“I just don’t know if we’re going to make it,” a friend texted me a few weeks back.
I imagined her typing out the words. Exhausted. Cradling her baby in her arms. The token messy house of the newborn days surrounding her. The lonely silence of a husband working long hours to provide. Hopeless tears streaming down her face.
In her words, I heard myself five years ago . . . because I was there too, once—the new mom blindsided by the effect new parenthood was having on my marriage.
Before kids, my husband and I had what I thought was an idyllic relationship. We rarely argued, were super affectionate, and were on the same page with just about everything—our values, our dreams for the future, the way we wanted to raise our kids someday.
But then we had our first baby, and the strong, perfect bond I thought we had nearly crumbled under the weight of becoming parents.
In an instant, we went from only being responsible for ourselves to suddenly having a tiny LIFE to care for.
We no longer had the time for each other we once did. Date nights were a thing of the past, and the few we were able to sneak in felt rushed and distracted as we were both anxious to get back to our son.
My postpartum hormones ran rampant. I was irritable, emotional, and unreasonable.
Characteristics I once found endearing in my husband now seemed obnoxious and frustrating. I would roll my eyes at his jokes. Get frustrated with his laid-back attitude.
When he tried to support me, I would snap at him, thinking he didn’t understand motherhood. He didn’t understand me.
NO ONE WAS SLEEPING. We took shifts rocking a fussy baby all night long—a far cry from the carefree schedule we used to be on. When he did sleep, I’d glare at him from across the room while I rocked the baby and tried to get him to latch.
I felt resentment. Rage, even.
Little by little—or maybe all at once, I’m not sure—our “strong” marriage started falling apart at the seams.
That first year was really, really hard for so many reasons, and for a long time, I wasn’t sure we would make it.
What made it even harder was the feeling that we were totally, utterly, alone. Friends around us were having babies and seemed happier than ever. What was wrong with us that the biggest blessing of our lives could put such a strain on our relationship?
Somehow, through grace, communication, and a whole lot of support from the people around us . . . we got through that first year. And slowly, as we adjusted to parenthood, our relationship began to heal.
A while back, a dear friend who is several years ahead in marriage and motherhood confided in me that she and her husband almost didn’t make it through the newborn phase, too.
I was surprised. Theirs is a marriage I’ve always looked up to, and I couldn’t imagine it ever being rocky. In that moment, it clicked for me that the first year struggle was never just my husband’s and my battle.
That season of life is really hard on a LOT of relationships—yet no one ever really talks about it. But maybe we should. Maybe we owe that to those coming after us, you know?
Somewhere out there, there’s a new mom who is reading this with a pain in her chest as she wonders if her relationship will survive this transition into motherhood. And I just want to say this:
It gets better.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s not easy. In fact, it’s really dang hard.
It’s going to take communication.
Giving and taking.
A willingness to try to see things from your partner’s point of view.
Lots of tears and tough conversations.
A determination you didn’t even know you had.
It might even take some trips to a counselor or a new medication to help your hormones find their way back to a healthy level. I know for me it took both.
But if you work at it—if you commit to seeing each other through the tough—it will get better.
And when it does . . . you’ll find a love that is stronger and more true than you ever dreamed.
A relationship that can withstand the hard stuff and is better for it.
Most of all, you’ll find a love that is worth fighting for . . . and that’s the stuff real fairytales are made of.