Parenting is incredibly difficult. What are some things you can do to fight for your marriage in the fog and chaos of parenting a new baby?
Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Doing both at the same time often feels impossible. And if you’ve had a new baby, you’ve probably just found that out.
One of the most common times for a marriage to break down is on the heels of a new baby. The lack of sleep, new relational dynamics, and midnight poop explosions (if you know, you know) can put even the strongest marriage to the test. If this feels difficult, it’s because it is. And that’s okay.
A healthy marriage leads to healthy parenting. So how do you fight for your marriage in the early years? As a husband and dad of two under two, here are a few simple things my wife and I are doing.
Give Truckloads of Grace
Frankly, I don’t know anyone who felt like they were at their best when they had a newborn. The moments are sweet, but sleep is also scarce. There is great joy and also great challenge.
Your spouse will need grace, as will you. Apologize quickly. Forgive fast. Listen more. Talk less. Some of the best wisdom from Scripture for any stage, including having a newborn, is from James:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. - James 1:19
Relearn your Spouse
A wise friend of mine, husband, and dad of four once told me, “Every time we have a new baby, I have to relearn my wife. I have to relearn what she needs and how to love her well.”
A new baby adds a new relational dynamic, new responsibilities, and new small tasks to do at home. I’ve personally felt my wife and I change on the heels of a new baby. I suspect this will continue to be at play as our kids grow up and hit new seasons of life. Pay careful attention to your spouse, what they need, and how to love them.
Swap Days for Moments
Before kids, you could spend days watching Netflix or travel whenever you wanted. Life looks a little different now. Your marriage is most important, but your kids are often the most urgent.
Newborns will require you to find new rhythms. Instead of days lounging, you might have to make the most of time together for a few minutes while your kid takes a nap. Instead of going out to dinner on a date, it might be a bowl of ice cream after the baby goes down. Instead of spontaneous intimacy, you might have to schedule it. Instead of week-long vacations in exotic places, you might only be able to sneak away for a night close by.
Catch the heart in all this: keep pursuing your spouse even though it might look different. Your marriage is worth it!
Give the Gift of a Break
Sometimes you need to look at your spouse and offer them a break. If you’re anything like me, I don’t like asking for help. There’s a humility to admitting you need 10 minutes to catch your breath. And there's wisdom in helping your spouse see that in themselves.
Paul, when writing to the church in Ephesus, wrote about marriage like this:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. - Ephesians 5:31-32
Our marriage, according to the Bible, is to be a picture of Christ and the Church, the Gospel. The Gospel required death to self to create new life. In the same way, marriage requires death to self to see new life grow. This couldn’t be more true than in the season of a newborn. And the results of this couldn’t be more worth it.
Hang in there, parents. You will sleep again!