A Baby Is a Challenge Not a Relationship Cure-All

Every time someone sees a new mom with her baby, their first reflection is “enjoy this stage, it goes by so fast…” Mommy smiles politely and if she’s anything like me answers “it does, doesn’t it?”, gives a gentle kiss to her little one while muttering to herself “what the hell are they talking about!? It has only been five months and it feels like a lifetime! What is there exactly to enjoy!? The crying, the clinging, the dirty house and dishes or the complete absence of ironned clothes to wear!?”

Being a new mom is not easy. It’s a whole load of change in a blink of an eye, and getting accustomed to and settled in this new lifestyle takes great time. If mommy is one of the lucky bunch, she’ll enjoy the support of an understanding husband while she digs her way through it, yet it will take them both lots of patience and positive communication to make it through.

The other day, my husband and I were watching a documentary and were very surprised to hear that 50% of marriages in France end in divorce in less than a year after having the first baby. I agree with you, 50%!!! That’s awful lot! And I would have never understood this survey result if I had not just had my first baby too…

It’s a common belief in my society, that if a marriage is going down the drain, a baby is the way to go to fix it. “A baby brings the parents closer together” people would say. Well, if you ask me, people could not be more wrong… A baby is a huge burden, on mom and dad individually but also on them both as a couple. And if the couple has not reached a stage of relative stability and security in their relationship, having a baby is no different than pouring gasoline on burning fire…

A baby will come to change your little habits, these same habits you find comfort in and make you who you are. A baby will come to change your time schedule and interfere with every little plan you make along your day. A baby will come to wake you up, a lot, at night, and take away your nap time when you need it the most. A baby will come to make you discover that you actually do need a nap time, and that those little chores you used to finish in a split of a second can take you a day or two to handle… From far, these changes might seem meaningless, but from inside, they become everything. And if the couple has not reached a sufficient level of maturity, these little changes will suck the livelihood out of the relationship and leave it dry from tiresome, business and self-negligence. It goes without a saying that a suffering couple will most probably crumble under the weight of this overwhelming wave of change.

On the other hand, if the couple is actually strong enough to handle this baby cataclysm, it might eventually bring them closer together. As they support one another through the most difficult moments, as they take turn taking care of the little trouble maker, and as they split the responsibilities and chores of the household, a young mom and dad might eventually find a safety net in their other half, a strong rock to lean on and a soft shoulder to cry on when life is too much to handle… And as time passes by they will help one another settle in this new way of life, and reconnect with a new improved version of their old self, a version able to feel happy and accomplished yet loyal to what it used to be.

Still, at the end of the day, one thing to be undoubtedly sure of is that having a baby is a real challenge and not at all a magic ingredient that could turn sand into gold…

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