The Hardest Time in My Marriage: The Newborn Phase

the hardest time in my marriage
Image adapted via Flickr/ kumon

Imagine this situation:  There are two people who are sleep deprived in a way they've never experienced and both are physically aching from not being able to recharge. They're faced with a new responsibility that is bigger than they've ever known and have been given no instructions on how to move forward. One of the two people has been through the hardest workout of their life and has chemicals flowing through their body, while the other is left wondering how they can help the situation. The routine changes, and the only feedback they receive is screaming and crying.

That's what life is like, at least for a little while, when you welcome a newborn into your life. When I was pregnant, I was told how morning sickness was going to be rough, that the aches in my joints from my changing shape was going to be real, and that contractions were painful like nothing else. I was warned that babies are a lot of work and healing from giving birth was going to take some time. But even after all the warnings, I was surprised no one warned me about how the newborn phase was going to affect my marriage.

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I met my husband in high school; I was 17 years old, and he was 18, and we fell in love. Hard. We were inseparable through high school and college, and when we graduated, we got married. Deciding to grow our family was not a topic we agreed on at first, but when we both arrived at the same spot, we gave it our all. Through miscarriages and uncertainty, we had our first baby, freshly born, and finally at home, and that's when I was caught off guard.

I have, what I consider, a very strong and healthy marriage. My husband and I are in love to the core, and we've been through a lot together. We have the same goals and work well together, but despite all this, we had a lot to learn and to adjust to when we welcomed a new baby into our lives.

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We fought.

We argued.

We felt very disconnected.

We were distant for the first time in our long relationship, and it was really hard. We had to learn to communicate more efficiently, get comfortable with asking for help, and be honest about what we needed, and – to be honest – there were times when I worried if we'd come out on the other side of things.

We did. About six months after our baby was born, those fights and arguments started to become less frequent, and the feelings of disconnect started to lift. It was the hardest time in our marriage, and we've only encountered something similar three times since—after each of our children were born.

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Did you and your partner experience a rough patch after the birth of your child(ren)?

What do you think?

The Hardest Time in My Marriage: The Newborn Phase

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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4 comments

  1. Profile photo of AhavaMama3 AhavaMama3 says:

    I’m glad a stumbled up on this blog. Our daughter is 1 month old. My relationship with my husband seems so different. The first 2 weeks were great because I really needed my husbands assistance with everything after having a unplanned cesarean. But in the last week something has shifted with me emotionally. I’m ever so irritated by my husband. He doesn’t and hasn’t cooked more than twice since the baby’s arrival. He wants to help but doesn’t do things I actually need help with. And for the most part I’m moving around great and don’t need his help with the baby as much as I need his help with the house work. Of course he doesn’t get in a hurry to clean or cook. I feels angry towards him and don’t know how to tell him nicely. When I’m Breastfeeding he likes to get in the baby’s face and that annoys the crap out of me. He doesn’t see it as alone time for me to bond with the baby I guess. And if she’s on longer than 20 minutes he start asking every couple minutes if she’s done because he wants to hold her. It’s so overwhelming to feel like I’m being put on a timer for feeding and bonding. I know this baby is both of ours but I feel such tension with him. I have 2 older daughters and so naturally I feel like I know what I’m doing so him giving bad advice also irritates me. Needless to say this phase sucks for my marriage and it’s worse because I’m not sharing my feelings and I’m choosing to be distant because my husband hiving over me drives me nuts.

    • Profile photo of Deryl Deryl says:

      As a new Father, I can relate to some of the issues, but the one thing I have to offer is to talk to your husband, he may not realize what you are feeling, may be confused in his role as father or may be feeling left out. Talk to him, it is way better than stewing over it, and you may find out he is just as frustrated and is afraid to broach the subject.

  2. Profile photo of andrea andrea says:

    It was absolutely a very hard time for my marriage, the past 6 months. We even did a couple sessions of counseling-type stuff at church, where they reminded us that we absolutely needed to expect this natural rough patch. Our relationship was under intense pressure from all these new things, day in and day out, and like anything that is Squeezed so, the weaker areas are going to be Exposed. So – now you know what you need to get better at in your relationship, and it may save you some rough spots in the future. ( And I had a lot of help from family when my baby was born. Well – that brings its own set of stressors!)

  3. Profile photo of Britney Britney says:

    My husband and I had our 1st child together about 6 weeks ago. We have 3 other children between us who are all young and live with us. I was really worried that my husband would be really difficult to deal with because he does not function well when he is sleep deprived. However he has been wonderful. I am exclusively breastfeeding and his other children were formula fed, so he feels like I do all the hard work and is constantly looking for ways to help me out. I love the newborn phase so most of the time I couldn’t be happier. It feels natural for me to cook with one hand and have a baby in the other. My husband is so enamored with our son that he doesn’t seem to feel like anything is a chore. Our son has colic, but we know we’re not having any more children so I honestly don’t mind having to spend the extra hours caring for him and when I am too exhausted to continue, he takes over. I was really scared about how the baby would effect our relationship because, although my son was planned, it was a compromise that we came to. He didn’t want more kids and I wanted a couple more. He seemed to feel so strongly about not having more, even though he agreed to having one, that it often caused friction in our relationship. In all, our relationship has been much stronger since having our son and the pressure of having more children is lifted.

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