I knew that adding a baby to our family of two was going to bring about some changes. I knew my body would change dramatically, and my husband and I would both be under a lot of stress due to the lack of sleep and the responsibility of caring for a newborn 24 hours a day. We had discussions, while I was still pregnant, about how our relationship would be affected. We'd heard stories of marital woes and were determined not to let the stress get to us.
Needless to say, we are not the same couple as we were in those years without children. There have been changes for the worse, but we’ve also found some good in adding a baby to the mix. If nothing else, we’ve learned to be more patient with each other.
There’s a lot people don’t tell you about raising a family. The changes that occur in your relationship with your partner is not discussed as often as it could be, so I reached out to other moms about how their own relationships were affected by parenthood.
Kathy fumbled her way through new motherhood like a lot of us new moms: Fake it until you make it. “My husband would look at me when the baby would cry and he’d say, ‘What does that cry mean?’" she says. "I would tell him, ‘I don’t know! I just met her!’ Our priorities just changed all the way around. We used to go and do whatever we wanted. Now we can’t go to a late movie because of sleep schedules. We basically don’t go to movies anymore.”
For Kelly, having a son challenged the power balance in her marriage. “I felt like all the pressure was on me to keep this baby alive, and I sometimes felt very alone, even when I wasn’t," she says. "I had a hard time explaining what I needed.”
Amie discussed the challenges of learning how to be kind to your partner when the exhaustion is seemingly endless. Her husband was away on business frequently, so she needed to learn how to parent alone a lot. “Then he’d come home and I’d have to learn how to share responsibilities again without snapping,” she explains.
After having her son, Lisa admits there was a lot of distance between her and her now ex. “Things just aren’t the same when you bring that new life into the world,” she says. “Some people can handle it and some can’t, and eventually it was like we didn’t even know each other anymore. I had to work nights and he worked in the mornings because we couldn’t afford daycare at the time. So, I think that’s another thing that pulled us apart.” By the time her son was 3 years old, she and her partner decided to call it quits.
Trying to make a relationship work when so many things are now distracting you (ahem, doe-eyed babies who won’t sleep!) isn’t easy. “We had a rule,” jokes Katie, a mom of five. “Anything that was said between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. was forgotten and never happened.”
Vicki, a mom of two, offers her insight to moms everywhere: “Short-term, some of our biggest arguments came post-baby. Long-term, we learned a lot about ourselves, like our weaknesses and strengths, and our marriage grew based on those traits. Our kids are no longer babies, but I still see that our children can bring the worst and best out of us individually and in our marriage.”