When we fell pregnant, we were ecstatic. But deep down, we also knew that our lives would change. So, over the course of the pregnancy, my wife and I started to prepare ourselves for the changes. We were going to be the best parents in the history of parenting and of course, still remain sane, fresh and have a marriage that would make everyone envious.
It took our newborn less than a week to destroy all our plans, ideals and goals. The reality of it all is that no matter how much you plan, it will never go as planned.
After the baby came along, sleep deprived and often tired, even the simplest of things like ‘What to have for dinner?’ or ‘What movie to watch?’ led to arguments and debates. We even secretly started keeping score of what we each did for the baby and the household leading to more arguments.
I remember when we used to spend an entire weekend in bed or just cuddling up on the couch and having movie marathons. It gave us much-needed downtime from the pressures of our professional lives and we were fresh to face the rest of the week. With a kid thrown into the mix, weekends became hectic.
Our to-do list just kept on increasing. Most of our ‘free time’ was spent sterilising bottles, removing food particles from the crevices of various pieces of furniture, mashing vegetables and of course, emptying diapers.
Sex. Yes, it’s an integral part of any couple relationship. For most people in a healthy relationship, sex is this amazing, impromptu thing. And that’s what makes it special. It’s what I call an ‘argument cleanser’ - everybody wins at the end. When the baby arrived, we knew it would affect our sexual intimacy. First of all, it took months for my wife to recover from the trauma of the delivery and eventually when the S-card was back on the table, it was almost as if we had to set appointments. We couldn’t even squeeze in a quickie without worrying about the kid waking up. In retrospect, that made us crankier than usual too.
As a couple, we tried to live in the moment as much as we could. It certainly helped keep that ‘spark’ in our relationship alive. And as with most couples in love, we would send each other ‘I miss you’ and ‘Wish you were here’ texts if we were apart. Once we had a kid, we soon realised that it was going to be nearly impossible to get each other’s undivided attention anymore. All our plans and agendas revolved around him, and even on a rare date night, we ended up discussing him instead of ourselves. As for those texts, the content had changed slightly. It now read along the lines of ‘I miss you. I wish you were here to change the diapers.’
I won’t lie - the transition from coupledom to parenthood was stressful. But soon we realised that in our efforts to ensure the well-being of our son, we forgot and in fact, at times took for granted, the well-being of our marriage. Once the realisation that we needed to balance out our time between parenting and our marriage, things soon started to change for the better.
Today, we’re in a better place and our relationship is stronger than ever before. We’ve learnt to lower our expectations and make sure we get some ‘us’ time as frequently as we can. Yes, some of our ‘candlelight dinner at a nice restaurant’ nights have turned into ‘candlelight dinner at home after the kid has slept’ nights, but it’s worth it. We have a reliable baby sitter who we can call on when we really need a break from the three of us and want a few brief hours of ‘two of us’.
And most of all, we’ve started giving each other some ‘me-time’ - free from parenting and coupledom; just free to do whatever it is that we choose to do without being bothered by someone else. Even if it is to just sleep.
At the end of the day, our biggest realisation has been that although having a kid did rock the boat of our marriage slightly, we’ve emerged stronger and happier as a couple.
So here’s the ugly truth - if you can make it through having a baby and the first few years together, you can make it through almost anything.