I don’t care if you’re the happiest couple that ever walked the earth, the moment you have a baby together, there will be times when you completely lose your shit on each other. It can’t be avoided. There is something about the stress of caring for a helpless being (besides your spouse), mixed with lack of sleep and the hellfire of postpartum hormones, which will make you take it out on one another in the most unexpected ways.
Here is just some of the stupid shit that new parents fight about:
1. The Temperature. Did I mention that after a baby, women’s hormones are out of whack? We will find ourselves covered in sweat when it’s 60 degrees. Sometimes we’re shivering when it’s 80. Just trust me that whichever person did not birth a baby just needs to roll with whatever temperature mom needs it to be. Put on a jacket and socks if you’re cold, or take off as many clothes as you can if you’re hot, but if you value peace in your house do not touch the thermostat. You’ve been warned.
2. Sleep. Like perfectly civilized nations can find themselves at war over finite resources, a perfectly happy couple will straight up battle over sleep. Who gets more of it? Who had to wake up a million times? Who snores so loud that the other person’s sleep doesn’t count? You will fight about the quantity and the quality of sleep, and you will end up negotiating through barter systems you never knew existed. A blowjob for a nap? Cooking dinner in exchange for sleeping in? Whatever you have to do to keep the peace because, if you let yourselves, you could argue about this one for the next 10 years or so.
3. Work. You will inevitably have the argument about who works harder. It goes hand-in-hand with the sleep argument, because whoever has the hardest job thinks they have the better case for needing more sleep. It’s pointless though because you’re both probably busting your asses. But that won’t stop you from arguing about it.
4. Sex. One of you will want it, and the other probably won’t. Spoiler alert: The one who just had their junk destroyed through childbearing/birth/operation, the same one with the leaking boobs, probably isn’t in the mood. Women need time and space before sex is even on the radar again. So grab some lotion, or take some extra time in the shower. Do whatever it is you need to do so that this isn’t an argument you have. Real men respect a woman’s space while she gets to a place where she’s ready. Let her take the lead, and she’ll come around when she’s ready. (See what I did there?)
5. Driving. Maybe you (and/or your spouse) were a backseat driver before you had kids; maybe you weren’t. It doesn’t matter, because you definitely will be once there is a baby in your car. Suddenly you’re yelling at one another about driving too fast, merging too late, and running that yellow light. Your precious new cargo really ups the ante for how much grief you are willing to give your partner for all the things they do incorrectly behind the wheel. And, for the love of God, yes, you have to use your blinker.
6. Lack of Consideration. Cooking fish in a kitchen that’s not properly ventilated. Leaving wet towels on the floor or, worse, the bed. Bringing food to your partner, but leaving it just slightly out of reach. Washing all of the dishes except the pots and pans. These may not be things that you would typically bring up with your spouse, let alone argue about. But somehow, under the unique conditions of caring for a newborn, they now seem reasonable grounds for divorce. Think about how you can make your life easier for your spouse, and you’ll all be better off in the long run.
The moral of this story is that fights are inevitable. But with any luck, the stress of a new baby and the lack of sleep will only feel like a lap or two in the long-distance marathon that is your partnership together. Fight away, but try to keep some perspective and a sense of humor about it. And be sure to keep track of all the make-up sex you owe one another, later down the line.
© 2016 Joanna McClanahan, as first published on Scary Mommy