It’s been slightly over 2 months since I last wrote a blog post here on ILBHM, but somehow it seems like an eternity has gone by since then. I am writing this point to address something that is a very common issue in married couples, dealing with marriage problems after baby.
It’s as if some sort of brain fog has invaded me for the past 9 weeks… A common symptom of all of us who have “taken the plunge” by venturing into the gates of “baby lala-land.”
If you are a parent, you might relate to what I mean by this. 9 weeks ago, George and I became parents to a beautiful baby girl who we named Amanda Joy. She came 1 week and 5 days early… And of course, like many first-time parents, George and I were, in many aspects, completely unprepared for her arrival.
Being a new parent didn’t seem so dramatically life-changing at first… And yet, one of the most common questions we receive from new parents is how to handle marriage problems after baby arrives.
Call me insensitive, weird, or just plain crazy, but that moment when I first held my baby in my arms, with George right by my side, it didn’t really hit me how much my life had changed. I still had the man I loved the most by my side and with Amanda sound asleep, all swaddled up the way she had been handed to me by the hospital nurse, my life and relationship seemed just as good and in-control as it had been for the past 7 happily married years.
Little did I know what was in store only a few hours later.
And then it happened – the first time Amanda began crying out wildly, right there in our hospital room. We called the nurse and she explained that we should first check her diaper, then attempt to feed her, since those are the 2 most common things newborns cry about. So George took over diaper duty and I fed our little girl, and about an hour later, Amanda was once again sound asleep in her hospital bassinet. George and I gave each other a high-five and realized that together, as a team, we had this situation completely under our command.
Then the B-Bomb went off!
Fast forward one week later, when George and I were already home from the hospital…
It was just as described by every single parent we had met: Moments of uncontrollable crying, followed by feedings that took well over an hour, countless diaper changes, and naps that seemed way, and I mean waaaayyy too short, which upon concluding, would start the cycle all over again.
All this, of course, around the clock, yielding to the infamous “sleepless nights and days” that follow the arrival of a newborn.
What we thought would never happen to us…
Since before I got pregnant, and throughout the entire pregnancy, George and I had talked about how we would never argue over baby stuff, how we would agree on pretty much everything and always work together as a team that has one single goal in mind: a happy baby as the product of a happy marriage. There was no discussion of the possibility of marriage problems after baby arrived.
What I’m going to say next came to me (and George too), as a huge revelation:
No matter how happily married you are, how much you love each other, how bad you both wanted to have a baby, how much support you get from friends and family, there is a time when the arguments over baby stuff will happen.
We argued over when to feed the baby, over who would feed the baby, over who’s turn it is to burp the baby, over each other’s baby burping technique, over who changed the diaper, over which brand of diapers we should purchase, over where we should purchase such diapers… And the list goes on and on…
The point is that we argued. We, the Happily Married couple of 7 years, who always found a way to solve our differences in the most loving way, were now arguing several times a day over ridiculous baby stuff…
Drastic changes require drastic measures.
This would require both of us to take the concept of understanding each other to a whole new dimension. It didn’t matter how insignificant something could appear to one of us, to the other it could probably a huge issue. And we had to respect that. It required a lot of tolerance, understanding, compassion and love combined… More than any other situation we had ever experienced as a couple.
Happily Married… With children (Ok, with “one child”, but it doesn’t read as smoothly.)
As a result of our conversation, George and I realized that there is one thing that the arrival of our baby would never change. Such thing is the deep love and respect we have for each other, which is the foundation of our relationship.
I’m not saying we don’t argue over silly stuff anymore – we still do – but we manage to catch ourselves doing so. We then stop for a moment and analyze if that issue is something worth arguing about. We each express our point of view on the issue and, most of the time, we realize how stupid the argument is, and drop it altogether. After all, it’s better to give up arguing over silly stuff and use the time more productively in other things, such as enjoying a brief conversation about how our day was, just like we used to do in our pre-baby days, and sleeping… When Amanda allows us to, of course!
And just like that I welcome myself and my beloved husband to parenthood… To Happily Married parenthood, that is.