I used to fancy myself a pretty awesome wife. As a newlywed, I made my marriage a top priority every single day. I was all about the small gestures—picking up my husband’s favorite IPA on my way home from work, spontaneous back rubs, handing over the remote when his favorite soccer team was playing even if it meant missing The Bachelorette.
People told me things would change once we had a baby. In theory, I knew they were right, but it was so hard to imagine putting anyone ahead of my husband. He was my number-one guy.
Then, two years into our marriage, we had a baby boy.
I’ll give you one guess who has taken the number-one slot. And sadly, when you get bumped to number two like my husband did, you tend to get yelled at a lot. But before you go and create a Verbally Abused Husbands of New Moms support group for him, or offer him your couch, I need you to understand something. Yes, it sucks that I yell at him on a near-daily basis. But it also really, really sucks to be the one doing all the yelling.
The formerly awesome wife I once was, the one who hardly yelled because life pre-baby didn’t really have much to yell about, has turned into a stark-raving psychopath who yells at her husband until she loses her voice (and her sanity).
So here are the top six reasons I yell at my husband:
1. I can’t yell at the baby.
I’d say about 90% percent of the time when I’m yelling at my husband, it has to do with the baby. Unless you’re a monster, you can’t yell and scream at a sweet, innocent little baby for the many inconveniences they have caused you throughout the day. So I choose to yell at my husband because it’s obviously his half of the baby’s DNA that is to blame for whatever it is I’m yelling about.
The baby woke up every hour on the hour last night for absolutely no reason.
The baby spit up (the chunky kind) on me when I was already dressed for work and running late as usual.
The baby yelled at me all day, and because I’m not a monster, I couldn’t yell back.
2. I can’t yell at my boss/coworkers.
I consider myself extremely lucky as far as jobs go. I actually really like my job as a writer and copy editor for a major bank. My reasons for liking my job have almost nothing to do with the job itself and everything to do with the people. I work with a team of people whom I’ve grown to adore. They are kind, flexible and believe in work-life balance.
That’s not to say that these people don’t occasionally piss me off or get under my skin. When you spend 40 hours a week with the same people, people you see more than your own family, that is bound to happen. When it does, I yell at my husband. Seems logical, right?
3. I haven’t eaten all day.
I am the living, breathing definition of “hangry.” My husband is used to this as he discovered very early on in our relationship that once I announce I’m hungry, he has a 15-minute window (sometimes less) to feed me before I become whiny, grumpy and intolerable to be around.
Now add to that the responsibility of taking care of a baby. I’m usually so concerned with feeding our baby, since his only food source comes from my body, that I forget to feed myself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the clock to see it’s 4 p.m., and I haven’t eaten anything yet except maybe a handful of Wheat Thins and a few gulps of iced coffee.
God help my husband if he comes home from work without a snack in hand.
4. I haven’t slept in days. Make that months.
There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture on prisoners of war. In my baby’s early days, I slept so little that I felt like a prisoner in my own home. I was literally so tired that I didn’t feel safe driving a car. And let me tell you, being trapped inside while feeling like an overtired pile of garbage (who probably hasn’t showered in a few days either) will do a number on your mood and your marriage.
For a solid three months, my husband and I coexisted in a haze of score-keeping exhaustion. When it came to who would wake up with the baby, I used the phrase “It’s your turn” more times than I can count. If he hesitated or countered with a feeble, “No, I think it’s your turn,” I didn’t just yell—I lost my mind.
Even though I could barely form full sentences, I still managed to sling obscenities at my groggy, confused husband at 3 in the morning, because if the baby wasn’t sleeping, and I wasn’t sleeping, neither was he. Misery loves company, and not getting a full night’s sleep for half a year is misery at its finest.
5. I didn’t go for a run.
I didn’t quite realize how much of my identity was tied to being a runner until I no longer had the time to run. Before we had a baby, my husband was very in tune to the fact that I became mopey and somewhat sad if I went too many days without running. Knowing that all I needed to boost my mood was to go for a quick run, he’d gently suggest it and even offer to go with me. After a bunch of huffing and puffing and procrastinating, I’d eventually throw on my running sneakers and 30 minutes later, like magic, all was right in the world again.
Now that I have a baby who consumes every millisecond of my “free” time, it’s been that much harder to go for a run. Why? See Nos. 1, 3 and 4 above.
Exercise? Ain’t no new mom got time for that.
6. He forgives me.
Marriage is hard, and marriage with a newborn is pretty much the hardest. It requires an awful lot of grit and grace. It also requires forgiveness in droves. I don’t know why, but even after all the yelling and the arguments and the it’s-your-turn-no-it’s-definitely-your-turns, my husband forgives me. Every time.
I know this will pass. I know that our marriage will probably never be tested more than with the struggles and adjustments of adding a brand new member to our once-happy family of two (well, three if you count the dog—and you should most definitely count the dog). It’s not that we’re not happy. When I’m not yelling and our baby is being his adorable self, we are probably happier than we ever knew we could be. It’s just a different kind of happy.
It’s the kind of happy that can just creep up on you when you’re lazing on your king-sized bed on a Sunday morning with your husband, baby and dog—all kinds of lying all over each other because Sundays are for snuggling. You feel a deep ache in your cheeks and realize it’s because you’ve been smiling so hard for so long.
Sure, you might end up yelling at your husband 10 minutes later. But before you go and let it ruin your whole Sunday, and before you start feeling like a contender for World’s Worst Wife, see No. 6. Always No. 6.