Dear Rose: How to keep your relationship alive after having children – The Things I Wish I’d Known
I know that this is an incredibly exciting time for you. In two months you’ll give birth to your first (and only) child. I’m writing to offer consolation and encouragement, and to tell you, that you’re going to need to be strong.
You see, I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not going to get the calm natural labour that you hoped for, in fact although you will successfully deliver your little boy into the world, it will be something that takes you a while to recover from and intimacy with your husband will be the furthest thing from your mind for a long time afterwards. However, having children will show you sides of your husband that you’ve never seen before and will strengthen your bond immeasurably. You see, it turns out that he is much more patient, forgiving and better in a crisis than you’d given him credit for. You will find having children empowering, having never understood all of that Mama bear nonsense previously, you will now.
Truthfully, It’s only after we had a child that I realised what people meant when they said you have to work at a relationship. I know it sounds really lame but having a date night is actually a good idea so that you can do something together, have a conversation and share some intimacy. You don’t even have to go out. You can cook a nice meal together or just snuggle up on the sofa to watch a film. You’ll also become adept at using the line ‘foreplay begins in the morning’, meaning get some chores done, take the baby off me for a while, let me have some time to myself so I don’t feel like a wreck just wanting to collapse into bed by the end of the day. You need to never doubt that your marriage is under there somewhere, just a little overshadowed by tiredness and the demands of new parenthood. In the early days you’ll look less of a couple and more of a tag team in service of a minuscule dictator. You will have competitive tiredness conversations, and virtual sex: “do you want to?” one whispers to the other when you tiptoe shattered to bed. “I want to, honestly. But I’m just so tired…” and how you will laugh about those late night conversations together a decade later.
You’ve got to talk. Honesty and being open with your thoughts is the only way forward. Having a baby is such a big test on a relationship, you’ll find out things about your husband you never knew existed until you are knee deep in child raising! You already know this, but you and your husband are like chalk and cheese, he’s so laid back he’s almost horizontal whereas you, I suppose you could say you’re a lot more forthright than him and that my friend is what will work in both of your favours in the years to come. Your reliance on one another will be total, and weirdly, this will be more intimate than anything you’ve ever experienced. You must also remember to try to be kind to each other. I can say hand on heart that you will never love your husband as much as when he’s let you have an extra lie in or cooked breakfast, and you’ll try to do the same for him.
Your son will genuinely make you a better person because you will learn your own strengths and weaknesses as a result of having him. However, you must also passionately reserve the right to be your own person and pursue your own interests outside the role of Mother and Wife, this is vital to maintaining a healthy, equal relationship. It encourages your partner and your growing boy to see you as a person in your own right, rather than just a cog in the family unit. This fosters respect – the basis of all good relationships. Recognise that your happiness is also your own responsibility, and while someone can make you unhappy, no one but yourself can make you happy.
I’m here to let you know that you’ll all come through the other side, and to tell you that we’ve now been happily married for almost 10 years, we are best friends as well as lovers.
I can tell him anything and he always has my back, I trust him utterly and am equally trustworthy in return. We encourage each other to live life to the full. We’ve raised an incredible young man together, as a unit. We have healthy respect for one another and continue to prioritise time together, even if it’s just a quick catch up after a hard day at work to talk about our day, but most importantly we look forward to growing old(er) together and we’re enjoying making plans for it.
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