A few weeks ago I read a book that I can't recommend enough to any couple (married or unmarried) with a baby, or with a baby on the way. It's called Babyproofing your Marriage.
I think it's inevitable to hit some bumps in the road with your partner on your journey through new parenthood. Spencer and I weren't having any major issues, but I could tell we just needed some improvements here and there. I was feeling burnt out and needing more help from him, but I didn't want to nag, either. I just wanted him to know what I wanted, and do it without me asking. I wanted an equal partner, I wanted him to share the baby duties as much as possible. I wanted him to WANT the same things I wanted. I wanted to feel better about sex. And of course, starting out, I thought the reason I felt this way was 90% his fault, but I quickly learned I had much more responsibility in improving our situation than I could have imagined.
The best highlights for me:
-I learned that all women want an equal partner, especially when a baby is involved. And we all want men to do things and help without being asked. We want them to KNOW what we want and do it promptly. The problem is, no matter how intuitive our men seemed in the early days of our relationships, they can't read our minds. We expect them to be the doting lovers they were when they were courting us, but it is not realistic to expect that to last. Are we still the flirty, gentle speaking sweethearts we were when we first started dating our partners? Not likely! Long story short, if we want something done, we need to ASK. We need to get over the fact that men can't read our minds and just lay it out, plain and simple. If they refuse after telling them what we need from them, then that's a whole different issue, but at least you did your part, and can now work on his reluctance to help.
-I learned better ways to share baby duties, like taking turns instead of always suffering together. I always thought we should do everything together (wake up early, give bath, put to bed, etc) to make it fair, but this book taught me that SOMEONE should be getting sleep (OR me-time) while the other takes on baby duties, and switch off regularly. Schedule who does what when, agree on it, and stick to it INSTEAD of 'keeping score' and arguing over who deserves a break more. You both do!
-I learned that men and women WANT different things. For awhile, I was getting jealous and feeling bitter about Spencer's freedom, and the fact that he wasn't 'tied down' to our baby like I was. I wished he would want to 'suffer' with me if I couldn't make it out somewhere with him. He would always assure me that I could go out if I wanted to, and I would assure him it was impossible. After reading this book, I learned that men and women value different things, and the fact of the matter is that men value free time and 'man time' more than mommies do. I realized it really WAS my choice to stay home, because I valued staying close to November, and not disrupting our routines, naps, nigh times, etc, by going out. He can't expect me to want to go out and party with my friends, so I can't expect him NOT to. Instead we laid some ground rules so I could still feel supported when he goes out without me.
-I learned to feel better about sex. After having November, my sex drive got pretty low. I just didn't want it as often as he did. I felt bad for him, and I felt ashamed about myself. What was wrong with me?! I had tons of horny friends, and I couldn't join the club. This book enlightened me that it is 100% normal to have a significant decrease in sex drive post-baby. We are biologically hard wired to halt reproduction in order to nurture our new baby, where guts are hard wired to constantly procreate. We've come a long way as a species, but our hormones are still as caveman-like as ever. Knowing this lifted a HUGE weight off my shoulders. I was normal! It made me feel more comfortable about sex, and more eager. I also learned how men view sex, and why it is SO vital to maintaining a healthy relationship.
There were things in this book I had already heard before, but this book just really got through to me. And I began to appreciate Spencer more than ever before. I always knew he was amazing, but this book reminded me just how amazing he really is.
If your relationship is in trouble, this is a must-read, even if your partner isn't interested. You don't even have to tell him about it! While it would be best to have both partners working together, it only takes a change on one side to inspire change on the other, and then you will be headed in a better direction.
If your relationship is great, this book will make it even better! Who couldn't use MORE love?!