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Our First Year as Parents Almost Ruined Our Marriage

Photograph by Twenty20

I was sitting on the living room floor, fighting back the tears that began to cloud my vision. The baby was crying again, so I placed him into the swing and turned on the calming music for good measure—desperate to find some way to soothe him.

I asked my husband not to go. Not today. Not now. He left.

My husband and I married young and waited three years before having a baby. We had a lot of fun during those three years, spending our weekends playing and enjoying our freedom.

The sacrifices that accompany bringing children into the world are usually felt by moms first. We are the ones who watch our bodies change and morph into something unrecognizable to us. We prepare, we plan and we grow to fiercely love the life developing inside.

For some men, it can take a little longer. That's how it was for my husband. When the baby arrived, he wasn't quite ready to surrender his free time and take an active role in childcare.

Meanwhile, I was throwing myself entirely into my new role. I had quit my two jobs and was devoting my every waking moment to caring for our new baby. It wasn’t easy. Breastfeeding felt like a full-time job, and the hell known as colic reared its ugly head around about the time my son was one month old.

“I can handle this,” I continually told myself, rarely asking for help.

The sleep deprivation continued to mount and rendered me almost delirious. I began to resent my husband, who tried to be helpful with our baby, but was still going fishing regularly. Instead of directly addressing my frustration, I silently seethed that he still had his freedom.

I wanted to be a mom and I loved my baby with everything that I had—but I didn’t want to be the only one who was sacrificing.

I had been vulnerable, and voiced to him how badly I needed some help—and he left anyway.

So, on that day when I asked him to stay, it was the first time I had expressed to him vocally that I needed him to give up doing what he wanted to do. He had known that his hobby was becoming a problem. I hadn’t laid it all out the way I should have, but I had expressed my displeasure in other ways.

After he left, I took our fussy baby for a walk in the stroller. As I pushed him up a steep hill, frustration and exhaustion pulsing through my body, I had a realization: This isn’t going to work.

I had been vulnerable, and voiced to him how badly I needed some help—and he left anyway. If he would leave me for no other reason than to go fishing, it was only going to get worse from there. I started to plan what I would do if I left him.

Then, as we arrived back home, I saw his truck in the driveway. He was back, having not made it very far.

My husband is an incredible father. He has grown and matured and learned to put the needs of others before his own.

I've grown, as well. I now realize I wasn't being fair to him by acting like I could handle it all on my own while being silently resentful.

We've now been married for over 14 years and have three sons. My husband still goes fishing. I would never ask him to give that up. It’s his favorite hobby and I want him to be happy. Only now, he takes the reins with our boys and gives me equal time to do what I want to do to recharge. We also do things that we all love together as a family.

I wasn’t sure our marriage would survive that first year with a new baby, but I will always be grateful that it did.

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