It's perfectly normal to ponder the future of your love life when you discover you're expecting a baby. With such news comes a flood of emotions and questions: What will we name him/her? Will I and/or my partner stay at home or go back to work once the baby is here? Will I be a crunchy, granola mom or an overachieving academic-minded parent? Who invented these imaginary dichotomies in the first place? How am I going to figure out my identity and life after this huge change occurs? It's...a lot. And there's no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to your future parental ventures, and learning the answers to some of these questions ahead of time will have you all the more prepared for the arrival of your little nugget.
Among the items lingering in limbo is the future well-being of your relationship. When you're staring down the barrel of parenthood, you might be wondering whether you and your partner have what it takes to work as a team while raising a child together. You are likely curious as to what sort of effect a baby will have on your relationship, and if the two of you have the strength to weather the storm together. All of that is very fair and valid to wonder about. I mean, no matter how long you've been with someone, nor how rock-solid you feel your relationship is, being a parent is a task and role unlike anything you've taken on before, so there's really no predicting what this newly added ingredient will do to either of you individually, nor to you guys as a pair.
The one thing you need to know when it comes to whether or not having a baby will change your relationship is this: Yes, it will. Babies change everything. Everything. That's not to say that every single change is terrifying or will negatively impact your life some how. That's not what I'm saying at all. But your life will inevitably change, as will your relationship. This is a really powerful truth to accept — if you can stop wondering if your relationship will change, you can get busy about preparing yourself for the inevitable shifts, because they're coming without a doubt.
Raising a child together is awesome and spectacular, but it's also seriously stressful sometimes (I know, I'm sure no one has ever told you that before). It's capable of bringing out the best or the worst in someone. Sleep deprivation is a real thing. In fact, there have been studies performed that have found that severe sleep deprivation is like being drunk, so you and your partner are basically walking around in a constant state of semi-drunkness while caring for an infant. For the first few months of your child's life, no one is going to be getting any sleep except that baby, and that amount of exhaustion will likely reek havoc on your mental stability temporarily. (Don't worry though, it will return. Mostly.)
In my (admittedly limited) experience, the key to surviving the parental trenches is that you should do so together. You created this child together, therefor, the both of you are in this together. Your baby is an extension of the both of you and he or she needs each of you equally. The two of you will likely shed a few tears, but you'll also share hundreds of laughs and thousands of little victories. There will be fights, and arguments, and silent treatments, but there will also be hugs, and kisses, and countless late nights spent together discussing the awesomeness of the person you created together.
Nurturing an all-consuming child can so easily result in the neglect of nurturing ourselves, our partners, and especially our relationships. That's normal. In my relationship, I just not to beat myself up if every day isn't perfect. Every day is never going to be perfect. But there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of perfect moments in between all of the trying ones — I hold tight to those and use them as a guiding light when I seem to find myself in darkness. That will happen, to both me and my partner, but the important thing is to remember that we're a team. I repeat that sh*t like a mantra, because seriously, sometimes remember that you're a team is the glue holding the whole operation together.
You are in this relationship together, for better or worse. And trust me: You will test the limits of the "for worse" part and that's OK. Trekking through those dark days together will make your relationship stronger, more committed, and definitely more appreciative. You will see each other in ways you never imagined, and your respect for one another will exceed all previous admiration.
You will grow together, celebrate together, and love each other more every day if you just remember that you're in this relationship together. Your life might have been great before, but now it has the potential to be so much more.
So, yes, having a baby will change your relationship, perhaps, in ways you never thought possible. It's really up to you to decide how.
Images: Pavel Badrtdinov/Unsplash; Hannah Murphy; Giphy