When I was pregnant I was pretty hormonal, and a lot of times I would say to Tim, “it won’t just be the two of us much longer.” There would be times we’d be sitting on the couch or getting something to eat or watching tv in bed and I wanted to cherish every last minute of our us time. Sometimes I’d even get misty eyed at the thought that it wouldn’t be just us anymore. It wasn’t that I wasn’t excited for a baby; it was just that I had heard so many people say that your marriage changes, and I didn’t know what to expect.
Olivia will be four months old on Saturday, and in looking back on the time, I can say that it is absolutely true that having a baby changes your marriage; that said, a lot of the changes that we have experienced have been good. Of course not all, but many, are changes that I have welcomed and didn’t realize would happen until they happened.
How Having a Baby Changes Your Marriage
You work as a team.
Tim took six weeks off of work when Olivia was born, so the first six weeks we learned to parent together. I will say that it made for a hard adjustment for me later, but in those first six weeks I was so thankful for the partnership. Tim would change a lot of the diapers, help me when Olivia needed feeding, share bath time duties, and more. Because we were both new to this together and had the time to learn how to be mom and dad, it was nice to look to the partner that I had before Olivia and know that I could truly count on him. Where one of us fell short, the other one of us picked up the pieces.
My favorite story of us working as a team is so funny, because it’s also so evident that we were very new parents. Olivia hates getting out of the bath tub and basically screams until she’s fully clothed and eating post-bath. In the early days we didn’t understand why she was screaming, and we tried a lot of different things to try to help her. One night after she was fully clothed I suggested that we read to her. Mind you, she was still screaming. But, being the team that we were, Tim sat down in the rocker and rocked her while I held the book and he read. She continued crying. In the moment we really thought it might work, but I can now look back on it and laugh (as I often do) and know that we were trying what we could together.
You love your husband in a new way.
Tim and I met in 2008 and after our first date went on another date every night after that for the first month, I think. I have loved him for a very long time, and as I have taken on running and triathlons and he has been my partner through it all, the love only grew. I loved him and was so proud of him when he finished his MBA, and I stuck by him through long work days that led to long nights of school work for the years it took him to finish it. We’ve always been in things together. But having a baby changes the love.
I now love Tim as my husband but also as Olivia’s dad. It’s hard to explain, but seeing him hold her and talk to her and tell her how much he missed her each day brings me so much joy. Seeing how careful he is when he picks her up and how she smiles at him when he comes home makes the love that I thought I knew only that much deeper. I think the love is deeper because I know that he loves Olivia as much as I do, and that mutual love for our daughter is something that only we share. I know that we are in this together.
The time that you have for each other is different.
For the first few weeks of Olivia’s life, we literally had no time as just the two of us. Olivia went to bed when we went to bed, and she slept in our room. You don’t realize how much you need time with your spouse until you have it again once you haven’t in a while. The first nights we started putting Olivia to bed earlier and coming down to watch tv were refreshing. There was a renewed sense of “just the two of us” when we spent those first nights on the couch watching tv. And truthfully, we didn’t have the energy for tons of conversation, but to watch tv and make small talk with my husband was a great reminder that we really will always have each other.
The time that you have with your spouse is much less frequent, and you have to fight for it to make it happen. You also have to put off any mom guilt that you may have when you’re taking some time to be with your husband.
You argue differently.
Of course the changes aren’t all love filled rainbows. Tim and I are not a couple that can boast that we never argued. We used to argue about things before we had Olivia, but they were healthy arguments over mostly silly things that we were able to get over in due time. We now argue about different things but also in a different way. The arguments that we have now spur mostly from exhaustion. We have had quick painless exchanges of words at 2:00 in the morning that one or the other of us won’t remember when we wake up. It’s usually about how many times Olivia has been up and why one or the other of us is talking in a certain volume or tone of voice.
Alternatively, when we have arguments during the day time, we get over them much more quickly when we are reminded of our parenting responsibilities. It’s hard to hold a grudge or be angry when you’re giving your baby a bath, and it’s impossible to argue while sitting on the floor watching your baby do tummy time. I’m not saying that everything is perfect, but I’m saying we can file it away until another time. It’s just different than before we had a baby that we spend all of our time talking to and playing with.
It’s all worth it.
Of course it’s all worth it. Having a baby is the hardest thing but the best thing I’ve ever experienced. There are times I look at Tim with the most loving eyes as he holds our girl and times I look at him with exhausted and frustrated eyes at 4 am when Olivia is up for the fourth time in a night. Our marriage will never be the same as it was before having Olivia, and that’s okay. We’ll make time for ourselves and will cherish the family of three that we have now created. It continues to add to the adage that having a baby is the hardest thing but the best thing in the world.
How did having a baby change your marriage?