Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frazzled parenthood

Marriage is hard. Anyone who disagrees probably hasn't been married for that long. And it's made harder by adding a baby into the mix.

Don't get me wrong - I love Christina more than anyone on earth, and she is the biggest blessing of my life - I wouldn't trade her for anything. But parenthood adds a whole other level to a marriage relationship. All of a sudden there's this little person who's needs have to come ahead of your own, and many times ahead of the needs of your spouse. There are less (if any) deep, intimate conversations, because there's a baby demanding all of your time. And as far as intimacy goes...well, there's no more spontaneity, unless it's within the confines of nap-time. Basically, life stops revolving around you and your spouse, and starts revolving around the baby, and that's a tough transition.

According to an article I read recently in BabyMap magazine, 67 percent of new parents find that becoming a parent decreases happiness and relationship satisfaction within their marriage. No one tells you how tough it is taking care of a new baby, and no one tells you how it will change your relationship with your spouse - that "becoming parents can increase stresses and strains, alter values and goals, shift roles, diminish communication, and increase hostility...These aren't the changes we expected parenting to bring."

Sean and I came to the realization early on in our parenting journey that it's true what people say - "Don't have a baby in order to save a relationship." Because if your relationship isn't strong to begin with, having a baby will probably tear it apart. Of course I don't say this with any kind of research backing me up - just my own experience.

This transition is made more difficult for me when I hear from the other moms in the playgroups. It would seem as though I'm the only one having trouble - but I don't think I believe that. Because when I'm at the playgroups I usually play down any problems that I'm having to make it sound like it's easy for me too. Or I just avoid talking about my marriage and instead focus on my relationship with my daughter. Because it's normal for a new mom to complain a little bit about her struggles with parenthood - how the baby barely got any sleep last night or is unbelievably fussy because of a new tooth coming in. But when it comes to the argument that my husband and I had last night, or the fact that we hardly find time to connect anymore, I keep quiet. And I wonder if they do too, or if it really is that easy for them to keep their marriage strong in the midst of all these changes.

All I can do right now is lean on God for my strength and comfort. He's the one who brought this wonderful blessing into our lives, and certainly he will use that to build up our relationship and not tear it down. In the meantime, I resolve to take each day as it comes - to practice forgiveness and not hang on to past hurts - and to pray without ceasing (when I remember to!). If you are reading this post, perhaps you could pray for our family - and for all families going through this transition into parenthood. Because in my experience, it's not as easy as it may seem from someone on the outside looking in.

And if you know of any scripture that is particularly relevant to this subject, please let me know.


1 comment:

Judy said...

Hi hon - just wanted to tell you that you're not alone in this! Mark and I definitely struggle with the same type of thing. My biggest piece of advice right now is to try to plan time for just the two of you... hard as it may be! And you're welcome to come over to chat with me anytime.