Saving my marriage post-baby

Becoming parents can be hard on a marriage. My wife and I were a tight unit before having a baby, and adding an entire human being with all of their unique character and needs really threw a wrench in the works. We’ve been talking about how to fix things for about a year and a half now, and it seems we’ve finally broken through the crap (“she said, she said” arguments and blame and not feeling understood), and we’ve come up with a plan that seems to be working. We just have to stick with it and not slack off. Working on your relationship can be hard work when you’ve neglected it for so long.

Since becoming parents, we’ve fallen into a divide and conquer lifestyle. I do this thing over here while my wife watches the kid, then I’ll watch the kid while my wife does this other thing. My wife took on responsibilities that were completely separate from the responsibilities I took on. I did all meal pep, shopping, household duties alone. My wife did all of her projects alone. We didn’t sit down together until 8 or 9 at night, and then we’d watch TV in zombie mode until we were too exhausted to stay awake. We lacked any connection, intimate or even practical.

It makes me sad to realize now that Avery seemed to have noticed. She noticed that she only ever had one mom at a time. She had started to frequently drag us together and force us to hug and kiss. She’d wrap an arm around my wife’s neck and the other arm around my neck and bring all three of us into a hug and NOT LET GO. When I’d kiss her cheek, she’d turn my face toward my wife’s and direct me to kiss her Mo. She was getting plenty of love, but noticed that her mom’s weren’t. I think she wanted to share some of what she was getting.

So we’ve decided that, even though it will be less efficient, we’ll start doing everything together again, like we used to. We’re going to meal plan and do grocery shops together. We’re going to cook dinner together when my wife is home in time from work. We’re going to ALL go outside together when my wife works on a woodworking project.

Since we started doing this we’ve had to deal with a lot more tantrums because Avery doesn’t get as much HER time anymore, where she gets one parent’s full attention to do whatever she wants to do. Now we drag her to home depot with us while we discuss projects. We drag her to Ikea with us to plan decor for my wife’s new family cottage. But she does seem happier in general when we’re all together, when my wife and I hug more, and when there’s so much less bickering.

It’s also way better for the three of us to start feeling like a tight, family unit than for Avery to get to do what she wants to do all the time… And it’s really helping my wife and I to feel connected again. We’re starting to feel like we’re on the same page, like we’re deeply involved in what the other is thinking, planning, doing.

Addendum: Sex is an extension of this issue that we’re still working on (even though my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end, I’m still feeling 0% sexual), but when we were trying to solve the sex problem without addressing the relationship problems, we were just getting further into the pit of disappointment and unhappiness.

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10 thoughts on “Saving my marriage post-baby

  1. We still divide and conquer 98% of the weekdays. On weekends, we’re all together almost all of the time, except for when my wife is training for triathlon, which can be 4-5 hour blocks of time. We do Home Depot, Target, sometimes grocery, and always eating together on weekends. It’s working well enough for now, but we still get short with each other during the weeks (as we get tired and overwhelmed by the week). Intimacy has not made a notable return as of yet…

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    • Thanks for sharing. It’s always comforting to know you’re not the only one going through something.
      It’s sooo much more efficient to divide and conquer. I’m realizing that in order to do everything together we have to get used to things taking a lot longer to complete, tasks will go to the backburner, and some things will have to be sacrificed completely. And of course we still bicker sometimes because parenting makes you TIRED, and tired people cannot be expected to function at their best.

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  2. We have always made a point to do things together as a family and only the odd time do we divide and conquer. And we usually we only divide when it comes to work commitments that are outside of daycare hours, because obviously we cannot go to evening meetings as a family. πŸ™‚ Oh, and we almost always divide in conquer in the morning so that one of us can shower peacefully while the other one gets Little MPB ready for the day. Yes, things like grocery shopping take way longer, but I figure at least it means we are spending time together and I like to think Little MPB is learning about the basics of life – just this weekend he has started actually helping us pick out our produce and he counts as he places mushrooms or tomatoes in a bag.
    I think it’s all about finding what works for your family. And, it really sounds to me like you are figuring that out. I love the idea of the whole family being outside together while working on an outdoor project. It sounds to me like you are heading in the right direction. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks! Before Avery started daycare, she went on all errands with me and she was so well behaved in stores. Once I started doing errands without her, the odd time she had to come along she had no patience for it. I’m hoping that the extra exposure to all of these errands will mean she gets used to having to tolerate it! And yes, it’s great for life skills for them to help with errands like grocery shopping.

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  3. This sounds so familiar. Cadence hasn’t done anything like Avery yet, but who knows if it’s coming? It’s almost like we’re roommates, not husband and wife. It bothers us both, but we haven’t been sure what to do. We haven’t had any sort of intimacy since we started fertility treatments…FOR CADENCE!!! It’s sad. I’ve mentioned counseling, but B isn’t into that. I just feel at such a loss πŸ˜”

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    • Yeah, I kept bringing up counselling too but my wife wasn’t into it either. It really does suck. But I think it’s also more common than we think! I hope you and B are able to find a way to bring back your connection. It’s so hard to do after so long… We felt for a long time like we just didn’t know what to do to fix things and that was paralyzing. But it’s also so hard to be so distant from your partner, and to feel alone or at odds with each other when you’re trying to raise kids together in a happy home! Adulting sucks sometimes!

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      • Yeah that’s a big part of it, we don’t know what to do to fix it. Just so stuck in a rut of life. I want it to get better, and we’ve talked about it a bit, but nothing ever seems to change. Adulting definitely sucks sometimes!!

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  4. You wouldn’t believe how much I needed to read this post. I can completely agree on so many of the things you wrote about. During the week we are pretty much in divide and conquer mode as we balance life with my husband’s insane work schedule, me trying to fit fitness into the evenings, getting Hunter to bed and then the prep for the next day. It is hard to not divide and conquer with it. But now on weekends we are trying to do a little less of it. But this past weekend was full on divide and conquer where I was with Hunter and the husband was dealing with all of the things that just could not be done with a toddler around. Sometimes it feels like we are two ships passing in the night. We sleep together in the same bed, but intimacy has been relatively non-existent as we collapse into bed, exhausted and agree to do it another night. I know that the weeks where we are less tired and spend more time together as a family, the intimacy improves. But it’s still very rare. We know that Monday to Friday it isn’t realistic to do things as a family of 3 all the time, but also know that more effort needs to be made on weekends. I’m hoping that this summer, with all of our planned camping excursions, that the moments like these will improve and we will get some time to bond as a family again and not just be the people who are a family, but don’t truly spend enough time together as a family. The husband and I have talked briefly here and there about a counselor who can help us work through some of the tough parts of this new life as a family, including a need for communication improvement. He is game with it, but for some reason I feel like going to a marriage counselor is something only people with big, marriage ending problems have. Even though I know deep down that it’s totally healthy to find ways to work on our marriage and keep it happy. So we may go that route some day too. Anyway, a bit of babbling, but thank you for this post. It really resonated with me today.

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    • Thanks for sharing your own experience! It always helps me to feel like I’m not the only one going through these things 😊 I hope you and your husband can find a way to bring back the intimacy and sense of connection even though you’re so busy. Life can get so busy and overwhelming, especially with a kid.

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  5. 1. Doing things jointly is very important for any couple. Super glad you have figured this out and are seeing this difference.
    2. A GOOD therapist is wonderful for sorting small problems so big ones don’t develop. Tiny weeds are so much easier to pull than those with deep roots.
    3. It is good for children to grow up seeing team work happening and automatically being part of a team. Families are teams. Everyone does better with common goals and values.
    4. Being the sole focus of adult attention does not help a child be one in a large classroom, does not teach sharing focus and celebrating other people’s achievements, does not help develop life skills for reality and adulthood.
    Really proud of all of you for talking about it, and doing/trying to change now before the splitting becomes deeply ingrained and results in divorce. Sometimes we have to deal independently and we need to know how to do this also; but the ideal of partnership is being a cohesive team.

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