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.
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.