FF: Marriage, Meds & Mending

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Think back to your wedding day (or if you’re not married, think back to when you first started dating your significant other). Think about your knees going weak as you stared down that long aisle toward the most gorgeous woman on the planet, dressed in white, making her way toward you. Remember the look in her eyes and the pit in your stomach as you wondered to yourself “how did I get so lucky?” Think about the first few months of marriage, how you lovingly called each other “Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so” and stole kisses and gazed adoringly at each other.

Do you remember? Good. Because if you’ve been married for a few years and you’re dealing with one or more kids, you’re going to need those memories to desperately remind yourself why you entered into this holy union in the first place!

Look, I love my wife. But make no mistake: marriage is a full-time job. It’s work. Every single day it’s work. I know there are some people out there who are married and swear up and down they are Ozzie and friggin Harriet. “We just never fight,” they say with their arms around each other. Well you know what I say? BULLSHIT! Those people are either lying or their marriage is shit. Because any time two people spend that much time around each other, day in and day out, they are bound to argue at some point. And when I say argue, I mean they most likely will call each other every name in the book and genuinely consider the variety of ways they could kill the other person in the relationship without being convicted by a jury of their peers.

And I know it’s not something a lot of people like to talk about, but the addition of a little bundle of joy adds a heap of stress to a marriage.

No one likes to admit that. When you have a kid you’re supposed to send out birth announcements and dress him up in cute clothing. You’re supposed to send happy, smiling pictures of yourselves to relatives and friends. You’re supposed to tell everyone that your lives are finally complete and that you couldn’t be happier. After all, what kind of asshole is going to complain about a cute little baby?

Me, that’s who.

You all know I love Will to no end. But at the same time, I’m honest. And because of that I feel it’s necessary to talk about all aspects of parents, the good and the bad. And as unpopular as it may to express this opinion, kids can wreak havoc on a marriage and drive a wedge between husband and wife that can lead straight to divorce if you let it.

First of all, postpartum depression is a real bitch. MJ has been fantastic about letting me write what I want in this blog. But the only restriction she’s put on me is asking me not to write about her issues with postpartum (until now obviously). But this is a very real and extremely damaging affliction and if you don’t understand it (which I did not) it can really mess with a relationship.

I made the awful mistake early on in my relationship with MJ of telling her that I didn’t believe in depression. I told her doctors simply over-medicate patients instead of treating the root cause. I said depression was just an excuse, a crutch doctors gave people who were too damn lazy to get their shit together on their own. And therapy? Give me a break! Therapy was for the weakest sort of person and I had no respect for someone who needed a quack doctor to put his/her life in order.

I said this not knowing MJ suffered from depression. I said this not realizing she was on medication for it. And I didn’t know she had been to counseling.

Basically I stuck my foot so far down my throat my shoelaces were coming out of my ass.

But when Will was born, I was so happy. MJ had a really great pregnancy and I knew she’d make a great mom. I was so excited to start our new family and I felt complete for the first time in my life. That’s why I was so confused when I saw MJ wanted nothing to do with Will.

I’m not exaggerating either. She was totally emotionless for the first six months of Will’s life. She hated breastfeeding. She hated waking up every two hours. She hated being out of work. She even hated me and Will. She used to tell me she wanted to run away and not come back. She said Will and I would be better off without her. Do you know how soul-wrenching it is to listen to the woman you love more than anyone in this world say she doesn’t want to be with you and your infant son?

At first I was sad and i tried to help her. But the more I tried to help, the worse it got. Then I just got angry. And when I get angry, I pick a fight. I told her it was horrible not to love your own baby. I told her to snap out of it. I told her she was being an idiot and she should be ashamed of herself. Basically I said all the wrong things. Because, as we’ve established, I’m an idiot.

It wouldn’t be until much later that I truly realized what postpartum depression is and how deeply it can affect everyone. MJ eventually took it upon herself to see a counselor and when she took that initiative, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of anyone in my whole life. It took guts to recognize the problem and take proactive steps and that’s why I’m convinced I married the smartest and bravest woman in the world.

It’s been a year and things are much better now. But while the postpartum isn’t a problem, we still risk all the run-of-the-mill pitfalls of life as a married couple with a child. At times we drift apart and without even realizing it, we discover we’ve gone a week without really talking. Well we talk, but it’s always about Will. Who’s picking him up from daycare? Does he need more diapers? Did that tooth come in? But you can’t fall into that trap. You have to make time for your relationship. Whether it’s just time to sit and talk about anything not kid related or a roll in the hay, making that time is mandatory. It is essential if you want to remain husband and wife and not just two roommates sharing caretaking responsibilities for a child.

MJ and I battle that everyday. Sometimes we win and sometimes it gets the better of us. No better or worse than anyone else out there I’m sure. But marriage in and of itself is a tough job and the relationship needs constant maintenance. When you add a baby to the mix it becomes infinitely more difficult. You fight sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, financial worries, lack of time, the loss of your social life and (unless you’re one of the lucky few) the disappearance of a discernable sex life. My only advice is to keep the lines of communication open at all costs. Because when one person stops trying, that’s when trouble really starts.

And when you’re ready to have a kung-fu spousal battle of death it always helps to remember her in that gorgeous white dress at the end of the aisle.

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21 thoughts on “FF: Marriage, Meds & Mending

  1. Welcome to the world of marriage. My son has just recently gotten married and is already contemplating divorce. His new bride has two children (ages 3 and 5) from a before relationship and with the wedding bliss finally fading away, they too argue about financing and the kids. The kids have definitely put a wedge between them. She has brought them up one way, and he is trying to raise them in how he feels they should be brought up. This has been sad all the way around. I liked your closing statement. You summed it up really well. You and MJ will get through this :)

  2. Very true, very true. Coming from being married for 15 years and wondering to whom, I would say, it’s worth the every day effort. And bonus points if you admit to your wife that you are an idiot (once and awhile). Now go get her some flowers.

  3. Well, this will take me a minute here. I’m sobbing which wasn’t my plan today.

    I had that marriage of 9 years where we didn’t fight. And yes, it was a total facade. I wasn’t in love therefore there was nothing to fight over or about, I just did exactly as I was told to do. THEN we had children and for the first time I needed help. Probably the first time in my entire life I needed help – and I asked for it. I got none. Instead I got yelled at because other women can take care of a child by themselves. Father’s aren’t supposed to help (yes, I got this message time after time). I too had post pard.

    My bottom line was that my husband (now almost ex) never even tried to help. He instead moved out of the bedroom so he could sleep and not be interrupted. That continued for the next 4 years….or until the end. He showed me I had become nothing more than a servant and never made me feel like anything other than that. He then griped that he couldn’t watch football in peace and quiet and that dinner didn’t taste like it once did (literally as I breastfed and cooked over a hot stove…..can you say dangerous?). But anything to try to keep him happy. What I didn’t realize is having children were what was making him unhappy. He hated it. The change that couldn’t be undone. And children were his idea too….yep – forced on me basically.

    This is why I started blogging. And through blogging I was able to see things in writing that even though I lived the situations….on paper they looked HORRIBLE. It made me rethink my life. And it made me save myself. Now as a real single mother of 2 I’m happier than I’ve been in my entire life. Bye bye Zoloft. Didn’t need it to start with – I just needed a supportive partner and I couldn’t drug myself into that. But tomorrow is a new day. I’ve opened a new chapter and onward I go.

    So why I’m crying is because you are such a deep, thoughtful and caring man. MJ and Will are the luckiest people in the world. Your communication skills, will to work on issues and understanding will not only save your marriage if it ever comes to that but has the potential to flourish and grow your love for your family.

    YOU GIVE ME HOPE. It is only 8:30 here…too early for a drink despite the fact it is Friday? Yea…too early. But I’ll have a drink for your family and you later. Thank you so much for this post.

  4. Wow, thanks GG. But to be fair, I was a real moron about depression and postpartum and I was a big reason things went so badly in the beginning. And in the end, MJ was the only one who could help herself. I just eventually learned to be quiet, to listen when she needed me to and not to pontificate about things which I know nothing about.

    I’ve been reading your blog and I know things are hectic, but I’m 150% certain you’re doing the right thing for you and your kids. And I think it’s incredibly brave because I know how scary it must be to start over. You don’t need anyone (least of all me) to give you hope because you’re living proof things can get better.

    And it’s never too early for a drink! ;-)

  5. Great post Daddy Files. It is nice to see when someone can admit fault, and praise theo ther person involved for being able to handle a situation. Post Pardum I am sure is not at all easily understood by anyone who has not dealt with it, so you were not being completely idiotic. At least you have that!

    Glamour Girl
    I have never read your blog, maybe I will start now. But I have seen the comment you leave Aaron all the time and whether I know you or not I feel the need to say that even from just reading what you write you deserve more than what you had. No man should ever make you feel like nothing but a servant. A husband is suppose to be someone who looks at you every day and thinks you are amazing, and beautiful, and that he is lucky to have you no matter what you guys are going through. This ex of yours never deserved to even look at you, nevermind be with you. All you can do now is be happy that you did get two great kids out of it, and keep your head up and move on. From the look of things you don’t need to hear me say that, you are alreay well on your way!

  6. I’m the first to admit I don’t understand depression, although I have seen its effects. I too often looked at it as a weakness and not an illness. And of course, I was wrong.

    Having been married for 32 years to someone I love and fight with regularly, let me say: You are always learning. After 32 years, I am very much still a work in progress. I’m not always right – I just always initially think I am. And I act accordingly, which is the only way I know how to do it. And I’m always amazed when some folks think that is arrogant. I just think it’s normal. And over 32 years, I have learned how to apologize, how to share, and how to understand. I’m still not very good at it, but I can do it.

    The one big thing is – someone else can never make you happy. They can contribute mightly to that effort, but happiness comes from within. If you aren’t ahppy with yourself, no one else is going to make you happy. You can lean on them, depend on them, need them, love them, all that – but they can’t make you happy. That’s your job.

    GG, I wish you much luck and success. It seems to me you’ve learned that important lesson too – a lot faster then me! You’ll do fine because you believe in you, and your kids believe in you. After that, the rest is just work! :)

  7. Aw c’mon. It’s not that hard. I’ve been married for 24 years and I swear to god it only feels like 23! =)

    Al Franken’s joke is, “I’ve been married for 18 years, some of them happily,” but I like mine better.

    Seriously, great post. When marriage quits being hard work, it’s over.

  8. I’m one of the anomalies who don’t often argue in my relationship. On rare occasions we argue but we never “fight”. We don’t call each other names. We get polite. Exceedingly so, lol. I would have a nervous breakdown if there was stress like that in my personal life. I deal with crisis, face to face, 5 days a week. Abused children, domestic violence and a seemingly endless line of desperation gives me a very deep appreciation for my personal life. I never take any thing for granted. Luckily we also have incredible communication. Our friends waver between loving to watch us interact together and hating the very air we breath, lmao. We’ve been together for 4 years and we’re still amazed by each other existence.

    It’s funny because our warm fuzzy relationship is completely at odds with my basic personality. I yell obscenities at drivers like it’s an art form. I regularly threaten to stab co-workers with a hot letter opener and Most people that know me are convinced if they cut me I’d bleed liquid cyanide, lol.

  9. I totally get it, even though I don’t have kids. As far as marriage – marriage is work, plain and simple. There are days when I want to literally kill my husband or leave him. Then, I calm down and remember that he is as close to perfection as a man can get and I can’t imagine living my life without him. I’m sure he feels the same way about me.

    Kuddos to MJ and you for working through it. And remember – anytime you guys need a few hours alone, you have a FREE babysitter who is willing to take that darling child off your hands.

  10. It’s so good to see that men can also recognize that marriage is hard, that normal people fight and get mad, and that relationships change after marriage, after kids, after years. But that doesn’t mean you don’t love each other still.

    My husband (almost-ex)didn’t make it. I think if maybe he had realized some of the things you just blogged about, maybe we would have made it. He was still looking for that exciting “new relationship smell” or something and went to find it elsewhere.

    good for you!

  11. I’m glad that things have improved for MJ and your family.
    Yes, all married couples are bound to argue from time to time. However, The Mr. and I do it infrequently and it is always short lived (3-5 minutes). There is never any name calling involved during an argument. We have only ever name called in lighthearted jocular moments. This is not, as you say ‘BULLSHIT’. Nor is my marriage for ‘shit’. After 16 years we are still best friends.

  12. WM I don’t doubt it. You even admitted you guys have arguments. I was talking about the people who swear up and down that they never argue or disagree at all. Never. And it’s just my opinion, but I don’t think it’s humanly possible to spend years together and NEVER disagree. I think that is bullshit. You obviously do not fall into this category.

    I know my marriage isn’t the industry standard and frankly, that’s why I married MJ. No one likes the really bad fights, myself included, but MJ and I bicker a lot. And I love that! Otherwise I’d be bored stiff.

  13. Great post. I plan to link to it tomorrow on Postpartum Progress! Thanks for admitting what you didn’t know, and for understanding now how difficult postpartum depression truly is.

  14. Hi Katherine: Thanks for the comment and for linking to the post. I’ve visited your site numerous times in the past and it’s always been helpful.

  15. THANK YOU!!! As the partner of another idiot who didn’t ‘get it’ as I struggled with PPMD twice, you bring some home that our efforts to improve the outcomes for others are slowly making strides. Keep it up! :-)

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