How my baby destroyed my marriage…almost

Relationships are tough stuff. What makes them harder? Marriage. And what makes marriage harder? Children. Contrary to what most people say (Have children, it’ll make you closer), children are a true test of how strong your marriage or relationship is. Of course, you’re welcome to disagree with me, but in your heart you know I’m right. Let me prove it:

1. There’s always one person who makes more effort with the baby: Of course I’m talking about the mother. Naturally or deliberately, it’s the mother who ends up spending more time, energy and effort into raising a baby. That’s not to say that fathers don’t do anything, they just end up doing lesser. In most cases, this (I’m doing so much, what are you doing?) builds resentment, and it keeps piling till there’s only one way out: a fight.

2. There’s no time to resolve a fight: Continued from point 1. There will always be time for fight quickies, like “You forgot to wash his bottles” or “It’s always me who has to put him to sleep”, but there’s no time to make up or resolve a fight. Cue further resentment until it snowballs into one epic battle.

3. You never have couple time: If you’re a nuclear family and this is your first child, chances are you are all over the place like we were. We had no time to even just sit together and talk like a regular couple because someone needed to be with the baby all the time. There’s no time to sit and chat when you have endless breastfeeding sessions coupled with endless laundry sessions and severe lack of sleep, right?

4. Sex...what’s that: I don’t even have to explain this, except that we went without sex for almost a year.

5. Baby obsession: As a new mother, you’re naturally completely tuned to your baby’s needs, and therefore have absolutely no idea as to what your partner needs or wants, it simply doesn’t matter at the moment.

I could go on and on. After my baby was born, I had eyes for no one else. I completely ignored my husband, who, to his credit, was a saint. All our conversations were centred around the baby, what he ate, what he spit up, how his poop looked that day. We never made time for ourselves (even though my husband tried a lot).

I was so wrapped up in motherhood that I more or less forgot that I have a husband. Whenever I did talk to him, it was to criticise him for not doing something right. Until one day, my marriage landed on the rocks when my husband asked me: “Do you want to end this marriage?”

To be honest, I was completely taken aback. “What’s he talking about,” I wondered. “Do you even remember the last time you said “I love you”? How did it even come to this? Refer points 1-5 above. Needless to say, I had some thinking to do. And here’s what I came up with:

1. TALK to your husband: About the baby yes, but about him too. What’s he up to? How’s his work going? Did he eat lunch today? Say “I love you.” These are small gestures, but go a long way in telling him that you may not be able to give him all your time (yet) but you still care about him.

2. Fight now and then: When I had this huge fight, I realised that there were so many problems that we didn’t even know we had! Was it a good thing we fought? Yes. But could it have been done better? Yes, instead of having an all-out war, small fights now and then help because they’re quicker and easier to resolve. Fighting helps you open up and have closure and bring you closer.

3. Make time for sex: There’s no go-around on this. Quickies are a new parent’s only option. Sneak in a little sex time when the baby’s asleep (all babies have that one nap time that they NEVER forego). Don’t feel sexy at that time? Do it anyway. You’ll thank yourself later. BELIEVE ME.

Since that day, I’ve been making an effort do all three things more often, and it has made a remarkable difference to my marriage. My husband and I help each other out more, have sex more regularly, laugh together more and are just closer. Having a baby did put my marriage in a rough patch, but it also made it stronger and enduring.