The birth of your first child is such a blessing, when the baby is wanted, but it’s a mixed blessing. You are entering the most challenging class the School of Life has to offer: Parenthood. I remember thinking, despite all the warnings and promises people gave me when I was pregnant, that parenthood was more wonderful and horrible than anybody had told me. It definitely changes the dynamic for couples and it’s one of the danger spots. This doesn’t mean don’t have kids and it doesn’t mean kids ruin your relationship. It simply means recognize there are curves ahead and drive carefully.
With the first child, you’re most likely to be trying very hard to figure out what is necessary to take care of this precious life. You want to be good parents and there is no manual to answer all your questions, despite the plethora of books you can read and the swarms of well meaning people–even total strangers–who come forward with advice. So the stakes are high and you are in a vulnerable position of not knowing how. Guess what comes up? Insecurity and control issues!
Hopefully, you’re not taking these frustrations out on the baby. But your poor spouse may not be so lucky. If you can recognize the desire and the fear that are behind your urges, opinions, actions and communications, you will be better able to navigate this danger zone. For example, instead of fighting about how/when something is done, better to acknowledge the value you’re championing and the fear you have if “this” is not done and done right. It will make your communication easier to hear.
Realize that your desire to take good care of your child and meet all of the child’s needs is not your only desire. You still have needs for independence and you have a desire for intimacy with your partner. As a couple, you still need to earn a living. It’s so easy to get caught up in a seeming urgency of meeting a child’s needs, but the reality is you can raise happy healthy children without expending all of your energy doing so. In fact, they will be happier and healthier if you stay together, but that will only happen if you invest energy in your relationship. You can’t just wait till they grow up to have time for each other again.