FACT: when you have a baby with someone, your relationship changes FOREVER. One of my strongest convictions is that the introduction of kids into a relationship really shows what that relationship is made of. Sometimes, relationships struggle when a baby comes along and then adapt and become stronger than ever. Sometimes, relationships suffer irreversible damage and limp off into an uncertain future.
This terrifies me – that the birth of one life-changing relationship could signal the end of another. It terrifies me because I have experienced this firsthand, with less than ideal results. I know how difficult the introduction of a child into a relationship can be. That first year with Ella almost destroyed me and most certainly initiated the decline of my relationship with her father (many other factors were at play here but our newborn was most definitely the trigger).
So here I am, pregnant and staring down this road of potential relationship catastrophe yet again. In my heart, I know that things will be different this time around because this relationship is drastically different, heck I’m drastically different. Still, the fears persist. Why? Because of these 5 ways that babies change relationships:
1. He Will Go From Adorable to Annoying Overnight
The sad reality is that most women adapt much faster to having a new baby than men do. Maybe it’s because we’ve had the constant reminder that change is coming for 9 months straight. Maybe it’s because we’re naturally better at multitasking. Maybe it’s genetics. I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that the steep learning curve that men climb is annoying as fuck to watch from our perspective. They go from being adorable studmuffins to bumbling idiots overnight.
You could be standing there, baby in one hand, breastfeeding from one boob while picking out a new set of clothes for the baby to wear and disposing of a dirty diaper while he is seated on the bed, completely incapable of figuring out how to fold ONE swaddling blanket. In that instant, you will wonder why God even bothered making these useless creatures that we call men.
To get around this, I have decided that until Mr. Big mounts that new daddy learning curve, I will be extremely clear about what I need him to do and when I need him to do it. No more silent fuming about male incompetence – there will be outright demands for help. There will be hourly To Do Lists. There will be Daddy Responsibility Gantt Charts. Psychologists maintain that men respond better to direct requests. And direct requests he shall get.
2. Good Cop vs. Bad Cop
When you have a partner that is way more laid back than you are, there is a real risk that you’ll squabble when it comes to child care and discipline. I’m the kind of mom that relies on plans and schedules to maintain sanity when it comes to kids. I don’t do well amidst chaos and I’m not about to sign up to be the household’s permanent Bad Cop.
I don’t want to be the sole disciplinarian and upholder of law and order. I don’t want the burden of being ‘bad cop’ to fall solely on my shoulders. I don’t want to feel like I’m raising two children and a grown man. The two of us need to actively parent together, which means getting on the same page now.
3. We Will Be Exhausted 24/7
Babies are tiresome and demanding little creatures. They keep you up all night and have you running around catering to them all day. Being tired and completely devoid of energy becomes your new state of being. A state of being that does not lend itself to being sweet and loving. We will find ourselves impatiently snapping at each another for no reason whatsoever, other than plain exhaustion.
During newborn season you are too spent to be kind, too drained to be compassionate. You will forget all about Love Languages and would probably burn than dumb book if you happened to come across it after a spat.
The only solution to this might be to keep repeating, “I’m sorry, I’m just tired” over and over again to each other until the newborn storm passes. I’ll try to remember this when I want to rip his head off during an argument about who had the remote last.
4. What is a sex?
It will start with the mandatory 6 week ban on sex that doctors give couples after child-birth. I can assure you though, that you will not give the slightest damn when that ban is lifted, because you’ll be too exhausted to consider having sex anyway. The most pertinent quote that I’ve ever heard on sex post-baby is: “you will have sex half as often and it’s twice the hassle”.
Sex therapists insist that the solution for new parents is to schedule time to have sex and to try to get in the mood for sex by doing things to feel sexy, like wearing something cute (instead of the yoga pants you’ve had on all week). The key (apparently) is to intentionally jumpstart your return to freakville and not let the baby completely cramp your style. Easier said than done, I’m sure.
5. Date Night – CANCELLED
I’ve said before how important date nights are to me. On date night, I’m not the mom or the employee or the house manager. I’m the carefree, drunk-in-love girlfriend.
At the moment, it’s pretty easy for us to go out on date nights because we have a live-in nanny, and Ella is an independent 5-year-old who goes to bed at 7:30pm. In about 4 months however, we will have a needy infant who won’t adhere to any schedule and will demand our constant attention. Date nights might have to be cancelled, indefinitely.
Knowing this, I’ve started to prepare myself psychologically for the change. Perhaps date nights will transform into date snacks where we dash to Planet Yogurt and spend a few minutes alone eating froyo before dashing back home. Perhaps future date nights will involve us ordering in Chinese food and sitting on the living room floor with a Netflix movie on and the baby asleep next to us. The point is, my idea of date night is going to have to become a lot more flexible if this tradition relationship is to survive.
Flexibility and patience are not my greatest strengths…but they are strengths I’m going to have to work on over the next year with this newborn on the horizon. I’m up for the challenge, I just hope this relationship is as well.
What have your experiences been with babies and romantic relationships? Are there any major changes to the relationship that I left out? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!