I read once when I was pregnant that having a baby is like throwing a grenade into the formerly peaceful land of your marriage.
I thought to myself with trepid anxiety, “Surely it can’t be that bad…” and then pushed the thought under the rug along with all the other things I wasn’t prepared yet to think about, such as the fact that I may never sleep again and alone time would be a thing of the past.
Fast forward one adorable, 7 pound, 4 ounce grenade and one year later, and I’m here to tell you that while I wouldn’t agree with the comment that I had read that a baby bombs your marriage, it does shift it.
A baby may not be the same as throwing a grenade into your marriage, but it is like welcoming a little earthquake into your life, one that shakes everything up and leaves all the pieces in slightly different places than where they were before.
Here are a few things to know about marriage after baby:
1. You Will Both Change
Having a baby changes you and truly how can it not? All of a sudden not only do you have a little person to take care of whose wants and needs must come before your own, but you and your spouse also have an entirely new identity to grapple with, that of a parent. You will learn things about this new person inside you that you never knew before. You will learn that you are strong, that you can survive on less sleep that you thought humanely possible, that you can face difficult challenges and that you are capable of a love you never thought possible. You may also learn that you need to ask for help sometimes and that cluster feeding makes you crazy. You will learn that your priorities have changed, maybe you will become more of a homebody for a little while, trading going out for dinner with staying in because you’re tired but also relishing in those early day snuggles and your baby’s first smile. You and your spouse will be navigating new waters together, learning new things about yourself and new things about each-other as you both turn into parents and the road may be bumpy but that’s ok because life is about growth.
2. You Will Need to Communicate More
One of the most important things you may have to work on in that first year of marriage after baby is communication. You will both suddenly have far less freedom than you did before. No longer can you just run an errand, go out with your friends or stay late at work without notifying your spouse. Now that you are parents, you need to learn to work together to make sure you both have your own time, but also to make sure that you are meeting the needs of the other person in your marriage as well. You also need to learn to communicate when you need help. Maybe in the past you were the spouse that always cooked dinner every night but the thought of making dinner after sleeping for 4 hours the night before is overwhelming, rather than angrily banging pots and pans around the kitchen while you cook, tell your spouse if you’re overwhelmed or need help. Communicating appreciation also goes a long way in the early days of cluster feeding, middle of the night wake-ups and crying jags. During the hard moments in the beginning when I was holding a crying newborn that I seemed unable to appease and second guessing my developing parenting skills, hearing that I was doing a great job from my spouse meant everything. Don’t forget to tell each-other how much you appreciate and love one another.
3. Making Time For Each Other is Important
It’s easy to put your marriage on the back burner, but it’s important to remember your marriage needs time and attention, just like any other relationship in your life. After all, you two are the foundation of your new family and it’s important to keep that foundation strong. Making time for each-other can be especially hard in a military family, because you often don’t have the luxury of living near family who can babysit for free. Once you feel comfortable though, ask a close friend or find a highly vetted babysitter and go on a date night. If you’re unable to go on a date night outside the house, do one at home, dress up in fancy clothing, order take-out and eat at the table with your spouse once the baby goes to bed. Never feel guilty for taking time to focus on your marriage, happy parents lead to happy children.
4. You Will Learn to Love Each Other in a Whole New Way
Your marriage will change after you have a baby, but that change isn’t necessarily bad. Nothing compares to that moment of seeing your spouse holding the little being that you created together for the first time. Seeing your spouse sing silly songs to your baby, playing games with them or taking care of them when they’re sick will make your heart feel like it’s going to burst out of your chest a hundred times over. Your love and appreciation for each other will grow to new levels that you never thought possible as you embark on this amazing new journey together.
Life is about growth and relationships change and shift over the years, but as long as you remember to communicate, appreciate, and make time for each-other you will be able to navigate through both the still and the rough waters of life, coming out stronger and more in love than ever.