If you are childless and you think your relationship with your partner is going to be exactly the same when you have a baby, think again. It won’t ever be the same!
This could be a good thing. This could be a terrible thing.
Relationships are seriously tested when you introduce another tiny human into your life. Your relationship turns into a family. You or your partner no longer holds the reign as the most important person to each other.
I can’t speak for everyone because each couple have different circumstances and each family situation varies.
My family started with me and Poppy who spent every day together prior to having children, lived together, went on holidays together, and so on. We were best friends, had great trust in each other. We weren’t married before having children but we were a stable unit and certainly intended to settle down with each other.
We planned both our children so they weren’t unexpected and we had no unwanted surprises which lets face it; helps. We had already gone through the mental preparation of becoming parents before even trying, whereas some couples we know didn’t have a clue what was about to hit them. And my god, it hits you hard. Even when you’re planning it.
Having your first child obviously is a massive learning curve. You have to adapt very quickly. The baby phase is particularly tough because your baby is so reliant on you. I found by the time Taormina, our first child was 2 years old, life was getting fairly cosy and easier. Poppy could go out of an evening with friends whilst I looked after the fort and in general, between us we could easily manage one child. One of the reasons that it got a lot easier to look after a 2 year old oppose to a baby was because of eating and she would happily be separated from her mother. She was breastfed as a baby and it also provided comfort. After a year old she started having cows milk so that comfort blanket of being on the boob slowly wore off. It’s such a great period as a new parent because it have us some freedom. We were able to go to the cinema together, have a childless meal or an evening out. I may be completely making this up, or may be not, but I believe the first time Poppy and I had some time alone together since having our first baby was when Taormina was over a year old. It’s all a big blur!
You may think that it is crazy that we didn’t have time alone until she was a year old but we don’t have family that lives very near and we have always tended to fend for ourselves. We do everything as a family together. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure family members would have loved to help out more but it has to be on our terms because our children really struggle outside of usual routines. Mainly because of sleeping issues.
The all so cosy life once T was of an age where we could leave her with grandparents didn’t last long because we stupidly decided to have another child. There is two and a half years between Taormina and Wolfie so by the time we started to get some freedom back, we went back to square one. Having a new-born once again limited our freedom and spare time.
Wolfie is also breastfed. This, like his sister became a comfort blanket for him. We have tried giving him a bottle of expressed milk but he just won’t have any of it. The truth is we could have tried harder but since his birth, Taormina’s sleep antics and behaviour become more problematic. Not only did we have a baby, we had a demanding toddler. Some things just have to give. Not to mention the pure lack of sleep just drives you to concentrate on doing anything to make everyone sleep. The downfall of this, is bad habits start to develop such as Wolfie will not leave the boob all night. Poor Poppy! We know we have to bite the bullet and come up with a routine of getting to sleep on his own but we know it will be a week or two of no sleep for us both. As we currently have little sleep as it is, it’s hard to push ourselves any further!
Now I mention that we stupidly had a second child. That was sarcasm, if you hadn’t guessed. We know having a second baby was always going to be tough but we decided that ideally we wanted to have them no more than 3 years apart which fortunately worked out for us.
The way I see it, this is a particularly tough time of our lives, but it is only a temporary section. I hope to god we can revert back to the cosy life once again. Even if there was 4 or 7 years between our children, we still would have to go through the hardship in the beginning so we just thought we’d do it in one hit so they are not far apart in age.
So what has this all got to do with relationships? Well I’ve been banging on about our children and what they do, family dynamics and how tough it is having a new-born that I’ve actually stopped talking about my relationship to my wife. That is exactly how it is in real life at home.
We are both so wrapped up in baby and toddler routines and getting through the week that we have hardly any time for each other. It’s quite sad really but unfortunately, it is how it is at the moment.
I would absolutely love nothing more than to spend a day and evening with my wife. No kids, just doing what we want without a push chair, changing bag, food down my shirt, or worrying if I remembered Taorminas favourite toy because world war 3 would start if I forget it!
We could have a lovely romantic day just the two of us…. who am I kidding. I think we’d be happy having a cheeky vegan Nandos and to be in bed by 9!
I can’t even remember what it was like being with each other without any children but my god, I look forward to that day!
Fortunately I believe our marriage is strong and we have a mutual understanding of what is expected from each other. Well at least I hope we do. Who knows, I might be wrong? I believe it is human nature to take things for granted. I hope that I’m not taking my wife and marriage for granted. I like to think I need to act in a way to keep my wife because quite frankly I wouldn’t know what to do without her. From the day we wed, under no disillusion did I ever think, just because we are married now that this is it, a bit of paper means that we are together and that is that. I’m aware that a marriage is something you continue and has to work for both people in that relationship.
Do I think I should be doing more for my marriage? Hell Yes! Of course I should. But as much as I want to whisk Poppy away for a weekend away to cultural Rome or to a natural spa in Reykjavik, Iceland, realistically and practically it is more of a requirement for me to continue with daily home struggles and our children’s routines, not to mention work to ensure we can pay for everything!
When I hear of couples breaking up soon after having kids, it is of no shock to me at all. You both have to pull your weight and have a realistic expectation of the other person’s needs otherwise it just isn’t going to work. It’s not about number 1 anymore.
It is also unfair for one parent to be out off out gallivanting while the other stays at home day in, day out looking after the children. I think a lot of people (especially men) think that the bread-winner has more of a right to do as they please and leave the partner to focus their life around the children, but I disagree. Looking after children full-time is bloody hard work. Much harder work than paid work so I put the effort in how I can. This is what I call – Fatherhood.
One of my former clients-turned friend gave me some advice when he found out we were pregnant for the first time; he told me that I should always look after the mother of my children. I have always remembered this but I’ve adapted my advice to others slightly:
A happy baby equals a happy mummy. A happy mummy equals a happy daddy. That’s the rule that I go by.
Starting a family is all about adapting and working together. As you start your journey through life, your thought processes shall evolve. There’s nothing wrong with changing the dynamics of your relationship, providing you both want the same thing.
Having children can make or break relationships, but my biggest advice is to stop and think about your partners situation and point of view. It’s amazing how that can help you pull together. Communication is also key – just talk to each other!