Babyproofing your marriage

"I remember sitting on the floor of our baby's room, in tears as I talked to a friend on the phone. She promised me this stage would pass. I didn't believe her at the time, and I couldn't imagine how that could happen, but I clung to her words with a desperate hope for another few sleepless weeks, and sure enough, she was right."
--Leah, married 3 years, 1 kid

The newborn stage is tough. The name of the game is survival. When you are going through it, it seems like it will never end. But it lasts just a few short months--less time than a semester in college--and things do get better. You won't have to get by on four hours of sleep for the rest of your life. Here are a few things we, and others, have learned (the hard way) that might help you ride out the storm together.

It's not the time for a Relationship 101! Although there are plenty of arguments in the first couple of months, most can be attributed to hormones, sleep deprivation, and general baby shock. Some people panic during this period. We have a friend who, when their first child was five weeks old, told her husband that they needed counseling. What they needed was a good night's sleep. You are not a couple at this time. You are two people treading water. Until you're getting an eight-hour block of shuteye for two consecutive months, you shouldn't even think of analyzing your relationship. Neither of you are capable of coherent thought. By all means shout, tell each other how you feel, and/or hurl bottles at each other, but remember that the way you feel now will likely pass.


Call a time-out. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. One of the great advantages of having more than one child is that we can avoid some of the minefields we stepped in the first time around. On the eve of the arrival of their third child, Stacie and Ross called a time-out on their relationship for three months. They told each other, "OK, let's get our game faces on. Let's apologize in advance for all the crazy things we're going to say to each other. We'll take a time-out and know that our true selves will resurface in three months."

It's the first thing to go when we're stretched to the limit. But it is pretty funny--or at least it will be when it's all over. We have two choices when the baby pukes on our last clean T-shirt--laugh or cry. Given how much crying has likely taken place already, why not give laughter a shot? Some favorite funny moments people shared with us:

"A few weeks after the baby was born, I ventured out to buy a pizza. I returned an hour later with no pizza and no idea why I'd left the house in the first place."

"One time I fell asleep with the stove burners on while sterilizing bottles. I awoke God knows how much later to the smell of burning plastic and a hazy smoke filling the house. I grabbed the baby and ran to sit in the car while we waited for the fire department. The really funny part was when I did the same thing again two weeks later."

"One night I dreamed the baby was in bed with us, but had fallen out. I awoke in a panic and started ripping the sheets off the bed looking for her until my husband wearily pointed out she was sound asleep in her crib in the other room."

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