This is my e-friend Claire. Isn’t she and her little family the cutest?! She crafts, she cooks, she’s an attorney- she’s pretty much superwoman. Reading her blog, you can tell she has an excellent relationship with her husband, so I knew we needed to gain some of her wisdom and asked her to guest post. They just had their first child six months ago, which can be a super rough transition. Here’s some awesome tips on how to make it easier. -Celeste
What makes me qualified to even write a post like this then? Well I have a six month old baby, these last six months have been the most stressful and sleep deprived six months of my life (please note here that these six months have trumped even law school and taking the bar exam), and my marriage is the strongest it has ever been. Ever. Hopefully this gives me some credibility to share with you what has worked for me and my marriage, and maybe these tips will help someone out there in a similar situation.
When you have your first child your whole world is turned upside down. You can’t even imagine how much your life changes until you go through it. If you are expecting or plan to have a baby soon I’m sorry to say this but you have no inkling of what you’re in for. It’s not a bad thing, babies are glorious little creatures and are completely worth it, but it’s hard! It’s also going to completely shake up your marriage. Your first baby is a make it or break it experience. I’ve personally seen marriages fall apart with the transition into becoming parents. For some the stress and hardships of a new baby is too much and the marriage is either severely strained or falls apart completely. I don’t say this to scare anyone, but to give you a chance to be prepared for what you’re in for. And other marriages flourish with the arrival of the first baby. This is what I want everyone reading this to know – it is possible to grow and strengthen your marriage throughout the experience of adapting to your life with your first baby and achieve the best marriage you’ve ever had. Here’s what helped us to do so:
Don’t push your faith and spiritual journey to the side when your baby arrives. No matter what your faith may be, make sure you still engage in it and practice it regularly. For my husband and I, this has been an immense help. We are nondenominational Christians, and found our faith to be a source of strength and support through the difficult transition. Once our baby was old enough, we returned to attending church services weekly. This gave us a little baby break to worship, and allowed for our baby to start getting accustomed to being left with other people from a young age and allowed her to interact with other babies. Also, never underestimate the power of having a village around you to help with a new baby – a church family can definitely be a integral part of that village. Because we continued to invest in our faith and religious beliefs, we kept somewhat sane which in turn contributed to our marriage staying strong. At any point in your marriage, not just when you have a new baby, growing your faith alongside your significant other is going to also strengthen your marriage, that’s just life.
2. Give Each Other a Break
Both mama and daddy are going to need breaks sometimes. Acknowledge this and help each other get those breaks. Sometimes I start to think of my husband’s days at work as his break and don’t understand why he would want to do anything without the baby on the weekend. But being at work isn’t a break, and he still needs some alone time to relax and rejuvenate away from the baby. On the weekends or your spouse’s day off from work watch the baby and let them go off and do something they enjoy. For my husband this is playing golf. And of course he returns the favor. My first little break was when our baby was only 3 weeks old – I went to dinner with some girlfriends. It was much needed and appreciated. Now I take a little break at least once a week to do some activity with my girlfriends, or even just to get out and do some shopping by myself. Afterwards I always feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and have energy to tackle parenting head on, which keeps me from strangling my husband, which I would say helps our marriage.
3. Keep Your Marriage Fun
Every few weeks, once a month, whenever possible, however often you can figure out a way to have a night out sans baby. For us this is hard, both financially and without a lot of family close, but we make it work! The first time we left the baby was hard, we missed our baby so much, but after a couple times out we were able to really have fun when we went out without the baby. Babysitter not a possibility? Do fun stuff with your baby! We take baby with us out to eat with friends, to different festivals, parties, etc – anywhere that is baby friendly we will go! Our friends love getting to see her, and usual want to hold her and pass her around which gives us a little break. The more fun you have the happier you will be, and every great marriage relies on each spouse being happy.
This one is probably more important for men to remember. I, like most women, am one of those people who needs affection. It’s my love language. Sometimes when my husband and I are both stressed out over the baby, what I really need from him is a hug, and sometimes that’s what he really needs from me. I always say actions speak louder than words so find a way that really shows your spouse that you care, you love them, and you appreciate the work that they are putting into your new baby.
5. Remember You are in This Together
When baby is screaming at 3 am and you are awake, at wit’s end, and just don’t know what to do and are more frustrated than you thought possible remember – your spouse is at the exact same point. Adjusting to having a baby is going to be hard… for both of you. It’s not just hard on you, it’s hard on them too. Remember this. Be sympathetic towards each other. Husbands, if your wife has been at home with the screaming baby all day come home, listen to her, give her a hug, and watch that screaming baby while she has some me time. Or if your wife has been at work all day and is emotional because she had a hard day at work, missed the baby, and just needs time alone with the baby go cook her dinner and do some cleaning so that she can have that time with the baby without worrying about other chores. Wives same goes for you. If your husband has had a hard day and needs a break at night suggest ordering pizza so you don’t have to work and can focus on the baby and your husband can relax. If he needs baby time then let him have it and use it as a chance to get other stuff done around the house. Both need to de-stress? Pack that baby up in the stroller and go for a walk or run.
And being in this together goes farther than that. Short on money because babies are expensive? Realize what costs you can both cut to contribute. You are a team and you need to work together as one. Have something around the house that needs to get done? Take turns with who works on it and who watches the baby. Or maybe one of you wear the baby so you can get that project done together.
The amazing thing about marriage is that you are a unit. You are not alone. Even on the worst of days you still have each other to fall back on. This is also why it’s important to keep your marriage strong and healthy.