The baby is a third wheel in the marriage
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I have been married to my best friend for seven years now. We got married when we were both 23 and because of our dysfunctional upbringing, we were able to hold on to each other and create the life and family we always wanted. We had a baby during the pandemic. It was not planned, but after the initial shock of "OMG we're going to be parents," we were just so excited to love this little person.
My question for Meredith and other readers/listeners is – how do you not feel like a little intruder (your child) is a constant third-wheel in your marriage? My husband and I deeply love our daughter, but sometimes when parenting gets frustrating, we have to be very careful not to get super annoyed at her for entering our two-person bubble. We worked so hard on creating this great life where we could forget and even forgive our childhood. It was him and me against the world. But now we have to accommodate this beautiful soul and make sure we give her the childhood we didn't have. All this while trying to preserve that team-like essence that we had before she arrive. Thank you for your advice.
– Every New Parent Out There
"How do you not feel like a little intruder (your child) is a constant third-wheel in your marriage?"
It's OK to feel that way sometimes. TV and movies sometimes make it look like people magically change into new versions of themselves when a kid enters the picture. But of course you're going to be annoyed on bad days. Of course you'll long for those nights where you could get nine hours of sleep or just stare into each other's eyes without interruption. Sometimes change is … annoying.
The thing is, you are a team. Even though you're also a trio, the whole operation rests on the grownups. Make sure you talk about things that aren't the baby. Also continue to make plans so you have things to look forward to, even if it's just a walk.
Also remember your greater bubble should be more than two people. Talk to friends who are parents. Ask for help from your community. Don't isolate yourselves.
The last thing I'll say – because I really want commenters with kids to get into this – is that some people love babies, but … it's a more one-sided relationship than it'll be when she gets older. From my memory with my friends, this first year is a lot of tasks. Diaper changes, naps, waking up at weird hours – a list of interruptions with some cuteness. But all of this will evolve over time. It never feels one way forever, if that makes sense.
Breathe through the discomfort. It's temporary.
Parents, can you talk about how this can feel and how it changes?
"The best way to help your child is to stop holding on to your gripes with your own childhood. It's time to get over it. You may think you are, but you mentioned it several times here as reason for actions you've taken. All married parents feel like children are interlopers at various times. Unless you're a sociopath, you keep those feelings to yourself and keep going." – Zeptember-