No solid sleep, stress, helping the other kids accept the new brother/sister, everybody’s nerves on edge, getting used to the new routine – oh and add to that no sex for 6 weeks (or longer), and it all adds up to a very “challenging” time in any marriage. So what do you do to stay close while it’s the hardest? Here are some observations from a clueless guy that learned the hard way – by screwing it up enough, to figure out what works better. 🙂
The “third wheel” – Nobody likes being it, but when the baby’s new, you might just feel like one. All the sudden, what used to be just you and your wife, and what you enjoyed, and did together, just turned into all about the new baby. What it needs, how much it’s growing, how much milk it needs, what color the diaper bag is, who is allowed to see the baby at the hospital – I could go on, but I won’t. You start to wonder whether or not you would even be missed if you just walked out the door, while everyone was gathered around the baby! It’s ok! Don’t panic! This too shall pass! Your wife is in the “turbo mommy” mode, and while she might not tell you that she needs you, she really does! She needs you to be the one to get up when the baby cries, even if she’s breastfeeding. She needs you to encourage her when she can’t get the new little one to stop crying at night. She needs you to hold her and tell her she’s a great mom. And she needs you to do this even if she can’t do the same for you, due to her being in a state of sleep deprived crazy. You’ll be lucky if she remembers to eat, let alone be able to “meet your needs” like you may be used to her doing before the baby showed up. It’s ok, just ride it out. You’ll have thoughts go through your head like, “is it always going to be this way?”, and “does she even care about “us” anymore?” – but rest easy, she still loves you, and cares about you as a couple, it’s just part of the “baby tunnel vision” that God created out amazing wives to have during the first few weeks. If we can just realize it’s just a phase, resist the urge to run to the marriage counselor because “your wife just doesn’t care about you anymore”, it will all pan out, and she’ll be back to the same person you had fun with, laughed with, had great sex with, and love so dearly.
Things you can do to help ease the crazy:
- Give her a hug – hold her and tell her you love her, and it’s going to be ok, and that she’s a great mom. They may put on a “strong face”, but they worry that they aren’t doing “everything right”.
- Help with the baby – Take “shifts” at night. Don’t just “assume” that she’s going to be the one to get up and do everything. Be there to help her so she doesn’t feel “alone” in caring for the new guy/gal.
- Cuddle time – when the baby falls asleep (if you can stay awake long enough), cuddle on the couch and watch a movie together, or share some popcorn, or just sit with her and ask her how her day went! Show her that SHE matters to you, and you care about her!
- Give her space when needed – especially if there are other kids involved, your wife can easily get overwhelmed! Take the older siblings to the park for a couple of hours, or on a “field trip” somewhere (doesn’t have to be expensive, the other day I made a dump run with Ben, and he was thrilled that he got to see the “big tractors” working on the trash).
- Remember it’s not forever – Kids grow up a lot faster than you realize. Really. Enjoy the moment! Don’t “hurry” your kids to grow up, because they will never be at that stage again.
You can do it dad! Just take it one day at a time. Oh, and try to get some sleep. 🙂