My marriage took a hit when my husband and I were trying to conceive our son. After years of negative pregnancy tests — then miscarriages, heartache, and pain — not only was my fertility confronted and questioned, my relationship was, too. By the time I successfully became pregnant and delivered our second child, my husband and I didn't know if we were going to make it. I wish I'd known then what every mom whose marriage has suffered after having a baby wants pregnant women to know. If I had, I know I would have been better prepared for the trials and tribulations that were ahead of me. Then maybe, just maybe, my husband and I would made it through our significant rough patch with more grace and dignity.
My partner and I have been through a lot in the 13 years we've been together. Everything from pregnancy loss to near poverty, we've always managed to survive whatever threatened to drag us down, we're just a tad scarred from the process. Nothing's tested us more than becoming parents, though. However amazing it can be, it's the times of parental distress and frustration that seem to highlight a major lack of communication, misdirected frustration, anger, resentment, and overall dissatisfaction with how our partnership functions.
The birth of my son was a difficult adjustment for our family. We'd waited so long for him, but at the same time it was challenging to find a routine that worked for our now-family of four. Our daughter felt neglected, it took me longer to heal from pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and my husband worked a lot. And due to my previous pregnancy losses, I experienced a relentless amount of anxiety any time my son was out of my sight. In other words, I felt like I was alone — the sole caregiver — even though my husband was wanting and trying to help.
It took awhile for things to settle enough for our relationship to heal and, honestly, our post-baby marriage is still a work in progress. So with that in mind, here's some things pregnant women should know about what parenthood might do to your marriage. Trust me when I say it's worth it to be as prepared as possible.
Never Stop Communicating
Part of becoming a parent is learning how to live in a constant state of fatigue. As a result, my partner and I stopped communicating about anything that wasn't baby-related for a long period of time. We were in survival mode, so-to-speak, and we just didn't have the energy to really discuss anything that wasn't an immediate need or cause for concern.
Before the baby comes, there should be an honest conversation about what life (and marriage) will look like once the two of you become parents. Set up ways to proactively protect the life you've built together, before you welcome another human being into it.
Choose Your Battles
Fighting and nitpicking happen more frequently when you're tired and busy caring for a baby. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't always choose which battles to invest my time and energy in, and it nearly cost me my relationship. When you're focused on taking care of your newborn, it can be difficult to realize that arguing with your partner about their dinner choice really, and truly, doesn't matter.
My advice? Let the little stuff go. It will save your sanity and your relationship.
Make Your Relationship A Priority
When you're pregnant, it's about the baby. When you have the baby, it's even more about the baby. Where's time for your marriage when you're perpetually focused on the baby?
My husband and I struggled to find time for the two of us after we had our daughter, and that struggle was exacerbated after our son was born. Before we knew it we had two children and our alone time was nonexistent. Looking back, I wish we had tried harder to make more time for the two of us and our relationship. After all, it was our love that built the foundation for our family.
Plan Things Together
I've always been the planner of the family. I live by routines and schedules and, because I knew I'd be the one home with the kids, I took the reigns in deciding almost everything my family did. Not only did it take a toll on my mental health, but my marriage was at risk, too My partner should've been more involved, and when he wasn't he started to feel like just another child I had to plan for.
Look At The Bigger Picture While Appreciating The Present
As the old saying goes, it's hard to see the forest through the trees. And when you're a parent, the "forest" is your life as a family, and the "trees" is every late night and early morning and temper tantrum and, well, you get the idea.
I think my marriage would've been a lot better off if my partner and I came together to talk about future while simultaneously stopping to appreciate the little things that truly make parenthood worth it. Instead, we sort of separated into our own lives, whether it was as parents or individuals. For too long we were essentially strangers, dealing with the "trees" of parenthood all on our own.
Be Patient With Each Other
Patience really is a virtue and something I don't possess. Had my partner and I been more patient with one another through times of duress, we'd be a lot stronger now. Whether you have it or not, it's a necessary practice in marriage and parenthood.
Allow A Little Growth
Nothing changes your life like parenthood does, my friends. My partner and I are not the same kids we were when we started dating, and I'm thankful for that. At the time, though, I didn't realize what a good thing it was that we were changing and, as a result, a palpable tension grew between us. Now I know that growth was necessary so that today, 13 years later, we're still here and still fighting for our marriage. Together.
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