Once upon a time, you were a couple without an infant. You may or may not have been joined at the hip, but you were close. You thought about stuff you wanted to do, and you did all of it. Or sometimes you didn’t want to do anything and did none of it, but you were all or nothing together.
And then you found out you were having a baby. The baby was placed in your belly instead of between your shoulder blades to symbolize the fact that there was quite literally someone coming between the two of you: The perfect little intruder; blending both of you together and at the same time wedging you apart.
Your world shrunk to accommodate him while your life became tunnel-vision focused on protecting those ten tiny fingers and toes. Getting closer to your little one caused tiny separations between the two of you that pushed you further apart. Dad is sound asleep while Mom is on newborn night shift. Mom is trying to catch up on sleep while Dad is watching a movie alone. It felt like both of you were holding both ends of the marriage fabric while one of you moved and the other stood still. Tears started to arise.
So you tried to fix it by doing all the stuff you’re supposed to do. But something about leaky boobs never meshed with sexy lingerie and sometimes date-night energy felt better when it turned into sleep.
Has this ever been your story? Is it your story right now? So what do you do when you have a new baby and you’re too tired to do everything that is supposed to work?
Hug. Or fall against each other in tired desperation and try to hold each other up.
Watch the news. There’s a reason why your grandparents do this. Watching the news is different than lying around watching your favorite show because you end up talking about what they’re talking about and they’re never talking about your baby. Politics, sports, five-legged frogs- it forces you to have a conversation.
“Shop” online. But not really. The safest way to do this is to look up a bunch of stuff that you can by no means afford and talk about how ridiculous it is and what you would do if you could afford it. Our favorite thing is to look up houses with a starting price of one million dollars. Oh the laughs….
Order a different kind of carry-out. It doesn’t have to always be Chinese or pizza. Some of your favorite restaurants that aren’t carry-outs may be accommodating if you just call and ask them to box up your favorite dish.
Put the baby in the stroller and go for a walk. Find new places to walk.
Say no together. If one of you went every time you probably could do everything. But sometimes you just have to both phone it in and say no. Sounds crazy, but sometimes learning how to suffer together is the best way to connect.
Split up. But sometimes it pays not to be a pair. Give each other breaks. One person can stay with the baby while the other goes out. Or sleeps. Or goes running and screaming into the night.
Put the baby in the car and go get ice cream (or something else) from a drive through. Sit in the parking lot and eat it.
Start a new Netflix series together.
Give each other shoulder rubs. Or foot rubs. Or everything rubs if you feel up to it.
Play an easy card or table game like Uno or Connect Four.
Be there for each other. Just be there. Even if you’re just sitting next to each other in silence.
Remember, this too shall pass. Say it to each other when you need to. Know that it will.
Did you feel strain on your marriage after having a baby? How did you stay connected?