Having a baby truly is a blessing, especially if you’re in a loving, stable relationship. But if you think adding a person - especially one who requires all your time and attention - to your family won’t change your life, you’re kidding yourself. As a newlywed, you already know that the commitment of marriage changes everything. Multiply that by ten, and you’ll understand how much will change when baby arrives.
You and your spouse will lose sleep for least another 18 years, have more pressure and responsibility than ever before, lose every ounce of privacy you have, and experience a whole new kind of love that will enrich your lives in ways you never thought possible. Still, it will turn you life upside down a few times over. Here are some of the ways that having a baby will affect your marriage:
You’ll snap at each other more than usual.
Babies cry during the night and parents – often mothers – have to get up to feed and soothe them. In the really early stages, some doctors will actually have you wake up the baby for feedings. Your sleeping patterns will be completely thrown off. Some babies grow out of this stage quickly, and others never do. You have no idea what you’re going to get, so it’s best to be prepared for either scenario.
For a while at least, you’ll be living on less sleep, which will likely make you cranky and irritable. That’s why you’ll snap at each other more often. It’s nothing personal. It’s just what happens when you get little or no rest.
You and your spouse will have to work on your team skills.
At some point, probably in the early days of your baby’s life, he or she will be fussy and you’ll be at a loss for what to do. The two of you might have the urge to cry and scream along with the baby. But sooner or later, you’ll have to pull together to come up with a solution – something such as singing a song that does the trick, calling grandma or the doctor for advice, or letting baby cry himself to sleep.
Newlywed parents might have other more serious problems that bring them together. Some women experience post-partum depression, which requires professional help from the medical community and support from your spouse. (Get more information on postpartum depression from About.com's Depression Expert.) Other medical problems of the mother or baby might also require extra care and attention. Sticking together will make things easier on both of you – and your baby.
You'll be keeping score.
One of the changes that no one talks about is how much mothers and fathers turn on each other when baby arrives. It's not out and out war or anything like that (at least not usually). But it can be somewhat tense. Suddenly, mom is noticing that she has to rock baby on her hip while stirring soup for dinner and talking to the plumber on the phone about the leaky faucet while dad is watching the big game from the comfort of his recliner. Even though dad fed the baby an hour ago while mom took a shower, mom might still feel like the brunt of the responsibility is falling on her shoulders. So, she is starting to get resentful. Rather than tell dad about it. She gripes to her girlfriend, lets the anger fester, and starts to stress out. Next thing you know it has the potential to become that war or to divide the couple forever. Dads can do a lot to nip this in the bud. On this site, you dads can find help in A Day in the Life of a Wife, which gives you an idea of what a typical wife with a kid experiences on a daily basis, and How to Support Your Wife after the Baby, which clues you into how you can help to keep your marriage in check.
You and your spouse will stretch dollars like never before.
The thought of paying for formula, food, diapers, class trips, clothes, and college will keep you up at night when the baby doesn’t. Staying in more and clipping coupons will become second nature. You’ll likely have the urge to start a savings account for the little one. Go with that! (In a story about whether to have a second baby, you can find out about the estimated costs of raising a child nowadays, and you can get tips from 25 Ways Newlyweds Can Save Money.)
You’ll fall in love with your spouse again.
Maybe the baby will have your husband’s nose or your wife’s eyes. Or the baby will be pensive like dad or happy like mom. The way the baby melds the best of both of you will help you remember what made you fall in love with each other in the first place. You’ll be even more smitten the first time you catch your spouse bonding with baby – baby clutching dad’s finger in his sleep or giggling at mom. And your shared love for the little one will make you closer and give you more motivation than ever to make your relationship work well for years to come.