We spend so much time getting ready for baby, but rarely have I heard or seen any advice about getting your marriage ready for baby. It makes sense that this is something you should think about though: you’re adding an entirely new personality into the mix. Things are bound to be a struggle. We’d be stupid to think they’d stay the same; and yet, we spend very little time planning for this change.
As I continue to help my sister as she prepares to be a new mom (so excited!), here are some things I wish I’d known when welcoming baby #1:
You will fight.
I don’t care if you have the world’s most awesome spouse who has a heart of gold and treats you like a queen. You WILL fight. Be prepared for perhaps one of the most intense fights you’ve ever had some time shortly after bringing baby home. It will likely happen at 2 a.m. You will say a few things you regret. This is normal. You’ll then (hopefully) take a step back, realize you’re operating in new territory on very little sleep, and move forward as a team. Knowing that fight is coming makes it easier to recognize it for what it is and deal with it. It’s temporary. It’s ok.
Communicate with one another.
You’re both scared. You’re both terrified of the idea of keeping this tiny human alive. Make sure you admit that to one another. It’s so important. You’re both only human, but between teh two of you you can bolster one another up and celebrate your successes. Bottling things up only leads to more stress, which eventually bubbles over. Don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses as well as your strengths.
Make time for one another.
This will take EFFORT at first. You’re both going to feel exhausted and touched out. If you’re nursing, you will have a tiny human attached to your boob for hours on end each day. It’s so easy to push your spouse to the side for a while. It’s tempting. He’ll understand, right? However, now is when you need to start building habits, and if you don’t take 20 minutes to sit and watch tv show, hold hands, eat a quick meal while the baby’s sleeping, etc., you risk weeks or months going by before you look at each other and realize you’ve become more like roommates than lovers and partners. You don’t necessarily need romance, but you do need to be present and alone with one another.
As soon as you can manage it (every couple’s comfort level and availability of babysitters is different) plan for a quick date. It doesn’t have to be dinner and a movie; even a quick power date for coffee and right home again is better than nothing. That was all I could stomach for a while, but it gave us both a break from baby and time to catch our breaths and check in with one another.
Compliment each other.
As you settle into your new roles, make sure you take the time to point out the awesome job you’re doing as new parents. Mom needs to know she’s doing well with breastfeeding, or that she did an amazing job during the birth. Dad needs to know that he’s being supportive when he changes that diaper or plays with baby while Mom grabs a snack or a shower. Compliments go a long way toward boosting your confidence and letting your partner know you’re in this together.
You’re already doing better than you think you are. From day one, all your baby really needs is food, a clean diaper, a warm place to rest, and – above all – love. Focus on that, and focus on each other, and you can tackle any of the other day-to-day problems together. The more you nurture your love for one another, the more your entire family will grow in love.