There’s a lot in this blog that’s about me, or about my baby, or even (occasionally) about my husband but there’s very little about me and my husband. There’s very little about how having a baby has affected our relationship and if I think not too long or hard about it, it’s probably because I haven’t wanted to write about it. I think I’ve wanted to ignore the slow erosion that having a baby has had on our relationship because we’ve been a little complacent, a lot tired and apart a lot because of work.
But here it is – the dirty, grimy truth about how having a baby can easily and quietly destroy your relationship if you’re not careful. The thing about having a baby is that there are no secrets left. There’s very little that remains glamorous – my husband is visibly shocked these days when he sees me with clean hair, or without baby sick on my clothes, or with a bra on and my teeth brushed – I’m not sure I can remember the last time all four of these things happened at the same time.
And that’s ok, I tell myself, because I have a baby to look after and it is ok. The last thing I am saying is that, apart from raising a small human, feeding it, nourishing it, teaching it to use its body, its limbs, its brain, teaching it a whole language and keeping the bloody house half way clean…you now have to make sure you are clean, made up and sexy. That’s not what I’m saying but I am saying that we can’t forget that we were in a relationship with each other long before we had the Small. We were in love with each other for reasons totally unrelated to the Small. Despite that, it’s hard to even remember a time before the Small existed and those things can easily get lost and forgotten amidst the piles of puke, laundry and dirty nappies and if you can remember even one of them, every now and again, and remind your other half of it too…then you may just have a laugh and look at each other in the way you used to.
I’m not saying that having a baby instantly destroys your relationship but it doesn’t instantly make it better, more fulfilled and more nourished either. It means that instead of being able to focus on each other and the dynamic between the two of you, you now have to do that and add a baby into the equation. It may seem like an impossible task – how on earth can you find time to put the baby somewhere else while you remember what you love about each other? It is hard – really hard – but it’s not impossible and that sad, sad truth is if you let the baby become the be all and end all of your communication, your conversation, your shared interests then you are heading down a dangerous road.
Be nervous about babysitters, be nervous about leaving your baby with a grandparent, be nervous about being away from your baby for the first time but be more nervous about ending up in an unhappy place with the father of your baby who you can’t really remember why you married in the first place.
This blog is and always has been about honesty and I’ll be honest – my husband and I have been through a rough time. Thankfully, we are coming out the other side because we’re big fans of fights and talking and conversations over bottles of wine, middle-of-the-night chats in the dark when we can’t see each other’s facial expressions (I would definitely recommend fighting in the dark!) We love nothing more than a bit of at-home therapy and through the long, extracted and often dramatic chats, we have recognised that, while things aren’t great right now, we do want to be together, we do love each other and that just means we need to find a way back to each other and be patient with each other while we do it.
It’s hard – don’t be afraid to admit that you’re worried about your relationship because if you don’t address it, it won’t get any better. It’s actually easily fixed – it’s just not easily acknowledged.