There are a lot of ways you can prepare for having a baby. You can take classes, buy all of the stuff you could theoretically need, get your finances in order. The logistics of having a baby are manageable, for the most part. But once your new little one arrives, it can feel like a bomb went off in some areas of your life. This is especially true of your marriage after baby. One day, it’s just the two of you, so in love! And then suddenly you’ve got a permanent third wheel. One that cries and needs to be fed and requires insane amounts of your time and energy.
It’s not at all uncommon for marriages to hit a rough patch after a couple has a baby. Your lives look nothing like they used to! Those first few months of parenthood will be hard, but it’s so important to give your marriage the TLC it needs, even when it feels like you have nothing left to give.
There’s really no way to fully prepare for what marriage after baby will be like. What you can do is recognize that it will change, and make an effort to stay connected during those first few months.
Listen, there’s not much about your life that’s going to look the same as it did before baby arrived! You’re going to be physically and mentally exhausted. Your physical recovery will take a lot longer than you ever imagined. Priorities change – that laundry you made a point to put away as soon as it was done will probably sit for a while! It can feel like you’re in basic survival mode, and a lot of things will fall by the wayside as you try to navigate this new normal. Not only that, but you’re going to be an emotional mess! And you may find yourself taking your frustrations out on your partner. But ignoring the changes and just waiting for them to get better can be detrimental. A lot of resentment and anger can build when issues are not addressed. Hit them head on, or earlier if you can!
Before your new little arrives, sit down with your partner and discuss the division of household chores in those first few months.
Division of household labor is a huge sticking point in a lot of marriages. They can become an even bigger issue after you have a baby. Before the baby is born, discuss who will be doing what in those first few months. Spread the workload out as evenly as possible (but remember, you’ll be doing a different kind of heavy-lifting!). It may seem trivial to assign chores, but honestly, it can help so much. Don’t just assume SOMEONE is going to do it, because that person might be assuming someone else will take care of it. Another option is to break down a list of weekly household chores, and then switch off weeks.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
I cannot stress this enough: if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you, it will fester, and that never ends well for anyone. If it annoys you that your partner only does the dishes when the sink is overflowing, talk to them about it. If one of you has been getting up with the baby every single night for two weeks without a break, talk about it! Your partner may not even realize there’s an issue, so if you don’t address it with them, you’ll end up resentful that they didn’t just magically stop. It’s asking a lot of people to expect them to read your mind, so don’t be afraid to speak it. And do it before you reach the point of anger, so it can be a calm and mature discussion, rather than a blame-shifting fight.
You and your partner normally agree on EVERYTHING. So why are you butting heads over parenting style so much?
Marriage after baby is a completely different animal. Sure, you and your partner agreed on all the big stuff before you became parents. But now that there’s this little person to care for, you might find that you’re not seeing eye-to-eye. Are you the type of parent who rushes to soothe the baby at the first sign of distress, while your partner is fine with letting them fuss for a bit? Have you discussed things like sleep training, feeding, child care, and medical decisions? These may seem like discussions that can wait until after the baby is born, but if you are on two different pages, waiting until you’ve cracked open the book can cause problems.
Ideally, you’d have talked about the really big stuff before deciding to become parents (will both of you continue working, what sort of childcare are you comfortable with, where do you stand on vaccines). But if you didn’t, have these discussions while you’re pregnant, and on things where you have a difference of opinion, work to come to a compromise you can both live with. It doesn’t mean what you decide on is set in stone! It can very likely change once your baby comes and you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
Try to carve out some time with your partner!
You’re going to go from party of two to BABY BABY BABY, which can be a difficult transition! Yes, having a baby is all-consuming, but it’s important to make an effort to connect with each other as much as possible. Even if it’s just coffee together in the morning before the baby wakes up, or a movie and dinner on the couch at night, spending time one-on-one is so important. If you can, get back into your regular date night schedule as soon as you’re comfortable being away from your little one! It’s good for you, and it’s good for your relationship.
Finances can be a major issue in marriage after baby, and is a huge stress for new parents.
Money is always stressful, right? But when you have a baby, things can get even harder. You may be out of work for an extended period of time, or have mounting medical bills from your pregnancy and delivery. Not to mention, babies can just be plain expensive! I cannot tell you how important it is to take a good, long look at your financial situation before the baby arrives, so you can make changes as a couple. Having a plan in place can help cushion the financial blow in those first few months. And if you talk about money before money gets tight, you can head off some of the resentment and worry that can creep in later.
Finding that person you want to actually start a family with is huge! But so is the stress of having a baby. Remember all the reasons you fell in love, and make your marriage after baby a priority. It’s little things that will make all the difference.