Arguments, disagreements, fights... call them what you want, here are our most common ones!
"Having a baby is hard on a marriage". I have heard this countless times. I've heard it because it's true. Don’t get me wrong, having a baby brings so much happiness to your life, but it is hard!
Samir and I are not immune to the difficulties of bringing life into the world and balancing that with everything else life throws at you. We were married less than a year before Lola’s birth and sometimes I wonder if that adds another level of challenge into the mix? Who knows! All I know is that, like so many others, we have our issues.
In the vain of ‘keeping it real’ on here, I have always wanted to share what kind of arguments Samir and I have - because maybe you have the same struggles as us! I also recognized early on that we would rotate through the same three or so arguments - usually presented in a new way each time - but at its core, always one of these.
I am sure this is NO surprise! And it definitely shouldn’t be for a couple like Samir and I who may have had a faster than usual sprint down the wedding aisle. There are so many things I would do a different way about our wedding, and skipping marriage prep is one of them. Always do marriage prep!
Samir and I have very different routines and attitudes around money and spending. Samir is an amazing saver. He lived a very minimalistic lifestyle before a wife and kid. In fact, I remember being shocked at how empty his condo was when I first saw it! I, on the other hand, LOVE a good deal and work in retail - needless to say, we are polar opposites. So the arguing about money started pretty much right away.
“Does Lola REALLY need x, y, and z, or could we go without?” Were questions I heard all the time!
I felt like I had to do a whole power point presentation anytime I wanted to buy something and he felt like I had no respect or value for money. I felt like he was being controlling and he felt like I didn’t care enough about our future. He was angry and I was full of shame. It wasn’t a good place. I would say the hardest time was when Lolas a newborn. I did SO MUCH online ordering in the wee hours of the morning while stuck under Lola.
Then COVID hit and we knew it was time we were serious about buying a house. Samir was adamant we weren’t going to pursue it if we continued to be on separate pages with money. So, we spent a lot of time hashing out how we want to use our resources, what we think is important, and where we could compromise. I committed to using a monthly budget sheet. Samir committed to being more open to my suggestions with things for the house and Lola. We started shopping second hand and selling what we didn’t need anymore. Neither of us are perfect, but while this was the main argument for a while, we’ve definitely made progress in this department.
Division of Labour
Husband goes to work and brings home the money; Wife stays home and does everything else!
Does this sound like a frustration you’ve felt - especially on a maternity leave? 'Cause I sure feel it! In fact it's the driving frustration for one of our most reoccurring argument. I cannot count how many times I have said to Samir that I feel like he goes to work for 8 hours a day and my working day is 24/7. Samir also comes from a culture where it was the norm for woman to stay home, take care of the kids and house, while the man works. I mean his mom (and mine for that matter) took care of six children! This feeling of pressure to do everything in the house is building as my return to work date looms. How I am going to manage everything AND work?
To be honest, I DO feel like it is my current job to be the caretaker of the home, but where I struggle is feeling like I am not doing enough. Then, to me, that feeling is validated every time we have an argument around how things in the house are not taken care of. The mental load is so, so real and I find that Samir doesn’t understand it. And so we are constantly at a cross road.
Communicating our expectations and feelings around the division of labour has been one the MOST challenging and ongoing arguments we have. We are no where near figuring this issue out, but we do try our absolute best. We have decided to look at everything I do and assign each of us with a set list of tasks upon my return to work. I have started going to therapy to work on ways I can effectively communicate how I am feeling. If you and your partner have this issue sorted out, please share your tips! We could use them!
Sex & Intimacy
This isn’t an argument or a blatant or in-your-face issue we have, however every time I ask Samir what’s the number one thing in our marriage that needs to be improved, this is it!
I have to admit, in my younger years, I was adamant I would NEVER be in a marriage where I didn’t have sex with my husband. I mean why would you get married if this wasn’t something you wanted to do with your partner?! Needless to say, I was extremely naive.
Before being pregnant, I don’t think this was ever an issue. When I found out I was pregnant, I assumed my sex drive would kick into high gear! I mean, aren’t all pregnant women hot for their partners?! Then I was insanely nauseous pretty much all 9 months. Then I was exhausted, and breastfeeding, and completely touched out and the list goes on. Now I’m almost 16 months postpartum (can I even still use the word postpartum anymore?!) And I am still not feeling super sexy.
I know its very frustrating for Samir, though he is so patient and kind with me, it is also very frustrating for me! I love my husband and am very attracted to him. I love hugging him, holding his hand, and cuddling to watch tv. Sex though? That’s been a tough one - I want to want him!
One way that we’ve committed to improving this area of our life is that we set a date night at least once a week. We spend time together. We schedule sex! I know its probably the complete opposite of sexy but it has helped us! It has helped us feel more connected. It has helped me because I know what day it's happening and I can prepare myself. I can make sure to get a good night sleep the night before, I can plan to do my hair and feel pretty. I can show up for my husband.
I hesitated to even put this in here because it feels so personal. I mean I know I shared my birth story, but sex? I was always taught growing up that we shouldn’t be talking about it. But then I realized I would be doing myself and all the moms who may be coming here for support a disservice. While I knew sex would change after Lola, I wasn’t prepared to still be feeling this way. I wanted to share this because I feel so alone in this. We’re not weird. We’re not broken.
How we manage…
I will be the first to admit Samir and I are not perfect arguers. Sometimes, actually, we are horrible arguers! In fact, it was in the middle of an argument, after I slammed the baby gate closed, that I booked an online counselling appointment. While I felt like Samir had SO MUCH work to do on himself, I knew that the only thing I could control was me and I needed help.
I would say my first tip for managing or getting through repeat disagreements with your partner is to talk it through with a therapist. I always say that a marriage is just two people unpacking their lifelong baggage into their new home. I have a lot of baggage I need to work through that really popped up with my marriage and new baby. I know it plays into how I react and interpret Samir. So I’m reaching out and putting in the work so I can be a better partner in both the amazing times and the not so great times like during an argument.
Samir likes to set aside a time to chat if we’ve been arguing for a bit and getting no where. He will say things like “ok tonight (or tomorrow or this weekend), let's talk about this”. It's hard for me to put it away and come back, but I have learned we get much further along in our discussions if I give him time to think, reflect, and formulate what and how he needs to communicate. I have also found he is more receptive to what I have to say if I respect this need to for coming back to the issue.
I know that all couples fight. I know that we're not special in even these three topics being most common disagreement, but sometimes it can feel like everyone else has their stuff together while you're grasping at straws. Samir and I have done a lot of work and we have a lot more work to do, but that's the trade off to being in a loving, committed relationship. We're willing to work through our issues and figure out the best way to get through conflict because we love being married to each other - even when there are times we don't particularly like each other!