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How My Baby is Challenging My Marriage

How My Baby is Challenging My Marriage

I don't think anyone can ever prepare you for the change your marriage goes through once you welcome that little bundle of joy into your life. At first, you both bask in the glow of this amazing little human. You are so in love, and the joy over what you have accomplished puts a wonderful shine upon the world. 

But soon that shine starts to wear off, and the reality of the situation sets in. You are responsible for this little life, and your baby is completely dependent on the two of you for survival. And this is when things start to change. Of course having a baby is an incredibly stressful life event. The sleep deprivation, the fear of the unknown, the feeling of isolation and the joy of new discoveries, and a new fierce love is all wrapped up into one. And that creates a volatile environment. Add to that the emotional ups and downs and you are sitting on a powder keg waiting to explode. And it usually does. Although if you are like my husband and I, it is more like a slow burn than an explosion. 

 

It's Just the Two of Us...Against Each Other

It doesn't take long before, as sad as it is to say, a feeling of resentment begins to creep in. For me, it could be "I have spent all day with the baby, and I am exhausted. I need a break when you get home." For him, "I spend all day at work, and am exhausted when I come home. I just need some time to decompress." You get the picture. And I am sure you have been there. 

It's hard to reconcile the new lifestyle change, and the change to the roles in our marriage. Before, it was just the two of us against the world. Now? It sometimes feels like it's the two of us against each other. And while we can logically see the other person's side of it, it's too difficult in the midst of that sleep-deprived haze to look at things logically. Sometimes, pure emotion takes over, and hurtful words get said. It may not even seem like such a hurtful thing to say, but the roller coaster of emotions starts, and it's very difficult to keep it from pushing you down that hill. 

For instance, very early this morning, after a particularly hard night, my husband said something to the effect of that night being really hard on Dad. To which I replied "and me." Which evoked the response, "Well, I'm the one that has to work." Which immediately hurt me. What I do isn't work? It's not like I can spend all day sleeping, eating bon-bons and watching stories on TV. Caring for our son IS work. And right now, it's actually very hard work. He's at an age where I am constantly on the move, trying to stop him from getting into the most dangerous (which also makes it the most attractive) thing in the room. I think back to the weekends where my husband watches him for a few hours and is so overwhelmed he's relieved when I get back. I feel like yelling all of these things at him, and having it out right there, at 3:30 in the morning. But I don't. I just sit and quietly fume; hurt and angry and annoyed and sad. And I know he's probably feeling just as justified in being annoyed and hurt and angry and tired and sad, and he didn't mean it like that. And therein lies the rub.

 

Being a Parent and a Partner 

Being a parent is hard work. We all get that. But being a partner and a parent is even harder work. The instinct is to put your child first. The first years of being a parent are all-consuming, and it's hard to make the time for anyone else. But when you lose that support from your best friend, it's impossible to be a parent. So they go hand-in-hand. It's too easy to neglect that friendship, that relationship and that intimacy. Because really, who has the time?! But without that you are missing one of the most valuable resources that help to make you a better parent. I NEED the support of my husband to do this whole parenting thing. And he needs me. 

So, while there a books upon books upon books that will tell you how to be a parent, and many of them will tell you that your relationship will change, it was hard to admit to myself that we are THAT couple. I always thought we were stronger than that. But it's not really about being strong. It's about being mindful and aware that this is happening, and to try and address it. Are we the perfect couple? No, definitely not. But it's helpful to take a step back from the emotion sometimes and think about it from the other's point of view. And to know that, as cliche as it sounds, it's normal. Face it: babies (as cute as they are) are hard on a marriage. Will that stop us from having another one? Nope! It's just one more skill we need to develop in our parenting arsenal.

Image Source: Courtesy of Adam Corkett

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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NicoleKojetin NicoleKojetin 3 years
I think these feelings are really common when you are a stay-at-home mom. My husband works 60+ hours a work and I know that he is tired, but he doesn't acknowledge what I do. I honestly think half the time when he comes home and the house isn't perfectly clean that he is thinking, "What have you done all day?" Umm...Chase a two-year-old, while growing the new little one in my stomach and manage my chronic pain. The sad part is that sometimes he says it. Some days I feel like going on strike and doing nothing so he could see how much I do have to do on a daily basis. However, I love this man. I love our family and I know it is frustrating on both sides of the fence. I know that it will get better as long as we work on it.
CoMMember13631168226529 CoMMember13631168226529 3 years
It is hard to be both a parent and a partner and it takes both partners to make the effort to keep the partnership going. I don't know about others but the entire role of parenting fell on my shoulders, stay at home and working full time. I was made to feel grateful if I was given a "break" for a couple hours but was left home alone for hours at a time to do all the housework and take care of the children.This created a lot of resentment in me as well as I felt I was the only one making an effort to create "couple" time without the kids. Eventually we split. My children are now grown and on their own and I'm married to a wonderful man who is a true partner to me. I just wish I had known him many, many years ago.
HeatherThomassen HeatherThomassen 3 years
I would say the most challenging thing about my relationship with my husband after the baby was getting our sex life back to normal. We stopped having sex while I was pregnant b/c as I got bigger it was harder for me to move around and he was a bit freaked out at the thought of having sex with the baby "right there." Then after our daughter came, we were both exhausted all the time. We didn't have sex until the baby was 4 months old! We just got to a point where we knew we had to make the time for it otherwise it would never happen again lol. At the same time we didn't want to force it and do it just for the sake of doing it, and one night it just kind of happened naturally. I guess we had a fortunate burst of energy that night. Now that we got that "first time" over with, I think we are on our way to creating a new "normal."
Amy-of-Up-Mommy-Creek Amy-of-Up-Mommy-Creek 3 years
Thanks so much for your comments! @Gail, such great advice, thank you so much! Definitely going to be trying those out! @Jerilyn, you are right. I am still on maternity leave (we get a year in Canada), which is where the stresses are coming from. Like anything in parenting, I know everything will change (again!) when I return to work. Great point about the positive side though; the bonding is the best part of it all! So sorry for your loss...I can't even imagine. @Michelle, you are so right. I am so incredibly lucky to have my husband, and I admire you for being such a strong woman to be able to do it on your own! I am definitely appreciative of my husband. He is my best friend and I am so lucky to have him...I suppose this article out of context from the rest of my blog seems pretty husband-bashy though. :( I didn't mean it to come across that way! @Julie, thanks! In my opinion a sense of humour is the #1 essential item in my mommy-arsenal. Haha.
DoraLoCascioWiggs DoraLoCascioWiggs 3 years
Love the article. Communication is key if you want things to get better. My husband and I had to learn that after our son was born. We would get annoyed with eacthout and keep things bottled up inside (not a good thing). We now communicate everything. We have also learned to act like we are newlyweds all over again everytime we have a date night. Keeping the spark alive definitely helps. It takes some work but its well worth the effort. We also have learned to help each other out. If one of us is beyond exhausted we let the other one sleep in and rest. In turn our kids also get one on one time with each parent which is nice for them. I aslo agree with Julie....you MUST keep humor through everything. It will actually help you get through a lot of things.
JulieTipton JulieTipton 3 years
Great article....my kids are all grown now, but I remember these "feelings" well. Just make up your mind to be honest, but considerate with your spouse, to "speak the truth in love"....pray constantly for one another and know that you are not alone. Keep connected as much as possible with friends and peers and those who have gone through this journey before. Be gentle on yourself and your spouse. Babies do grow up...and eventually, they move out. Keep your spouse #1 in your life...even if the baby "demands" your time. Someday, it will be "just the two of you" again!...and keep your sense of humor through all of this...babies grow up quickly!!
MichelleDalessio MichelleDalessio 3 years
At least you have a partner!!!! I wish I had a husband to welcome home after a hard day of work, and cook a meal for a give a back rub to.......you are sooooo lucky to have that...... I am a single mother of a 2 yr old and a 9 month old and I can't even begin to explain how hard it it, it's jus discusting that ive been left alone, no child support financially, physically or emotionally!!! All I'm saying is count your blessings and realize that you have a good man who's willing to work for you and love you!!! I wish I had that!! P.S-I am deff not down playing your problems at all, it jus bothers me when someone has everything I've ever wanted and still isn't appreciative of their man!!! It's the woman's job to care for the baby, that's why we get maternity leave ;)
JerilynMcCarty JerilynMcCarty 3 years
The article addresses the stresses of the family situation where one parent cares for the child at home and does not work outside the home. Further complications occur in the "two of us against each other" dynamic when the parent (usually the mom, but not always) at home on family leave after the birth or adoption returns to the workplace. In my experience, my husband was "old school"--even though I frequently worked more hours at the office than he did, it was still my job to cook, clean, and to rear, nurture, and care for the children. Oh, yeah, and get up in the night for feedings & diaper changes. No matter what logic I tried to apply, it just bounced off. Over the years that takes a serious toll. On the plus side, however, is that my having been a virtual single parent, even though I was married, resulted in my children and I forming a wonderful bond. And when our older child died at 23, my husband was inconsolable--so many missed opportunities, so many things left unsaid, so many issues unresolved. It's been 7 years and I miss my son terribly. However, my grief is bearable because of the strong bond my children and I have and that we always let the other know how much we loved them.
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