It’s no secret that having a baby changes your life. Let’s be honest. Most of us expect life to be different and really don’t think too much of it, until reality sets in. You’ve never felt such a deep encompassing love for these tiny humans you’ve brought into the world and at the same time, you never thought a person could survive on such little sleep. You’re busier than you could have ever imagined and some days it’s a task just to have a shower. The feeding, cuddling, expressing breast milk, washing, cooking, cleaning, it’s a lot.
All well-intentioned people will tell you to make sure you have some ‘me’ time. I take my hat off to mums who manage this. It is important. However, it just doesn’t seem like a priority with everything else going on.
So, why is it important for mums to take a regular breather?
Well, have you heard the saying a happy wife means a happy life? Feminists will snort at this, but there’s something in there that could be the key to a peaceful marriage.
I’m not saying that flowers and chocolates from your spouse will make all your issues disappear, what I am saying is that with the enormous pressures mothers face today we need to give ourselves permission to be pampered.
Running On Empty
You see, if your tank is running on empty all the time, and simply getting through the day is a mammoth task it’s clear that your couple relationship will take a hit.
Most women I talk to who are in the first few years with multiples say they unintentionally push their husbands away because they are completely depleted by the end of the day and any attempt at physical intimacy is off the table.
I hear comments such as:
“I’ve been touched all day and the last thing I want after I put the kids to bed is another pair of hands crawling all over me.”
“We didn’t make our relationship a priority so when we finally went out for dinner alone we had nothing to talk about.”
“After experiencing a traumatic pregnancy and birth our relationship took a hit and all our issue in the years that followed led back to that time.”
“He just doesn’t understand me and what I’m going through.”
John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman from the Gottman Institute say, “Part of the problem is that we think becoming parents shouldn’t be a big deal.”
Most of you might have undergone classes to prepare yourself for marriage, been diligent when it came to antenatal classes, preparing the nursery, stocking the nappy/diaper bag but I’m going to guess that classes to prepare your relationship for bringing babies home wasn’t on your to-do list.
If you’re pregnant now, the Bringing Baby Home Program with the Gottman Institute is a great place to start.
If your babies are already home, there are some important things you can do to ensure your relationship stays on track.
🌟Be aware of not putting your baby/ies first and think of your couple bond as the strongest link. Then integrate your babies into that bond. Your babies are a top priority; however, your relationship is too! (This is, of course, difficult when you have multiples).
🌟Understanding – your spouse needs to understand that you are tired, but you need to understand that he needs to be included. Allow your husband to do things, even if he doesn’t do it well. Does it really matter if he puts the nappy on wrong? Or stack the dishes differently?
🌟Don’t discuss problems at mealtimes. Fights during meals gives us indigestion and studies have shown this can cause eating disorders in children later on down the track.
🌟Look out for warning signs that indicate your relationship is headed for crisis point. What this means is that recognising if you’re a bit stuck or unhappy when there’s still warmth and love between you. If the unhappiness is left to go on for too long that warmth and love will soon be replaced by hate and resentment and then there’s nothing left to work with.
Trouble is Brewing
If you find you’re following the same dysfunctional pattern time-and-time again, that’s a warning sign that your marriage is at Crisis Point or Grid Lock.
If this is where you are, you need to understand that two-thirds of the issues couple have are NOT resolvable, while the remaining ARE resolvable. Pretty grim? No, what this simply means is that you need to resolve your resolvable issues and manage the rest.
John Gottman’s advice is, “The secret to managing conflicts for new parents is to make conflicts constructive not destructive. Constructive means respectful, not disrespectful, gentle not critical, and taking responsibility for our part and not being defensive.”
Robert Hilliar is a divorce expert, and in his book, Why Divorce Doesn’t Work he says often partners try to tough it out by doing nothing in the hope that their problems may just go away. Invariably, the problems stay put, which condemns the relationship to weeks or even years of going nowhere.
So, constructive, respectful, and gentle communication is the key.
Now, is this always possible? Absolutely not. As I mentioned earlier, you’re dealing with sleep deprivation, overstimulation, and adjusting to parenthood.
So, try these tips:
🌟Have a signal or word you can use that lets your partner know you’re flooded/overwhelmed and need to finish the discussion later.
🌟Take regular breaks to self-soothe before the discussion turns from respectful to disrespectful.
🌟Set aside a regular pamper time so you have some ‘me’ time to look forward to.
For a more in-depth look at ways to create a healthy couple relationship whilst expecting multiples, check out the chapter on Healthy Relationships in the book Double Happiness Multiplied – What you Need to Know About Having Twins, Triplets, & Quads.