It's easy for your relationship to get swallowed up by all things baby when you're pregnant. After all, having a baby is arguably the biggest transition you've experienced! But here's another important reality: your relationship existed before pregnancy and it will (likely, hopefully) exist long after your baby is born. And generally speaking, your relationship plays a critical role in your stability and regulation during the postpartum months and beyond.
So, kicking your relationship to the bottom of your priority list (or removing it altogether) during pregnancy can impact your relationship in the short and long term. Sure, your relationship will go through adjustments -- shifting of priorities, and differences in how you relate to each other, what you need from each other, and what you can offer to each other. As these dynamics shift, it can be easy to feel lost or even hurt, but it's important to try and work intentionally to connect with each other and "see" each other fully in this stage of life.
There's no one magic formula for successful relationships, but there are many strategies for improving communication and connection. "The 5 Love Languages" is a well known and easy concept created by marriage counselor, author, and speaker, Gary Chapman. Through his extensive work with couples, Chapman determined that there are five universal acts that people use to show and feel love. Everyone has one or two primary love languages that they use to communicate how they best convey and interpret love from others. When people in a relationship understand each others' love language (usually, each person's is different), they can better meet each others' needs for connection and love, which helps strengthen the relationship. To learn your love language and your partner's, take this free quiz on The 5 Love Languages site.
Below, I review the five love languages by listing examples of acts under each one, including both general and pregnancy-related suggestions that might appeal to both people in the relationship, pregnant or not.
Using The 5 Love Languages During Pregnancy
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation is a love language that uses verbal encouragement to show and receive love.
General words of affirmation:
- I love the way you ____________
- Your __________ is so cute/pretty/attractive.
- You always have the best ideas.
- Thank you for being here for me.
- I feel so lucky to have you in my life.
- You're so talented when it comes to ________.
- I really appreciate how you ___________.
Pregnancy-related words of affirmation:
- Your body is amazing!
- I love how you adore my pregnant body.
- You are going to make a great parent.
- I love hearing about pregnancy from your point of view.
- You are working hard and I am so appreciative.
- I'm here for you.
- Even though I'm tired/don't feel well, I want you to know that I think about you and love you.
- I wish I could make this experience easier for you.
Acts of Service
An act of service is something you can do for your partner that is meaningful and/or helpful.
General acts of service:
- Cook a meal
- Pay bills
- Plan a thought-out weekend away, date, or outing
- Do the laundry from start to finish - gather, wash, dry, fold, and put away
- Take on a household job that's typically your partner's
- Drive your partner to and from work
Pregnancy-related acts of service:
- Attend a prenatal appointment together
- Schedule a massage
- Plan a getaway (solo or with their friends) for your partner
- Meal plan with tasty, healthy foods
- Surprise your partner with lunch out at work
- Make a packed lunch for your partner
- Ask them what would help the most if it were off their plate
If receiving gifts is your partner's love language, it's time to work on paying attention. Keep in mind that a gift can be many things -- it doesn't have to cost much or anything at all except for your time and effort.
General receiving gifts:
- Flowers (wild or bought)
- Favorite snack
- Homemade meal
- Book on their wish list
- Hand written note or card
- Slippers or warm socks
- Something they've talked about wanting
Pregnancy-related receiving gifts:
- A night out -- no cooking or cleaning necessary
- Foot massage
- Massage gift certificate
- New shirt/clothing
- Favorite cream or body oil
- New pregnancy, birth, parenting book
- Professional photos
- Surprise guest at baby shower
- Professionally cleaned house
Quality time is something nearly all of us long for in a relationship, but for some, it's especially important. Spending quality time together requires very little effort other than remembering.
General quality time:
- Watch a movie together
- Date night in or out
- Exercise together
- Dedicated, uninterrupted conversation
- Cook a meal together
- Volunteer together
Pregnancy-related quality time:
- Attend prenatal appointments together
- Couples' massage
- Walking together
- Childbirth classes
- Read a pregnancy/birth/parenting book together
- Take a babymoon vacation
- Decorate baby's room together
Humans need physical touch to grow and thrive. In relationships, physical touch can be very important for one or both people to feel connected.
General physical touch, with permission/consent:
- Holding hands
- Massage - back, hands, feet, scalp
- Brushing hair
- Sitting near your partner
- Sex/sexual interaction
Pregnancy-related physical touch, with permission/consent:
- Feeling/touching pregnant belly
- Lower back massage
- Foot massage
- Applying favorite lotion, body oil
- Sex, orgasm
- Intimacy and touch without sex
- Skin-to-skin contact
Relationships, like anything else that grows, require time, attention, and nurturing. It's not always easy, but the payoff can be huge. Give The 5 Love Languages a spin in your relationship and see what happens. You might be surprised!
What is your love language? How do you want to be supported and shown love during pregnancy?