Many men say they didn’t see the problems in their relationship until it was too late. These guys wish they had done maintenance work beforehand so they never reached the point where the relationship was beyond repair.

The challenge for men is to see the tell-tale cracks appearing and take action.

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to take a new look at your relationship now that you are a father. Becoming a parent is a time of big changes; changes that can bring couples together, but also drive them apart.

Most men don’t look at instructions until they cannot get something to work. Not always the best way! Don’t wait until your relationship is in trouble. This week’s Facts for Fathers Series “Relationship Changes” shares the realities of what happens to relationships when you become a new dad.

Why did becoming a dad have to change OUR relationship so much?

Here are some things that all new Dads should know:

1. You have an amazing opportunity to show your child what a healthy relationship looks like.

Children learn a lot from their fathers. One of the most important lessons is how to be in a close, intimate relationship. Children are very aware of love, affection, tension, conflict and compromise in their parents’ relationship. They learn lifelong lessons from what you and your partner show them.

2. The first year of parenthood can be challenging for partners.

Babies are a lot of work. They create new responsibilities and new expenses for Dads and Moms. Most likely, you will get less sleep, have less money to spend, and have less free time for yourself and with your partner. It is no wonder that the first year is associated with a drop in couples’ satisfaction with their relationship! (Don’t worry, with work and the right foundation it gets better as the kids get older).

3. It may take you a bit longer to feel comfortable about being a parent

Mothers get a “head start” in parenting due to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and lots of early hands-on baby care experience. Dads sometimes take longer to feel comfortable and connected. Time and experience with your baby will help.

4. The things you like (and dislike) about your partner might change

Remember how you used to find it cute that she could sometimes be a bit scatterbrained? Maybe not anymore. Some of the differences between you and your partner that you used to love might start to feel like problems. On the other hand, you will likely find new strengths in your partner that you love.

5. Competing with Mom is a losing game for everyone

Although you do need Dad and baby time, it is important to become involved in a way that supports the mom-baby connection too. Moms sometimes feel like that they have all the responsibilities for parenting, and it can take some time to work out roles and responsibilities for both of you.

6. Your sex life will probably change

Early parenthood is a time when less frequent sex is normal. Even after she has recovered from childbirth, her body is different. She might feel “all touched out” and she may take a while to feel sexy again.

If you’re finding the changes in your relationship challenging, then check out our booklet Dads, Renovate Your Relationship. This gives you 14 tools to improve your relationship right now.

Remember, your children need you and your partner, so invest in your relationship for the sake of your kids.

If you know anyone who could use encouragement or would enjoy this information, please share our blog with them. The Relationship Changes “Fact Marks for Fathers” resource can be downloaded here, or a hard copy can be purchased in our store.