Would You Babyproof Your Marriage With Counselling BEFORE Baby?
It's normal to hate your partner after you have a baby, isn't it?
They are not holding the baby crying outside the bathroom door while you have a shower on purpose, are they?
When he says he is 'babysitting' I want to scream 'PARENTING, YOU ARE PARENTING' in his happy little face. It is not his fault, he is actually a super Dad and makes me cups of tea with abandon, but there is a tiny irrational part of me, that resents that he never had sore nipples or hosted an entire human inside him for almost a year.
Making babies is undoubtedly great fun - they are so cute, and they look just like you and you share the most joyful moments of your life with your partner.
But it is also a huge transition into a very different chapter in your lives together, and those changes can often throw up a whole lot of conflict. So much so that many people are choosing therapy before they get down to baby business.
In your antenatal class you get told about labour, caring for babies and how to breastfeed, but perhaps what we should also be getting marriage guidance. A happy relationship that lasts could be the greatest gift you can give your baby.
The compromise of partnership can be trying on its own, but throw in middle-of-the-night feeds, a permanent wailing sound, soggy poopy nappies and sleep deprivation, and it is not too surprising that a good portion of those families do not end up together. Later on, there are financial worries, different parenting styles, lack of privacy and increased domestic demands to contend with.
Excuse me while I jump on a plane to anywhere.
It is little wonder many couples are racing to the councillors couch to prepare themselves for the giant baby bomb that is being hurled their way.
In the UK, almost 120 thousand marriages end in divorce with half of those in the first ten years. Perhaps it suggests the shock of parenthood is to blame? Earlier this year, Marina Fogel, the wife of adventurer Ben Fogel, divided opinion when she suggested taking the time to nurture your marriage to be a better mother. Speaking to the Telegraph she said:
"The most compatible couples will struggle when into the mix you throw an exhausted, emotionally volatile woman who is physically vulnerable after giving birth, and a new father, equally tired and overwhelmed by his new responsibility. Women often focus all their energy on their baby, leaving their husbands feeling isolated and neglected. Wrapped up in just getting through each day, the parents have little time left for each other, and the communication breakdown begins. A friend of mine was aghast when her husband walked out after five years of marriage because he was so profoundly unhappy. “I had no idea,” she told me. “Life’s not easy with two children under three, but I had been too busy to notice that we had stopped communicating altogether.”
The main differences seem to be over communication, differing parenting philosophies and unfair labour distribution. We spend hours (days) agonising over the colour of our pram or the baby's name, but maybe we should relinquish an hour or two for the sake of our partnerships?
A quick straw poll of my friends shows that most people do agree with this philosophy, but all agreed the barriers included the stigma around seeking help as a couple, as well as difficulty getting their partner to agree. Psychotherapist, Chris Cherry, says the problem is that most couples seek therapy when things are too far gone;
"The majority of couples contact me when their marriages are in a trench of crisis, and by then it’s often too late. Seeing someone pre-emptively is, in principle, a good idea, but in our busy lives that it’s often easier said than done."
In my own life, our days of nappies and night feeds are beginning to fade, I can now see past the haze of babyhood and once again see my husband for the wonderful, kind and fantastic dad that he really is. I would never say no to councilling as I think any open communication should be applauded. But for now, my therapy will continue to be large cups of milky tea.