Today, I said the “D” word.

What a day. Woke up at 3 a.m. (if you even want to count the few minutes of sleep as actually sleeping), made a bottle, changed a baby, cleaned up dog vomit, got the Crock-Pot going, did three loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, cleaned up toys, put the trash out, fed my son three meals before I even had a sip of water, changed my son four times before I washed my face or put a bra on, paid bills, cleaned crayon scuffs off the table, stripped the crib bedding, played hours of LEGOs, organized the pantry, meal planned for next week, got a birthday party gift neatly wrapped and prepped to go, pooped with my son on my lap, and then . . . Daddy came home! 

Just the break I needed.

Tears swelled in my eyes as he walked in the door. I looked disgusting, felt defeated, I was starving, dehydrated, overtired, and overworked. I felt like a failure because somehow the house was still a mess, and there was zero proof I did a lick of anything at home.  

Within five minutes, my husband put dirty silverware in the sink and socks on the floor, pulled his phone out while playing with our son, and then told me he needed to use the bathroom. I’m no fool. That screaming baby tugging on his legs to get his attention away from his phone suddenly made him realize he had to use the bathroom for what I assumed would be an hour. 

I snapped. I felt like I gave a warning or two with my nasty looks, sighing, and asking for help. But he didn’t pick up what I was putting down. 

So we fought. Hard. “Unappreciated.” “Selfish.” “A—hole.” Ugly words toward each other and a slew of hateful comments with no remorse from us both. Amazing how the day went by so slowly, but that hour fighting with my husband went by in a second.

Then I dropped the word. Divorce.

At that moment, I meant it. Not as a threat. Or to stir a bigger problem. I meant that I no longer wanted my husband as my partner as a parent. I would rather do it alone or wanted someone different who came home and played with our son, brought flowers, asked about my day, you know, the opposite of what my husband was dishing out.

You see, being a parent does something tricky to your brain, and more importantly, your heart. You give 100% to your child so it’s easy to see where your partner is failing even when they are winning most the time. My husband has bought flowers, spent countless time playing Magna-Tiles in a playroom, and met my needs for years. But this evening he didn’t stand a chance. 

This is the ugly side of marriage. The side you don’t see behind closed doors. The side you think just you as a couple are battling. Since then, my husband has said the word, too. I’m not afraid to share this with you because I want it to serve as a wake-up call to your relationship. 

Being a parent stretches you thin, like a rubber band you can’t help but snap hard in the other direction. This isn’t OK, but saying these words to each other confirmed we were in a rough patch, and we were both hiding feelings in our hearts and placing blame. It wasn’t just a lack of sleep anymoreit was an accumulation of everything the first year brings as a new mom and new dad. This wasn’t the marriage I signed up for. It’s not the marriage God wants me to have, these are not loving words, and the bigger picture needed to be addressed. 

We’re still learning to communicate as parents and how to navigate the influx of stressors in our lives due to having children. There’s a high divorce rate during the first few years of having children and understandably so. 

I don’t have a fix for you, tired mama who feels her husband is slacking. I don’t have a fix for you, dad who works hard and is fighting his own internal battles thinking he can’t do anything right by his wife. I do humbly recommend couple’s counseling, a date night, and openly communicating before the weight is too much to bear. 

Speak up. The man you married is still in there and needs to know you’re struggling. 

I know you love your partner, I love mine dearly, but today was a bad day. It’s not normal to throw the D-word around so carelessly, but it is normal to have those meltdowns, have those fights, and feel that frustration so deep down you can’t put into words what you really need. I don’t want a divorce or a new partner. 

I want my husband, and I know you do, too. 

Marriage takes work. Thankfully, there’s an app that can help! Lasting—the nation’s #1 relationship counseling app—provides accessible sessions designed to help you build a healthy marriage. Download and take Lasting’s free Relationship Health Assessment.

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Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.