Our marriage has, overall, been easy.
I don’t mean to say it has come easily—we have prayed over it, we have worked for it, we have invested into it with our time and resources through marriage classes, date nights, and counseling. We have built our communication, learning how to fight fair and seeking to understand each other. We have taken time to understand ourselves so we can better love the other.
For all of that, I am so grateful because of all the postpartum advice I received, very few have shared the long-term effects of how having a baby will affect your marriage.
Even if you have a solid foundation.
Even if you are absolutely crazy in love with your spouse.
Even if you pinky promise to keep pursuing each other.
Even if you vow to keep things the same.
Because the truth is, having and loving and raising a baby changes you. It changes you as an individual, so you better believe it will change your marriage.
For us, this realization took time. In the beginning, we acknowledged we were in survival mode. We extended ourselves grace in the transition—in the sleepless nights (and days), in the late-night runs to get infant Tylenol and extra filters for the NoseFrida (can I get an amen?!), and in the happy, tear-filled moments of “I can’t believe she’s ours.” It is a sweet season. It is a short season.
Eventually, the baby sleeps through the night. She needs you less, as she goes from solely depending on milk to twirling hands of excitement in her highchair for avocado and banana. The physical demands of your infant become more of the emotional and mental demands of a toddler, and during that in-between, you might just pause and think, “Who am I now?”
I love being a mom. I have loved every single stage so far—truly. If you haven’t felt that way, that is 100% normal. I don’t share my experience to shame you or make you feel less than, it is simply my reality.
Yet in this new season, even with all of my intentionality, there is just less space, less time for me.
Even with a husband who comes home and is engaged and helpful.
Even with family in town to offer bits of rest on days I feel overwhelmed or tired.
Even with all of the books on the importance of prioritizing self-care.
And without a sense of who I am, I am lost within my marriage.
It can be hard to remember I am a wife when my brain is filled with what to make for lunch and when should she go down for a nap and do I have time to take a shower and read my book and maybe clean the kitchen before she wakes? I have found my motherhood can be incredibly self-centered and self-focused as I looked for ways to find rest, joy, and purpose for myself during the day.
Come evening, I am ready to curl up on the couch and watch TV. I don’t want to engage in thoughtful conversation. I don’t feel I have much to say, and even if I did, I am too selfish or worn out to do so. I don’t want to pursue physical intimacy—it’s been painful since I delivered the baby and even after trips to a pelvic floor therapist and seeing multiple OBs, we are still working on healing.
We can no longer go on late night walks, as we have a sleeping baby in our home. We can’t enjoy a meal out together because we are saving money for other financial goals now that we have a little one to care for. We can’t sit side by side and plan our next trip, because, well, didn’t I mention financial goals?
I recently shared with a friend that I felt our marriage used to baseline, on a scale of 1-10, at about an eight or a nine. Since having a baby, we both feel our marriage baselines at about a five.
So, here we are, an 18-month-old precious little girl who we love with our entire hearts, and a marriage we are fighting for. We are both invested. We have talked, cried, and tried different ways of building into our intimacy. They work for the day, the week, or maybe a little longer if we are lucky. But the truth is, we are different.
And that’s OK. We need help navigating this new family of ours, this new reality. So it is off to counseling we go . . . as individuals first and then as a couple.
If you find yourself here, know that it’s OK. Know that it’s normal. There is help and your marriage is WORTH it.
The more I talk to others, the more I realize my husband and I are not alone. I hope by reading this, you realize you aren’t alone, either.