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.