Ain’t it the truth – the first year of your bub’s life is the greatest but also the toughest. Amazingly you get through the labour but find out pretty quick that it’s only the beginning.
Although there is an absolute explosion of love and a joyous discovery of the most primal intuitive bond, there is also a bundle of challenges and changes that emerge too.
If I had time (and if people valued it in advance, which they don’t, cause it’s hard enough to get them to value their birth experience) I would run a course on how to maintain your marriage post birth. Something like She Parents or We Parent…The pressure new born challenges place on us personally and within our partnership causes way more break ups and unhappiness than it should.
Often I wonder how do mums and dads get through it all? Pretty much every parent and partnership has to deal with: an extreme lack of time and space, lack of control and cleanliness, loss of sleep, loss of income, hormonal emotional rollercoasters, fevers and teething, breastfeeding issues, sexual deprivation, complete lack of libido, frumpy muffin tops, lack of family support, rising rent/mortgages/food prices and that’s just the beginning….when you have a sick bub or a bub with special needs it moves to a whole different level! The stress is immense and relentless.
The majority of us realise pretty quick that we have to sweep a whole stack of relationship issues under the carpet along with the crumbs and dried up fruit pieces and just get on with it. We hope for the best and plan on dealing with things a few years down the track when we have gained a bit more sleep and tolerance to deal with the issues.
I have been watching very closely for well over 12 years now and can say that if you are lucky enough to have a bonding experience during your antenatal course (like She Births® facilitates), and then throughout the labour you and hubby are a million miles ahead of the rest of the world.
However, this still seems like its not enough for the majority of couples. The foundations shift and dynamics have to transform. Little things that were tolerable before build into massive issues. The lack of time, money, freedom to move away, self soothing through parties, hours reading the paper on Sunday or avoidance just is not accessible any more.
I have seen the best, most suited and most stable of couples be put through the ringer. Sometimes it kicks in after 6 months and sometimes after bub number two or three… Most relationships are pushed to their absolute limit and we have to readdress our personal issues, our own self care and mental/physical maintenance programs, our partners issues and their ideas and balance of needs and adjust the beams if we are to stay afloat.
We also need to remember that primarily women are innately different to men, in that their rites of passage are pre-built into their physiology. Men have physiological changes around 13 but have to go seek ritual and experience for growth whereas women move through menstruation, pregnancy, labour and menopause and each phase forces a shift physically, hormonally, mentally, spiritually and so on within her.
The most common scenario I see is that women are deeply empowered and awakened by their labouring experiences. This often means that the woman who walked into the labour room, ain’t the woman that emerges from hospital a few days later. And so, that woman that he’s with now, ain’t the one that he married!
If Dad isn’t able to keep up with the changes and growth within his woman then it becomes incredibly frustrating for her and him, and breeds unhappiness in the home. Sometimes Dads go through an amazing experience too however, especially if they played a big part in mum’s pregnancy and labour. Being proactive in pregnancy and involved in decision making in labour as well as hands on can give him a whole new respect and deeper love for his partner. A whole new appreciation for her body and mind and create a more profound intimacy between a couple.
From empowerment and awakening many things can follow on for mums and dads. Often with the shift in priorities there is the changing careers for example. It can feel pretty hard to go back into the hard core corporate world after holding the innocence of pure love in your arms and at your breast for 12 hours a day. But the uncertainty and risk involved in career change or self employment can be a great strain too upon a couple.
So amidst the rock and a hard place I wanted to share my top tips for saving your marriage. I hope they are helpful to you and your family.
Becoming Us by Elly Taylor – A brand new Australian book. The only complete guide to relationship changes for couples through pregnancy and parenthood. It gives a very thorough overview and compassionate guidebook for couples to be able to read and traverse the journey with greater ease.
Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix – The absolute ultimate explanation to why you fell in love with your partner and why they drive you crazy! Then, most importantly how you can use that knowledge and personal reflections to transform frustrations and grow together. Creator of the profound Imago theory.
True Love by Thich Nhat Thanh – Anything by this Vietnamese mindfulness teacher is pure gold. He bridges the gap between spiritual and domestic life beautifully allowing us access to simplicity, beauty, peace and grace in all the simple things which is the key to being a happy mother or father amidst this crazy age of distraction.
Make your date night a cheap double massage at the local thai place and then go out for dinner. Getting the body love so that everything is more easily discussed at dinner 😉
Swap sessions with another mum and get to yoga once a week – rain, hail or shine. Space for you and supports the balancing of endocrine/nervous system more than any other exercise.
Only keep one area of the house clean. Strange I know but there is a great sense of control and relaxation that happens when a space is clear and tidy. But remember only one area is enough, don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Retreat to that room when you take 10 mins meditation or yoga nidra in the day.
Slow Cookers. Put dinner on during bub’s morning sleep and make enough for lunch tomorrow.
Encourage your hubby to talk. He’s going through massive changes too but they are rarely as vocal about it.
What are your top tips for staying sane and staying together?