A few months ago, my husband and I were sitting in a restaurant with a close friend, catching up over dinner. He asked us how having kids had affected our marriage, and I was not prepared for what was about to follow.
My husband opened up about the general tediousness of raising twins which is exhausting in and of itself, but piled on top of that was his being in graduate school full-time while trying to juggle student-life, parent-life, and marriage-life all at the same time.
He described the emotional strain he felt when coming home because he didn’t know what kind of mood I would be in since it was dependent on how the twins behaved that day.
He explained the weight on his shoulders from seeing me so miserable as a new mother, especially in contrast to how I used to be as an independent working woman.
He expressed his feelings of sadness and helplessness because he didn’t know how to make me feel better in the situation I was in.
Nothing had prepared us for the way having kids would affect me, and thus nothing had prepared my husband for dealing with his happy successful wife becoming a mother with postpartum anxiety and depression.
As he expressed his feelings to our friend, tears streamed relentlessly down my face because while I knew he was going through a lot, I had no idea how deeply my condition was affecting him as well. This was all news to me and the last thing I wanted to be was an extra weight on his shoulders; I certainly didn’t want to be a factor of any negative or difficult feelings he was having.
Since the restaurant was pretty dark, neither my husband nor our friend saw me crying, so I kept this to myself but was seriously affected by and depressed about it for several days.
A few days later, my husband asked how I was doing and I didn’t want to talk about it then since he had schoolwork to do, but I had been bottling it up and it was definitely bubbling to the surface. Between uncontrollable sobs and gasps for air, I expressed my sorrow for unintentionally contributing to his stress.
I had a therapy session scheduled for a few days later so I asked my husband if he would be open to going with me, and he happily said yes.
Opening all of this to my therapist was so needed, not necessarily because we absolutely had to have her there, but because it was scheduled time away from home that was set aside to talk about us. We both opened up about our feelings about parenthood, and quickly realized that it had been such a long time since we spent quality time together just talking to each other.
My therapist first told me that it was unrealistic for me to not want to be a factor of any negative feelings or stress my husband may have, and that I was being too hard on myself, again.
She then told us we really needed to do whatever it took to schedule date nights again because it was imperative to our marriage, to which we both agreed. But it had been so long since we had a date night that one of our questions to her was, “What are we going to talk about on our date?”
Unbelievable. I never thought our marriage would get to this point.
As we moved forward with the general day-to-day busyness of life, I realized that maintaining a marriage after having kids was so much harder than maintaining a marriage without kids.
Throw having twins, full-time schooling, living far away from family, and postpartum issues in the mix, and it feels damn-near impossible.
Everyone alway talks about how having kids completely changes your life, but they just leave it at that. I wish people would be more open and honest about the details so others can not only be more mentally prepared for what’s about to come, but maybe even mentored and coached throughout the process.
Be the first to know about new blogposts, insightful reads, favorite things & more
in just a couple emails per month. Let's set those expectations low HAHA!