I never thought that having children would require so much communication. My husband and I had a great marriage before children, but let me tell you it was a bit on the rocky side once our first was born. Once you have children your relationship changes not necessarily for better or for worse–it just changes.
It’s completely understandable for your marriage to go through an adjustment because each of you as people are having to go through an adjustment. We each had to figure out what our new roles were as parents. We had to figure out what our new responsibilities were and how it all fits together. Being me as an individual, as a wife, and as a mom. We decided I was going to be a stay at home once the baby was born; for some reason, I felt l needed to do it all and felt inadequate if I felt overwhelmed. Well, I felt totally overwhelmed.
Instead of communicating I just kept feeling overwhelmed and feeling upset because I wasn’t getting the help I needed. I was also struggling with the way my body looked after having a baby and struggling with breastfeeding. Looking back I realize I was also struggling with postpartum anxiety. After a few months of feeling miserable mentally, we made some changes. Here are a few things we did to strengthen our marriage.
Instead of talking to my husband about my feelings I just held them all in. I felt like I could handle it and that I should be able to handle it. I felt ugly, I felt stressed, I felt overwhelmed, resentful, but also so much joy and excitement over our beautiful bundle of joy. What a crazy rollercoaster of emotions. It is incredibly important to communicate your feelings.
After I decided to let my husband know how I felt I realized he didn’t have any idea how I was feeling, in fact, he had feelings of his own that I didn’t realize he was having. Tell your husband what’s on your mind. Encourage him to do the same. Talk it out. Cry it out. He is your partner, you shouldn’t have to navigate your new paths as parents alone. You are in it together.
It was eye-opening to hear the other perspectives of what we were going through as new parents. Each of us had no idea of the internal struggles we were going through. Understanding the other person’s thoughts and feelings made us both more kind and sensitive to one another.
Be Clear About Expectations
After a few conversations of getting all our feelings out in the open, we then spoke about what we wanted and needed from each other. We were very clear about what we wanted. Instead of saying I need more help around the house or I want to spend more time with you. Those are good starts, but left as just that could eventually lead to miscommunication which can then lead to anger, resentment, or arguments later.
My definition of spending more time together may be different from his definition. At some point in your conversation it will be more beneficial to say if I do the cooking can you do the dishes? Or say I would love it if we could make time to watch a tv show or movie at least every other night. Being clear with your expectations gives clear instructions if you will, of what the other person can do to meet your wants and needs.
Everyone and Anyone can benefit from Counseling
We were able to work through our issues through communication. Lots of communication. We could have gone to counseling, neither of us was opposed to it at all. In fact, I’m a firm believer that anyone could benefit from counseling, even if everything in your life is going well.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma that goes along with counseling, but there shouldn’t be anything wrong with going to an expert that will help. They can help to be a mediator or be someone that will help give each of you a different perspective. Talking it out with an outside third-party professional can definitely help you both to navigate issues as well as give you tips on how to work better as a team, especially when things get heated.
Sleep is so important, and I don’t know about you when I don’t get enough sleep I get cranky. Especially during the first year of a baby’s life when their sleep is the most erratic, protecting your sleep is vital. This isn’t to say both of you will be getting 10 hours of sleep every day/night. Honestly, you will be a very rare occurrence. However, at night you can take turns changing diapers or feeding the baby (if mom isn’t nursing). Some days you will get more sleep other days less. You can even have one partner watch the baby while the other takes a quick nap. Don’t underestimate some extra Zzzz.
Find Time for One Another
Bringing a new little person into this world is the most amazing adventure you will ever have. You will inevitably be spending a ton of time caring and loving on your baby. It’s important to remember to make time for each other. Spending one on one time with each other will help to strengthen your marriage. It’s easy to get caught up in all the new aspects of parenting, but even at home dates are a great way to spend quality time with your partner. Get some snacks, sit on the couch, and watch a good movie together! If you are in need of date ideas that are lockdown/quarantine friendly, click here for the blog post!
It Takes Time
Give you and your husband some grace. It takes time to navigate parenthood. There is so much to learn and it’s okay to make mistakes. We all do. Understand that you aren’t going to know everything or know how to overcome a particular hurdle right away. You will get there, things will get easier.
My hope is that at least a couple of these tips are helpful to your marriage when first having a baby. These would have helped us a great deal had we known about them before having a baby. Having a baby is such a beautiful and amazing experience, but there are some challenges that go with it. Understand that most people experience challenges. You are not alone. If you forget everything I have said in this post; walk away with one word. Communication. It is the single most important thing you can do. Now go have a chat with your hubby!