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Baby's Here, But Is My Marriage Going Out?

by on 17/05/2013     24 1806

Jenny and James were happily married for 3 years before they decided to start a family. Both love children and felt that they were ready for the responsibilities of being parents.

A year later, baby G was born and soon, everyone was aah-ing and ooh-ing over the newborn. Everything was fine for the first 2 months. In the first month, Jenny had a confinement lady over to help out. When the confinement lady left, her mother dropped in everyday to help look after the baby and to cook meals.

Then, it was time for Jenny to return to work. Baby G was sent to Jenny’s parents’ house during the day while Jenny and James went to work and was brought back when they are home from work.

And before long, the stress came. The midnight feeds and work pressure was taking a toll on Jenny and she felt that James was not helping enough. James, on the other hand, felt left out as Jenny was focusing all her attention on baby G and was easily irritated. Soon, they were arguing about responsibilities, money, expectations and even parenting styles.

This is a common scene in a home when there’s a newborn. Really makes us think how someone so small and so cute can put so much strain on a marriage?

Challenges and Suggested Solutions

Never ending nappy change, lack of sleep, depleting savings and a messy house are definitely not romantic. Far from it. Whatever happened to what they say about babies being a bundle of joy and completing your life? Well, they are and they do.

It’s just that you need to make some changes from being husband and wife to being parents. If you don’t, you may end up feeling depressed and if it continues, may lead to separation or divorce.

What this article intends to do is to highlight the common challenges that new parents face and suggestions on how to overcome them.

Finances

Money has always been a favourite argument topic among new parents. Not surprising. There just seemed to be so many things to buy, from nappies to formula (if the mother is not breastfeeding) to breastfeeding aids (if the mother is breastfeeding and working) to travelling equipment. The nice little savings that you have saved up for rainy days suddenly felt not adequate anymore, especially if either one has to give up work to take care of the baby.

But hang on. Unless you have more money than you can spend, avoid buying everything you were told to get. Understand that you just have a baby. There’s only this much of things it needs to be happy. Re-look at the list of things-to-buy for baby and cross out the unnecessary stuff that baby product companies insist you to buy. Forget about the branded stroller. Babies couldn’t care less for brands. As long as it’s comfortable and safe, baby will be happy.

Whatever it is, do talk to your spouse before investing in more expensive baby equipment. Don’t let this jeopardizes your relationship.

Careers

Occasionally, you have mothers (and sometimes, fathers) who will make the decision to resign and stay at home to take care of the baby. While some are happy to do so, others are a little reluctant, especially when their careers are moving upwards and giving them so much satisfaction.

In the latter circumstance, both parents would need to address the matter and iron out any issue there might be. Work out how long the spouse will need to stay at home and if a single income earner is adequate to provide for the family. Is there any other choice? Perhaps sending the baby to the grandparents or to a babysitter? Maybe it is possible to work out an arrangement to work from home? Ask your boss for flexible working hours? The key is to thrash things out and come out with solutions together.

Household Chores

Now that baby is here, there is an increase of household chores. There is more laundry these days and there are baby bottles to clean. On top of that, there are the usual household tasks too. But if it’s taking a toll on either of you, then do step back and look at the entire picture.

Understand that you do not need to be perfect. It’s ok to have a slightly messy house. Don’t let domestic chores be the reason for nags and complaints. At the same time, work out a schedule with your spouse. Be a team. Never let one spouse take full responsibility for the entire home. Over time, that’s a recipe for disaster and resentment.

If you are the super busy type of parents, maybe can consider hiring a part time domestic helper. Eight to ten hours a week should be enough to keep your house at acceptable level.

Oh, and another advise. Ladies, men need to be told what to do. Telepathy does not work. And guys, do offer to help. Trust me, your wife will appreciate the nice gesture.

Spend Time Together Without Baby

Another common complaint for parents is that they don’t spend as much attention to each other as they did before baby. This cannot be denied. Once baby arrives, parents definitely will want to spend more time with it. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be no more couple time.

Ten twenty years ago, couple time is unheard of, at least for many Malaysian parents. But I’m glad to report that these days, Malaysian parents are slowly but surely taking time off to spend with each other. It can be a second honeymoon. Just a couple of days away from baby and work stress.

But it doesn’t necessary have to be a vacation. It depends on the babysitter or the grandparents’ schedules. In fact, a one-day leave can be a good break where you can stay home with your spouse. Catch up on Masterchef series marathon or have a romantic candlelight meal together.

Conclusion

And baby makes three. Isn’t that supposed to be a happy and exciting phrase of being married? Well, researches had shown that many couples felt stressed out once baby arrived. Loving couples become distanced and if this is not addressed early, may lead to marriage breakdown. So, do start listening to your spouse and communicate more. Make raising your child an adventure to be shared together, both ups and downs. After all, a marriage is for better or worse, right?