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MoxieTopics

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Comments

Meira

Yes, Yes, Yes!
There was a couple of weeks when the twins were first born that were absolutely horrible in terms of our relationship. Like, screaming at each other (over babies' heads!) and sobbing and begging for understanding -- it was SO different from our normal relationship, I was so shocked to feel like I didn't know this person in front of me. It was just horrible, horrible, horrible. It passed quickly -- sped up, I suspect, by two things: I made the decision to get on Zoloft (I'd had post-partum depression with my first, & it's safe while nursing) and the sad realization that of the two of us, I handled sleep deprevation better than him, so I just let him sleep during the middle of the night wakings. He felt very sad about his middle-of-the-night inadequacies (he'd been absent during this period with our first, and we'd both had our hearts set on him being 100% 24 hours a day equally involved) and I resented him for it, but the vast majority of the fights went away when he got more sleep.
Currently the twins are 17 mos and things have been excellent for a couple months.

Kelly

I remember this with our first born as well. And it seems to be par for the course. Moxie, as usual, gives spot on advice.

In our case, I think my insecurities as a new mom, coupled with the baby blues and trouble breastfeeding, led to some pretty intense encounters. And let's face it, no matter how much help our partners are, they still really have no idea just how much more taxing it is for the mother, physically and emotionally.

But Jodi, IT WILL get better. You'll get your best friend back. As soon as you guys start settling into parenthood; as soon as the chaos starts to abate and minutes asleep start increasing; as soon as that little angel of yours starts responding to your love with smiles, you'll see your former selves start creeping back in, a little bit at a time. Hang in there!

Fahmi

I hear you.

My husband and I were close friends for a long time before we got married, and I always appreciated that element in our marriage. He was home for paternity leave after our son was born, and was very focused and involved with all aspects of baby care (so much, that I at times worried that when he went back to work, I wouldn't be able to do anything!). We also disagreed, bickered, quarrelled, sulked, and had several rounds of "You don't do X for me anymore." Both of us tend to withdraw and become silent when unhappy or angry, and we were spending more and more time this way.

We talked about it, and we both picked one thing that would make the other happy, and tried (we didn't always succeed) to at least do that on a regular basis. I think things started getting a little better around the 4-month mark, and while I am a little frustrated that we aren't back to "great" at 7-months, Moxie's comment makes me feel better.

So as someone who is on the upward swing, I can assure you that it does get better. Just s-l-o-w-l-y.

PumpkinMama

DH and I were actually closer than we've ever been for a short (very short) period when he was on 2-week leave - we worked well as a team to figure out what the hell we were doing.

Then he went back to work and it all went to sh*t for a long time. The biggest feeling I remember having is pure, clean resentment - 2 weeks after his son arrived, his life was back to "normal", he got to wake up, shower, drive to work, interact with adults, etc. The only thing different (in my addled brain's thinking, anyway) was that now there was a baby there when he got home. I was home stuck in the relentless immediacy of caring for a newborn and felt like every touchstone of who I was before the baby came had disappeared.

Even though I rationally knew this wasn't the whole story, that was all I could see and feel and I really, really almost hated him for it. It was hard, and looking back, that was certainly the budding of the PPD I ended up taking Zoloft to help (and help it did). I think my experience might be on the extreme side of the coin, but I'm not sure. Regardless, even from there things do get better, and I really like Moxie's advice of just blurting bluntly what you need and why you need it - there truly is no time or mental capacity for accommodating eachother's typical communication quirks.

Amy

I honestly believe that having a baby is the most stressful thing that can happen to a marriage. (And, as an aside, now that I've had two kids, I really don't understand people who have kids to "save" a failing relationship.) Its completely unlike anything you've done before, its all consuming, and as Moxie points out, it comes with fun bonuses like sleep deprivation and hormonal changes.

That said, it does get better. Moxie has given you some excellent advice. The only thing I'd add is to be patient -- your baby is very new and you are all still adjusting. After a couple of months, things will feel more normal. And this wonderful creature that you created together will become part of your relationship rather than just an intrusion into it. In the interim, make sure you keep talking to each other so you don't let feelings of frustration or resentment build, only to explode on each other at 3 a.m. while juggling a crying baby.

Mary Beth

At some point my husband and I decided that we would simply coexist in our house. We gave up any pretense of being friends, pals, and lovers. We just existed.

But it gets better. I promise.

SarcastiCarrie

Yes. It was horrible. It does get better. But, our relationship is changed forever.

Sixteen months into it and we're still in crisis mode some of the (a lot of the) time. Our child still does not sleep through the night, and we both work full time. The sleep. Oh yes. Sleep.

But Moxie's advice is dead-on. I actually say things like, "When you work late on the one night per month you know I am busy, it hurts my feelings (drives me into a red-hot fury), so get your arse home now." I don't analyze why he didn't come home; I just tell him what to do. And, it seems to be working to minimize my red hot fury and his confusion as to why I am angry.

Good luck. Hang in there. It really is so much more than I ever thought it would be. And it is good.

Shandra

Yes, yes, and oh yes.

My husband of 12 yrs and I have been through a lot together - I mean a lot, including losing our daughter - and nothing stressed our marriage out like a new baby did/has/sometimes still does.

Personally I think it has a lot to do with identity - we knew how to be ourselves together but we don't really know who these new people - Mommy and Daddy - are yet. And all the history and cultural stuff that has suddenly come into play!

And the time! Gone are the languid weekend mornings in bed! The lengthy soul-baring talks over beer at the pub! Just a plain old soak in the tub! And speaking of, the tub is not clean and I'm trying to relax why oh why do you choose now to rile the baby up to where I can hear he's going to freak out and want to nurse?!!

And I do believe that possibly there's a biological thing that happens when a baby is around that makes the adults more aware of their environment - you know, to chase off predators or whatever. Unfortunately, without the predators, what seems to happen to me is suddenly I'm upset that there's hair in the hairbrush.

I agree with the excellent advice and everything people have said. At a year, things are getting better for us without really having done much about it other than try to be kind to each other and maintain senses of humour. Sort of. :)

hedra

Insecurity is another big whack. Mom is insecure because she is 'responsible' for this new person, and honestly, we don't have any sense that we will be okay! Terror is about right half the time. Being that scared, we NEED our partner to be able to anticipate every need, whim, desire, and any misfire takes on epic proportions. If he can't do X, how can I trust him to be the father our child deserves? (etc.)

Dad, meanwhile, is often in a panic about having to provide for this precious new creature, this new constelation called 'my FAMILY'. All the failures of his own parents come crashing in, and anything he's worried about takes on immense weight. Having been the sole wage-earner while my DH stayed home, I know the absolute white-knuckled terror of making some stupid mistake and getting fired, and then being without funds, home, insurance... it gets blown pretty out of proportion until it gets digested properly. Any suggestion that I'm not pulling my weight with the baby is met with a backlash straight from that terror, again.

Add in that new dads almost always feel like the baby loves mom but not them, that they're already failures from the start, that they know nothing and mom knows everything... and any time baby cries while they're holding it, mom snatches it back like they were twisting its toes on purpose... (okay, not every mom does that, but it is pretty common IME).

Add it up, and there's a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of priorities in conflict, and a lot of burdens that are impossible to comprehend from the other side. Having taken both sides (along with DH), we both realized that each of us thought we had the harder job, the more scary job, the more impossible job. We both felt that we were barely making it on our side, and were completely unappreciated for what we were doing, and the other person was 'made for' or 'naturally good at' the thing they were doing, dangit, and we were the ones who were struggling!

It took the swap to realize that we were completely wrong. Neither of us were good at this. We both were terrified. We both were struggling and felt over-burdened by our assigned positions.

We had to re-learn each other, too. Our perspectives were totally changed by this new thing, baby, family. We had to re-learn ourselves, and each other as parents. We had to date, and talk, and talk, and talk. We had to establish ground rules we'd never needed, like we needed to appreciate one thing about the other, out loud, every day. And not the same thign all the time, and not 'something you did' but something you ARE.

By 12 months, I'd stretched the baby-love umbilical enough to let DH have some room. I'd learned that he knew things about parenting that I'd never imagined, and that between the two of us, we made a pretty darn good set of parents - even more because we do things differently at times, than if he'd just done them 'my way' always. He could always get Gabe to sleep when he was colicy, in ways that never worked for me. He was great at encouraging, I was great at comforting. We both learned from the other. And we learned to be patient, that things don't happen on OUR schedule anymore, including understanding each other.

Each new child (and twins) has given our lives a good whack for 6 months. But by the time the twins came, we knew that, and expected it. 6 months of just staying afloat, followed by 6 months of re-learning the new constellation of family, and 6 months of setting up new structures and rules to fill in any gaps that showed by then.

Date nights were our salvation, honestly. We needed time to talk. Even if it was just about 'baby'. It taught us what changed, and what was the same, and found us learning from each other again like we had done way back when we first became friends.

AHHH! Gotta run. I hope that helps someone!

Cat, Galloping

I noticed 2 things, and I don't have solutions except that it helps to recognize them.

1, When the baby was crying, whoever had him was so stressed that they would lash out at the other person. The number of times one of us said bitterly to the other, "Why are you smirking?" is too many to count.

2, Without ever having a conscious agreement, we'd previously divided up household tasks. I never took out the garbage and my husband never did the laundry. Now, suddenly, we were sharing the same tasks and it would drive us (maybe just me?) crazy if the other didn't do things (stupid stuff like arrange bottles in the dishwasher) the way I thought they should be.

Anyway, I think the first step to dealing is to acknowledging what's going on-- then some of it started to seem funny.

Suz

Having kids means total upheaval, even in the most stable, loving relationships. Our daughter is 18mo and we are still figuring out how to negotiate the changes.

The sleep deprivation is a huge part of it. I can count the number of times she's slept through the night on my fingers- and as much as he's taken his share of the night wakings, he can't nurse her and sometimes that's all that will work. Half of the time I'm so exhausted I'm walking into the walls.

Even though we spend lots of time together, we just weren't connecting, and that made us both irritable. Taking even just two or three minutes a day to re-establish a connection and reaffirm that everybody's playing on the same team has made a huge difference in our attitudes and our interactions.

laura

YES!

Here are some practical things that helped us:
1) My mother came and slept over one night/ week for the first two months. She did the overnight duty. We caught up on sleep. After the first couple of weeks, we turned it into a minidate-- we went to someplace to eat (note that due to finances this was sometimes a restaurant, sometimes McDonald's), went grocery shopping together, and then came home and holed up in our room to watch tv and sleep. BIG help. This is now traditional in our family and I have pulled nights with my nieces and nephews when they were born. It is trickier with breastfeeding (I wasn't for many reasons we won't go into here) but when I recently slept over with my new twin nephews, I took the crying one to his mom, she nursed him in bed, and I did everything else-- the burping, the cleaning up, the diaper, the cuddle and the putting down to sleep. So, SIL didn't even have to wake up.

2. We had met at work; and even though we changed jobs when we got married, we still sometimes would pick up shifts at the old mutual job (as caterers-- I run the parties, DH is a chef.) We started picking up shifts together again at about 4 weeks. (I was lucky to be physically ready for that.) Doing something productive together that we had done before the baby (before we had even married) was fantastic for us. It was even better than a "date" because it was a focused activity that *wasn't* self-or couple focused. And, we reinforced our teamwork-- which needed to be reinforced!

3. We took the cash from the catering gigs and went away for a weekend. It was pretty minor (really just one night away) and we didn't even spend all our time together (he fished, I read, we ate out and caught up on sleep in a space that neither of us had to clean!) It was HUGE. Its become a biannual tradition, and I would never give it up.

caro

Moxie, I'm glad you said that about the roughest part sometimes being around 9-12 months and sometimes extending to 2 years. It sounds like the "later onset marital difficulty" didn't hold true for any of those who have already commented, but it was certainly the case for us. We are still slowly working our way out of it, I think, but there were definitely some times when we both were so overwhelmed and felt so inadequate it was impossible to even appreciate one another's contributions to the household, let alone laugh together. At 16 months we are still sleep deprived and in a little bit of chaos, but a few weeks ago I suddenly realized, "Hey, things are a lot *funnier* lately," and I guess that's my tired, un-self-aware way of noticing that the family is grooving together in a way we hadn't for many months before.

Jo-Ann

I think my relationship is out of the norm but we had issues when I was pregnant both times. Sniping, fighting, distance ect ect. Both times when the baby was born all was well and stayed that way. I just have a guy who did pregnancy badly. He did great as soon as the labor started!!

anonymous

Welcome to parenthood.

Kelly Leahy

We had enough to worry about during August of 2006 including an evacuation from our New Orleans home that the relationship breakdown happened much later - probably around eight or nine months. We fought at lot about stupid things and we were both really short tempered (especially me). We sought couseling and that combined with better communication is helping. We are nowhere near where we were before the baby in some ways but in others we are a lot closer. Our daughter is nearly 13 months old and we have good weeks and we have bad weeks but at least I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

sarah

I think everyone is just spot on. This is all normal--I mean bringing a new baby into the family is just really cataclysmic. It does get better but it can also resurface. we have a 2 and a half year old and there are days when we are just not getting each other and it is often about parenting choices and styles. It is so important to be able to say to each other "I disagree with how you just did that/handled that." Even if you have similar parenting philosophies, the details can just wear you down. I think for the present though, tell him how you are feeling, that you know it is temporary but that it is going to be rough as hell and you may take a lot out on each other. Once that is out there it might clear the air and allow you the freedom to be hormonal and exhausted and freaked out and resentful and all those normal feelings.

Finding other new moms (or sympathetic experienced moms) to vent to can be a lifesaver, too.

lynn

Yes, yes, yes. Someone once said "having a baby is like setting a bomb off in your marriage." That's what it feels like. Suddenly everything changes - no sleep, tons of work, and who does what and who got less sleep and who's going to do this and how come you get to go out when I haven't had a break in forever and why is this place such a mess?

I have a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old. Each time, my husband was wonderful for about two and a half months, then something about perceiving me as too needy or demanding set him off and we had a big blow-up with fallout lasting for weeks. That along with lots of little skirmishes.

It takes time, but it does get better. I also used Zoloft for post-partum depression, and while I don't like that he blamed most of our problems on me, it at least made him more supportive, most of the time, especially in helping me get more sleep because that's what made me craziest.

But since your baby's just two weeks old give things time to settle. Talk to your doctor at your next check-up. If you think you might have post-partum depression (for me, it manifested more as anxiety), I recommend the book "Women's Moods."

Michele

Oh yes, I remember it well. This post should be required reading for all new parents.

But it ABSOLUTELY gets better. For us,with twins, the two month mark was a big turning point. We got in the groove and felt much more confident about what we were doing. I think we were taking alot of our fear of failure out on each other. Suddenly being responsible for every minute of every day of two very tiny demanding people was nothing like what we imagined all those blissful months of pregnancy. Plus we were just dead tired. Our boys started sleeping through the night at 2.5 months and have been ever since, so that alone was a HUGE thing. Sleep is way way way under rated until you arent getting enough.

Now we are at the 18 month mark and things are really better than ever, in all ways. More than we could have ever imagined. Times two.

Charisse

Gosh, can I chime in--yes!!! We were friends for 12 years and lovers for 5 before marriage, too. I remember with us it was more like casual comments he would make that made it seem he had no understanding of what I was going through. (Example: me nearing the 1 1/2 hour mark of a single nursing session during the 6-week growth spurt, him: "you know, Mouse is so great--we really should have more than one"; me: BAWL!!!) A friend of mine reported screaming at her husband "I hate you because you can't lactate!!!!" But it improved as the smiles came...there were rough spots later in my maternity leave but he really got it after he took his (6-8 months). Then there are the virtually inevitable sleep fights--one of you is open to CIO, one of you is not is the most classic one. I remember this conversation:

me: "I can't believe I married the kind of asshole who would consider treating a child that way"

him: "well, I can't deal on the few hours of sleep you seem to get, so if you won't try what everybody says works you're on your own"

me: "really? you would do that to Mouse?"

him: "you know, all the books say it works and you're acting like I'm some kind of evil molester for suggesting it"

me: "fine, f--- you, just put your g----- earplugs in and don't complain. I'll deal with it since you can't compromise your preciously entitled rest"

yeecccch.

That said, Mouse is 2 1/2 now, we still don't go out all that much but we're closer than ever between ourselves and with her. Sometimes there's a fight--we're still both committed to authoritative as opposed to authoritarian parenting, but we each have issues where we're prone to break down and want to do something meaner. Usually we catch each other and are grateful afterwards.

Missy

This strikes such a chord in my house as well. My husband and I have a 4 year old and a 4 month old and there is a ton of deliberate ignoring going on for both parties. However, since this is our second child, I find myself less willing to put up with things than I was with our first. I am praying that we get past this stage soon.

deezydubya

YES!

Someone once told me you don't have kids to make a bad marriage stronger - you should only have kids because your marriage is strong enough to withstand the pressures of having kids. Man, that's true.

DH and I have known one another and been friends since we were eleven years old. Yes. Eleven years old. And since we had the kiddo I have now lost count of the number of times that I've thought, "*&* it, I'm going back to my mother's.

It does get better.

To help it along?

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Go by yourself. Leave the kid. Doesn't matter if it's only for a half an hour. Go buy groceries. Go mail a letter. You'll feel better when you get back.

Let him help. He wants to. You might think he's not going to take care of the baby like you will. You're right. Because he's not you. He's him. He does it differently, but it's not necessarily wrong. Just different. (This obviously doesn't apply if he has anger issues, substance abuse problems, etc. But if you're upset because he's not holding the kid the way you do, let it go. And go have a nap.)

Relentlessly abuse the kindness of family and friends who have offered to take the little one. Even if all you do is go have a nap while they take care of the kid, you will feel better. The less tired you are, the less *!&chy you will feel towards hubby.

You're snapping at one another because you know you can, and that you'll still be there for one another. Once you're less tired you won't feel as much like snapping at him. Six weeks, cliched as it sounds, is like a turning point because you're no longer in quite so much physical pain and it's like a weight is partially lifted off your shoulders. Then you're just tired, instead of tired and in pain and feeling homicidal.

That said, I had to get back to work before I felt more 'normal', so that was 6 months, and then my husband went on paternity leave and he kind of had a bit of a collapse when that happened so it wasn't completely stress-free either. But it was better than it had been, by a long shot.

zorgon

Only took us about 10 years (one of separation) to get back in the groove. And in another ten, when they're all off in college, we'll be like teenagers again.

Only, with, you know, Depends and stuff.

tsherman

I completely understand and know exactly where you are coming from. I've been recommending Mojo Mom (book, website, and podcast) as a good resource about motherhood in the first few months.

rachel

oh yes. it is really hard. you will have those moments when you wonder if you will ever have more children with this person because they are not the parent you thought they would be. but so much of it is tied up with our expectations and the fact that our partner can't read our mind and just be an automaton that can fulfill our every whim (like needing water when we are nursing, how many times do i have to ask before you remember?)
we have these little daydreams about what life will be like with baby and how wonderful our partners will be and they always fail to live up to that daydream. but it does get better. we really had to work at it. at the 9 month mark, it does seem to be getting better, but slowly.
it helps to know some people who are going through the same thing. find a playgroup or a laleche league group if you are nursing. tak to other moms.

Ellen

I love that there's very little mention of sex in the above comments. I have an eight-month old (our first) and have only just begun to stop feeling guilty about sex (or the lack thereof). My husband tries to give me the Get Out of Jail Free card by saying kind things like "I'm not worried about it. It will come back in its own due time . . ." but really I feel bad that at the end of the day I have very, very little left for him. I've given it all away, being home with the baby all day. That has been the biggest adjustment for us- the fact that he is no longer the receipient of all the giving and all the caretaking, and all the physical love! After lugging a teething baby in the sling all day, I don't even want him to touch me. Space, please!

I think the other hard part has been seeing my life take a full 180. It could not be more different than pre-baby, and I love that. But my husband's life really hasn't changed much. He still works, he still comes home and has a beer and checks email and can shower at liberty, and go to bed. I start to resent it and then have to step back and remember that he does stay up soothing our baby, and he does have added financial pressures, and he does work his butt off and must miss us. But exhaustion tends to create tunnel vision and breaking out of that mold is hard.

Ah, babies are bliss, but the rest is so hard.

Mezz

I don't have much to offer in the way of advice, as my son is now just 3 days old and so far my partner and I haven't had any major headbutting, but I did want to thank Moxie and the others for giving credence to parental relationships outside of the "married heterosexual" standard. My partner and I are hetero but unmarried and I've been amazed at the number of parental resources that don't awknowledge our family as being valid due to our lack of nuptuals. I can only imagine the type of predjudice that is felt by the many same-sex, surrogate, or otherwise "nonconventional" parent couples/groups that exist.

Samantha

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And it has happened to everyone I know.

Moxie is right on all counts as are the previous posters. I cannot stress enough to let him help - YES, he will do it wrong; YES, you will want to kill him for it; NO, he will not hurt the baby. Not letting him do it his own utterly wrong way only made it worse for me because then he gave up (why not, when all I did was criticize him) and then I had to do everything! (See above comment about the total resentment for his life going back to normal! And I still feel that way even though now he's muchmuch more involved.)

Also - if you think there's even the tiniest bit of postpaartum depression, even as time goes on and you think "oh, I'd be over that by now, this must just be the way things are" - talk to someone, anyone. Your OB, a therapist, a psychiatrist. Postpartum depression hits hard and I was totally unable to get help for myself, and it just killed my spirit for over a year after my son was born.

And get some sleep. Somehow. Even if you have to leave the baby at a relative's overnight. The baby will survive without you and the sleep will make you a different person. Once he started sleeping through the night, and I did too, things got much better. :)

Hang in there! Things will not stay this way forever!!

Rosemary

Oh yes, yes and treble yes.

For us, it was the clashing of the family backgrounds. I thought I was staying home to raise the child, he thought I was staying home to become a housewife and he stopped ironing, picking up after himself, thinking for himself, paying bills, lugging trash etc etc etc. I couldn't understand what was going on, thought he was rejecting us and I was devestated. Then I spoke to his brother's wife and she said that the same thing had happened to her. Well, it took a good two weeks of talking (and in the end, it took me walking out one evening and just leaving dinner half cooked and him with a baby that needed bathing and putting to bed). By about 5 months, we were back on an even keel. We are at eight months now. I still don't feel like sex at all, but I make myself do it because I don't want to create another battle ground, and I'm sure I'll get back in the swing soon.

Moxie's advice about focussing on the behaviour is dead right. You can't fix underlying problems while you are sleep deprived, but you can ask for better behaviour from your husband. I truly believe that most of them just don't get how much harder the mother works.

But, it does get better and our life is great now. Once we had a chance to sort out some of the family baggage, life flowed more smoothly, he became more respectful of my efforts, I felt far less put upon and neglected and our old partnership emerged.

Amy

YES! The first two weeks are PURE HELL!! No matter first, second, fourth... the first TWO WEEKS ARE HELL. Add any baby blues/postpartum/flucuating hormones and it doesn't take much to send each other into a screaming fit (mother/child husband/wife whatever!). I had baby blues with my first, everything was new to everyone, but my hubby is NOT an emotional guy. He didn't get it. I started crying, for no reason at all, and he said "What the fuck is your PROBLEM?!" and I got up, smacked him upside the head, and went upstairs to cry it out by myself. That pretty much taught him to keep his mouth shut, and I also learned not to open my floodgate and let the crap pour out. I do NOT condone smacking anyone, I'm just saying it worked for us! Now we laugh about it, cause we've lived through number two with flying colours, and we don't just open our mouths the instant we think things, we instead take a deep breath, and rephrase the question/statement/comment. Or decide if it's really worth saying at all (how many times do you say something JUST to get a reaction? it is SO hard not to! but if you stop yourself, count to ten, and smile, it gets easier every time). Good luck! Hang in there! Tell each other you love each other, and get some sleep any way you can (and alone time!).

Donna B.

I'm so glad everyone has chimed in -- this is a hugely important topic that, for some reason, rarely gets talked about in anything other than generalities.

At the infant stage, it seems completely unhelpful to hear "in a couple of years your relationship will back to close to its normal self, if you're willing to work now to suppress the forces that are pulling it apart." But you know, a couple of years later (my daughter is now 2, her brother 5), we find our evenings are our own (enforced bedtimes are your relationship's best friend). We find that the datenight we established at about 12 months is still going strong, and that we look forward to it. We find that babysitters can calm our children down on the rare occasions they wake up crying, meaning we can go to dinner and a movie without guilt. It won't ever be out-partying-unti-2-am the same, or head-out-of-town-on-a-whim the same, or even gorge-on-cinema-at-a-film-festival the same. But it's got pockets of familiar togetherness, and then big heaps of seasoning of wonderful-kids-I'd-never-trade-for-anything.

And in retrospect, those long months don't seem like forever. This, too, shall pass.

LL

Please try to hang in there, it DOES get better I promise. My husband and I had to lay ground rules. It turns out that the only rule we needed to survive was "Under no circumstances can anything we say to one another between the hours of midnight and 6am be taken personally or used against us in the morning. Instead complete and total forgiveness for infractions during that time period must be the rule." It turns out that once we weren't held responsible tomorrow for the horrible things we said during those awful sleep-deprived nights we began to get along again. Good luck and hang in there. I know you don't believe it now, but you will look back on this time with fondness (because the really awful parts won't be quite so acute).

Andrea

Ditto on everyone else. I was very happily married for 10 years, together for nearly 15, when the first baby arrived. We now have a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old and I will say it has been more of a source of stress on the marriage than anything else.

But, I would never have not had the kids, and seeing my husband with them is an amazing source of joy.

For me, the big issues have been sheer physical exhaustion-- lack of sleep, eternal nursing, post-baby out of shape body, etc.; lack of time for myself (and husband feels a severe lack of time for himself, too), and negotiating the new finances and work/life balance for the family.

Luckily, we see eye to eye on most parenting issues, but I have been surprised at how much we can disagree about thinks like TV, traveling with kids, whether or not kids should be required to eat certain foods or how much, and on and on and on.

It does get better; for me it was once I got back to some bare minimum threshold of sleep. For my husband, things get better as the kids are older-- I know he felt plenty useless when nursing was the only cure for every baby problem.

If anything we are more committed and more in love now than pre-children, but we also argue, discuss and debate more, and are often more tired.

Hang in there, and you will find yourself one day feeling like you're back with your friend and lover.

londongrrl

Yes to all this. I found that, in those first months, we really both needed a wife - and we're a two-women relationship. There just wasn't enough nurturing to give us both, and the baby, what we needed. One thing that helped: when my out-of-the-home working partner gets back in, I have selfish time. No reconnecting til I've had time alone with no-one poking me, or puking, or wailing. The other thing that helped was the laughing. Parenthood makes us laugh more than anything else - if only about our own ineptitude. And finally, getting the baby out of our bed/room - at around six months - was a lifesaver.

shannon

One thing that has helped me (SAHM with a same-sex bread-winning partner and about an 85/15% baby care division) is sitting down on the bed at night and saying "Look, I need to just talk for a minute and you listen."

Then I say "I know that technically, officially, theoretically, you appreciate me and all the work I do, but I am not feeling appreciated right now." Then I either tell her everything I do or she tells ME to reassure me that she knows--even if she doesn't see--how hard I work. Sometimes she even quantifies how much my labor is worth economically.

Then I tell her it's not fair she gets paid and gets colleague appreciation and so on and I get nada for my labors. Then she reminds me that the baby adores me.

And then I feel better enough to get up the next morning and do it all again without so much frustration and resentment.

And we have made it to 18 months and are feeling like pretty healthy survivors of a major crisis. Enough to do it again. Which may well send us right over the edge, but I hope not!

shannon

Oh, and if I am angry before 10 am and/or before two cups of tea, I keep it to myself until after those things. It's amazing how often I can't remember why I was mad.

anonymous

Something that helped me enormously was starting the "gosh my marriage is hard" conversation with close friends. It is not an easy conversation to start. People can flirt around the edges with it by joking about how long it's been since they've had sex (query: why is it easier to talk about sex than emotional difficulty? Desensitization b/c of media saturation?). But I think people who are having a rough go of it in the partnership think they are so, so, so alone--a couple comments have noted the idea that "everyone else is doing it better." I found another mom I trusted a lot and opened the hard partnership conversation, and I realized I wasn't by myself and more importantly, that my husband was not alone in his behavior. I hadn't made some colossal mistake by marrying him, we weren't suddenly incompatible. We were just... married with a new child. That made such an enormous difference.

Now I feel like "Radio Marital/Partnership Stress" because I'm always sending out the signal, "hey, partnership with kids is tough, mine is tough, too, how's yours, wanna talk about it?" We do ourselves such a disservice by being silent. These comments are a godsend, but another person is better.

another Amy

I am so glad I read this. Just this past week, while adjusting to me going back to work part-time after 4 months (my husband works from home), arguments started getting more frequent. Lots of "I don't understand you anymore"s and "why can't you take responsibility"s. One thing we do when we argue is institute a No Sentences That Start With "You" rule. This prevents us from accusing each other and causing any more hurt feelings.

I am glad to hear this is normal. The frequent arguments and subsequent hours-long discussions are helping us work through what's different in our lives now, but it is frustrating that they have replaced humor and physical love for now.

Anonymous

Moxie,

I am a new dad (33 YO) and Im confused. My wife and I dont have the "BEST FRIEND" type of relationship, but we love each other and have a lot of respect for how we both make up for one anothers weaknesses, however things are not normal and my wife complains that I am not being involved like she thought, because Although I feel (and I may be wrong) that I need about 3-4 months to emotionally become a father, she feels that ive had plenty time to adjust and that she doesnt and shouldnt have to be be there for me, because she has enough to deal with already and that I should "stand on my own and be a man".
This feeling of hers is driving a wedge between us and causing alot of frustration. Moxie I never anticipated that I would be so clueless on how to deal with my wife once my son was born, but I really feel like our communication is going away. Me not being able have her Listen to the way that im feeling is driving me crazy! Can u offer some insight??

Thanks,

Walking In Circles.

shiri

I love the "direct behavioral approaches" thing. It's so true. So often have I found myself expecting something from my husband, but NOT telling him because why should I have to tell him everything? Isn't it obvious he should take responsibility for, say, the laundry as I am drowning in children?

Well, clearly it is not obvious, and my strategy only makes frustration accumulates until it erupts because he, I dunno, didn't say bless you when I sneezed... (not really, but it could have happened).

As a mother of 2, I've experienced the post-birth delirium twice, and even though I knew what to expect the second time, I was still lost and exhausted and angry. I think if I had just told my husband in simple words what I need, he might have even done it, and my life would have been easier.

scooter_lover

I prefer to ride on motorcycle then read this, and you? :)
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Dan the MAN.

My girlfiend and I have a 3 month old baby. Our relationship is about to end. From my point of view, I am giving it my all and she sees nothing I do. We got pregnant after 3 months together so we don't really know each other like couples who have been together for years b4 having a baby. We didn't get married because she doesn't belive in doing things because of societial norms and shi#@. Our comm. is down, I left home and came back after 4 days and a session with a therapist. It got better for two weeks. I was so happy, I thought we were out of the tunnel. But then, while explaning to her that I am going to have to work/study alot so we can survive economically, she got a tantrum with the baby in her hands and started yelling, and cursing me. She doesn't accept the fact that I have to work so we can survive, and she does not see the immportance of me finishing my last year of college for our future and our baby's future. She riddicules me, nothing I do is ever good enough and she will not let go of her mother which has been living with us for the past 3 months. I on the other hand have been overcome with feelings of guilt, at the fact that I want to abandon my beautiful baby boy. I feel a do not know the person opposite me. I feel we are speaking different languages. I feel she will not share the baby, as she does not share herself. She does not want psych help for herself. She thinks all is good with her.

Oh this is a comment.... right.

I guess what I'm saying is.

Whatever you point of view is:
Things can be alot worse.

rebecca

Well. This stuff scares the crap out of me. But I'm thankful for all the comments, and appreciate the openness of others to talk about this. I'm due in about 4 weeks...

I do worry about keeping my relationship with my fiance in balance. He's an amazing man, and we are in the best-friends category. What I *can* offer right now, and the thing that probably keeps me from going over the hormonal cliffs of doom frequently, is remembering that he can't read my mind.

I start out more and more with "I know you can't read my mind, I forgot, and for that I apologize. What I was expecting or wanting or hoping was __________." And that will minimally lead to discussion, and generally lead to the acknowledgement or action that I need.

It is the most key lesson I've ever learned about relationships.

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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