Take the thanks and run

By Published On: September 5th, 2011

Written by: Mindy September 05 2011 I’m the first to […]

Written by: Mindy

I’m the first to admit I do many things wrong as the mother of a new baby. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped Chloe’s head on her car seat while trying to strap her in.

The one thing I’ve done right, though, falls in the relationship department.

A friend of mine who had a baby nine months before me warned that having a wee one would put my marriage to the test. She said my husband and I would face arguments like we’d never even dreamed of before.

Maybe that was her story, but I’m thankful it wasn’t mine.

Everybody is at a different stage in their relationship before Baby comes along, so it’s hard to compare and even harder to give advice. But, the women who seem to have the biggest problems with their husbands are the ones who either want everything done their way, or who play the martyr and won’t let themselves be appreciated. Or both.

I accepted early on that I’d either have to let Cam do things his way, or I’d have to take care of the baby all the time. That’s why we have a plain black, relatively boring diaper bag. Cam informed me that if I wanted him to take care of Chloe so I could have some me-time, then we couldn’t have a cutesy, girly diaper bag for him to lug around. He had a good point. I gave in.

The second lesson was harder to learn. It started with the friend I mentioned above.

This woman was beautiful and fashionable, and knew how to choose flattering maternity clothes. As a pregnant woman, she glowed. I’d tell her so whenever I saw her. Each time I told her how nice she looked, she’d grimace, say, “Ugh, no, I don’t!” and shake her head. The result was that I eventually quit giving her compliments.

Recently, I realized Cam gives me more compliments than I acknowledge. He’d say things, and while I didn’t outwardly protest, I had disgruntled thoughts. For example:

“Good job getting the kids to bed.” (Like I had a choice?) “You look beautiful today.” (Yeah right, I’m still wearing maternity clothes and I didn’t even put on makeup.) “Thanks for doing the dishes.” (Well, somebody had to do them.)

One day, I just said, “Thank you.” The change was immediate! Cam was grateful that I validated his comment, I turned out to be grateful for the compliment, and the number of our compliments increased.

Now, we thank each other for the littlest things, even if it goes without saying that they should be done. “Thanks for tossing that dirty diaper,” and “Thanks for cleaning up those toys” are just a few of our daily comments to each other.

I figure it comes down to this: You go through a lot when you become a new mom. It’s easy to feel like you do more than your share. But, if you let yourself be appreciated, you learn that the things you do are worth it. In the end, you don’t feel sorry for yourself, and any strain in your marriage is eased.

Of course, this means you have to get your partner to start acknowledging the things you do, but it’s all about baby steps, right?