By Kelsey on July 24, 2012 11

Marriage With a Baby

“When you have a baby, you set off an explosion in your marriage, and when the dust settles, your marriage is different from what it was. Not better, necessarily; not worse, necessarily; but different.”
–Nora Ephron

This is an update to Eric’s post on how having a newborn affects our marriage. A lot of you left awesome comments on that post, so thank you!

Not to be vain, but we write a blog about intentional marriage. We get along really well. Kind of freakishly well. So, I didn’t think we’d struggle as much as we did when Rooney arrived.

The truth? My maternity leave was ROUGH on us. Almost daily we had a blip. And by blip I mean argument. Whether it was because Eric didn’t walk in the door and directly come sit by me on the couch to ask how my day was, or because I thought it should be his turn to feed her since I just did the last five times, or because he wanted to talk about something that wasn’t about the baby, or because Rooney was crying and we didn’t know how to make it stop. (That can seriously make you crazy.)

I was pretty sure I had the harder job of staying at home all day with a baby who was entirely dependent.

And he was working hard, too. He would get up with me to feed her during the night, and then wasn’t able to nap during the day. He had to bring home the bacon instead of bond with our daughter.

We didn’t know how to parent as a team; how to fit this little thing into our marriage.

We were each giving all that we had, and we were empty and irritable.

Our true colors came out in those moments.

Adding a baby to your family is a big change. And it’s easy to be distracted by the baby or the laundry or the dishes and not pay attention to your spouse and what he or she needs.

I just want to say…give it time. Get through it one day at a time, and at some point you will find yourself on the other side. Let things settle and know there will be an adjustment period. I’m wondering if it will take an entire year for us to feel like we’ve got the hang of it. Sure, it has already gotten a lot better. But it’s not like it was before Rooney. (Mini-success: date night feels more like it used to!)

Our experience made it so clear to me how important it was for us to have a strong foundation BEFORE we introduced a baby. To have years of trust and loyalty built up. Because when we mess up, I know that we’re fine. I don’t dwell on it. Yes, it makes me sad, but I can’t let it ruin my day; there is no time for that. Our daughter needs us to pull it together. So we always circle back and apologize and forgive. We do it in front of Rooney. I don’t think you can show your children too early what a strong marriage looks like.

How We Serve Each Other Now

  • We trade night duty every other night. This means that on your night, the monitor is on your nightstand and you get up if she cries before her official wake-up time. (We typically get her up together in the morning.)
  • We encourage each other to have alone time and to exercise, and watch Rooney while the other one is out.
  • We each get one weekend morning to sleep in.
  • Eric let me pick the Redbox movie the other night because he knew I needed a little romance in my life. (The Vow is so good!)
  • When one of us is running low on patience or feeling down, the other one steps in.

Our New Routines

  • We eat dinner after she goes to bed, so we can make the most of our time with Rooney and then focus on each other as we eat.
  • We’re watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix. We needed something that we were both interested in that we can connect on. To laugh together and cry together. We love that show!
  • We carpool to work, and use that time to connect. We stop by each other’s desks during the day more often and eat lunch together. And we just set up iChat on our computers so we can talk throughout the day. It kind of feels like college again!
  • We created a date night envelope so we can go out together at least once a month.

How do you and your spouse connect with young children at home?


Similar posts on other blogs that I enjoyed:


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I love my husband, my daughter and the Internet.

  1. This is such a great post! It really hits home for me, because my husband and I have to work hard like you two do at staying connected. It’s so easy to let all the little day-to-day things get in the way.

  2. I never really thought about it before, but with having the twins first, we had to both get up for every feeding, diaper change, etc so there wasn’t time for us to think about ‘unfairness.’ Occasionally with Mylie I would think I was doing everything, but I had to remind myself of my choice to breastfeed so I HAD to do every feeding. I also had 10 weeks off of work plus the summer while Brandon went back to work so I couldn’t complain much there, and plus when I had just Mylie he usually had the other two. No matter what, though, it takes time to get into a routine and because the babies change so quickly, that routine is ever-changing, which can be frustrating. You guys are doing a wonderful job…..just breathe.

  3. this is SUCH a great post!! i agree that it is soo important to have a great foundation before having a baby! marv and i went through the same struggles as you guys. since we both work now, when we get home, we bathe A together and then alternate the night feeding since that’s the only alone time we get to spend w/ the baby all weekday!!

  4. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

    it’s turned out to be a perfect motto for life in general!

  5. These are good reminders. We just had a great family vacation where we were together 24/7 for a week, but it took its toll. I keep telling my husband that we need a date night but I don’t think he fully understands why. Brynn is almost 3 now and it adds a whole other element when you have to be “on” as a parent pretty much every waking moment. Toddlers are very verbally demanding and she doesn’t go to sleep til close to 9. By that time of night, I have little energy for much of anything “adult”. I have yet to find a way to get that me-time I need without feeling like I’m being selfish or not putting my family first, but I know I need it soon because I am one craaaanky mom and wife lately!!! :\

    • i totally hear you! we went on vacation a couple weeks ago and it wore me out! i usually do ok, but when i reach a certain point i just can’t do it anymore! and i need a break!! i know i’m there when i get frustrated easily, and then i feel guilty about that.

      you should leave brynn with us some night and go on a date with justin! (i’m serious! we need toddler practice!)

  6. How great to be working toward a new happy normal!
    Our 1st child came about 18mo after we met (I was 5.5mo pregnant when we got married), so we didn’t have a lot of couple time before we became a family. I hesitate to say I’d change anything but if I could go back, I think it’d have made things easier if we had either a) waited to start a family or b) not moved away from all of our friends and family. But I’m not sure if we’d end up in this same great place if we skipped over all of those challenges.

  7. Love this! We are re-learning everything about having a baby. We don’t remember too much of the first few months of the triplets’ lives, due to lack of sleep, so this is new to us. Tommy gets sad that he can’t help more with Lola since I am nursing and has actually said that he thinks the triplets were easier!!!!!! because they are so scheduled. We just try to save 8-10 at night for us, even though we have the baby. We also encourage each other to go out and do things they love…whatever it may be. It gets easier. :-)

  8. My husband and I have a date night every once in a while. It’s tough now that my daughter is older (21 months) and going through a seperation anxiety phase. Saying good bye to her every morning is exhausting and I don’t want to do it again on the weekends very often. So we try to find things to do as a family, too. Bike rides to the beach, visiting the zoo, going to for breakfast, etc. And then after she’s asleep we can watch a movie together, or talk.

    We also take turns watching her while the other gets some alone time and take turns tending to her in the middle of the night. Luckily, she sleeps in, so we all get to stay in bed until 8 on the weekends : ).

  9. I love your night duty trade. As soon as Everett is sleeping in his own room, we are definitely copying that idea!

  10. Great post! I’m anxious to see how my husband and I’s relationship will be in just a few short months, but your experience helps. You like Friday Night Lights? My bro was a camera man on that show, and I recently hung out with the entire cast at their celebrity golf tourney. Got to hang out with Kyle Chandler, which was awesome…he’s super nice in person!

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