Marriage After Baby- 6 Things That Help
Marriage after baby is a whole different ballgame.
I’ve been married for 8 years and with my husband for 15.
Essentially since we were fetal.
We know each other so well it’s frightening and obnoxious.
We were “that couple” in high school that made people throw up in their mouths because of annoying cuteness.
(Not so much in the physical sense- I had an unfortunate haircut that made me look like a mop, gnarly braces-filled teeth, and a unibrow. My husband…. dammit, he was totally cute. What a dick.)
We were a pretty solid, easy-going couple.
I never thought I would want to punch him on such a regular basis…. enter, BABY.
Let me be clear- he’s a fantastic father- loving, attentive, strong, silly, and safe.
No worries there.
But the constant focus on another human sucks so much of the time and energy you have for each other.
We were so exhausted. ARE so exhausted.
Shit got real. Real fast.
But it gets better. It’s constantly getting better.
Because we are working on it.
Assuming that you have the relationship basics down- Trust, Respect, Love… blah, blah, blah, etc.
Here are some things that have helped us:
About the baby.
About things other than the baby.
Or at least laugh about the fact that you have nothing to talk about other than the baby.
Talk about everything.
Anything that’s bothering you.
That you’re happy about, sad about, annoyed, frustrated, angry, or scared about.
Don’t bottle anything up or let anything fester.
That’s a recipe for a blowout.
(not the poop kind.)
That being said-
This doesn’t mean talk ANY time about ANYthing.
In the middle of the third night of staying up with sick baby is not the time to have a serious talk about how thoughtless your partner is about your needs.
(I have definitely done this. Not productive. And the only thing that actually makes you feel better at 3am on night 3 is sleep.)
Something that helps us a lot is to check in the night before about the next day: and say what we’d like to do that day- go on a run (husband), go to a yoga class where you lay on the floor and do nothing (me), have a game night (husband), have a craft night (me), take a nap (both.).
…dear God, we are so lame…
Say what would be the most helpful thing for the other person to give you time to do, and what would be an added bonus.
If you can make it possible for your partner to do one of those things?
You’re a rock star.
You get a prize.
(Not sex. Don’t be insane. You get a nap or a cookie or something.)
Step up your chore game and don’t expect a thank you, just do it.
On the other hand-
SAY THANK YOU when the other person does something nice without being asked or expecting a thank you.
TELL THEM when they’ve done something helpful or appreciated.
Just say thank you to each other.
All the freaking time.
ANTICIPATE when the other person might hit their breaking point and step in and take the baby BEFORE the turning point.
It’s really, really hard to ask for help when you feel like all you do is ask for help.
So make it so they DON’T HAVE TO ASK.
Just take the baby and gently nudge (PUSH) them out the door to get some alone time.
Or time with friends.
Or to go to a class… or on a walk… or whatever, just get them out of the fucking house.
Go on walks.
Go on dates. With or without the kiddo(s).
If at all possible- get away for an OVERNIGHT.
(This will change your life- SLEEPING IN…
…or sleeping in until 6am when your boobs freak the fuck out and make you drive back home. )
About four months in was when the snippyness started.
It’s impossible to be that chronically sleep deprived and not get annoyed at the world.
And you can’t take it out on the baby so you take it out on whoever is closest.
There was a lot of complaining and comparing.
A lot of “who slept less” and “who changed more diapers”.
The “United Front” was starting to crack.
The problem was, we were both the same amount of overworked and overwhelmed, but instead of comforting each other and commiserating… we would just sort of …state our complaints
OUT LOUD AT EACH OTHER.
One morning, I realized how we could cure this… we needed to start complaining WITH each other.
Everyone just wants to be heard and understood, right?
And who understands being awake seven times in the middle of the night better than THE OTHER PERSON WHO IS AWAKE SEVEN TIMES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
Creating a common enemy is the best coping mechanism for exhaustion-induced rage.
At 3am when the baby is awake for the fourth time and I roll over, lock eyes with my husband, and say (lovingly)
“That baby we created…
What an asshole.”
It strengthens our marriage.
Talking shit about our son is our current love language.
It’s awesome and it makes us laugh.
Which brings me to the most important thing…
Babies are funny.
Poop is funny.
Boogers and farts are funny.
Learning to blow raspberries and smacking you in the face and talking super loud when they should be sleeping is funny.
If you let it be.
Some of my favorite moments so far have been in the midst of an emotional attempt at a real, intense conversation- usually about something that is pretty trivial but in the moment seems REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT- and the baby farts.
As if to say- “Mom, lighten the fuck up everything is totally fine.”
And I laugh.
And my husband laughs.
And my baby….
well, sometimes he laughs and sometimes he startles from our outburst of laughter and cries which makes us laugh harder.
(But also pick him up and love on him cause even though we make fun of him we aren’t assholes about it.)
What has helped your marriage after baby?