By Lyz Lenz
After our daughter was born and my husband and I emerged from the holy-crap-we-just-had–a-baby haze, we started fighting. The fights took us by surprise. But one night, as we exchanged angry whispers over who really should have wiped down the counter (we didn’t want to wake the baby), we realized we needed to adjust our thinking.
While seeing my husband as a father inspired a new type of love in me, parenting with him incited a new kind of frustration. I wanted him to step up and offer to take the baby and volunteer to do baby-related activities. And my husband was having a similar frustration. He wanted me to give him more time with the baby and to stop hovering over him. We wanted the same thing, but getting there wasn’t that easy. In fact, we’re still working on it.
My husband and I had been married for six years and thought we had a solid relationship. Together we’d weathered the death of loved ones, personal and family tragedy and renovating a bathroom. But nothing knocked us off our foundations more than that 7 pound 8 ounce wiggling ball of pooping fury we called our baby. She made us be in the same room together when we’d rather just storm out. She made us make up when we wanted to be mad. She made us whisper, when we wanted to shout.
Our daughter is six-months-old and we are working on finding a new rhythm in our marriage. I’m learning to step off, my husband is learning to step forward and we are both learning how to be kinder, wiser and better partners. But it’s not easy.
Lori Kanat Edelson, a licensed family and marriage therapist, suggests some practical steps that couples can take to baby-proof their marriage and keep it going strong despite the late nights, poosplosions and entire conversations wherein you refer to yourself as “mama” and “dada.”
Go to the next page to read Edelson’s practical tips…
1. Maintain open, honest communication; don’t presume your spouse knows how you feel – talk about it!
2. You both bring your individual histories to parenting and it is important to recognize that your way is not the only way.
3. You are a parenting team – remember to act like a team!!
4. Having a baby will change the intimacy in the relationship but this does NOT mean that the baby is “competing with you!”
5. Make it a priority to have some time alone together each week to prioritize your relationship.
6. Remember that your baby is a baby for a very short time over the entirety of your marriage. Enjoy this time.
7. Try to be as flexible as you can be! Sleep schedules, meal times, even time to take a shower may shift around for a while. Hang in there. Your baby is well worth it.
My husband and I are learning to be more intentional about our relationship and to be more flexible about chores, sleep schedules and errands. Individually, he is learning to cut me a break when I need one and I’m learning to tell him when I need one, in a way that doesn’t involve huffing or yelling. That’s the key.
Our daughter is definitely pushing us to our limits, but she is also helping us come together and love one another in ways we didn’t even know where possible. Watching my husband as a father has taught me to love him in new ways, even if he still doesn’t like wiping the counter.
About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at LyzLenz.com
Expert tips to help you get through those late nights and dirty diapers as a team.