is that people forget you need to work at them. In the last week, I have been told of two relationships that have broken down since the birth of a baby where the father has ventured elsewhere. I’m sure all parents would agree that becoming parents is a wondrous, exciting event – yet at the same time, it puts a new slant on your relationship as a couple.
What doesn’t break you makes you stronger
For many, it makes them stronger as they take on this task together (thankfully, I think this is the case for my Hubby and me); for others, I think it can bring fear and resentment. Fear that things will never be the same again; gone are the opportunities to drop everything at a moments notice to go out for the evening or away for a weekend/holiday. Suddenly, childcare needs arranging – events need to be planned well in advance and sometimes cancelled at short notice because the child is sick or the babysitter can’t make it.
Resentment that this tiny little person has taken someplace in your partner’s heart that used to belong solely to you. Some couples find it difficult to define their roles within a family as the mother’s (or in some cases, the fathers) time and devotion is placed primarily with the child while the other goes out to support their new family.
It takes two
In the midst of all the change, I think people forget that they still need to work on their relationship. For many women, their confidence can take a bashing after the birth of their child – their figure has been blown all out of proportion, they have (argh!) stretch marks on what was once lovely, smooth, perfect skin. They have bags under their eyes from sleepless nights, their boobs might hang south from the effects of breastfeeding, and yes, their sex drive might just as well of driven itself right outta town! But the partners still expect their ladies to be full of the joys of spring; they still want their wives/girlfriends to desire them like they did when they were first together (or when they were desperately trying for a baby). The father’s want to be recognised for their part in the family, for going out to work and making a difference, but the mothers are generally too knee-deep in nappies to pay them the attention.
The green-eyed monster
I think there is jealousy on both parts; the parent who goes to work thinks that the main carer is getting an “easy life” just hanging out with other parents drinking coffee, and talking about the weather. On the other hand, the main carer is envious of the breadwinner because they get to leave the confines of the house and child. They get to have adult conversations and be recognised for who they are, not what they are (mother/father).
It’s easy to look at your friends and those around you and think, “I bet they have a great relationship, I bet they have great sex all of the time, in every room of the house”, but chances are they probably come home from work every night, sit on opposite sofas, staring at the TV, typing on their laptops and just waiting until its time to go to bed where they merely peck each other on the cheek, before rolling to their respective side of the bed and go to sleep. They might have obligatory sex once a week, month, year or on birthdays and anniversaries. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
Don’t forget to date
The couples who make it work are the ones that say “right, let’s have a date” and actually arrange it. They go out of their way to have fun and remember why they were together in the first place, take the best friends quiz and have a laugh about it. They are the ones that, even though they have had the day from hell, have baby sick down their backs, a stack of washing and ironing to get through, remember that once upon a time they were a healthy, happy couple with the whole world at their feet and a burning desire for each other – they make an effort to liven up their sex life because let’s face it, when you get down to it, you generally end up enjoying yourself. It’s just making an effort; that is the hard part!
I’m no relationship guru
I’m not saying that I have the answers to a perfect relationship; I don’t! We have our ups and downs, just like every family, but I’d like to think that we appreciate each other and try to be as equal as possible in our roles with the children. There are extra efforts which both of us could make if we really tried. Still, on the whole, I appreciate the fact that my husband would love the opportunity to spend more time with the children (and me for that matter) and that he works very hard to take care of us and allow me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home Mummy. We haven’t yet made it to the dreaded “7 years”, you know, the one – I think they call it the 7-year itch! But I really hope that we will pass this period unharmed and continue to grow as a family (no, I don’t mean more babies, after this one, I’m done with labour!). Still, I hope that our family will continue to blossom and provide us with years of happiness.
DISCLAIMER: I have used the roles of Mother and Father as in our family, but I do recognise the fact that in many households, the mother goes out to work too, and in some cases, the father stays at home whilst the mother goes to work.