Yet another thing that seems to be under-discussed is the issue of maintaining a solid relationship with your spouse or significant other while having a baby and then going about the task of raising that baby. Regardless of who you are or what your situation; having a baby is very hard work. It requires a complete re-evaluation of everything in your life…social, emotional, physical, financial, and mental.
The honest truth is I don’t know very many people that are still happily married, or happily together, after having children. They have either divorced, separated, or have chosen to remain married but can’t stand the sight of one another. My philosophy is that most marriages, or relationships, end due to one of three things: 1) money issues 2) children or 3) infidelity. The stress that comes from any one of these three things (infidelity isn’t necessarily stress, it’s just extremely stupid and causes obvious issues) can be relationship ending.
Money is something I used to stress about constantly even prior to being self employed. Up until about two or two and a half years ago I would wake up in the middle of the night worrying so much about money that I would have hot flashes…it was insane. The funny thing is that everything has always worked out in my life financially, one way or another. I stressed about it anyway and that stress has impacted relationships in my life. Stress of any sort, regardless of what it is about, will put a huge wedge between people eventually.
The stress of bringing a baby into the world and raising it is obvious. It simply changes so many things and I’m referring to just basic day to day things. When you first have your baby home you are constantly monitoring something that you did not have to before. You have to be near the baby or watching it on a baby monitor, you have added tasks of diaper changes, more laundry, feeding (whether it’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding), doctors appointments, and so on. It’s not like we can just leave a two and a half month old in his room for the next four to eight hours ignoring him while we work or go wine tasting.
Therein lays the problem; so many folks that are having babies are not making sure they have a solid foundation in their relationship first. Yes, I know, even though you work like hell and feel like you have a solid foundation things can still fall apart…I get that, I just think not enough time and effort is put into the relationship between the parents. The baby will not make a bad relationship better. A baby cannot be priority number one, it is my strong opinion that the relationship between the parents is number one and the baby is number two.
When two adults cannot figure their shit out, ultimately it IS the child that suffers and as a society we don’t seem to care about that as much as we should. I almost said we don’t care about that as much as we USED to but that’s all relative I think. The point is, there are a lot of jacked up kids out there today and they don’t get that way by themselves. Damn near 100% of the time, jacked up kids come from jacked up parents. So what’s the fix? What can we do to help resolve any potential stress issues that may arise once two people have a baby?
Annie and I did some of the following things:
-We talked endlessly about whether we should have a kid or not.
-We discussed thousands of scenarios and situations.
-We discussed what it would be like with a child and what the rest of our lives would be like without a child.
-We lived on Google for quite some time researching stuff…still do!
-We read A LOT and talked to people and listened to their stories. Some of the people we talked to had kids and some did not.
-We reflected and pondered…as individuals and as a married couple.
-We talked about how WE, the married couple, would HAVE to be number ONE…not the kid.
-We talked about making the baby part of OUR life, not us becoming part of his life.
-We talked about sharing the responsibility of raising the baby.
-We talked about what all of those responsibilities would be and what they would look like.
-We discussed our relationship…where we stood, how we felt, and the concerns we had about having a baby and not having a baby.
And you know what? We discussed a WHOLE lot more!! You know why? Because having a baby is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the baby and it’s a big deal for the people having the baby. In order to do the best thing for the baby it only makes sense to make the marriage priority number one. Annie is more important to me than my son. Of course my son is important to me but it is in different ways. By making our marriage relationship the priority we are giving our son the best possible life….two birds, one stone. If we’re happy than it’s more likely he will be happy and grow up in a healthy situation.
In the end, focus on the relationship. Don’t allow yourselves or the relationship to get buried under the stresses of a baby. When you can confront those stresses as a strong TWO rather than a frustrated ONE, it really can make all the difference in the world. So, happy marriage versus having babies? Why not both?