By Meg Faure
Having a new baby can wreck havoc with your relationship. The reasons are numerous. Everyone is irritable – sleep deprivation does that to you. There is the measuring of ‘who does more’ and the resentment that the other expects so much of you or doesn’t pull their weight. There is the guilt – guilt about leaving to go to work and guilt about feeling angry. It’s a perfect storm. No wonder relationships suffer in the first 3 years of parenthood.
Firstly, if you are a fixer, you need to park that idea – your wife is not broken – she is exhausted. The situation is not damaged it’s utterly, exhaustingly normal. And all she wants is for you to listen and tell her she is okay and you are there. Just be her rock – not her scissors!
Secondly, acknowledge how tough it is for her. 24/7 with a new baby or up all night and a hectic day job – this is as tough as it gets. Do not try to compete or show that you are also under strain, just acknowledge that this is the toughest thing she has done in her life.
And most importantly know that you are IT – you are the single most important person in her life – it may feel like your baby is but truly, you are the vessel, in which she can be sheltered to do a job she feels inadequate for. Buffer the world and be her quiet place. Hold and contain your partner and baby. It’s the most you can do.
Finally, learn to say sorry – a lot – and laugh whenever you can. I can promise you your wife will return and she will be your true love again. She just needs time to emerge from the quagmire of motherhood in the first 3 years.
You are exhausted with little time to consider the emotions of others, you are all consumed with your baby – a state we call Primary Maternal Preoccupation. (hyperlink) This is a normal state and will ensure the survival of your baby.
But there is someone else to consider – your partner, the person you dream with, laugh with and who is your love. It’s tough to be dad and feel like the third wheel. He will be wondering when he gets you back and how to reach you.
Parenting is not for the faint hearted but its rewards are amazing. Embrace the journey – together.