Romper

Having A Baby Almost Wrecked Our Marriage

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I had always heard that the first year of marriage was supposed to be the hardest. Even if you lived together prior to tying the knot, you’re still adjusting to one another in a new way as a married couple. There were supposed to be fights and tears and moments were I wondered if I had made the right choice. I was only 20 when I got married, which many many people suggested was way too young. It seemed certain that shit would hit the fan in a hurry. But truthfully, marriage wasn’t that hard. Having a baby was harder.

We went on the honeymoon (where the travel stress was supposed to sink us). We bought our first house (where the financial stress was supposed to divide us). We adopted a puppy (where the chewing and peeing on everything was supposed to tear us apart). We decided to have a baby (where the “oh-god-what-have-we-done” fear is supposed to kick in). It was good. It was all so good. We had one stupid fight over my husband smoking a cigarette at a party when we were planning on having a baby, because he wasn’t supposed to do that kind of thing anymore. Yes, one fight, that whole first year.

I wish someone had told me that when it was over, I would understand for the first time what it meant to live out our vows. That our marriage would rarely again be blissfully happy, but we would have a much deeper and binding love than ever before.
Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

The rest of the time we were mind-numbingly happy. I couldn’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t be head-over-heels in love with my husband. We were basking in newlywed bliss, and it felt so right. It felt so permanent. I looked forward to moving on to our lives as parents, unaware that everything was about to change. I knew our lives would be different after having a baby, but I didn’t expect that we would be different. I naively thought that we would be the one constant, that we would always grow at the same rate on the same trajectory. I thought since we had talked and dreamed about parenthood so much that we’d automatically be on the same page, at least for the most part.

As soon as our son was born, I wondered what had happened to us. Suddenly I resented my husband because I always felt like I was doing more.

Anyone who’s already a parent is clearly laughing at pre-baby me. I’m laughing at pre-baby me. But it’s such a common misconception that “good at marriage” should equal “good at co-parenting.” And that simply isn’t the case.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

As soon as our son was born, I wondered what had happened to us. Suddenly I resented my husband because I always felt like I was doing more. I wasn’t, but it felt that way because there was so much more responsibility on both of us. The exhaustion left me short on patience, so I was always snapping at him. The constant needs of our baby left me completely depleted and touched out. I didn’t want my husband to touch me or need me. At the end of the day, I was done. There was nothing left for him.

I wish someone had told me that I would wonder for the first time if I had married the right person. I wish someone had told me that our first year of parenthood would be the hardest year of our marriage.
Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I had such a hard time adjusting to motherhood that I completely let our marriage fall off my radar. At first I thought it’d be for a short “adjustment period,” but what I expected to last a few weeks or months lasted for the whole first year. Over that year I had to relearn who I was, and who my husband was. As parents, we became totally different people, and our marriage had to change accordingly.

When I was pregnant, all anyone told me about my marriage was that I would love my husband more than ever when I saw him as a father. I wish someone had warned me that maybe that wasn't always the case. I wish someone had told me that sometimes that magic would be overshadowed by how unbelievably difficult parenthood was going to be. I wish someone had told me that I would wonder for the first time if I had married the right person. I wish someone had told me that our first year of parenthood would be the hardest year of our marriage.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Our first year of parenthood was the most difficult on our marriage. It shook us both to our core and made us question everything. Welcoming a child together tossed everything into perfect chaos, and the foundation that we'd built — the one we thought was so impenetrable — was under constant attack. Looking back, I wish someone had told me that when it was over, I would understand for the first time what it meant to live out our vows. That our marriage would rarely again be blissfully happy, but we would have a much deeper and binding love than ever before.

I wish someone had told me that through the exhaustion and the tears and the stupid fights, we would be able to find each other again if we tried hard enough. I wish someone had told me that the hardest year, when viewed in retrospect, would also be the best year, the best one to ever happen to us.