At the risk of sounding like one of "those" really annoying people in a happy relationship, I must admit that my partner and I rarely argue. Now, that's not to say we don't debate or discuss important topics, from how to parent our son to politics to what in the hell we'll be having for dinner this evening. Because, well, we do. However, we don't really "fight." Ever. See? I'm that annoying person, huh? Still, there are more than a few things no one will tell you about that first postpartum fight, that I'm more than willing to divulge only because I remember that fight as if it happened yesterday. That fight was ridiculous, unnecessary, and a reminder that even in our new-parent haze of exhaustion and fear, we really and truly loved our son so much it changed who we were on a fundamental level. As both individuals and as a couple, my partner and I just weren't the same.
Of course, by "fight" I am talking about a passionate disagreement between two kind and respectful adults. I am most definitely not talking about a toxic relationship, in which "fight" means physical, emotional, verbal, or any other kind of criminal abuse. That is not "normal," not OK, not something you can simply "get over," and certainly not something anyone can claim as part of becoming a new parent. As a woman who grew up in an abusive household, I can tell you that if your first "fight" with your partner is an abusive one, that's not something you deserve or need to accept as typical mom life. There are people you can talk to, places you can go for help, and support systems in place to help you and your baby live in a happy, healthy, and comfortable environment.
But if you're in a healthy relationship, a disagreement is bound to come up from time to time and most definitely when you're as scared, exhausted, unsure, and excited as you are when you're a new parent. I know that first fight I shared with my partner, when I was postpartum and sore and emotional, was a wildly unnecessary and kind of hilarious one. In the moment, however, I was steadfast in my faulty reasoning and ready to go to proverbial battle over who was "right." I know I'm not alone in those postpartum war-of-words, which makes it all the more confusing as to why parents aren't given a crash-course in postpartum disagreements. So, with that in mind, here are just a few things you should know about that argument. Prepare yourselves, kids.
It Won't Make Any Sense
I vividly remember that first "parent argument" with my partner as if it was yesterday, even though it was over two years ago. My partner wanted to give my son a pacifier, and I was adamant about the "dangers" that would befall my son and our breastfeeding relationship if he sucked on anything that wasn't my breast.
I was pumping milk for him to have in a bottle, and my partner was arguing about how it didn't make any sense for him to use a bottle but not a pacifier. I started to argue that nipple confusion only pertained to pacifiers which, OK I an admit it now, didn't make any sense. However, my partner and I went in circles, neither one of us in the state of mind (read: rest) required to realize that we were both being ridiculous.
You'll Be Too Exhausted To Care...
Towards the end of that particular argument, I really didn't give a you-know-what if my partner let my kid suck on a pacifier until he graduated college. I knew I had a point, and I knew I wanted to be heard, I just kind of lost it along the way and in the sea of exhaustion I was constantly trying to combat.
...But Too Emotional To Not Care
I knew I needed to just let it go (and probably get some sleep) but my emotions prohibited me from exiting the conversation. It's like I was split in two: the rational part of me that knew the entire argument was ridiculous, and the child-side of me that needed to win even the most ridiculous of arguments.
I'll let you take a wild guess as to which side "won out." Hint: my partner and I argued for over an hour about a damn pacifier.
It'll Be About The Baby
Now, I don't know you, dear reader. I don't know your life or your relationships or any of the above. However, I feel pretty confident in saying that the first postpartum argument you share with your significant other, will be about the baby. In some way, shape, or form, that tiny bundle of joy will be at the center of any confrontation you may or may not face. That's just what they do, those babies. They start the drama.
It'll Take A While For You Two To Realize You're Saying The Same Thing, Just In Different Ways
Because you're exhausted and sleep deprived and "real life" is starting to feel like some sort of disconnected other-world, it will take a while for you and your partner to realize that you're both probably saying the exact same thing in different ways.
My partner and I were essentially arguing about how to best sooth our son, with the same goal in mind and just different ways in which to get their. I was afraid that I would "ruin" my breastfeeding relationship with my son (I didn't) and my partner was worried that I would breastfeed so much I wouldn't be able to get any sleep (a valid fear, mind you). So, eventually, we realized we really just wanted the same thing: for me to be able to breastfeed my son safely. Once we figured that out, the argument ceased to exist.
It Will Remind You That, In The End, You Both Have The Same Job
My partner and I argued that day because we care about our son so fiercely. In fact, I can usually say that of most if not almost all of our arguments; they're the result of us loving our son and our family so completely. We only want what's best for our son, and ourselves, but because we come from different backgrounds, think differently, and are simply different people, we don't always approach things the same way.
Not that I'm the best candidate for dishing out relationship advice or anything (I mean, just ask any one of my many ex-boyfriends, dear reader) I will say that remembering that my partner and I simply love our son to pieces, has helped us get through more than our fair share of arguments. When we can come from the same place — the place of loving and caring for our son — the rest tends to fall into place.
You'll Laugh About It Later
Now that our son is a 2-year-old toddler (who throws things and talks a mile a minute and is just so much fun it hurts) my partner and I can laugh at that initial postpartum argument. I mean, what were we debating, really? A pacifier? In the big scheme of things, that was so miniscule.
Our son has put dirt in his mouth, licked a New York City subway poll, fallen down more times than I care to admit, and is perfectly healthy and happy and safe and thriving.
(But You're Right. It Was Totally Your Partner's Fault.)
However, I was right. The kid didn't need a pacifier, for the record.