My mom and dad have been happily married for 48 years, so I definitely listen when my mom dishes out marriage advice. When she told me having a baby was a big relationship adjustment for most husbands, I paid attention. Turns out, it's true. While all relationships (regardless of the gender of those in the relationship, or their marital status) change after the birth of a baby, when I listened to dads describe their marriage postpartum, it became clear that the added duties of raising a small person, the financial burden associated with those duties, and the fatigue of parenthood in general, can all drastically change the way you interact with your spouse.
One of the main differences between couples that make it after the addition of a baby, and those that don't, seem to be their commitment to teamwork (at least, that's what I think). Parenting is hard work and we all need help sometimes. Couples who feel like they are tackling all the new responsibilities together, I believe, have a greater chance of staying happily married.
My husband and I love date night and believe it's one of the habits that help us remember how much we actually like each other, just as people and separate from our responsibilities as parents. We might not get to go out as often as we once did, but when we do we remember all the reasons we fell in love before baby came along. So, with that in mind, here are how a few dads chose to describe their marriage after their babies entered the world:
"I had to get used to coming last, to be honest. The hierarchy in our house is baby, wife, dog, then me."
"We became even closer. Making a baby is a bonding and romantic thing to do."
"We were on auto pilot and just surviving. We tag-teamed a lot, too. I would hold the baby while she took a shower and vice versa. It's like warfare."
"Actually, we went through a divorce after the birth, so it fell apart. But it started before the baby was born. I know for sure that we wouldn't have survived parenthood as a couple, though. It's too demanding for a weak relationship."
"It's good now, but it was a really rough first year. We had a lot of therapy, separate and couples'. It helped."
"I think it's better. We have weathered the storm and come out the other side, stronger."
"The sleep deprivation makes you crazy. You have no patience and you snap at each other a lot. Once we got a babysitter at around seven months, it got easier to reconnect as a couple."
"I was a bit jealous at the beginning. My wife was breastfeeding and I just felt disconnected and like I wasn't needed."
"The postpartum period took the polish off our marriage, for sure. But it also showed us what we are really made of. We're much stronger now."