You met the love of your life. You had a baby, you spent 9 blissful months planning your life together, discussing which colour you should paint the nursery. You went to baby showers, children birthdays, and you sat through picnics watching your friends’ kids unbearable behaviour. On the way home, you held your hands and smiled at each other thinking you were going to be completely different parents. You were going to be fun, and so, so chilled. And obviously, your child won’t watch TV, eat pouches, and will be happy to quietly tag along on your nights out.
IT WILL BE PURE BLISS.
And then the bundle of joy comes along and entirely changes your dynamics. Your partner in crime (husband) all of a sudden is a nuisance (if he wants to kiss while you want to sleep), someone to blame for (clearly it is his fault if your back, nipples, feet, brain hurt), a slow slave (how come that glass of water isn’t here yet?), and a saviour (thanks so much for running to the 24 hours chemist at 3am, I swear that my nipples are about to burst).
Gone are the romantic dinners, the quite cuddly nights in front of Netflix, and the long, orgasmic sessions you used to have.
Six months down the track you look at each other and think: “Seriously, who are you?”
Based on the research done by the lovely Chaunie Brusie “According to the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, within three years of the birth of a child, approximately two-thirds of couples find that the quality of their relationship declines and within five years of the birth of a first child, 13 per cent of marriages end in divorce for couples who were married at the time of the child’s birth. The five-year dissolution rate rises to 39 per cent for couples who were living together at the time of the first child’s birth.”
Let’s now get into the nitty-gritty of how you can save your marriage:
Don’t blame him for how YOU feel. “It’s your fault I feel this way!” Does it sound familiar? If it is, there is some soul searching that needs to be done. Listen carefully: no one can make you feel a certain way. It is your choice to act and feel. No one can take that away from you.
Make time for each other. It doesn’t mean taking a week off and flies to another country; (unless you can and want, and in that case, go for it!) It means taking 2 minutes out of your busy routine to acknowledge your partner presence and ask him/her how the day was. It sounds so simple, yet so many people struggle with it.
Don’t allow the baby to sit between the two of you. This is a simple trick someone told me when I had my bundle of joy, and it did work. It was a statement, a choice of not allowing other people (not even the best present we have ever had) to come between us. It did obviously happen in social situations to have Luna sitting between the two of us (safety first), but at home, her chair was always positioned on my right-hand side. And it still is.
Talk. Poor communication is to blame when people decide to get divorced. Some women/men expect their partners to do things or behave in a certain way, and when questioned why they didn’t do that, the most common answer is “I had no idea that’s what you wanted”. Communication doesn’t mean talking about the weather or being snappy at each other. It means listening, understanding and accepting a different point of view and grow together.
Hug. Maybe having sex is not a priority at the moment, but impromptu hugs are always welcome. Do you know that hugging for a full minute raises your level of oxytocin and will make you feel calmer and happier?
Have fun. Fun is of the uttermost importance; do you remember how much you used to laugh? And now there is a kid in the picture, and it would be the perfect excuse to laugh even more. Let your hairs down once in a while and ride on the swing, do a cartwheel in the park, roll on the grass. Do whatever is needed to get in touch with your free-spirited inner child; your relationship will thrive from it.
Date night. Find a babysitter. Schedule your date in. Don’t cancel, don’t postpone it, also if you are dead tired. Go out and relax, the next day you will feel so much better because of it.
I found myself wanting to cancel a couple of dates as I desperately wanted to sit on the couch, watch Netflix, and fall asleep mid-movie. But I still went out, and after a glass of wine and a couple of laughter, I felt more alive than ever. Sometimes you go out and end up arguing. It doesn’t mean you wasted a date night and you should have gone to sleep; arguments happen, and they can be quite productive. It’s up to you two to do the work.
Swallow a reality pill. Pre-baby life is much easier for couples; sleep deprivation, coupled with major lifestyle changes, isolation, too many dirty nappies and never-ending tears is a killer. But it’s also a phase, and can see couples becoming much stronger because of it.
And remember, there is no shame for needing a session with a counsellor. Give your relationship a chance!
Claudia is a Qualified Nutrition & Dietetic Consultant (BHSC) specialised in hormonal balance, women’s health, and disorder eating behaviors. She sees clients online and in clinical practice; you can find more about her or the Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery program by following her on Instagram, Facebook, or by checking her website.