When Bear was born, my husband and I had one uniting focus: meeting Bear’s needs and keeping him happy while we were doing so. Our marriage grew stronger as we really learned the meaning of “team effort”. Sure, there were trying moments, but overall, we did everything as a joint endeavor. I don’t mind boasting that my husband, who worked two jobs, never missed a single nighttime feeding when he was home. We were just like that; we easily fell into a seamless pattern. Our transition with Beauty’s arrival, however, wasn’t quite as smooth.
Let me preface the rest by saying that it was in no way, shape, or form the fault of Beauty. She was a beautiful nine month old when she arrived home; she happened to have some transitional difficulties, especially with sleeping and nighttime. However, the transition of adding another child in addition to the now-blossoming toddler who was quite comfortable being the only center of our worlds…it was rough. Suddenly the benefits of having two children a mere ten and a half months apart in age seemed a little less wonderful in actuality than in theory. Now that we’re approaching the two year anniversary of Beauty’s homecoming, I can say with certainty that it’s fantastic having kids so close in age, but at the time, well, that’s a different story.
This December, my husband and I will celebrate our fourth anniversary. I say this with intense gratitude not only for who and what he is to me but because I was fairly certain our marriage would not survive after Beauty joined our family. The first six months after her homecoming–they were rocky. Previously strong communication seemed non-existent. We were trying to be everything to two small people, but ignoring each other in the process. If ever our relationship was tested, it was then.
Adding another child to your family at any point can be stressful–regardless of how your child comes into your life, but especially when your he or she arrives with some transitional difficulties. So what can be done to combat this potential stress between spouses? Communication. As cliche as it sounds, communication is key. Ask each other “how are you doing?” and really listen to the answer. Be aware, as difficult as it may be, of each other’s needs, wants, wishes, and so forth. Take time for each other–even if it’s fifteen minutes every night–to talk. It doesn’t have to be about the “heavy issues”; you can discuss the everyday, trivial aspects. Appreciate the support system you have in your spouse and remember what brought you together in the first place. Celebrate the love you have for one another and your children in some form everyday. Above all, be patient with one another. The addition of another child is a very joyous occasion but it can also be a stressful one as well; with some time and effort, your family–and your marriage–will adapt and blossom beautifully, but patience is necessary.