The Power Of A Genuine Thank-You In My Marriage

saying thank you to spouse
mapodile / iStock

Having a baby has been really hard on my marriage. There, I said it. I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right?

Everyone talks about how your life will change when you have a baby, and they’re right. But no one ever warned me that there would be several moments when I seriously wanted to straight slam the door in my husband’s face and tell him to go pound sand. In the spirit of honesty, this actually happened—several times. My choice of words was not really “go pound sand.” I wish it had been that PG.

I remember how much my husband bent over backwards when we first came home from the hospital. After about one week of this royal treatment, I began to wonder exactly how long it was really going to last, because I knew it couldn’t last forever.

It didn’t take long before we fell out of the honeymoon phase of being new parents and began to argue over everything. Diapers, baths, sleep, food, letting the dogs out, outfits, hair bows, visitors, swaddles, pacifiers, the list of things we would find to argue about goes on and on. If he didn’t do something the way I did it, then he was doing it wrong, and in his mind, all I did was nag nag nag (which, in retrospect, I did). There were nights when it was really bad. You’d think that looking at our healthy, beautiful daughter would be enough, but sometimes it wasn’t.

In the beginning, our biggest arguments were over sleep. I was so tired from nursing her each night, yet he was well rested after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. It pissed me off. Eventually I went back to work. I felt so guilty for leaving our daughter all day, and I worried about every little thing. Did I pack enough bottles? Does she have enough diapers? Did she eat enough? Did she poop that day? My husband didn’t worry about any of these things. To him, the world was butterflies and rainbows. My resentment grew.

Life became routine, but it was a routine that I don’t think either of us were really happy with. Neither one of us had time to do anything for ourselves, let alone for each other. We loved each other, but things were just hard.

Then, one day, it happened. We had both just gotten home from work. I was cutting up food for the baby, and he asked me what he could do to help. I told him it would be great if he could clean the bottles, and so, he did. As I pushed the cut up food onto the table of the highchair, he turned around and said, “Hey, thanks for everything you do for our daughter and for our family. I appreciate it.” I about shit my pants. That’s all it took. All these days, and weeks, and months of being so tired and frustrated, and apparently all I really wanted was for my husband to recognize that it wasn’t for all for nothing, and that someone appreciated it.

Do you know how many times I told my husband “thank you” over the past year? I’m going to say maybe a handful of times, and probably mostly in those early months when I really felt like I needed his help and he stepped up. Not once did I thank him for cooking dinner each night or for also working so hard for our family so that someday, hopefully soon, I can stay home with the kids. I never thanked him for always taking care of the dogs (so that I didn’t have to), and getting the groceries, and hanging the Christmas lights. I thank him a lot more now, and I find that because of it, I now focus on what he is doing to help instead of what he’s not doing.

Life changes when you have a baby. You change when you have a baby. Your marriage changes when you have a baby. It’s fucking hard. Somewhere, in the mix of it all, I forgot the most basic thing we all learn as kids, and something I want to teach my daughter, the power of a genuine thank-you.