Baby's can't do all that much, if we're being honest. Like, I don't want to be mean, but they're terrifically inept at just about everything. My kids needed help pooping when they were newborns. Pooping. I literally had to fold them in half to get things going. But while they may not be able to walk, talk, or even take a poo on their own, your baby can tell you about your marriage.
Not, like, in a marriage counselor way, of course. (Though OMG could you imagine an itty bitty baby marriage counselor in a chic pashmina and tortoise-shell glasses being like, "OK, Barry, now you tell Jennifer how that makes you feel.") But a baby doesn't leave much room for anything else, and I'm not just talking about going out with friends at the drop of a hat or finding time to do projects around the house. There's no space anymore for secrets, denial, or anything other than the cold, hard truth about how you are and where things stand between anyone in the family.
And you thought babies didn't take up much room. Silly.
But it's not all bad! A baby can also highlight all the reasons you two loved each other enough in the first place, and decided to bring a baby into the mix. And even when times are challenging, your baby can serve as a catalyst to make you stronger. So with that in mind, here are some of the things your little one can teach you about your marriage:
How Well You Work Together
Duh, right? After all, getting the baby here in the first place (no matter how you went about it) required both of you to work together. And, in most cases, that was probably more enjoyable than working together to build that damn dresser from Ikea.
How Well You Communicate
The less you have of this crucial parenting (and relationship-ing) skill, the more obvious it will be. Coordinating the sometimes conflicting needs of two people is challenge enough, but while you can scrape buy with crappy/insufficient communication when it's just the two of you, it's impossible to keep everyone happy when there's three or more individuals to juggle, especially when one of those individuals is, like, so extra and makes you do work. (I'm talking about the baby, to be clear. An adult should make you do all the work and if they do that needs to be addressed.)
You're going to have to talk, or learn to, in order to keep life moving along harmoniously.
How Well You Manage Stress As A Couple
Parenthood will bring both of you to your boiling points, sometimes at the same time, and that's to be expected. Babies are basically nature's version of that old show Boiling Points. If you've never seen it, it's a hidden camera prank show that sees how much inconvenience, absurdity, and stress ordinary people are willing to take when they're just trying to go about their business. And this will be a kind of stress you're going to have to manage together, which can be its own challenge.
Your Individual Strengths
When you're working together as a couple, you'll find that you will naturally float toward different tasks. That's totally fine. I'm firmly of the mind that while either parent should be able to do any task required of them, it's OK if, when given the choice, you fall into, say, one person being the "feeding" person and one being the "putting down to sleep" person. Hopefully, your skill sets will complement one another.
... & Weaknesses
It's OK to have weaknesses, so long as you can get a basic grasp on everything that needs tending. The only unforgivable weakness is refusing to work on your other weaknesses.
Who *Really* Needs More Sleep
I always knew that, between me and my husband, he was the one who required more sleep (partially because he requires a ton of sleep to be even moderately functional), but if I didn't already know the sleeplessness that is raising a baby (and how you cope with it) would have made it tremendously clear very quickly.
How Often You Need To Recharge With "Couple Time"
The early days of parenthood (I'd say, for as long as you can call your child "the baby"), you're going to be in survival mode, both individually and as a couple. But you're still going to need to invest in your relationship, even if you don't get to make deposits as often as you used to. Having one-on-one time with partner is important, and how often that has to happen depends on the couple. But, generally speaking, a little dab'll do ya when you're talking about being parents of a young child. (Though if you can get out/alone more often than "infrequently" good on ya!) You need to find the balance that's right for you.
How Differently You Were Raised
A funny thing happens when you become a parent: a lot of your childhood comes to the surface. The good, the bad, the stuff you didn't realize, and the stuff you haven't dealt with. And if your childhood is wildly different than your partner's, that will necessitate talks about how you want to raise your child and what becoming a parent has stirred in you that might be different from their experience.
Whether You Want Another Baby
Word of advice: don't make any permanent decisions in the first year or so of your baby's life. That said, how you and your partner are managing with baby number one can let you and your partner know whether there's a baby number two in your future.
I used to think I'd like five kids, because I come from a big family and that was cool, and then I had one and my husband and I were like, "Oh sweet baby Jesus, no."
How Close To Your Breaking Point You Are
If you were already close, you probably had an OK idea before you had a baby (pro-tip: if you feel like you might be close, maybe don't have a baby at that juncture). But there's absolutely no denying your problems after the baby has arrived. And, not to scare you, but even strong couples can find themselves cracking under the demands of a little one.
It takes admission, intention, and a lot of effort to claw your way back from that edge, but you can do it. Together.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.