It is one thing for a husband and a wife to say that they are ready to have a child and it is completely another to make adjustments on a daily basis so as to preserve the marriage, even if it is at a steady state.
If one were to plot the graph of the relationship between the husband and the wife before and after a child, it would obviously vary drastically from couple to couple but I suspect what might be common would be an inflection point which marks the birth of a child.
So what happens to a marriage after a child is born? I am sure each of us have very different experiences, though by and large, I would contend that most mothers tend to get impacted at multiple levels: physically, mentally and emotionally. It is tough to not be able to get a full night’s rest night after night after night; to keep track of the household chores; to prepare for the socialization that follows and of course, to have to deal with a new addition to the family who now needs your love and time, more than you sometimes believe you might be capable of giving. Added to that, dealing with the weight gain and the resultant self esteem issues coupled with the sometimes drastic decisions related to one’s career, do make for a phenomenal degree of change.
While the mother grappling with these changes, the father is perhaps battling with emotions of neglect and is still getting used to being second on the priority list. It is tough for the man, to suddenly realize that not being responsible is no longer a choice and that a lot more is now expected, of him, apart from also having to deal with the mood swings of the wife. Financial pressures could set in or perhaps just the thought might be disturbing enough. Additional people staying in the house might add to the chaos and the amount of change in everyone’s routine and expected set of tasks is quite the recipe for flaring tempers.
What does this do to a marriage? The entry of a child in a marriage puts the marriage through a very stringent test. It is important to acknowledge that the birth of a child is just the beginning of a permanent and big change and that any change requires people affected but it, to adapt. The time that the husband and wife could earlier take for granted now needs to be planned for, rationalized and sometimes, skipped. Being able to plan for alone time to spend as a couple and discovering new ways of having fun as a family are early signs of adapting to the change. Change is tough but brings with it new opportunities.
A child is born. A change has happened. The point is, are you up for dealing with it? The answer to this question can have a lasting impact on your happiness and that of those around you.
This post is a reproduction of my weekly column on Relationships written for The Goan (http://thegoan.net).