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Dear New Mama Whose Marriage Is on the Rocks

Written by Tiffany H

The baby’s crying for the 11th time this hour. It’s 80 degrees outside and the air blowing through the open kitchen window of your 2nd floor apartment does nothing to help the heat. Supper is only 1/2 done, there’s still veggies to cut up and steam, chicken to flip on the stove, boiled blue potatoes from the CSA getting cold waiting for butter, salt and parsley. The counters are a mess, dishes and utensils piled high next to the sink. You couldn’t decide whether to finish folding clothes, scrub the bathroom, pick up the bedroom, shower or sleep during the 25 minute nap baby took, so you tried to do all of it (except sleep) and now you’re behind on supper prep. You’re still healing from the marathon of labor you went through 4 weeks ago and not getting more than 2 hours of straight sleep at night. And hubby is 10 minutes late from work and counting.

Thinking of your husband puts a frown on your face. You mentally rehash how all through the night he sleeps soundly turned away from you on his side of the bed while you are trying to calm this baby who only sleeps if she’s swaddled and only then after nursing, bouncing and shushing. Sometimes when you finally get her to drift off again, you sit on the edge of the bed and cry your eyes out. The loneliness is overwhelming and it drives the wedge between you deeper.

And you know what? Your unsuspecting husband, who was late because he was filling the tank for the week and who didn’t call because he doesn’t have reception on that route home, has no idea. He thinks everything is fine.

This is only one scenario of what a new mama’s life looks like. Marriage is hard enough on it’s own, let alone adding a screaming, pooping, spitting up, demanding, sweet baby to the mix. Which then adds hormones, and exhaustion, and emotions you’ve never felt quite like this before.

I still get a lump in my throat thinking about this. I remember our first weeks and months learning how to live and function with a brand new human, who has a little bit of each of us in him. It was the rawest of times. The depth of love and frustration and compassion and loneliness and heartbreak and adoration I felt was mind-numbingly thrilling and something far, far beyond overwhelming – in such good and bad ways. Nothing anyone told me could have prepared me for what I actually felt.

So my humble advice to you right now is – breathe. Be still. Close your eyes, standing right there in the kitchen, and imagine wrapping up all those suffocating feelings into a tight little ball, standing on the shoreline of someplace gorgeous and throwing it miles away from you. Then sit down on the beach and listen to the water slapping the shore, feel the coolness of the sand under your feet and the breeze on your face. And then smile, whether you feel like it yet or not. And remember how good God has been to you. Now instead of one, you have TWO precious, amazing human beings to love. I know the baby cries and poops through diapers and spits up all over you in the worst moments, but she is learning every moment that mommy responds lovingly to her needs and that you are the most important person in her life. And hubby is a man, he doesn’t feel what you feel, he doesn’t think the way you do and he certainly can’t read your mind. But he’s been with you through thick and thin. And he makes you smile and laugh and he hugs you when you ask him to (because he doesn’t automatically know to do that).

Now I want you to reread that situation above. Supper is half done on the stove. Dishes everywhere, baby crying, hubby late. What can you do differently? Be anxious for nothing. Pray. Ask God earnestly to calm your frazzled nerves and help you prioritize. Smile and raise your hands to the ceiling in that lovely little old apartment He gave you and thank Him for your husband who works hard to support you and that precious new little one. Thank Him for the roof and food and your ability to get so much done on so little rest. Thank Him for the cuddles you get from that sweet baby, and then throw the veggies in a steamer basket and head out to the living room where you can nurse and soak up more baby love.

Does that fix the things you feel are driving a wedge between you and Hubby? Probably not, but it just might. Often, a lot of times when I think something is so terrible and doing me wrong, if I look at it in a different light, it suddenly becomes a totally different picture. God can change your husband, but even more importantly, He can change YOU.

Don’t give up on your marriage. God designed it and He designed the family to have a mom and a dad working together, loving each other, teaching the kids how to live and succeed in life and relationships because they saw a strong, happy, Godly union in the parents that they will someday hold to the highest esteem. God doesn’t make mistakes and He certainly knows best how to make something the way it needs to be. Sometimes we have to go through rough patches to get there.

My prayer for you, Friend, is that you can take a step back and look at your situation from different eyes. Yes, you might not be getting the help you feel you need, but what IS he doing for you? Does he come right in and take the baby off your hands, playing with and lighting up to see the beautiful creation you made together? Does he bring home a paycheck and want you to be able to stay home with the baby? FIND the things your husband does that no one else has ever done for you. STOP comparing him to other husbands, or your mother, or what your mother thinks he SHOULD be or be doing. STOP. You will lose sight of the reasons you loved each other to begin with, and head down the dark, lonely road of bitterness. I have seen marriages in that state. They are dead, truly, to all who look on.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Hebrews 12:14-15

Not only do you both deserve a happy marriage, but your kids deserve to SEE a happy marriage. Let’s do our parts as wives to make it as happy as can be. 🙂 Ok? Start by trying to be very deliberate in noticing the good your hubby does. Not only notice, but appreciate it. Smile and thank him, and tell him how important he is to you and your little family. Watch God work in your marriage, through you! <3

Share your marriage successes below, and any advice you would have for new parents!

About the author

Tiffany H

Hi! I'm Tiffany, mama to the handsomest little boy and sweetest little girl, and wife to the best man ever. I love my Savior, being a housewife, mama and personal 'bakist' to the hubby, living naturally, and making real food taste yummy. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my crazy, happy life. Join me on the journey, let's get to know each other!

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  • So good, Tiffany! I remember those days well, and you said it best when you said, “God can change your husband, but even more importantly, He can change YOU.” The key for my marriage (35+ years!) has been this very thing–relying on God to shape me and mold me into the wife and mom He created me to be. Stopping by from Grace Girls–happy to meet you! 🙂
    p.s. Hang in there, mama!

    • Aww, Vickie, you made my day. I love hearing from other wives and mamas who recognize the work He still has to do in US, and most especially the wise women ahead of me! <3 So happy to meet you, too, sweet Mama!

  • Great post! Painting two of the most challenging aspects of life (marriage and having kids) in nothing but positive feel-good tones doesn’t do anyone any favors – so I appreciate your heart felt realism. It seems that the more worthwhile something in this life is, the more challenging it is. I’m pretty sure the two are directly proportional.

    Good points on focusing on the positives and looking at the negatives with the realization that your spouse may not even be aware that they’ve caused you to stumble. As cliche as it is, that’s why communication is so important. Letting each other know what your most pressing needs are and how you can help one another meet those needs is so important. I’ve found that two books in particular are extremely helpful with this process. The first is ‘The Five Love Languages’, and the second is ‘Love and Respect’.

    I’m going to bust out the 80/20 rule yet again! Rather than focusing on meeting 100% of one another’s needs (which may be unrealistic and could actually strain the relationship), we should first focus on meeting the top 20% of one another’s needs, which will produce 80% of our spouse’s fulfillment in the relationship. Once we’ve done a stellar job of knocking that 20% out of the park, we can work on the remaining 80% – realizing that we’ll probably never achieve 100% and that’s perfectly fine; because we’re acing the most important 20%. ‘The Five Love Languages’ and ‘Love and Respect’ can help couples clearly identify and articulate what their 20% is. Men are generally simpler than women; and sex, food, and being respected are likely going to comprise the 20% for most men. I’m not even going to guess what the average woman’s 20% is, because that would be foolish. 😉

    • Aww thanks, Steve! I agree 100% – the two are directly proportional. I can seriously say that having kids is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life, but right along side it, one of the most worthwhile, fulfilling, precious things. Same with marriage.

      I’ve been shocked numerous times in my almost 5 years of marriage when Ryan uses the line, “I can’t read your mind”. Seriously?! You should have that so down by now! 😉 Nope, and I have a feeling at 50 years he’s still not going to have that down. Lol. So I try to remind other wives that their husbands don’t know how to pick up that useful skill either. I’m pretty certain you aren’t one of the gifted ones in that area either? 😉

      I like your marriage musings and I’m sure you are the perfect imperfect spouse for your lovely wife. I will have to look into those books, and into the 80/20 rule idea. I also agree men are simpler, and that you are one of the smartest men I know for understanding how foolish it would be to speculate on the feminine side of it. 😉

      Thanks for the good conversation and commentary, Steve. It’s always so good to hear other perspectives!