I'm about to tell you something that might come off as a little shocking, but you deserve to know the truth. If someone tries to tell you that the first year of parenthood was magical, stress-free, and nothing but bliss, they're lying to you. There's such an unrealistic standard that there's supposed to be this honeymoon period, but in between spit up and midnight feedings, there are just some fights you have in the first year of parenthood that are completely unsolvable—and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that either.
Although milestones like getting married, landing a new job, and the birth of your child look like extremely happy experiences on paper, it turns out they can be quite stressful, too. According to a study in Demography by Dr. Mikko Myrskylä, professor of social statistics at Helsinki University, and Dr. Rachel Margolis, professor of sociology at The University of Western Ontario, "the drop in life satisfaction during the year following the first birth is larger than that caused by unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner." Before you freak out, the study does show that happiness levels bounce back and level out after the first year. This just goes to show you that you're not alone if you're feeling on edge. So breathe a little sigh of relief as you check out these fights you have as a first-time parent that are totally unsolvable.
1. Turning Parenting Into A Competition
Let me just say this now: there is now "winner" in parenthood. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can put an end to the unwinnable fights over everything from who works harder to who got less sleep last night. The reason this is an impossible battle to solve is because parenthood isn't about declaring a winner or loser; it's about being able to survive the first year with your sanity in tact.
2. Arguing Over The In-Laws
Granted, there may be certain situations which require a sit-down conversation about boundaries with relatives. In general, though, going down the "in-laws" route can be disastrous. Psychotherapist Dr. Tina B. Tessina told The Bump to remember that "these are your future child’s grandparents and can be the biggest help you’ll ever have." At a time when tensions are high due to a lack of sleep, touching raw nerves regarding each other's family won't solve anything except to put everyone on the defensive.
3. Figuring Out Who Deserves More
When it comes down to it, a new baby fundamentally changes the dynamic of your relationship because now there is someone who requires a significant amount of attention. That can leave you and your partner feeling neglected. Dr. Tammy Nelson, a sex and relationship therapist, told The Huffington Post that arguing about who deserves things more—attention, sleep, alone time, etc.—won't get you anywhere. It's an unsolvable fight and one that can best be avoided by trying to have a meaningful conversation without making about whose needs are more valid.
4. Talking "Through" The Baby
I'm guilty of this, and I'd argue that everyone has made this unfortunate decision during an argument at least once. Using your baby to air your grievances is passive aggressive at best and a toxic habit at worst. Carolyn Pirak, a licensed clinical social worker, told Baby Center that using the baby to argue with phrases like, "here, the baby wants you," can be grounds for an argument because it takes real dialogue out of the equation. No one wins a fight when it's on uneven footing.
5. Squabbling Over Credit
It can be easy to keep a running tally in your head over who's changed the most diapers, who fed the baby last, and other new parental duties. But when you start to fight over who deserves the most credit, you take appreciation out of the equation. Dr. Aaron Balick, a psychotherapist, told Mother and Baby, "the best ingredients in a relationship is mutual recognition and gratitude." So it's impossible to solve a quandary when you're missing those key ingredients.
6. Regulating Luxuries
Many fights started with me glancing over to see my partner relaxed, casually scrolling on his phone while I couldn't remember the last time I took a decent shower. Conversely, my husband would get just as angry with me for taking my sweet time eating a hot meal after he'd only had lukewarm soda and a handful of chips to sustain him. Armin Brott, author and parenting expert, told Parenthood that no one wins when parents begin to micromanage each other's breaks and duties. That's why arguing about what counts as a luxury and what qualifies a person to be able to do it isn't a situation possible to solve.
7. Trying To Define The "Right" Way
There's a saying that you're a culmination of your experiences. So, you'll probably believe a certain method of preparing a bottle, for instance, is the correct one solely because that's how you grew up doing it. According to The Bump, readers reported that fighting over what was the "right" way to do things was a top reason for fighting during the first year of parenthood. It's one no one can win because—aside from major health and safety topics—there usually isn't just one, perfect way to raise a baby. That's a lesson many of parents are still learning to this day.