Ask a Dad Question

Working and Having a Baby is Taking Its Toll on Marriage










QUESTION:

My husband attended a New Dad Bootcamp when we were expecting our first baby and it was the best thing we could have done to prepare for our baby's arrival. He learned a lot, and with the flyer he brought home, I did too. We adopted some of the suggestions, and that made everything much better. Now, our baby is about 5 months, and the stress of two jobs and a baby is taking its toll on our marriage. Do you have any resources that might help us beyond the first few postpartum weeks?




ANSWER:

You have both been through a tough gauntlet as you have worked to build a new family. It has gotten increasingly tougher; grandparents universally describe today's parents as totally compulsive about the baby. Since 1975 fathers have increased their time with the kids, and instead of taking advantage of this and doing less, mothers instead almost doubled theirs. With all focus on the baby, leaving no time for each other, or fun, your relationship can easily become stressed and get in a downward spiral.

Patterns quickly set in, and this is why poor relationships after the first baby are much more prevalent than stronger ones. Building a family, the basic building block of humanity, no matter how common, is a momentous challenge taken on by two people that has every basis for bringing them together. It is a matter of working together, and due to disagreements on a variety of issues, this basic dynamic between two people can become dysfunctional. The elephant in the room is that nothing could be more important to the future of your child than the relationship of his mom and dad.

So like I said, great timing for a great question. All new parents should be asking this right about the stage you are at. recognizing this is the first step to going back up.

A few considerations:

  • This is a good time for a reset; time for both mom and dad to take a breath and remember what you had together before the baby arrived. Maybe he heard in Boot Camp to make a list of all the things you liked to do as a couple before the baby came and to bring the list out when the baby is about 6 weeks old. If you don't have a list, make time to sit down and brainstorm one together. Just having things already in mind makes it easier to actually do them. Start off small, but start.
  • Consider less being more for your baby; compulsiveness has a big price. Some things just have to be let go when the baby is little. Easy to say, hard to do. But important.
  • Sometimes in the stress of day-to-day responsibilities, we forget how to focus on the positive in each other. Asking each other what you can do to make things easier is a small but impactful question.

It should be a slam dunk that investing in each other is the best thing you can do for your child. This also the core to a great family.

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