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Having babies is hard! Marriage is hard! When you combine the two, there’s bound to be some trouble. Especially for first-time parents. When my husband and I welcomed our first-born, Jameson into the world in the Summer of 2017, we found this out the hard way. Resentment, animosity, and arguing became so routine that we questioned whether or not our marriage would survive. Had we had someone to inform us of the hardships our relationship would endure after starting a family, we might not have had such a rough go at it.
I feel our experience is valuable and can help others who might be going through something similar. After all, parenting and marriage don’t come with handbooks. Now that we’ve welcomed our second baby, we’re a little more seasoned and much less naive to the realities and expectations of becoming new parents. On that note, here are my recommendations for how to fix your marriage after becoming new parents.
Give YOU A Rest!
Just as there is no handbook for marriage, there isn’t a handbook on how to fix your marriage either. What works for some couples might not work for others. That being said, it’s important to understand what factors contribute to the turbulence in the first place. Luckily, when it comes to new babies, there are some universal parallels we can draw from to understand what causes marital friction so that we can be better equipped to cope with it from the beginning.
When it comes to lack of sleep after having a new baby, there are no words descriptive enough to express how tired you’ll actually be. For many moms, it starts BEFORE even bringing your baby home from the hospital. Laboring for hours, being heavily drugged, and nurses coming in and out of your room all night, all contribute to the exhaustion. Sure, you’re warned about this from the time you conceive, but there’s no real way to prepare yourself for it. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to avoid running on empty.
How To Fix Your Marriage Tip #1: Get Some Sleep!
Now, I realize this is something that’s much easier said than done. With around the clock feedings and diaper changes, you’re lucky if you get more than an hour or two at a time. After some trial and error, and learning a little more about our new baby, we were able to work out a sleep schedule that benefited both of us. It was a little rocky in the beginning since I was the only one who could feed him, but after weeks of poor sleep, something had to give.
We started alternating who gets up with the baby in the morning, and it really worked for us. When one of us was starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation, we could find comfort in knowing we wouldn’t have to go longer than a day without restorative sleep. How did we do it you ask? Well, that brings me to my next tip.
Useful Products For That Much Needed Nap:
How To Fix Your Marriage Tip #2: Get Your Baby To Take A Bottle
Now, I know this is a controversial topic for many moms due to nipple confusion and bonding, etc. However, if you can get your baby to take a bottle, daddy can aid with feedings to take some of the burden away from mom. If your baby is formula-fed, obviously this makes it much easier, but if he’s exclusively breastfed, you will need to start pumping between feedings. If the sleep deprivation is bad enough, it’s worth the extra time during the day for the extra time you get back at night. Not to mention, it’s never a bad thing to have a reserve in the freezer!
Money-Saving Pumping Tip:
Rather than spending money on expensive pumping bras, cut slits in an old sports bra instead. Boom! Instant pumping bra that works like a dream!
These types of things take time to work out. Every day is a learning experience when you have a new baby. By the time we established a bottle routine and sleep schedule, we were already at each other’s throats. As I said before, babies are hard, and lack of sleep isn’t the only stressor that contributes to marital tension. If you’ve never seen your spouse on the brink of a mental breakdown, then buckle up, honey, because it ain’t pretty!
My Favorite Pump, Accessories, And Bottles:
How To Fix Your Marriage Tip #3: Be Prepared To See A Monster
You’d be surprised what a little sleep and too much stress can do to a person. Studies show they can actually alter the chemicals in your brain causing irritability, mood swings, anger, depression, lack of focus, and monster-itis. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my point. It brings out the worst in us! You’ll definitely see parts of your spouse you’ve never seen before. It took a lot of tolerance, understanding, and forgiveness to get through some days. Had we not shown so much patience with each other (even though it seemed like we had none at the time), who knows how things might have turned out instead. My advice? BE PATIENT!
After weeks of just a few hours of sleep a night, my husband and I were fighting like Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, only without the animal magnetism. At one point, we even had it out while my mother-in-law was visiting from across the country. It wasn’t our finest moment. In retrospect, the added stress of having guests probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but I can’t say we were thinking very clearly at the time. It’s obvious that a lack of sleep can cause tension after a new baby, but it’s compounded even more by the fact that you no longer have any personal time to recharge and de-escalate.
Postpartum Recovery Tip:
Stress and lack of sleep can intensify symptoms of depression and anxiety. Don’t be afraid to seek a doctor’s help if things become too much to handle.
Can I Get A Minute?
While there’s no single answer as to how to fix your marriage after a new baby, there are some things you can do to alleviate the stress and better prepare yourself for the complete shift in lifestyle. For us, life as we knew it would never be the same. Weekly date nights became a thing of the past and doing things “on a whim” now required meticulous planning. Sure, to a degree we knew this would happen, but I don’t think either of us fully grasped the magnitude of it. We quickly realized we had to do something to shake the shut-in feeling.
How To Fix Your Marriage Tip #4: Get A Life!
My husband has always worked from home. When I became a stay-at-home mom, it was quite an adjustment spending every hour of every day with one another. Neither of us had any time alone anymore, something we definitely took for granted before the new baby. Even showers were spaced out longer than we’d care to admit. Before we knew it, cabin fever had set in. With nowhere to go and no one to vent to, we quickly became each other’s worst enemies.
We needed some time apart. We started taking turns staying home so the other could get out of the house. Sometimes, it was just for a walk or a trip to the store, and other times, a night out with friends. This helped a lot! Getting the chance to miss each other ended up bringing us closer together. After a while, we started to enjoy each other’s company again. It wasn’t long before our relationship started to resemble something familiar.
Lack Of Sex
Marriages go through a lot when a new baby comes along. For most new moms, sex is the last thing on our minds. Hormones, lack of sleep, and stress do a number on our sex drives, not to mention the 6-week waiting period it takes to properly heal and recover. Moms undergo a huge transition after giving birth and it can be a really vulnerable time adjusting to our new postpartum bodies and responsibilities.
How To Fix Your Marriage Tip #5: Make A Little Love
It’s no secret how important sex is in a marriage. While mom might not be thinking about it for a while, you can bet dad still is. Sure, your new baby is the most important thing in the world, but it’s imperative that when you get that green light from your doctor, you make a little time for personal intimacy. As ridiculous as it sounds, you may want to mark it on the schedule. Whatever you do, make it a priority. When things finally settle down, you’ll be glad you did.
New babies are a lot of work. Sure, dad can help with diaper changes and baths, but for the most part, the majority of the responsibility will fall on you, mom. It’s best to just accept this early on to avoid any unnecessary animosity. When you start to feel like a sleep-deprived, run-ragged, milk-machine, you may be inclined to take it out on dad. But, it’s not his fault.
Motherhood is a miracle, and while it certainly doesn’t feel that way at times, it’s best to just embrace it and count your blessings. Cherish the time you have with your little ones because you’ll never get it back. Relish in the moments they’re strapped to your chest because one day they’ll yearn for their independence. Accepting early on that you’ll be doing most of the work (at least in the beginning) will do your marriage and your attitude a world of good.
Pro Mom Tip:
Don’t let the first couple of months with your newborn discourage you. It’s always hard in the beginning. Babies grow fast and things get much easier with time!
How To Fix Your Marriage Tip #6: Never Go To Bed Mad
It’s true. Harboring anger when your head hits the pillow can easily turn into resentment if given enough time to stew. Resolve any issues you may have before going to bed so that each new day can be a fresh start. Remember, when your kids are grown and out of the house, all you’ll have is each other.
Related to “How To Fix Your Marriage”:
Why I Wish I Could Go Back To Life Before Kids
The Grandparent-Grandchild Bond
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