It seems obvious that adding a baby to a household is going to change its dynamics. And indeed, the arrival of children changes how couples interact. Parents often become more distant and business-like with each other as they attend to the details of parenting. Basics like keeping kids fed, bathed and clothed take energy, time and efforts. Questions about one’s day are replaced with questions about whether this diaper looks full.
These changes can be profound. Fundamental identities may shift – from wife to mother, or, at a more intimate level, from lovers to parents. Beyond sexual intimacy, new parents tend to stop saying and doing the little things that please their spouses. Flirty texts are replaced with messages that read like a grocery receipt.
If someone tells you that their marriage didn’t change, they’re not being honest with you. When you go from just “you and your spouse” to “you, your spouse and a baby”, things are bound to change. And trust me, change isn’t a bad thing, at least not always.
It goes without saying that you love your baby more than anything in the world and to some extent; the world may include your partner. But you may not have predicted that, at least for a little while, you would practically forget that your partner exists.
Change of routine activities may not hurt you or your partner, it is understandable that now the food will be cooked differently and the clothes will increase in number. But there are certain things that you both used to do together, things that were the foundations of your relationship – like watching trashy reality TV together, reading novels in bed and cuddling each other before you sleep. All that cool, fun, intimate stuff is gone, at least for now, while you have zero time to waste.
Yes, there will be ups and downs, but something about having created a life together, and taking care of that life as a team, will bond you two in a whole new way. You may run into some bumps in the road. If you thought you loved your significant other before you had kids, you really have no idea what you’re in for now. The tender way they lift your little girl out of the bath, or sing your son to sleep, will melt your heart and make you fall in love with each other all over again. Think of early parenthood as boot camp. If you guys can make it through this, you’ll be prepared to make it through almost anything.
OK, this might be a newsflash if you haven’t yet had a baby, but you are going to be witnessing and cleaning up all kinds of mess. You will get peed on, you will get puked on, you will end up with poop on your hands and your clothes. At a certain point, you will find yourself laughing at your partner because he was the one the poopy diaper leaked onto this time.
The truth is, despite the worst fears that will undoubtedly creep into your mind over the course of your pregnancy and the first months of parenthood, your life with your partner isn’t over just because a baby is in the picture. In fact, the birth of a kid is the beginning of a whole new phase of your relationship. And like every other phase of your relationship, there will surely be new challenges, and you’ll probably learn about each other’s flaws that you have never known before. Sure, some of that can be hard. But it can also be exquisite and romantic. You’ll also learn new strengths, and experience new joys, and explore new depths and dimensions of your partnership that were previously unknown. The dynamics can change, there’s no doubt of that, but who you are together as a unit takes on so much more meaning. There is a whole new level of intimacy that opens up, when that tiny human comes into your lives. And in so many ways, parenting together does the opposite of ruining your relationship, it makes it endlessly stronger.
You and your significant other committed to each other long ago. Neither of you were planning on going anywhere, but now that there’s someone else in the equation, your feelings of protectiveness for your family unit will grow exponentially.
The endless nights, problems with breastfeeding, an unexpected fever. Things get more challenging when you have a baby, and sharing in those hard times can add a new layer of respect and love for one another. Feeling like you’re in it together makes the hard times seem a little less hard.
I’ll share here a response of a friend when asked about the challenges and changes that came into picture after having their baby and I quote:
“The biggest change after having kids was the loss of freedom and autonomy. Pre-baby, we both worked from home and set our own schedules. It wasn’t uncommon that I would text my partner at 4 P.M. and let her know that I would be home late because I was going out to dinner with a friend. We were both very independent.
When the baby was only a couple weeks old, my partner texted me and said, ‘I’m meeting with a client, so I’ll be home around 7 P.M.’ And I promptly wrote back, ‘No, you will be home at 5 P.M. because we have a baby and I’m going to lose my mind if you’re out until 7 P.M.’ It was a stark reminder that we no longer set the schedule.
For the first few years of having kids, you really feel like you’re treading water. You are in survival mode. You aren’t getting enough sleep, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do, and you are constantly overwhelmed. It can be very difficult to give your relationship any attention during this time, because it’s so much easier to push it to the side and focus on more pressing issues, like paying the mortgage or keeping the children alive.
Eventually, things get a little easier and you find yourself coming out of a baby fog. You are no longer treading water, and you even feel like you’ve made it to dry land. But you are in a totally different place from where you started, before the kids came along and nearly drowned you. I think sometimes people don’t stay connected to their partners during those tough first years, and then when things get easier, they find that they don’t have much of a relationship left at all. It can be hard to get back to a place where you make the two of you a priority.”
Having quoted that, the positives do include a long list of blessings people tend to ignore in this materialistic world we live in today, I would randomly mention some of those feelings expressed by grateful souls after having this beautiful gift of a baby which many still crave for.
1. A positive observant mother and wife expressing her thoughts-
“I’ve discovered a side of him that I didn’t know existed. He was waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, he also took charge of the morning routine before he went to work, allowing me to get some extra sleep. In the evenings he came back from work and, somehow, found time to provide me with a comfort. He took a part in all the madness and never complained. He was there when I needed him. I couldn’t ask for more.
Day by day our relationship became better and better. Our daughter filled us with so much love, that most of the things around became insignificant. We started to look like these overjoyed couples we all secretly hate.”
2. A grateful couple cherishing the joys that some can’t live –
“In the beginning, like most of the new parents, we were anxious, stressed and tired. It’s a big deal to take care of a little person who’s completely pending on you. However, having a baby left us so overjoyed and thankful, that despite all the chaos, we found ourselves appreciating each other more. Parenthood made a team of us. We shared the load and encourage each other. Moreover, we learned to listen and communicate, and “fight right”, well, we still work on it.”
And now I’ll wind this up by mentioning a fact that a child is also considered a trial for the parents in the Islamic culture. And this is a never-ending trial which in every aspect is true in its nature of testing parents at every stage of life. So good luck in bringing up your kids in the righteous of ways.