Next up on list of topics of “shit no one wants to talk about” – how much your relationship changes after kids.
When you make a tiny human with someone (or go through the process of adoption) you have all these ideas in your head about how things are going to go. It think it’s only human to romanticize them and imagine EXACTLY how things are going to look and feel.
Flash forward to 2 weeks post-baby.
There’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. No one has slept. The only food you’ve eaten was once frozen and/or brought over by someone else. You both smell. The baby finally fell asleep so you both go to lay down. He falls asleep and just as you’re about to, the baby starts crying.
Your partner is sound asleep and snoring.
There is a firey rage that flashes across your eyes. Not that it matters, your baby probably only wants you anyway.
Having a baby changes EVERYTHING.
I love J more than anything but let me tell you…having kids has seriously put our marriage to the test.
You are both learning how to take care of this tiny human. You’re both sleep deprived. You both feel like YOU have it harder than the other. That YOU deserve the break.
I used to seriously resent him for not knowing exactly what I needed in any given moment. I resented his ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I resented him for not having boobs that created milk to feed our baby.
So if you’re sitting, reading this on the couch right now with the new baby while your partner is soundly asleep beside you and you can’t remember one reason why you even like them…it’s ok. That’s normal.
We also went through a period where we became ships in the night. We would meet on the couch at the end of the day and watch a show (or as much as we could until one of us fell asleep). Truthfully, we drifted apart quite a bit.
We fought. We fought more than we ever had before.
We were angry.
There was a moment, after we had W, we had ANOTHER argument and we both sat there and were like “what are we doing here?” Luckily, we both wanted to fix it and take the steps back to each other.
But it was hard. It’s still hard sometimes. And BOTH of us are guilty. Not just him and not just me. We were both doing things that contributed to our unhappiness.
No matter how amazing your relationship is and how much you love each other, having kids WILL put that to the test. Some more than others. But it’s ok because as long as you’re both willing to put in the work, you will find your way back.
Here are some tips for getting your relationship back on track.
1. Listen to each other. And I mean REALLY listen.
After that pivitol moment, Jon and I sat down and realized that so often simple disagreements escalated to arguments because neither one of us felt like we were being heard. We were playing the “who has it worse” game and both losing. When we actually started listening to HEAR instead of listening to FIGHT, things started changing immediately.
2. Both parties need to recognize the other deserves a break
It is likely that one of you stays home with the baby and the other one works. Both are EQUALLY hard jobs. The worker gets a break from being home with the baby, but still has to show up and adult. The other is responsible for keeping a tiny human alive, take care of the house, feed said tiny human, entertain tiny human, be able to understand what the tiny human needs, ALL THE TIME.
Both are hard. Both need a break.
Give your partner that break.
3. Make time for each other
This is such a cliche, but make time to have regular date nights. It’s VERY hard in the beginning, so start with 1 hour at Starbucks or, in our case, ice cream and a trip to Walmart. Try not to talk about the baby the WHOLE time. Be present.
4. Remember intimacy
The baby often takes priority over everything. And for a period of time, that is just how it has to be. But after the 3-6 month period, it’s important to remember the person that helped you bring the baby into the world.
It’s hard. Trying to be intimate after giving 120% of yourself during the day is a lot. So it doesn’t have to be sex. It can be cuddling on the couch. Holding hands. Some sort of physical contact that says “I love you and you’re important to me”.
When you’re out, buy their favourite snack and bring it home. Buy flowers. Buy a nice bottle of wine. Show them that you’re thinking about them too, not just the baby.
Important – I think it’s important to note here that while I’m referring to the early stages of baby, all of these can be applied to any rocky period in a marriage. If you don’t have kids but are feeling at odds, these are still relevant.
And listen – marriage takes a lot of work. It will never be perfect and there will be rocky periods. That’s ok. As long as you are both showing up for each other on a regular basis, you can get through it.
Any tips that I missed? Leave them below!