When you first announce you are pregnant, it’s overwhelming. Your emotions are like wildfire. Your body immediately starts to change, you don’t feel well, your hormones are crazy—and that’s just the start.
For nine months you try to mentally prepare so you’ll be properly equipped to bring a little human into the world. You ask other moms for advice, read books, and—the most dangerous—search the web. You’ll encounter plenty of guides on “mommy and baby,” “what to expect when pregnant,” “postpartum woes,” “the first couple of weeks with baby,” and so on.
But you won’t find much on how your marriage might change.
In the days leading up to my due date, I felt ready. I was ready to conquer motherhood, something that I had been anticipating for forever. But after the first month or so with our newborn, I realized I was missing something—my relationship with my husband, Will. I felt distant from him, like we weren’t the same couple anymore.
I had never considered how having a baby could affect my marriage. At first, I thought it was just my exhaustion from adjusting to a baby, but I sensed Will was off too. I was already struggling to understand our baby. Now, on top of that, I felt like I needed to rework my relationship with my husband, even though I didn’t know what was wrong.
I had no idea know where to start. I kept thinking, I don’t think anything happened between us… We weren’t fighting, so why was it so hard for me to feel close to him?
Then, one day, it hit me square in the face. Will said to me, “You’re not yourself. I don’t know how to really talk to you.” At that moment, I realized we hadn’t had a decent conversation in weeks. We had gone through so much change, but we’d never really checked in with each other. We were able to fit in small talk, but we didn’t connect. Will would come home late from work, and by that time we were both exhausted. We would eat something easy for dinner, numb out by watching TV or going on our phones, and eventually crawl into bed.
We weren’t existing like that out of spite; we simply were sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted. Our focus was on baby Audrey and being mom and dad, not being husband and wife.
One day, we went out for a walk and finally opened up. We discussed how we were feeling, how we were handling the transition, what our expectations were from each other—everything. It was so good for us, and I think we both finally felt refreshed and reconnected. That one conversation didn’t fix our problems right away, but it definitely helped. We realized what was missing and how important it was to make room for us.
Since then, we have put in the effort to make time for our relationship. One thing that is helping us to connect is going on long walks. That time gives us the one-on-one encounters we need without the distractions. There’s something about walking that clears the brain and allows you to focus on what is important. We strap Audrey in the stroller and she is entertained by the new environment, keeping her busy and allowing us to reconnect. We don’t get out every day, but we try and do it as much as we can, even if it’s just to the mailroom.
When Audrey was first born, Will would tell people that you experience a different love when you have a new baby. With your child, you have unconditional love. But you chose to love your spouse, and you need to continue to learn how to love him or her.
We are always growing and changing. We find new ways to love each other every day. Marriage, we’ve learned, is something that needs constant attention and communication.
I have learned two very important things from the past couple of months. First, marriage can be extremely hard and needs to be nurtured daily, no matter how busy life gets. And second, always put your marriage first, even before your children. Your relationship with your spouse is one of the main bricks of a solid foundation for your family.
This is your love story; you’ll have easy chapters and hard chapters. Your spouse is the one with whom you’ll grow old when the children are gone. That lifelong commitment needs the attention and care it deserves. One baby step at a time.