Frequently Asked Questions
Marriage and Attachment Parenting
- Do AP couples ever do things as a couple without their children?
- How do you have sex if your kids are co-sleeping with you?
- How do you handle it when you and your spouse disagree on your parenting style?
Absolutely. API's principle of Striving for Balance in Personal and Family Life is aimed at reminding parents about the importance of meeting their needs as a couple. Even before you're ready for that initial separation, parents can establish and build a relationship with someone who can serve as a regular babysitter. When the baby and parents are ready for a separation, the caregiver will be trusted, familiar and comfortable so that the parents have the best chance of enjoying their time together without excessive worry about the separation.
Parents might agree to work together and support each other in discussing what they each feel they need and prioritize, both as a couple and as parents. Agreeing to each remain abreast of child developmental information can provide basic information about child needs. Knowledge of a child's unique needs and preferences provides a more complete picture of the child's needs. Mutual support provides a greater possibility that most needs are met most of the time.
Tips for Date Nights/ Couple Time:
- If you are not ready to leave baby yet, schedule a date for a normal sleepy time, and go out somewhere adult-friendly with baby. If you want to enjoy a nice restaurant try going early in the evening, right when they open, to avoid crowds.
- Hire a babysitter or mother's helper to come over and watch the baby in your own home while you and your spouse watch a movie together or spend some quality time doing something you enjoy.
- Instead of a date night that may overlap with bedtime, try going out for breakfast or a mid-day date. You can hit a matinee and save some money, too.
- If it's your first time away, plan a short trip away; even just a walk around the block can be a great place to start.
- Date after the kids are in bed: plan a special candlelit dinner for two, followed by a game or movie.
- In advance of your date, it can be helpful to discuss with your partner the level and frequency of contact you'd like from the caregiver and the circumstances that you would agree to return home early. When you agree, discuss this with the caregiver. Some parents might be most comfortable with a check-in every 15 minutes, getting regular texts and even pictures of their happy children, while other parents may be comfortable with contact only in cases of emergency.
Sex is an important part of a marriage relationship, and it makes sense that this can become a challenge or concern in co-sleeping families, but AP parents can and do enjoy sexually fulfilling marriages even during their co-sleeping years. There is a wide range of "normal" interest and ability following the birth of a child, but it's common and even expected that sexual desire declines for both men and women in the first few months of parenthood. Many factors cause this dip in intimacy including hormonal changes, changes to the body, exhaustion, the new challenges of parenthood, and more. Breastfeeding also plays a role in the timing and pace of hormonal recalibration. At some point, both partners will be interested in having sex again, though the timing may differ. There are many creative ways for partners to enjoy intimate relations that work for them.
Tips for maintaining your sex life:
- Set up a bassinet, crib, or other safe sleeping surface for your child in another room, to allow you use of your bedroom during naps, or in the early evening.
- Designate another area of your home the place where you can feel comfortable having sex.
- Let a grandparent, friend, or babysitter watch your children in their home, or take them on some kind of an outing, even just to the park, leaving you time with your spouse in your own home.
- Make a reservation at a local hotel, and go on a date for the afternoon; you don't have to stay the night.
- Be creative -- find time during naps, when the children are asleep or with others to meet your needs as a couple.
- As with everything between couples, open lines of communication are important. Talking with each other about needs and desires can help couples support each other and boosts the chances that more needs are met more of the time.
- If either parent experiences persistent discomfort or decreased interest, consult with trusted health and healing professionals.
How do you handle it when you and your spouse disagree on your parenting style?
At the end of the day Attachment Parenting is an overall philosophy, a belief about the relationship you want to develop with your children. It is important to talk with your spouse about your parenting goals. Use Non-violent communication to openly discuss your parenting philosophy, concerns, hopes, and goals. Work with your spouse to understand where they are coming from and work together to come up with a plan that will work for everyone in your family. Agree to each remain informed and aware of objective child development. Objective knowledge of how children generally grow and develop, paired with parental observations of a particular child can help parents appreciate their child's needs. If parenting differences have become a major source of stress within your family you may benefit from outside assistance. Contact an API Leader or check out the API Professional's Listing to find a marriage counselor near you who is familiar with Attachment Parenting.