This article is not exactly on parenting but more about the relationship you and your significant other will have after the baby has arrived. Your partner’s support can often be mistaken for interference and you may want to step back and give them an opportunity to explore their choices. Allow them to step up and don’t misconstrue their slower pace for lack of support. Know the two areas in your relationship which could become troublesome situations. The good news is all couples face the same problems when they change from two to three!
- Intimacy – This is the most personal area for all couples and takes the hardest hit. Your earlier carefree lifestyle will be affected no matter how much you try and resist change. Your partner and you may be planning a romantic night after tucking the baby in only to find that your little one suddenly developed colic and will not be sleeping anytime soon. Your partner and you want to plan a weekend away but are now at the mercy of a babysitter. Not only will this be an expensive affair but both of you will constantly be thinking about what your toddler may or may not be doing and if everything is safe. You will find yourself thinking about the most bizarre (and usually improbable situations) such as a fire breaking out or the baby choking on a small un-mashed pea or the babysitter running away with your little one instead of whispering sweet nothings to your partner and doing naughty things after a long time.
Welcome to the life full of anxiety-laden thoughts and fear-based scenarios. The good part about this thinking is that you have thought of all possible worst-case situations and hopefully planned a strategy to escape from it. The downside is the amount of unnecessary stress and tension this will cause both of you and how it will take away from the much-needed downtime both of you need. There is only one thing you can do to escape, and this is hard but you must. Plan a fun activity for both you and your partner each week – this is when the babysitter, the relatives, and even the friends will need to come in and take over. If possible bring in someone you trust so you can get away with the least amount of stress. Do a simple activity with your partner, to begin with, to rekindle the flame which may be dying once the baby has arrived. Start with a coffee date at the local café. Then move to a movie and a romantic dinner. So that the next time you can be brave enough to plan an overnight or a weekend getaway. Now you may frown upon scheduling all of these and feel that both of you can go it alone with minimal or no support, but you are wrong. Yes, that is possible but not at the cost of further deteriorating any chance of romance in both of you. Your toddler in the next room will need you from time to time and at best, you both may only get a few hours of pure, baby-free moments in a week. If that works for you then, by all means, you can do this alone.
- Friendship –if you are lucky then your life partner is also your best friend. He or she is the one person you can confide in about work, about friends, about family and all your fears and joys. But after the birth of your child, you may find him or her becoming distant. Those moments of sharing secrets or laughing together at some intimate jokes may soon be a memory of the past. Suddenly your partner may feel that his mother’s method of Ferberizing the baby is correct while your mother swears by rocking the baby to soothe away its pain. Your partner may disagree on you nursing the baby well beyond 6 months while you are a strong proponent of only breast milk till the child is 1 year old. Soon you may find yourself disagreeing over the clothes the child wears or the preschool choices. As much as you thought both of you are alike and are in agreement with everything, the arrival of the baby will show you a different side and you may not like it. Sadly, you may not always have his or her support for critical or noncritical matters. Your undying love and friendship for each other may soon turn into increasing irritation and all-consuming hatred.
Step 1 – accept this as inevitable.
Step 2 – Choose your battle.
If you want to decide what clothes your child should or should not wear then your partner should have a full decision on what foods the child can or cannot eat. You may not like his choices but respect that he doesn’t appreciate your choice either. As long as both of you decide zones and allow the other partner full decision making access, there is hope. You may never come around to his decisions but at least there are some areas of your baby’s life where you alone can dictate terms. The day will soon come when either he will begin to see the light of your suggestions for the decisions he was against and, surprisingly, you may decide the same for him too.
Unbeknownst to you, these life-changing decisions may creep up on you. You go for a play date with your toddler and as you discuss the common problems you share with your play date’s mother, you may soon find that this is a common problem for all. When things suddenly become normal, they lose the urgency and life and death like an aura around them. You may find yourself reaching out for that cotton onesie your partner loves and ditching your choices or your partner may decide that your meal choices are actually better. Friendship needs time and patience and can’t be forced upon. You need to acknowledge the fact that both of you have changed after the arrival of your little one and it may take a while for both of you to return to the same closeness as before.