Trigger Warning: This article contains subject matter related to relationship abuse that may be triggering to some.
You've found the love of your life, and now you two have decided to expand your love by starting a family. You get a positive pregnancy test, and the nerves and excitement build through each trimester. Before you know it, you're holding a bundle of joy in disbelief that you and your partner both could create something so perfect. But then, something happens...
Babies are quite stressful creatures. They have to be in order to get what they want when they want it. The problem is that when you're devoting all of that time to this dependent little human, your partner tends to be left on the outside for quite sometime. Between the unavoidable time loss with them, sleep deprivation and built up resentment, your marriage could take a serious blow postpartum.
We all know that even though absence makes the heart grow fonder, too much absence can make the heart grow distant. From a mother's perspective, your focus shifts when you have a baby to make it all about that baby. Your newborn unwittingly puts a wedge between you both because your baby's needs come before your partner's needs. While that's normal, many couples struggle during the newborn phase because of this.
On top of a lack of date nights, sleep deprivation can make anyone's grumpy side come out. When it's 3AM and the baby has been screaming for over two hours and nothing is working, you can't take it out on your baby. Whether you mean to or not, that frustration tends to come out towards the adult that's closest in proximity- typically, your partner. A lot of regrettable things can be said between two people who are running on little to no sleep. But sleep deprivation is not a valid excuse to treat your partner terribly. Apologize if you do lash out, and try to hold your tongue when it happens again in the future.
You would think that having no time for each other and getting almost no sleep would be the worst of it when you add a baby into things. But that isn't actually the case. In a lot of instances, stereotypical gender roles that you never knew existed between you and your partner will become apparent post-baby; and with them comes resentment. Mom is mom and dad is dad after all, right? In a perfect marriage, you work as a team to care for your baby. Is that the case in all marriages? No. A lot of times- especially if the mother is breastfeeding- she's the only one on night duty. Not only that, but babies typically want their mother more than their father. That can make for one tired, cranky, mama that papa doesn't want to deal with.
If you're sitting there with your new baby and are wondering what happened to your happy relationship, rest assured that you're not alone. Most times as children age, parents have more time to devote to each other, can get more sleep, and divide the roles up more evenly. All of these factors will improve the overall quality of your relationship. The hard part is sticking it out long enough to reach that point. For tips on how to stay close after having a baby, click here.
If you feel as though you're in an abusive relationship that's putting yourself and/or your child at risk, we suggest you seek help from a professional. Click here for a list of resources.