“Maybe having a baby will bring my husband and me closer,” daydreams the woman. She pictures his hand resting gently on her swollen abdomen as he whispers soft nothings to their unborn child. Visions of picnics at the park with a jolly toddler fill her mind, thoughts of snuggling a lovely baby in their family bed dance in her mind.
I don’t know about you, but having kids has been the hardest thing our marriage has ever endured. And right now we’re back in the throes of it with a newborn and the horrific sleep deprivation that comes with her.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I love our kids more than anything and we are so glad they have joined our family, but parenting has, at times, whittled us down to virtually nothing, leaving only our ugliest flaws on display.
Sleep deprivation makes me grumpy and casts a hopeless shadow over everything it touches. Division of labour and child rearing responsibilities is a constant point of contention and we are often each left feeling as though we are locked in separate spheres (his: work, running the family apple orchard, finishing renovations on our home; mine: kids, housework, cooking, diaper duty, relentless discipline of wild-hearted and beastly children) and resentful that the other party isn’t doing more to help us with our respective roles. Oh balance, where art thou?
There is so much joy, tucked away in unlikely places, during these days of life with small children and I know it’s not worthwhile to focus solely on the negative aspects of the challenges. I just find it so interesting (and maddening) that the beautiful beings that unite and bond us to our spouse more deeply than anything can also be the cause of such disheartening chasms and tiring distance between us.
Steve and I are doing fine, so fear not. I just think it’s good to be honest about the challenges we face, since I know other people are going through similar situations. We both know how taxing this newborn phase is on both of us, in different ways, and that it will get better. The fog will clear and I WILL sleep one day.
Did you find having children brought you closer to your spouse? Or has parenthood pushed your marriage to the brink?