Having a baby in the first year of your marriage is a crash course in survival.
It’s a tender goodbye to movie date nights and weekends sleeping in, to a blaring alarm of a sweet, angel-faced little baby who just happens to have a natural circadian rhythm of an owl. While there’s a lot to manage within your marriage and now with a baby, it’s also surprisingly a gift in itself. It’s an unforeseen opportunity to savor the simple moments, love your partner in a new way, and even accelerate the growth of your marriage. This crash course in marriage and new parenthood comes with a lot of good, even if it’s hard.
Here’s what you need to know in order to embrace the newness of marriage with your newest addition:
1. It Brings on a New Kind of Romance
The first year of marriage is lovingly dubbed the honeymoon period. Sometimes this lasts the whole year, or for some, only until the honeymoon is actually over. Either way, having a baby within the first year means date nights may be on hold. But fear not, because your romance will adapt. Acts of service will naturally take a front seat. There’s something real and romantic about your partner waking up to soothe the fussy baby while letting you sleep. Even if it’s not to that extent, giving each other a free 10 minutes to shower, for both of your sanity, is still a way to show love.
Your romance may not be as ‘exciting’ as you remember it to be, but it’ll grow deeper as you both serve one another.
2. It’s a Financial Wake up Call
What also comes with the marriage and baby is a clear shift of finances. Less pocketing of “for a rainy day” and more funneling into reliable car seats, life insurance, surprise doctor visits, and super organic food. Whether you and your partner have just combined finances or are still working on separate accounts, the baby will springboard you both into having real conversations about money very fast.
And if you’re like the majority, you could be left feeling stressed, frustrated, and discouraged. Learning how to merge two different people and their financial habits is not easy at all. You’ll have to negotiate on all of the big stuff (like college planning and a dream home), as well as all of the tiny details (like grocery budgets and whether or not you’re going to upgrade to the new iPhone). And inevitably, you’ll have to compromise on stroller systems and nursery decor and everything else. Trust me, it is hard. But budgeting your money well and putting it towards things you really need will keep both your home and your marriage tidier.
3. It’s a Lesson in Teamwork
Whether you’ve dated someone for a year or seven years, working as a team after saying “I do” is an integral part of making it work. Having a baby will only accelerate that necessary growth for your marriage. The whole feeling of how do we keep this human alive? is a bit less daunting when it’s mutually shared by both responsible parties. So, it makes sense, that many, if not all, baby-related tasks and moments become more enjoyable when they’re shared together. Someone has to do the dirty work (quite literally), so why not share?
Even in the hard moments, seeing your partner as a teammate will help minimize the mountains and grow your sense of gratefulness for each other.
4. It Could Be a Shock to Your Career Aspirations
Before our surprise baby came, we were guilty about underestimating how our son would affect our jobs. Would I continue in my career path or take an extended break? What about my partner’s job and stability? The first few months were confusing for both of us since we didn’t have a clear plan about what to do with our jobs. Since a baby changes, well, everything, I was surprised to discover that though I loved working, I really wanted to stay home. This came as a shock to my husband as well, who never would have imagined this shift in my heart.
Since we were new to both parenthood and marriage, we were thrown for a loop and were underprepared to face the implications on our careers. The division of work may shift or even completely change once the little one arrives. We figured it out, not without a few detours and arguments, but we had a foundation of good communication that supported us. It’s OK not to know, but you do have to have real conversations about what both of you want. And if at all possible, leaving yourself a mental cushion surrounding your career and planning ahead might help you relieve some of the headaches.
5. It Teaches You to Appreciate the Mundane Moments
It’s true, you’ll lose a lot of things, both obvious and not-so-obvious – like how every trip out requires an additional 45 minutes or how you can no longer go to your favorite restaurant because the changing area is nonexistent. In the midst of that, your Instagram and Facebook friends will constantly remind you that you’re definitely missing out.
But since the little things suddenly become big luxuries, you’ll savor them more. Sharing a glass of wine after successfully sleep training the baby, going to the same grocery store and watching the wonder in your little ones’ eyes, or even enjoying a sweet solo getaway where you cherish every free minute all become incredible, impactful moments. You could focus on what you’re missing, but enjoying the simple and sweet moments of the day with your new family is absolutely priceless.
6. It Creates Necessary Intention in Your Marriage
The baby will steal both of your hearts and time in an instant. The love for your baby will naturally grow with each smile, cuddle, and milestone. But the relationship between you and your partner can grow stagnant without you meaning it to. It’s easy to get caught up with all things related to the baby and forget to how to have a meaningful conversation with your partner.
Since you’re still in the first year, this time really is the foundation for the rest of your marriage. No pressure right?
Falling in love with the small, special moments and carving out intentional time to be the two of you is how you make space for your marriage with a new baby in tow. Find a show on Netflix and try to watch one episode before you both pass out. Build friendships with people who also prioritize their marriage. Splurge on the sitter and go on a date, even if it’s just for coffee. It’s not meant to be hard but it is supposed to be a process. It’s a process to love and commit to your partner even when there’s an overflow of laundry, breastmilk printed shirts, and poop-stained sheets. It’s a mess and magical – but you have to choose to see it that way. Together.