How To Baby Proof Your Marriage
If you aren’t prepared, having a kid can destroy your relationship. Here is what you can do to confidently face the intense challenge of parenting a baby as happy team.
Step 1: Make a Plan
The first step to baby-proofing your marriage is to sit down with your partner, each with a separate piece of paper, and write down all of your fears and all the challenges you expect around becoming a parent.
Then read through each of your lists and strategize. How are you going to handle those moments? Maybe there won’t be a solution, but at least talking about them in advance will greatly increase your chance of being able to mitigate those moments and not end up in a big fight or a failed relationship.
Here are some topics you should definitely discuss:
It’s quite likely that you’re not going to have much sex for a long time and that your wife isn’t going to actually desire sex for a very long time. Talk about how you’re going to handle that. How are you going to get your sexual needs met? How are you going to feel without that opportunity for intimacy and connection that sex provides? Are there other ways in which the two of you can be intimate, other ways in which you can have that time and other ways in which you can still feel wanted and valued by your partner?
Money is big cause of divorce. Talk about how you’re going to handle the strain of one or both of you staying at home for some period of time. What is the plan? Who’s going to stay home ’til when? Where’s the money going to come from and where can you cut the fat out to support that? Which ways are you going to handle these hard choices? Go into it with a plan so you don’t end up just anxious and scared and taking it out on one another.
How are you going to handle it when your kid is throwing peas or not going to bed? Obviously, mainly you need to focus on the early part of life during which time there isn’t actually a need for much discipline, but many parents can have a hard time dealing with the fact that babies simply don’t do what you tell them to. Talk about how you’re going to handle those challenging moments.
This can lead to a lot of stress when the two of you have different ideas about where your child should be sleeping: in another room, in your room, in your bed? Talk about it in advance. Are you going to let the kid cry it out? Parents can have very different ideas about what the right thing to do is. If you’re at odds with your partner before the kid even comes, it can lead to a very stressful and difficult fight in the moment when you also have a crying baby on your hands. If you make a plan beforehand, it just makes that all a lot smoother. Each of you read and figure out what is the way that you want to do it. Discuss it. It’s a big decision and makes a big impact on your family.
Step 2: Build a Community
Babies are meant to be raised in the presence of a larger family or community. Historically, we raised our kids with our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and lots of community support. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have extended family around to help with the overwhelming task of parenting. Instead we live separately and barely know our next door neighbors, let alone have someone near at hand who can hold our child while we get a shower or a moment of rest.
Fortunately, we are surrounded by others in the same predicament and thus it is possible to fairly easily build community. I know for a lot people this is very counter intuitive as most of us in this day and age are not inclined to reach out to others, but if you can make this effort it will make your life so much easier and at least a bit more joyful.
Create a Parents Group
Take the time to build a parents group prior to having the baby. Post notices at your doctor’s office. Post in local on-line communities. Talk to other parents that are pregnant. Get four to six couples together who are expecting a child within the same time range and meet, have meals, talk. Even every two weeks really makes a difference. Then the babies will start to come and you can all talk about all the intensities and be there for each other even in simple ways. It makes a huge difference.
And guys, I highly recommend not just leaving it to the moms to get together. Explore whatever ambivalences you have and see if you can get over them. You may not feel the benefit after the first meeting or two, but as you get more comfortable, you will shortly see how satisfying it is to have other guys who are going through the same things with whom you can talk.
Ask for Help
Having your friends and family that live in the area be able to provide you meals after the birth is extremely helpful. There are many web sites, like www.mealtrain.com, where people can sign up to come and bring you food. It is not for them to socialize with you, just to bring a meal to you or even to come and clean up your house. Most people love to be given an opportunity to help. You can even ask if someone can give you time to be a couple where they can take the baby for a half an hour or an hour once a week or two so you can find yourselves as a couple again.
• Keep yourself and your relationship out of the gutter.
• Share your fears and challenges.
• Talk about scheduling who’s doing what, money, sex, discipline, and sleep.
• Build a community that can help you not be so worn out from the experience.
And have a thriving happy family where you can experience the joy rather than the struggle and the desperateness that can so easily take over.
Please, join the conversation below. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions about the subject. This is hard stuff. We are all doing our best. Please keep it friendly.
If you like the video, please share it with your friends. I’ll see you next time for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood.