Nothing test the strength of a marriage like parenthood. If you didn't already know whether or not your relationship can withstand things like sleep deprivation, regressions, tantrums, finicky eating phases, and the never-ending defiance that comes with toddlerhood, get ready. You might think you know everything there is to know about your relationship with your spouse, but I promise there are some things you can only learn about your marriage after you survive sleep training. The decisions you make when you're that damn exhausted are without a doubt your truest colors shining through.
My husband and I have done the sleep training thing twice. I was fairly confident our marriage could endure almost anything, too. I mean, if you can make it through pregnancy and all the ups and downs that come with growing a human in your body, surely getting a kid to sleep would be a walk in the park, right? Ha. And, no. We had no idea what in the hell we were doing, especially as first-time parents. And even after we finally managed to get our daughter on a solid sleep schedule, regressions would happen and we'd be back at step one: trying to sleep train all over again. We couldn't take our frustrations out on our baby, but we definitely could take them out on one another and, unfortunately, sometimes that's exactly what we did.
Then, five years later, we had our son. His severe acid reflux made sleep training even more difficult, so having "been there, done that" didn't assist my husband and I in the slightest. So in the end, and no matter how often you've done the sleep training dance every night before bed, trying to teach a child to fall asleep on their own is difficult. And those difficulties will absolutely teach you the following about your marriage:
How Much Sleep You Both Need
You might kind of know who the morning person is or who does the night owl thing better, but it's nearly impossible to gauge who can handle a string of sleepless nights until you're in the midst of sleep training.
I learned that my partner can get zero sleep and still smile in the morning. I, on the other hand, cannot. Not even a little.
How Much Mutual Respect You Have For One Another
Of course there has to be a mutual respect built into the foundation of your relationship or you wouldn't be together, right? Well, sleep training tests that foundation.
When our son couldn't sleep for more than an hour at a time, night after night, how we really felt about one another came bubbling to the surface via our actions. For example, the times my partner got up to comfort our son without being asked (so I could sleep), made me realize I had way more respect for him than I thought possible.
How Patient You Have To Be
I knew my partner was a patient person, but I didn't understand just how patient until we became parents. Sleep training was exhausting, and I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible, but he taught me to slow down for the sake of our children.
How The Two Of You Argue
It's hard to fight fair when you're a tired parent. Sleep training both kids taught me that I'm not the best at being fair, coherent, or even calm when trying to discuss something sleep-related with my husband. He, on the other hand, is the stone-faced, silent one (which almost always escalates the arguments faster).
How Compatible Your Parenting Styles Really Are
You can plan how great of parents you're going to be and to your heart's content. In fact, I encourage it. I mean, that's what my husband and I did. But then we actually became parents and — whoops! — we weren't as compatible as we'd hoped. We tried to meet in the middle and compromise, but with sleep training our differences became painfully obvious.
How Well You Work As A Team
Sleep training will show you whether or not you're even capable of uniting as parents, especially when you're all so tired. While we lost the daily battles in terms of our kids not sleeping as well as we hoped, I'd like to think we won the war. After 13 years, we're still together and still trying and still parenting our children, together.
How Much You Really Like Each Other
Sure, it's safe to assume you love one another when you're married, but do you like each other? Because when you're in the thick of sleep training, the love might be there, and always there, but the "like" might disappear.
When my husband and I went through sleep training with our daughter, we seemed to get through it without too much stress. With our son, though, the stress really took its toll. I'm sure there were times my partner didn't like me and, yeah, the feeling was mutual. The thing about kids is, they grow up. We got through each phase as they came, and continue to do so. Some days we're closer than others. That's parenthood, and honestly, that's marriage, too.
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