How to have a baby and not get divorced: a new format of relationships

Family 2023

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How to have a baby and not get divorced: a new format of relationships
How to have a baby and not get divorced: a new format of relationships

No matter how touching couples with children look in advertising photos, the statistics are inexorable: most divorces occur in the first year of a child's life. Is there any way to stay together when the family boat is so stormy? Men, don't switch.

They gave birth to a child. And now how not to get divorced?
They gave birth to a child. And now how not to get divorced?

Yulia's story (name changed)

“When I started living with my future husband, I could not imagine that the appearance of a child would change him so dramatically. The future husband almost pinned me to the wall, talking about how he wants children - at least three, and preferably five.

The first bell rang after I found out I was pregnant. A banal failure of contraception, it happens. When I informed my future husband that I was expecting a child, he looked at me seriously and asked: “Is this definitely mine?” In a good way, I would have already turned around and left, but I was scared. 20 years old (future husband 28), pregnant, strange city, no one around. We got married in April, and in the summer I had a baby.

Six blocks from the hospital to the house. The first months after discharge, I took care of my daughter alone. Her husband practically did not approach her - except to look at the sleeping woman. There was no question of helping with bathing, changing a diaper or changing clothes: he answered all requests that this was a woman’s business, and he was a man and should earn money for the family.

There was practically no money, by the way, and I had to find a part-time job very quickly, so that I could at least have enough for diapers and other little things. But there were nit-picking in my address: I didn’t have time to hang up the laundry, I didn’t cook dinner, I didn’t clean the house, I didn’t iron my shirt. I really didn’t have time to do all the things: my daughter constantly hung on her chest, she didn’t gain weight well. In rare hours I slept with her so as not to be completely a somnambulist. And I also had grocery shopping trips - with a baby, that's another quest. Against the backdrop of endless showdowns, insomnia and hassle, I almost ran out of milk.

Once I asked my husband to go to the pharmacy for a mixture - my husband threw me 50 rubles and said: "The pharmacy is around the corner." As soon as the child was three years old, she sent her to kindergarten and went full-time. Two years later we parted ways. Now my daughter is 8 years old. The ex-husband does not pay alimony, does not participate in her life, is not interested in grades and successes at school and beyond. In rare meetings, he takes her with him to visit friends and there he tells what a diligent father he is, how much he has done and is doing for his child, how he tries to be the best dad.”

Not getting divorced is not an end in itself

Dear editors have asked me to issue instructions for a couple who have a child, and now they need not to go crazy in the first few years. Read about it in my new book "No way", as they say. But still, I will try, because the father of my second child and I are still together (and the child is going through the most difficult age - the “crisis of three years”, besides, he is suspected of hyperactivity) and almost did not kill each other. Killed, but not in the final sense.

If you realize that you will simply be better off separately than together, take steps towards parting, this is also a good decision. When it comes to partner violence (physical, sexual, psychological, economic, reproductive, and so on), the outcome is obvious - you need to save yourself. We are talking about 99.9% of women, because gender-based violence is a harsh reality in almost any country, ours is no exception. But let's say that everything is fine in your couple (yes, it also happens, not only on Instagram), and you think that you are ready to share your love with someone else: a child or several children. Let's see what awaits you and how to be ready for it.

You are just planning a baby

I am aware that this text will be read mainly by women, because in our still patriarchal society this is part of their gender socialization: "responsible for relationships." But in an ideal world, I would like this text to be read by men, future fathers.

Because a woman, whether she wants it or not, and without any instructions, in most cases, will not go anywhere from parental duties - this is what she has been trained for since childhood: “do not sit in the cold, you will give birth”, “do not carry burdens, you will give birth”, “well, why did you burst into tears, does it hurt? and how are you going to give birth?”, They buy her dolls and baby dolls, strollers and other maternal things, the game of “daughters-mothers” that is obligatory for all girls or the obligation to sit with the younger children in the family. It is her "natural destiny" to become a mother.

By the way, if you don't want to have kids, that's perfectly fine. The planet is very overpopulated, and our state must still learn how to take care of the existing people. It makes sense to have children only if you really consider motherhood a great joy, and the potential father of a child considers fatherhood to be the same joy. By and large, there is no point in having children other than for love.

So what you need to know in advance

Even if you really, really want children, you will most likely have to oh so hard with them. No, really, it will be VERY HARD. Sometimes you will feel like you have made a terrible mistake that cannot be corrected. And that's okay. It's only natural to get tired of even the things you love, like life.

Children, especially very young ones, are round-the-clock work, without days off and holidays, as a rule, only for women, but in a fair world (the world that we are going to talk about now, the world of equal partnership, in where both parents can be called equally included) and dad and mom share the hardships and joys of parenthood equally.

"I've been at work all day like an ox, I need to rest, I actually have to do this job again tomorrow!" - a male (usually) voice is heard. This man is right. He really needs rest, like any living person. Only there is a second truth: taking care of a baby is also hard work, sucking all the juices out, like a Dementor from Harry Potter. And mothers, as a rule, do not have the slightest opportunity to pause their work. Drink tea (hot, and not at midnight forgotten morning), go with colleagues for a smoke break, play solitaire while the boss does not see. In addition, it is unlikely that your boss in the office constantly yells at you a little something wrong, without really explaining what he doesn’t like (and children do this, yes). It drains.

You probably don't have to change dirty diapers for your clients (unless you're a nurse). It is unlikely that at your job you are for the most part closed within four walls without the opportunity to communicate with someone in ordinary human words, and not “aha” and “who is so cunning here”. This is only a small part of reproductive labor, it is also work, and it is harder than yours, whatever you do. Only she is not paid at the rate of a nanny, for example. Mom is a free attendant. So, if you don't want to get divorced in the first years of a child's life, don't treat your wife like that.

Watch your partner

Stay together for a while before you stop using protection. Watch how he is angry, irritated, how he behaves if he hasn’t slept very much - in relation to you, to pets, to staff in a cafe or at a gas station. Little things can tell a lot about a person: if he shows disrespect, rudeness or cruelty now, when you don’t have children, then you definitely shouldn’t start them - children only exacerbate the worst in us, alas. Long-term sleep deprivation (lack of sleep), emotional overload and the inability to switch from a crying baby to something else for a long time are serious tests for the psyche. If you do not want to part with a person who seems suspicious to you in this regard, agree that even before conception he will sign up for a course of personal psychotherapy and go to a psychiatrist - he may need medical support.

Agree on everything in advance

Even before you start conception, sit down in front of a drawing paper or open any online planning service and write down who undertakes to take on what. The so-called reproductive labor already in most cases falls on the woman, and not because nature tells her so - it happened. But you can change that without bringing one person out of a couple (wife) to complete exhaustion.

Go to training courses

Prenatal and parenting courses vary, but mediocre is better than none. There you can meet more experienced parents or remember the name of a good book. When choosing, be guided by a scientific-evidence approach, the desire for naturalness and a pleasant atmosphere. You can usually take a free trial class to see if these particular courses are right for you.

Read literature and resources on parenting

Follow Our Colleagues - No, It's Okay, an online resource for young parents that is fun, human, light and truly educational. Find books by pediatricians and parents of many children by Martha and William Serzov - they will tell a lot of useful things, but Doctor Spock can be immediately sent for processing - this is morally obsolete in the last century (the chief editor does not agree, but we will argue about this separately). It is better to start reading in advance - then it will not be up to it.

See how their life works, how they take care of the baby, how they manage to maintain relationships during this difficult period for the family.

You already have a baby and he gives you heat

  • Life hack 1. Let your mom sleep. This is the main tip, really. Sleep deprivation is the worst kind of torture. You can't save a relationship if you don't make your mother's sleep a priority. Do not produce entities beyond what is necessary: you don’t need to iron diapers and bed linen at all (all the more it has been proven that they “breathe” better without ironing), it’s quite possible to cook food from semi-finished products or order at home (and not kill yourself over the stove), you don’t need every a day to wash the floors, in extreme cases, outsource it (in general, there is an opinion that in sterile conditions, the child's immunity is worse). Instead of all this, sleep is better. Sleep during the day with the child or while someone walks with him. Hiring a babysitter to start getting enough sleep is not a luxury, but a means of survival not only for your mother, but also for your marriage.
  • Life hack 2. Give mom something to eat. Don't stir up the atmosphere around the "nursing diet" - this is a myth that has been debunked for a long time. In most cases, starving yourself with empty buckwheat is a senseless torture, the diet of a nursing woman should be as varied as possible (and tasty, bringing pleasure). Yes, strawberries and chocolate too. And coffee.
  • Life hack 3: Create an “attachment village.” Attachment theory has a concept called “attachment village”. This is everything the child knows and loves and who loves him. Do not lock yourself in your triad, let relatives, friends, neighbors help you. Everyone who will regularly figure in the child's life in his first months of life will enter his "attachment village" - the wider it is, the deeper the child's sense of security, the more support he will feel all his life. Yes, it is possible that someone's upbringing methods will not always coincide with yours. But this is normal - the child should have experience of different interactions with different people. The main thing here is to agree on the main thing. The rest can be safely forgiven for the love of the child and the ability to share responsibilities.

Attention dads! you don't "help with the baby", it's your child, and so are parenting. This concerns the parent who "earns for everyone" - usually a man. Delete from your vocabulary this expression “I help my wife with a child” - this is fundamentally wrong. This is your baby as much as hers, you care for YOUR baby, you get up at night during YOUR baby's colic, you change YOUR baby's diaper. This is not helping his wife, this is a common cause.

Veronica's story (name changed)

“My husband and I “broke up” countless times, once he even seriously packed his suitcase and was looking for an apartment. The first separation happened during pregnancy, at the time of toxicosis. The husband and his previous wife tried for 5 years to conceive a child, but in vain. In theory, he really wanted a child, but as soon as it turned from a dream into reality, it turned out that everything was much more complicated than thought. I had severe toxicosis until the 20th week, I slept 20 hours a day, the rest of the time I vomited. He was not ready for this, they began to quarrel, I went to the sea for 4 months. Then we went to couples therapy and reconciled.

But it was only the beginning, I don't even know what kept us together, maybe forced. The child turned out to be very difficult, we almost did not sleep for three years. Now he is being diagnosed with hyperactivity, he is taking pills, slowly leveling off, but no one has canceled the crisis of three years. It’s not easy so far, but we almost stopped swearing - somehow we got used to each other, and we just started sleeping better, and this in itself is healing for relationships as well. Still, sleep deprivation is hellish torture. We want to go back to couples therapy to clean up our relationship rubble. So far, the prognosis is favorable, but we will definitely not decide on a second child in the next 5 years.”

Baby born - mission accomplished?

Svetlana Panina, psychotherapist

When a woman has given birth, it cannot be considered that the mission is completed, the child is born and everything is already safe. At least six weeks are needed for both the woman and the child to adapt to the new conditions. The child - to a new way of breathing, feeding, contact with mom and a rather aggressive environment.

Many doctors refer to the first 40 days postpartum as the "fourth trimester of pregnancy" because the baby needs a mother almost continuously during this time. Yes, and on the part of the mother, the processes associated with the birth of a child continue.

A woman's body was actively changing during 9 months of pregnancy, extremely active in the last month and in childbirth, after childbirth, changes continue. In the first month, the female body is obliged to do a great job of restoring organs - to heal an extensive wound surface in the uterine cavity, to place the previously squeezed liver, stomach, pancreas in the right places, to bring three types of nutrition into tone. Colostrum, transitional milk, mature milk - all in the name of the he alth of the child, but imagine how much energy it takes the body to adjust. However, if the mother does not breastfeed, the changes are no easier: stopping the production of hormones that stimulate lactation at full speed is also something that is given to the body with great difficulty.

In general, hormonal changes are so diverse and extensive that against this background, not only somatic symptoms, but also serious mental disorders can develop. Most women go through a stage of so-called postpartum sadness (baby blues). Despite the prevalence of this condition, it should not be ignored, because one or two women out of a thousand may develop a condition that is dangerous for her life and the life of the baby. As a rule, it develops 2-3 days after birth or during the first month. However, there is also a delayed onset - throughout the year after birth.

What to look out for?

  • Excessive sleepiness or, on the contrary, lack of sleep. Young parents, as a rule, have little and light sleep. But, if the mother cannot sleep when the child has already fallen asleep, and this continues for more than two or three days, this cannot be ignored. On the contrary, irresistible drowsiness, when the mother cannot wake up, even if the baby screams loudly, is a dangerous symptom. Need expert help.
  • Eating Disorders – Mom does not feel hungry or does not taste food at all, which reminds her of “cardboard”.
  • Alternating excessive excitement and apathy, excessive tearfulness in some periods and irritability in others - these are not always the everyday life of a young mother, these can often be harbingers of even more complex problems - the occurrence of delusional ideas (for example, the child’s connection with higher powers), excessive anxiety for the life of a he althy baby (constant search for illnesses and signs of impending trouble), feeling like a disgusting mother, accompanied by a desire to punish herself, self-damaging behavior, constant thoughts of suicide, etc. In these cases, assistance should be medical and emergency. According to some authors, the risk of developing psychosis is 35 times higher in the postpartum period than in other periods of a woman's life. (Kendel & Clark, 1981)

What if there is no strength to talk, how to maintain a relationship?

Talking is highly overrated in our culture. Anything new parents can do TOGETHER keeps the relationship going. You can bathe the child together - dad bathes, and mom holds a towel. You can change the diaper together in the evening - passing the baby from hand to hand. Moms, in no case do not succumb to the stereotypes that only mom should take care of the child, and dad should earn money.

Let dad at first do everything not very well, because he has much less experience than mom, who is with the child almost around the clock. An adult sane man is able to learn almost everything that requires the care of an infant. And this will already free up forces for conversations. If both parents are exhausted, then even falling asleep shoulder to shoulder on the couch, watching the series is what will support your relationship during the difficult period of early parenthood.

As a rule, relationships are best in those families where the father understands all the responsibility that lies with the mother, supports her morally, considering the best mother for their common child, and helps with the child in any

free minute. Women are very grateful for such support, and such relationships do not need any special measures to "maintain the marriage."

Another important point is sex

Young fathers rarely understand what is happening with a woman's body, and expect that sex after childbirth will again become "like before pregnancy." Unfortunately, very few men are ready to seek information themselves or turn to specialists when the wife does not demonstrate readiness for sex. They believe that a woman should solve their problem of insufficient satisfaction with sexual life.

This is fundamentally wrong. Even before childbirth, it is useful for a man to find out what happens to the female body after childbirth, why his wife's sexuality may become lower. (It is often reported in the medical literature that women who have given birth may enjoy sex more than women who have not given birth, but nowhere is it written that this happens in the first year after childbirth! It often takes up to three years to restore libido.)

In rare happy cases, indeed, 6–8 weeks after childbirth (as a rule, as naturally as possible, non-traumatic and not accompanied by interventions), the wife may become more temperamental, but these are just rare and happy cases. It is good if the family has a tradition of non-sexual touching even before the birth.

If tenderness always leads to sex in a couple, then a woman, tired of caring for a child and insomnia, can suffer from the touch of even her beloved man. In cases where it is customary in a couple to hug, touch each other, kiss and this does not mean mandatory and immediate intercourse, this tenderness will not only support the relationship, but also reduce postpartum pain in the wife, form the behavior of attachment to the wife and child in the husband and in general, it will greatly enhance the stress resistance of the couple and the family as a whole.

Accordingly, a modern father, even working in an office, is quite capable of combining his work with caring for a baby and housework. The distribution of responsibilities can be any that the spouses agree on. Balance matters.

Basically, in caring for a baby, a man can do everything that a mother can, except breastfeeding. It is no longer extremely rare for a man to go on parental leave, bringing the child to his mother only for feeding during working hours. It is important that in a couple, both parents consider the distribution of responsibilities to be fair.

At the same time, do not forget that “earning money” does not necessarily mean bringing a salary. If the family does not hire a nanny, a cleaner, a cook, an accountant, a courier, and the child is well-groomed in the family, the house is clean, there is food, bills are paid and food appears in the refrigerator, someone does this work. Sometimes it can be useful for all family members to know how much an hour of an outside person doing this work costs.

History of Marina (name changed)

“I heard a lot about how difficult it is for a couple after the birth of a child, but I could not imagine that it was so much. It was hellishly difficult for me, despite the fact that we lived with my parents in a big house and everyone helped us, including my great-grandmother. I was very tired and very nervous, especially from the fact that it seemed to me that my husband was doing everything absolutely wrong: he didn’t hold it like that, he didn’t bathe like that, he didn’t fit at night like that, he didn’t say that … How it pissed me off!

In the first months after the birth of my son, I wanted to get a divorce every day.

And only the words of my relatives brought me to my senses: they constantly talked about how good parents we are and what a good father my husband is. And indeed, looking back, I see how much he always took care of our child and how patient he was with me and my psychos. I really appreciate it.”

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