The Ugly Truth About What Can Happen To Your Marriage After You Have Children
There is an ancient wise saying that has been around long before our time. The cavemen carved it next to mammoths and dinosaurs, the Egyptians decorated their golden tombs with its wisdom, the fifth graders chanted it at recess when two kids got caught awkwardly holding hands, Pinterest glorified it with adorable vintage rockers and chalkboards.
Even if you live under a rock you’ve heard it, because its written all over the damn rocks. (I’m not dramatic, you’re dramatic.) You know the one, here it is:
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
Obviously this is how the world turns, right? I mean, naturally you fall in love with someone and then you marry them and then you have babies and live happily ever after because, duh, that’s what the cavemen and the Egyptians and Sarah from Mrs. Millers class, and random perfect looking pregnant women on Pinterest did. If it’s on a handwritten sign, it’s basically the law you guys.
I shouldn’t need to emphasize the utter bullshit of this considering the fact that this is 2018 and several women I know personally are single moms doing the damn thing and rocking parenthood like the bosses they are. But this one isn’t for them. Those queens know who they are. They don’t have time to care about this archaic notion because they are too busy handling every single thing from the total household income to spiders on the ceiling.
Single moms, you are the real MVPs and I salute you because I know that you grew up like the rest of us believing that love and marriage and baby carriage was the order in which the way the world worked. But I also know that you’ve since discovered that the love you have for your children makes the other stuff seem so secondary because you would do it in the same order all over again if it meant you got to raise those kids of yours for the rest of your life.
So this one, isn’t for you. I believe you have your shit together because you were given no other option. You all deserve medals. And a vacation. And free babysitters. And lifelong memberships to Glen Ivy.
This one is for all of my fellow love, marriage, baby carriagers out there. The women who did the damn thing in the order they were told to and now find themselves filled with resentment and distain toward the guy that they loved and married and put said baby in said baby carriage with. This one, is for you.
Remember when you were like, “hell yeah, let’s have this baby!”⏤and your friends and family threw you a beautiful baby shower and you sat in your baby’s nursery on the floor while your spouse felt the life you both created kick the hell out of you and how happy and beautiful that was? Remember the anticipation for that baby to make his or her entrance into this world and all of the crazy stuff you did to try and induce labor to get them here faster because you were both so anxious to meet your little angel?
Sure I’ll stand on my head while eating salsa made from an ancient Mayan witchdoctor’s fingernails while staring at the moon without blinking for no more but no less than 4 minutes and 45 seconds!
Then that sweet baby was born and it was blissful and beautiful and you took precious photos to post on the internet with the hashtag “our perfect family” and then the shit proceeded to immediately hit the fucking fan.
Because nobody prepares you for what comes after the baby carriage.
Nobody warns you that you may one day find yourself on the kitchen floor sobbing over a half eaten pb & j with that precious bundle of joy in your arms, wondering what horrible crimes you committed in a past life to bring this kind of negative karma⏤all while your spouse is obliviously out working or golfing or living their best life peeing in the bathroom in peace.
Nobody prepares you for the distain and resentment and I FUCKING HATE YOUR GUTS kind of attitude that may fill your soul when you become the proud owner of a brand new human being.
Well hold on to your stretched out panties, because I’m about to rock your world. Are you ready for this? It blew my mind when I discovered it myself and now it’s going to blow yours. Straight from my blown mind to your about-to-be-blown-mind. Now I feel like I built it up too much. Okay, here it is:
Nobody prepared your spouse for this shit either.
This is the craziest phenomenon, I know. And I’m not being sarcastic. It seems so obvious and yet, I think it is widely overlooked. I myself took years to really grasp this concept. Here’s the skinny.
Nothing in life is 50/50. Not even a half and half Frosty from Wendy’s. Trust me, I’ve calculated this and it has been exactly half of each flavor approximately zero times. ZERO.
We all have this glorious vision in our minds about how parenting should go, but many women also have this innate characteristic built inside of them that “mother knows best”. When we were little girls, adults showered us with tiny kitchens, and tea pots, and baby dolls that we could bottle feed and change and name and put to bed.
Our role is crystal clear from a young age: We are to care for all the babies while the boys play with race cars, build forts, and have epic action figure fights.
We grow up believing that babies will basically die without us (or become the Anti-Christ like Michael in American Horror Story: Apocalypse) and so the moment our eyes first meet that bundle of joy we slap on our mom hats and handle the business we were always told we were born to handle.
But men? They played with cars, and built forts, and had epic action figure battles, remember? Nobody ever told them that one day they would need to work a job, help out around the house, and change dirty diapers. I know this is a generalization and also that our newer generations of young men are being raised much more well rounded, which is fantastic.
However, my generation⏤the dudes who played with pogs and were around to enjoy the original season of the Power Rangers⏤those men were the last in a long trail of tradition that pinned women as housewives and men as providers.
Back in the day, like when my mom was little which wasn’t really as long ago as that statement suggests, it was just a known fact that men weren’t very involved in the parenting process.
But we the women of America have evolved. We have said, “Enough of your shenanigans. I can choose to work or not, and I can raise a baby, and you can be an involved dad who takes out the fucking trash and handles a midnight feeding once and a while, sir!”
Only, most of us are too afraid to actually say that out loud because we don’t realize that men don’t naturally think to do these things like we do. Or we do say it out loud, but in a much more passive aggressive way like, “Man, it would be really awesome if there was another adult around here to take out the trash and feed the baby at night so that I could get an ounce of rest.” Then we insert our best wink-wink-get-my-damn-hint-face and they don’t see it because they’ve already left the room after hearing our passive aggressive tone. They knew danger was afoot.
So nothing changes and we get resentful AF and then they can’t understand why we have no interest in having sex with them. Everybody is unhappy but nobody is saying anything because we all just assume that its a normal part of being parents and the next thing you know, BAM! Your kid is in college and you’re alone together again⏤bitter from years of tiptoeing around the real issues. And that is how you become the Old Spice mom, friends.
But how can you avoid hiding in couch cushions spying on your child because you’d rather be mashed between 3 year old chip crumbs and loose hair than spend alone time with your spouse?
Communication, folks. It always comes back to communication.
The greatest thing you can do for your sanity, and your marriage, is communicate with your spouse before you murder them. Because then baby would have no parents, and nobody wants that. We expect our partners to just know what we need but the thing is, we all value different things and what you consider a “must do” he may very well see as last on the list.
Let’s go with the trash example.
If you’re a new mom at home with your baby, you might value a clean trashcan, greatly. You don’t want diapers stinking up your house all day long but you also want your spouse to contribute and walking outside yourself would involve putting on real pants so you think, “the trash is easy and obvious. I’ll leave that one for him.” But then, he doesn’t take it out. So you ask him. “Honey, can you take out the trash when you get a chance?”
He says sure, then walks out of the room. WTF. Confused as to how this heathen can comfortably live in this poop landfill, you wait. And wait. Surely, he’ll be back any moment to handle this 60 second task. Perhaps he’s gathering more trash from another room. He’ll do it. He’s definitely going to do it, ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME HE JUST SAT DOWN ON THE COUCH AND TURNED ON THE XBOX.
This is the point where you begin to freak the hell out only, again, you don’t say anything. Instead, you pace angrily through the house trying to catch his eye. Then you toss out a comment like, “it really smells in here, don’t you think?” and when that doesn’t work, you plop down on the couch across from him with the baby in your lap and stare his ass down.
He doesn’t notice you, so you cough. Then sigh. Then use the baby as bait. “Oh, you’re so cute! That was so cute! You’re doing such a cute thing right now!”
This catches his attention and the moment his eyes meet yours, he knows you’re pissed.
Him: “What’s wrong babe?”
You: Nothing. I’m fine.
Then you wait for him to pry more but he doesn’t because he wants to believe the words that come out of your mouth and you jump up raging, walk to the trashcan, pull the liner filled with shit out, and walk directly in front of his game to the door to take out the fucking trash yourself.
And when you walk back in, when you walk back in he says, “I was going to do that babe.”
You scream on the inside but only manage an eye roll or another one of those classic passive aggressive one liners and mutter to yourself, “Fuck you.”
So why didn’t he take out the trash? He could see it was full. You asked and he said he would. So why didn’t he do it?
The answer isn’t that he’s an asshole, at least, not usually. In truth, what it all comes down to is the fact that to you, the trash was a top priority and to him, it wasn’t.
This is how we can combat these situations, folks. You need to explain to your partner what is important to you.
I know that when you’re knee deep in responsibilities and feeling like you’re on an island by yourself it can be hard to remember that your spouse loves you and wants to be there for you. And odds are, they are doing everything they can in their own mind, based on their own priority list, to provide and care for you. That’s why it is important to give them the opportunity to be there for you in the ways that will be most effective for you and your unique personality/needs.
My marriage completely transformed when I was finally willing to sit my husband down and say, “Hey, sexy man boo! These are the things I need in order to feel happy and peaceful. And these are the ones I need you to step up and help me with.”
Letting Derek know very clearly what I needed allowed him to reprioritize things in his own mind. It puts things like, trash, at the top of the list and he now knows that when the trash is clean I am a much calmer, happier me.
In the same vein, I also gave him an opportunity to communicate his needs to me. Turns out, I have a bad habit of leaving water bottles and cups all over the house which bothered him. Now, I make a conscious effort to keep my loose H2O containers in check. I stepped up for him, he stepped up for me, and our marriage is better for it.
And friends, this whole communication thing is a total gateway drug.
When you’re openly expressing your needs to your partner and giving them the opportunity to fulfill them you build confidence, trust, and connection. Resentment evaporates and the air is cleared within your home. You begin to see your partner with untainted eyes. It’s like you’re seeing this man again for the first time. Suddenly, you remember why you married this hunk-a-hunk-of-burning-love and that is how more babies are made, so you know, keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
And remember, nobody is perfect. (Except for Beyonce, of course.) Marriage and parenting are learning curves for everyone and it is impossible to please another person 100% of the time. Don’t forget to have grace and remember to keep that communication hotline open 24/7. When you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And don’t be too proud to forgive your partner when they don’t always fulfill those needs in the timeframe you hoped for. Because for every overflowing trashcan, there may very well be a stockpile of water bottles.
For moments like those, go grab a half and half frosty from Wendy’s and remember you’re never going to get one that is equal parts vanilla and chocolate, but it can still be pretty close and it will also be delicious, satisfying, and totally worth the drive thru line.