Though they can be the most beautiful, amazing, and blissful addition to your lives, babies can also set off an explosion in your marriage, making it especially important for new parents to focus on their relationship after bringing their baby home

The arrival of your adorable baby often comes with a variety of not-so-adorable problems. With stress levels running high in a totally unfamiliar situation, there may come a variety of difficulties between mother and father. As the mother becomes suddenly aware of her deep, selfless, and endlessly protective love for her child, her life inevitably goes through profound changes. A husband who does not accompany her through this transformation may feel left behind.

Though he feels the same love for his child, he may sense a growing distance developing between himself and the incredible bond between mother and child. The only way to solve this problem is for him to follow her into the new realm she has entered.

The following tips will help those of you who are new parents to navigate this crucial time, by working on your sense of “we-ness” as a couple:

Focus on your marital friendship

Before the arrival of your baby, work on your love maps. If you didn’t get a chance to do this, take the time now to learn more about your partner and their world. This will help you to feel like a team, and make the transition into parenthood together, maintaining your close connection with each other as well as your new baby.

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The arrival of your adorable baby often comes with a variety of not-so-adorable problems

Don’t exclude dad from baby care

Have you ever seen a video of a mama wolf guarding her cubs? Adorable and slightly intimidating, this behaviour is not entirely unlike that of human mothers. Despite a father’s desire to be involved in caring for the baby, it is unfortunately common for new mothers to feel overprotective. “Don’t bounce her like that, you idiot!” “Stop tickling her feet, she’s crying!” In the interest of avoiding this undesirable barrage of directions from an over-controlling mother, and stymie their growing feeling of incompetence, fathers often have the understandable urge to run for the hills. They willingly relinquish their parenting position to Baby Expert Mom.

The solution to this common problem is simple…

Give dad a little credit. Unless his approach is unsafe, there is no reason to exclude him from the care of your baby. Giving him official roles, such as Official Burper, Official Lullaby Singer, etc., will make him feel much more connected to both mother and child. As mom begins to feel more comfortable, and more exhausted, let dad take over some responsibilities. He can take shifts taking care of the baby to let his wife take a much-needed break, go out, see some friends, and rejuvenate herself.

Remember: the best gift that parents can give their newborn is a healthy partnership

Let dad be baby’s playmate

Innumerable studies have confirmed that women and men differ in their methods of connecting to the baby: Women are generally more nurturing, while men tend to be more playful.

Playing with a helpless baby may seem to many men as a recipe for disaster, which may lead them to feel superfluous at this time in their child’s development. In reality, as fathers who spend time with their babies know full well, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Babies smile, laugh, wriggle in delight, and make absolutely charming and endearing playmates. Being sensitive to dad’s needs and desires will help him to feel much more included as an indispensable part of your new family.

Carve out time for the two of you

Spending time away from baby can be incredibly difficult. Though it may be secondary to focusing on your child, the transition to parenthood should always involve some focus on your relationship with your mate. Find a trusted baby-sitter or a friend or relative to take a breather, and take a break for a moment! Don’t worry if you spend your dates talking about your little one. This is totally natural. Simply taking a bit of time off for yourselves, sharing your feelings about your shared experience of this often confusing and stressful time, and showing each other, affection will keep your connection strong.

We hope these suggestions will help your relationship flourish, both with each other, and with your newborn! Remember: the best gift that parents can give their newborn is a healthy partnership.

Gottman, John, and Julie Gottman. “The Art and Science of Love: A Weekend Workshop for Couples” Workbook. Seattle: The Gottman Institute, Inc., 2000-2011. 100-103. Print.