How we started
I have been married for just over 2 years, and been ‘dating’ my husband for over 5. After meeting, we moved in together after 5 months and over the next 5 years we rented a flat, got engaged, bought a house, got married, got pregnant and became parents. It’s been BUSY!
Getting through labour together
I thought that a 48 hour labour would be the ultimate test for our partnership. How was he going to support me through that when he was just as clueless as I was about the whole thing? How was he going to see me in so much pain and stay strong? How was he going to see what can only be described as a bloodbath and still look at my body the same way? But we survived, we came out stronger. He respected how I handled the birth and loved me for giving him a son, and I appreciated him staying calm and never leaving my side. The next 2 weeks of paternity leave were bliss. It could only be described as a happy bubble that no one could burst. As cheesy as it sounds I just couldn’t believe that I could ever be that happy. We were both so in love with this tiny human and that made us so much more in love with each other.
When reality hits
But the bubble has to burst at some point, and reality hits. You see so many jokes about what kids does to a marriage and I’m pretty sure that everyone thinks ‘not us, we’re happy!’ But it really is hard isn’t it? Neither of you have ever done this before. You’re both on your own journey and you’re going there together, but you also have completely different experiences of your own that the other one doesn’t understand.
You’re both exhausted and you fight over who’s more tired. One’s been ‘in work all day’ and the other gets offended because they feel that their partner will never understand how much work they do at home with the baby. You’re insecure, and they’re selfish for not reassuring you every day that you don’t just look like a mum now. You’d rather sleep than spend time together and the baby in the cot next to you is the ultimate mood killer. You spend all day battling the housework whilst carrying a screaming baby on your hip, for your partner to just come home and take his pants off and dump them on your clean floor. You resent when they go out with their mates and get drunk because you don’t have that option any more. They think you’re crazy because you break down in tears every time your baby wants feeding and they don’t know how to help. There are so many things that you want to shout at them for, or confide in them about. But you don’t because you feel that they’ll never understand. And then this space develops between you.
Once you’re parents and your lives have been completely turned upside down, it’s like starting all over again. Like all relationships, you have choices to make every day. When you become parents, you have to choose whether you let the hard times push you apart, or you can choose to put in some effort for it to bring you closer together. Having a baby with someone is the most incredible bond that you can share, you wouldn’t have this baby in your life if it wasn’t for each other.
Making realistic commitments
But I also think it’s really important to not put too much pressure on it. We see so many ‘couple goals’ on social media, that it often makes us feel that our relationship is inferior. I think that the key to being happy and staying sane after having a baby is to be realistic about what to expect of each other now. Things have changed, priorities have shifted and we need to think about what we can do realistically to keep things going.
It’s only now that Jacob is 8 months and we’re all more settled that we both feel ready to start really concentrating on being ‘us’ again. We watch TV together with no phones, we go for breakfast at the weekend to catch up on our week, we try and go on a ‘date’ once a month without Jacob. They’re not a weekend in Paris, but I would take a movie night any day if it meant that we get to be a family. Being parents is worth so much more than any romantic getaway and sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that it’s the little things that matter now, and you have everything that you’ve ever wished for, even if the hard times might make you forget that.