Dear Ovia is an ongoing series where we answer your love and relationship questions. To submit a question, send us a message on Instagram. We answer all questions anonymously.
Dear Ovia, I’m worried about not having enough time for myself and my relationship when this baby gets here. How can I make sure we’re still feeling connected after baby get here (and don’t only talk about the baby, which has already started!)?
Kudos to you for recognizing that a major shift is happening — even before the baby’s birth! Early parenting advice focuses on what to do to prepare for baby, birth, breastfeeding, and beyond. It rarely centers the couple at the start of it all, and yet feeling positive about your relationship is so important for satisfied parents and a healthy family.
Your family will change, as you’ve noted, and that’s something to expect. The new human in your life will not just be an addition to your previous life, or something to “fit in.” It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, overjoyed or a mix of both by the responsibilities of new parenthood and how different life will be.
Talking with your partner about how to maintain some time for yourself and your relationship is the best place to start. The type of leave you’ll both have from work and the support you have from other family and friends is an enormous factor. But even if you have very little outside support, you can start small, “Hey I hope I can decompress for a half hour and (insert hobby here) every Thursday when you get home early. What kinds of things do you still hope to have the flexibility for?” When it comes to your relationship, you may have to adjust your old ways of connecting depending on what kind of support you have, and how comfortable you feel leaving your baby when the time comes. It’s okay to want solo date nights or to adjust them to brunch. It’s also okay to feel like you can maintain and grow together with your baby around. Having an ongoing dialogue with your partner about what’s working will help!
And as for not only talking about the baby — well, that’s a tough one! Couples certainly make loving rules for themselves to set a timer for other conversations before they can talk about babies or look at pictures together. I know people who even read the same book simultaneously so they can have their own mini book club! But it’s also okay to laugh at yourselves as parents who just can’t stop talking about their baby, and appreciate that it’s a fairly normal instinct (kind of like looking at pictures of them after they’re asleep). This is still a way of being connected as a couple, it’s just a new and potentially unexpected one.