Kate, Will, do you hear this? Your marriage is about to change in ways you may not have anticipated. By Sarah Smith, REDBOOK.
Things are about to change...1. The inability to think rationally when sleep-deprived. "Small annoyances can take on divorce-level importance," says Cathy O'Neill, coauthor of Babyproofing Your Marriage. Some of the best advice she heard in her and her co-authors' thousands of interviews for their book came from a new parent's mother: "You don't need marriage counseling, you need a good night's sleep."
2. The piles and piles of laundry. "The workload around the house explodes in a way nobody anticipates," O'Neill says. It creates not only chores that are nearly impossible to do with a tiny human to care for, but arguments over who should be doing them. Remember, O'Neill says: "The enemy is the laundry, not your partner."
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3. Mommy brain. We're not talking, "Oh, I'm so scatterbrained now." This is about the mental real estate now taken over by how many bananas are in the house, whether you should order a winter coat for your baby yet, and what you'll do about kindergarten in five years. Stop! It wears moms down and it frustrates them that dads aren't usually thinking about the same exact things at the same exact time. You may not really be able to help it (and somebody needs to buy bananas, let's be real), but you can acknowledge that his way gets things done, too, O'Neill says.
4. Provider panic. O'Neill, at home with a baby during maternity leave, admits to feeling like her husband got the better deal-all he had to do was go to work, just like he always did. But he explained to her that work had taken on a whole new and frightening meaning: He now had a family to provide for. Whatever you think about division of labor (see laundry, above), the anxiety the working parent feels is real, and acknowledging it goes a long way toward easing it.
5. Any relative you listen to more than you listen to your spouse. "New dads-and moms-are often stuck trying to keep their mothers and spouses happy," says O'Neill. Not possible. Time for a new family management plan: Spouse comes first.
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6. Not listening to any relative other than your spouse. You're a team! Awesome. But here's the cold truth: You can't do this just the two of you. You will go crazy and start fighting about dental floss. Get other people not only to help, but to give you much-needed perspective on your nap problem.
7. Thinking the other parent "doesn't care" about some minor detail of parenting. He probably cares. Or he at least wants to be asked if he cares. Also, by taking on all the little decisions yourself (what brand of diapers to buy, how often to give the baby a bath), you're suddenly making yourself responsible for buying diapers and giving baths. Not wise.
8. Going more than a week without taking your baby outside. Everybody needs a change of scenery. It separates the real arguments from the petty ones.
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9. Not talking about sex. "When we talked to men and women about sex, the women were vague, not always sure when they had sex last. Men knew exactly," O'Neill says. But it's not just about some primal need: "They told us that it's how they felt accepted, validated, loved. The kissy-kissy, I love you-it's not the same. Nothing says, 'I don't love you,' like being rejected over and over." Women have to find out how their men feel about sex, and men need to say it. It's the best way to get back in the groove ("But not after just six weeks," says O'Neill. "That's ridiculous.")
10. Thinking about 1-9 when you could be holding hands watching the baby nap. Bliss.
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