Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On fighting, oversharing and the first year

Dear Newlyweds, First-Time Pregos, and New Moms:

It's been said that most couples fight about two things: money and sex.

I'd hate to speak for all married couples, but given that we've been at this togetherness thing for a decade and have taken two turns on team baby without ever once having appeared on Maury or Dr. Phil, I'd say that the advice below can be taken without any gigantic grain of salt.

Fights?  They happen. 

Probably, they happened first in your first evolution of living together.  The whole I worked all day and came home and still did two loads of laundry and made dinner, so by-golly you're going to do the dishes! fight that has more lives than a cat and many more faces. 

This fight will probably follow you forever.  Whatever form this fight takes, there will always be dishes - literal or figurative - standing between you and a perfect marriage.  Come to grips with it now, sister, because if marital perfection is your goal, you're going to be disappointed.  Hard.

This fight will certainly rear its ugly head once the kids come a-poopin' in the middle of the night.  Something they don't tell you about having a newborn?  It's not just the newborn part that's hard.  And it is - hard, that is - but sometimes that hard goes on a really, really long time.  Long after the "newborn" has gone out and the "baby" has taken over. 

A wise woman once told me that it takes about four months to settle in.  She's totally right.  Four to settle in, six to really have it under control.  Largely because of the lack of sleep, but also other things.

Like not being cleared from the doc for three months.  No exercise.  No relations.  As if anyone with two small children has the energy for either in the first three months anyway. 

You won't go on dates because you'd rather be home to put the baby to bed, especially since the baby already stays under someone else's care 40 hours a week.  Some time, somewhere very unexpected, you'll be going about your work day and suddenly be overcome with longing for that baby and his pretty smell and soft head.  It will bring you to tears, and you'll struggle to go back to whatever else you were doing - as if it were one-onemillionth as important as what you've left behind at home.  As long as this is the case, you won't go on dates in the evening.  Trust me. 

It's tough to explain what happens between a husband and a wife when you're no longer the most important thing in each others' lives.  Casey often tells me that I'm his favorite person in the whole world.  I don't know if it's the hormones or of moms are just built this way, but with a new baby in the house, I can't honestly return that sentiment. 

You couldn't have told me all of this before having Leah.  It's one of those have-to-experience-it-for-yourself kind of deals. 

We fought a lot the first time through.  About so many things I thought my head would explode.  Perhaps not "a lot" by others' standards, but certainly by our own.

Not so much this time.  This time, we knew it was coming.  We knew to expect that we would no longer be the center of each other's world.  That a baby would sleep in our bed the better part of four months.  That I would be in no way romantically inclined for six many, many months.  That life doesn't just take a backseat to the new life you've created, it's in the backseat of the last car in the Rosebowl Parade.

My advice?  Don't fight about it.  It happens, and it won't always be this way.  Give one another lots of grace, and lots of hugs.  And maybe those homemade "coupons" for a time when your body parts no longer leak or sag and you're not as likely to be interrupted by a little whimper over the monitor. 

Shortly after the first birthday, when those tiny ones become almost-legitimate people, things go back to normal.  It's a new normal, but a ridiculously-over-the-top-Lance-Armstrong-on-steroids-awesome kind of normal. 

And "perfect" marriages don't just survive things like this, they thrive and get better because of them.

1 comment:

  1. great post! Love your thoughts so much, it is all so very true!


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