A Newborn and A Marriage: The Strain of a Baby on a Relationship

People tell you about the surge of love you will feel when you have a baby. They will tell you how your baby will become your whole world. The worries that come with it as you want to protect this precious little human. And that is all totally true. But what nobody seems to talk about, is that having a newborn can also cause a massive strain on your relationship.

 

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This is something I experienced, and actually I think most people experience but don’t want to admit. When Lily was born I felt all those normal emotions: love, a lioness type protective instinct, I worried obsessively as all new parents do. I also had physical troubles such as breastfeeding, with constant bouts of mastitis. Chuck in sleepless nights, Lily’s first cold at just 2 weeks old, and Joe having to go away a lot with work on courses, it was hard.

However alongside all of that, I still had a relationship. Going on this ride with me was Joe, my partner, and who until Lily was born the person I gave my entire attention to. We would go on trips out, we would go for meals, we would sit around and just do nothing. I really can’t even think what we did with all that time we had on our hands before having a child!

Suddenly we had no time for each other at all.

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What do most people do when they are tired, emotional and hormonal? They take it out on those they love. We all know we shouldn’t, but it is inevitable that sometimes you will snap just because you are feeling grumpy. When you are a new parent because of the level of stress it can end up happening all too often. Not only that but as emotions are so high things can seem a much bigger deal than they really are.

 

“You don’t have to speak to me with THAT tone of voice!”

 

This happened to me when Lily was a newborn. I would be up all night, then spend most the day on my own with her, and don’t get me wrong I would love it. But by the time Joe came home from work I was tired, I hadn’t spoken to anyone or seen anyone all day except the baby. I had washing to hang out, dinner to cook, and I just felt overwhelmed. So when I would say to Joe something like “Can you look after Lily whilst I have a shower?”and he would say “In a minute I just want to get changed and have a cup of tea first.” I would snap at him.

 

How can he ask me to wait when I’m feeling disgusting and really want a shower, and if I don’t shower now I won’t get the chance to later because Lily will need a feed and then it’s dinner and then it’s her bath time. How can he be so selfish?!

 

Now what I should have really said was, “Yes no problem of course get changed, and then if you could look after Lily whilst I have a shower we can have a cup of tea together afterwards.” Or something like that. But let’s be honest, when you’re tired and feeling emotional you just don’t have much patience, especially with your partner.

 

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Being new parents is really hard, and it’s so easy to take things out on each other. I have also heard of men who feel extremely neglected. After having all that attention on them prior to the baby, their partner suddenly just seems to ignore them. It’s all about the baby now and no longer all about them. Well, “tough!” some might say, but if either party in the relationship is feeling unhappy it needs to be addressed somehow. Sometimes couples have been together 10 or so years before they have a baby and that sudden change can really cause a problem.

I’m sure when Joe had come home from that tough day at work he didn’t think asking to get changed and have a quick cup of tea was the worst thing in the world to suggest, and it wasn’t. But at the time it felt like a massive deal.

 

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After a few weeks of this snapping and bickering, I started to hate myself. I knew I was being so difficult to live with. I felt so emotional that I struggled to control it. I would say to myself be more patient, but in the spur of the moment it would happen again. It took time but eventually I did manage to regain control of my emotions and my patience, or maybe my hormones calmed down. Joe and I got back on track, and things got a lot better.

However unfortunately sometimes the relationship doesn’t get out of that state, and that’s when it can start to be really destructive. We love our babies and are so happy to have them in our lives, but it really can be a tough time. The newborn phase was undoubtedly the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, but it was also the time I cried the most and questioned myself as a person the most. Was I being a good mum? A good partner? Who am I now that I’m not the girl I was before I had Lily, but I feel like I don’t know who I am yet as a mother either. I’m suddenly responsible for this little person and I just want to protect her and look after her, but am I doing it right? It’s exhausting.

 

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Are you going through this stage? Or did you? I found all that helped was just time, for things to settle down including my hormones! That and trying to reflect more on how I was acting. Talking to someone other than Joe about how I was feeling, friends or family. Of course if things get really bad it’s best to tell the health visitor or the doctor. But I’m sure everyone experiences this on some level when they have a newborn. Behind all the Instagram photos and happy Facebook statuses.

According to the Office for National Statistics:

Around a fifth of marriages end within five years of the birth of the first child.

So this stress must be happening to a lot of us. Yet we don’t seem to talk about it.

My Random Musings

The Pramshed

Mummy Times Two

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15 Comments

  1. This is an important subject, and an interesting read. They say that marriage changes a relationship, but it’s nothing compared to the impact of a newborn! Being parents changed the relationship between me and my husband massively. Luckily, my husband is majorly chilled out and hugely supportive, otherwise I think he’d have packed his bags after all the hormonal abuse I threw at him in the first few days after birth! Making time for each other is so important, even if it’s a quick drink in the pub whilst the grandparents have the baby!
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. It’s so hard and I know that I have done and felt exactly the same. Sleepless nights, loneliness and being overwhelmed are all really hard, and I’m not surprised we take it out on our partners when they’re still getting on as normal. It gets better I promise once you’ve adapted to your new role as Mum. Try not to be too hard on yourself the washing can wait. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  3. It’s always hard… with a newborn, and all those years later, 3 boys later. You’re both exhausted for different reasons, and it’s hard to make a conscious effort to be nice, not snap, be accommodating and not say certain things. Loved the honesty of your post. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #PostsFromTheHeart

  4. Oh I totally get this having been there twice! You’re totally right, the dynamics at home change hugely and it isn’t spoken about much. Some days can be a real struggle and as you mention, it’s so important to get all the support you can. Support networks outside the relationship and time together occasionally as a couple, and not as parents, can make a tough time a bit easier on everyone x #PostsFromTheHeart

  5. This is so, so important and something that people need to know and to understand that it is normal. I defy any parent to read this and not to recognise themselves and their relationship within your post. Thank you so much for sharing this at #PostsFromTheHeart

  6. I think like the baby blues we spoke about there would be times we would snap at each other before the babies were born so when it all became too much we just knew that the other was just letting off steam. Counting to 10 helps. Im very good at counting to 10 #postsfromtheheart

  7. Yep, becoming parents definitely puts a strain on a relationship. I’ve snapped so much and been so grumpy. Thankfully I have an understanding partner but I feel awful for snapping so much. Tiredness can do crazy things to you. With one parent (usually mum) at home all day and the other out at work all day, the day for both parties are so so different and then to try and please both people at the end of the day is hard. Good to hear you are both back on track x
    #PostsFromTheHeart

  8. This was such an interesting read and one I feel I can relate to. It’s so hard not to play the “who has it harder” game as it’s a game no one wins at. It’s also important to understand that what you wrote about goes on in EVERY relationship, I know it’s very easy to think your the only one going through this. Well written lovely, thanks so much for sharing. xx #postsfromtheheart

  9. I wrote something very similar after the birth of our fifth. After three babies in two years, with an older child to boot, our marriage went through a really difficult time. As much as we still loved each other, we were SO tired and we had forgotten who we were before the children came along. I think all couples go through this, whether they admit to it or not. And it does get easier, eventually! #postsfromtheheart

  10. Throw postnatal depression into the mix (for Mum, Dad, or both), and you’ve got a real problem. I still find I have these issues, and our son is now 17 months. We are starting to settle down a bit, but I still really struggle with my PND and it’s so easy to take it out on other people isn’t it. Thankfully my partner is really understanding (most of the time!), and he tries to just ignore it when I’m throwing a hissy fit!

    You really have hit the nail on the head with this one. #PostsFromTheHeart

  11. The strain having a baby puts on your relationship is incredible, there’s no preparing you for it, is there? All I thought about was how wonderful it would be to have a little baby in our arms which we had both created, which of course it is. But I had no idea about the lack of sleep, the resentment, the imbalance when suddenly one of us wasn’t working anymore. Thanks for sharing such an honest post. #PostsFromTheHeart

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