share his concerns and stress and talk about budgeting. Diapers, Daycare, College, oh my!!!!

    • Mcloving, thanks for the dad input!!! Love it when dudes show up on the blog :) And I feel so dumb for forgetting about finances, ha! Duh. You are so right. It’s funny because I think about paying for college, but it’s such a backburner issue in my head. The other day Mark and I were talking about having another baby and he said, “What about college?” and I was like, “Really? You’re worried about college already?” and I thought, “Mcloving was right!” Ha!

    • Finances were definitely number one on my worry list; coinciding with fear, anxiety, joy, excitement, and fear again all balled into one emotion at the exact same time. One of the first things that ran through my head when my wife and I heard we were having a little girl was “oh my God, I have to pay for a wedding!” Followed by, “well, time to go home and bat up the windows.”

  3. I think these are great reminders, but I’d also like to point out Dads are often the stay-at-home parent now, so don’t forget about role reversal.

    • Totally agree! We are actually one of those families (Mark stays home with Otis), and we’ve definitely had our fair share of role reversal.

  4. New Dad needs to man up!
    Seriously… Dude. Grow a pair!

    • Whoa. I’d hate to be the guy that has a kid with you… What, just because he didn’t carry the child for 9 months he’s not allowed to be scared or stressed? Ridiculous.

      • Question; what if the husband never feeds the baby never gets up in the night ever? Or doesn’t help with chores but expects to be fed and have clean laundry? What if post partum has set in, and your sleep deprived and essentially alone? Then should he get a thank you, or sex for that matter? Some men still hold onto the notion that woman should be barefoot and in the kitchen.

        • Shouldn’t you know that about your man before you marry him? If his being a caveman bothered you that much, then you shouldn’t have married him or you lose your right to complain about it.

    • Love it lol

  5. Ok so this helped a lot but what I need is help with how I should react when dad over reacts gets mad at me or the baby etc.

    • Hi Lisy, coming up with an anger plan is really important. But first make sure that you and the baby are safe. This is the internet and I have no clue how serious what you’re talking about is. So always make sure that you’re safe and that you have somewhere to go if you don’t feel safe. Also, find a local marriage counselor to help you figure out how to work on outbursts in a safe and effective way.

  6. These are really great tips to help new mommies help new daddies. It’s very easy to get a little overbearing with my husband, I have to remember that we both have our own little ways.

    • SO easy to be overbearing. I had to watch myself all the time, but it’s definitely been worth the time it takes to catch my words/nagging :p

  7. I noticed most of the list. But my husband bonded with our son sooner then I did. My husband was the first one to hold him and had to take care of him his first night born cause of how drugged up I was from the emergency c-section. The two of them would cuddle all the time. Our baby loved to just lay on his daddy’s chest and just snuggle in under his chin. I also knew that hubby would need some of the “old life” incorporated into our life now. (He gets to have a boys night once a month, in which he gets to go out and do what ever he wants with his friends all night, no questions asked). We even have it set up that once a month we find a babysitter and we have a date night or an “us day” (a nice dinner and a movie, go bowling, go on a hike, swimming, what ever we want to do together). It has helped us stay strong and bonded, it was rough in the beginning and I know it was the “us days” that kept us together and going.

    • Caitlin, I love this “testimony” of sorts for how to be mindful of date nights and free time. I love that you guys can see how it’s the “Us Days” that put fuel in the tank. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Wow! So glad I stumbled upon this article. :) me and my bf will be having our first kid in a month and it was awesome to read some tips on how he might feel. I always worry that I’m unloading too much on him and if there’s anything more I can do for him. This article is excellent advice for a soon to be mom, thank you!

    • Katie, thanks for the comment :) I love hearing women that are genuinely concerned for the men in their lives.

  9. WOW! Im so happy I stumbled across these tips:) What an eye opener. My husband and I just had our first daughter and she is 3 months old. I can’t tell you but Im sure you know how tired I am! Our daughter is all consuming and when she finally decides to go to bed all I want to do is sleep. These tips have made me realize that I need to take it easy, not be so crazy and let my husband do his thing, without me sticking my nose in. As well as communicate and spend more time just being us agian. Its going to be hard but Im going to give it a solid effort! Best tips I’ve read all day:) Thanks!

  10. While I like the sentiment of these lists, I couldn’t help but to be bothered by the sexist stereotypes. Since when do women have the holes in their heart filled by having a baby (Bleh.. That line alone is offensive), while it’s normal and okay for men to need hobbies and interests outside the home? My husband was the one who wanted a baby, while I am the one who would rather have a successful career. And I am sick of hearing about men’s need for sex as though women aren’t just as interested in sex, if not more. Maybe my husband and I are much more androgynous than normal, but a lot of this either didn’t apply to us or applied equally to both of us regardless of whether it was on the new mom list or the new dad list. Don’t get me wrong, these are great reminders for new parents; it just got me thinking, as I do every time I read gender-disparate commentary, that my husband and I must be abnormal.

    • You make a valid point, one which I personally agree with regarding gender roles, but while reading blogs and informative lists geared to help others it is important to remember that the author is usually basing the article off of their own experiences (a fact that she points out multiple times throughout both gender specific articles). From their perspective, these were the reactions, emotions, and realities that were experienced. No two individuals or couples are the same, but remember that a majority of individuals in one’s life may fall under these “stereotypes” before you judge them for writing about their own experiences.

    • Jen, thanks for the comment! True story: Alexis said everything a million times better than I could (thanks, Alexis!). Also, I really am thankful you took the time to say that these lists don’t apply to everyone. I know that it encouraged someone to hear that this is NOT the end-all-be-all of relationship lists (because it totally isn’t) and that I probably didn’t describe their experience to a ‘t’. I just want, more than anything, for people to be honest about where they are in their relationships (whether it’s a woman unhappy with the lack of sex, or a man upset about the laundry) because that’s the only way we can learn from one another and encourage each other.

      Also, almost every couple we’ve ever worked with has said some version of “I’m the (insert opposite sex) in the relationship about (insert stereotypical issue)”, so I highly doubt you guys are abnormal :)

  11. I with I had had two articles such as these to read 27 years ago before my daughter was born!

    I am working on a community level course on what to expect as a first-time mom and this article is fantastic for including in the curriculum. With your permission I would like to adapt both this article and the other 10 Things… article to fit within the class structure. FABULOUS list on both articles!

    • Valerie, most definitely you have my permission! Thanks for including me in your course :)

  12. I totally disagree with this. It’s a VERY vanilla list. I am on m second marriage. The first one never WANTED to do a thing. It was all on me. This marriage, he thinks HE knows everything. He wants everything done how he thinks it should be done. He does help out with the baby (THANK GOD), but if I do things the way I feel fit, he criticizes. I still have to take care of the house, other kids and work full time. Yet, as soon as I attempt to do any of those things, he says I’m neglecting the baby. Yet he won’t help with the other responsibilities. I’m FED UP honestly. They’re all different and it’s always going to be something missing.

  13. I have read both articles 10 things new Moms/ Dads need and loved them both. Our baby is 3 weeks old and I think my Hubby and I are doing a great job at supporting each other although I’m struggling with 2 things. 1st being that I feel so unattractive and the 2nd is meeting my husbands needs sexually. I know he is finding it tough too. I’m feeling so guilty!

  14. After 18 1/2 years of marriage I am almost 16 weeks pregnant with out first child. My husband and I love both lists and have printed them out as reminders to ourselves. One thing that I noticed? Many of these (on both lists) apply to pregnant mom-to-be and dad-to-be as well. And one thing we have learned is that at night, before we fall asleep, we take 10 minutes to just talk about US. Not friends, not family, not Poppy (nickname for our baby), just us. And in my share of those 10 minutes I try to make sure I apologize for any hormonal/irrational/whatever type comments or moods I may have had. And he does the same, making sure I know how important I am to him and he apologizes for any perceived slights so I know that I am still precious to him. And we plan on continuing this after the baby is born. It has helped us a lot.

    • I LOVE this idea!! I am 12 weeks pregnant with our first child and this is a wonderful reminder to take a few minutes each day and focus on us. We are also building a house amongst a million other things that keep happening/coming up so we need that “slow down” time. Thank you!

  15. aww poor guy no one is asking him how HE’S doing, coming to see him or bringing him presents- reality check: people aren’t coming to see you either! they are there to see the baby! as for how he’s doing well he wasn’t in labour for hours and he didn’t go through the trauma of being born so he’ll just have to get over himself if he’s upset that his new family is a priority to other people. he should probably try to follow their example. step one, marry a man not a child & then you won’t have to look after two babies.

    • Thank you for this post, amy (and Indy) above. It really helps me to appreciate the woman I’ve got even more. Your complete lack of empathy and possible villain-izing of men is telling that you have bought into the mainstream view’s lie that men are nothing but incompetent idiots while women are superior, “sugar and spice and everything nice.”

      I love my wife.

      • Don’t feel too bad Matt. You seem to be a great guy, my hubby said the same when he read both comments. Sometimes you just run into so much negativity on these things. I am so glad that my hubby has stepped up to help me through my pregnancy. 27 weeks, I have serious nerve damage in my back so I know I need to appreciate him for holding my hand through it all .

  16. I’m pinning this to my daughter, who is almost six months pregnant at 36 with her first pregnancy( they have a six yr. old, adopted, that they brought home from the hospital). She’s done a fabulous job of making sure my granddaughter feels a part of the whole experience. One thing that I might add, my husband would get up at the 2am feeding, change him/her, then bring them to me to nurse. He loved to spoon me, and cuddle the children, said it gave him an experience he couldn’t even describe. Funny story though, one night I fell asleep, my husband got up and burped the baby, and put him back to bed. I woke up 15 minutes later in a panic, lifting the covers, and looking for the baby. My husband woke up, turned over, and told me “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back! He’s in the cradle!”

  17. Great points! I think in our case the ‘new dad is scared’ part went even further because my husband became exceptionally protective over me, also. He hovered a lot, a reaction I didn’t understand for a long time- looking back, I think he was checking on both of us (the hormonal crying fits in the weeks after she was born, and the trauma of our actual birth story for both of us didn’t help him feel very reassured).

  18. As a man, I was happy and relieved that the other side of things was addressed. This article captured things surprisingly well. I’d say for the most part, it was spot-on. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule (I noticed in the comments someone complaining about that…seriously? Your man isn’t EXACTLY like this? What do you expect, this astute blogger to also own a crystal ball?)…but in today’s world, I do think guys are just treated like brutes with no feelings sometimes. And on top of that, we rarely get any recognition for being the bread-winner, driving long roundtrip commutes through heavy traffic, doing all the manual labor around the house…and then helping out with the baby with their leftover energy. Yes, the woman’s role is amazingly difficult and deserves to be commended in every way, but totally failing to acknowledge the man’s contributions will only lead to bitterness and coldness in the future. I’ve seen couples who, after the baby arrives, fall into the domineering wife with the husband wagging his tail between his legs. Needless to say, this is not the ideal situation.

    Anyhow, I’m on a tangent now. I just really, really appreciated this article’s perspective. It was like a fresh of breath air for someone out there to finally “get it.”

  19. Oh give me a break. New dad needs to F off. He should have thought about creating life if he was going to miss “the good old days”. He’s not allowed to want sex when new mom hasn’t shower in a week because new dad’s too busy needing to have a beer with same-old-loser friends.

    • As as human he is allowed to “want” whatever the hell he wants. Yes, we went through the pregnancy, but so did they. I’m sure after having a baby some women, like myself, miss having grown up time. No one can just automatically switch and adjust to a situation that quickly. We’re human, not perfect. Every one is entitled to their own wants and needs.

    • Yikes. Poor Mr. H :(

  20. My husband and I are TTC, and I can tell you all that I will miss “the good old days”. It doesn’t mean I won’t love the new family we have, but now more than ever appreciate our quite nights watching tv, sex whenever we want, and doing fun things together on weekends with no major concerns. It’s why we waited a few years. I look forward to raising a child with him, but there are so many things about our solo couple days that I know I will miss. My husband is my first priority. I am his. It will serve our children well.

  21. Wow, as a future new Dad I can’t belive how accurate you are in regards to the fears of a new father (even if I feel feerless) it also really helped me understand how my pregnant wife feels! Nice work and thank you for simplifying our feelings!

  22. This. Is. Great.
    I am guilty of forgetting to thank my BF and creating time for just us. His role is imperative to the success of my role as a mom. Without him I wouldn’t be able to stay home with the baby.

    I really like all of “Matt’s” input and I’m completely disgusted with the few spiteful women in these comments. Relationships are in fact two way streets and men most definitely have feelings and needs! Yes! Even with a new baby! Both parents bit off a huge chunk of responsibility by having a child and helping each other out will be the best way to get through.

    Thanks for all the input!!

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