marriage matters >> Joe and Cathy have been married for several years and just had their first baby. But now Joe is feeling as if he’s left out of the family. He says:We had a baby, and I lost my wife! Joe says: When Cathy found out she was pregnant, I was pretty excited. I was looking forward to having a couple of kids, especially a son I could spend some time teaching how to throw a football around. But I never thought having a baby would mean I would lose my wife! Ever since Kevin was born, Cathy spends every moment with him. When he’s asleep, she’s too tired to have a conversation, much less any romance. If this is parenthood, count me out.
She says:He’s acting like a baby himself Cathy says: I cannot believe how selfish Joe is being. I thought we both wanted children, and understood what that meant. If I learned anything from my parents, it’s that you put your kids first! My primary responsibility right now is taking care of our beautiful baby – he needs his mother more than Joe needs time to chat. After all, Kevin is only 6 months old and Joe is supposed to be an adult.
What do they do? Oh yes – this brings back memories; some good, some not so good! We have yet to meet any parent who has not experienced this situation at least once in their life. There isn’t just one issue here; there are multiple manifestations of the challenge faced by couples with the arrival of children into the family unit. Jo Anne says, “A new precious baby, a true gift of love from God, how could Joe be so selfish!” Tom says, “Wait a moment – there is another person in this new family other than Cathy and baby Kevin! All three have needs, wants and desires that must be met.” Even though baby Kevin may require the bulk of energy expended by Joe and Cathy, baby Kevin should not be the foundation or center of the family unit. It is Joe and Cathy as a married couple who form the basic structure and core of the family unit. Yes, we both agree that for a new mother and father the responsibility of baby Kevin is enormous! Along that line, Cathy has gone through physical, emotional and mental changes – then add the “less sleep” factor (of course this part goes for Joe also) and it all adds up to quite a change for both of them. If there is ever a time for Cathy and Joe to be intentional about their relationship – this is the time. This is a time for extra tenderness and communication between Joe and Cathy. God has loaned them this child and the gratitude they show each other in thanksgiving is their gift back to God. By making quality time for each other, they are not only nurturing their relationship but they are nurturing baby Kevin in a big way. To make any child (or children) the central focus of the parents’ relationship will tend to destroy the family and will most likely lead to a breakdown in the family unit. We would suggest Joe and Cathy recapture the specialness of each other. Six-month-old baby Kevin most likely is content for a few minutes or more in the crib or playpen. So we would suggest that Joe and Cathy have some couple-time, sharing the highlights of their day or some romance. It is important that they “intentionally” keep each other special in their day. Plan for time together and do something special each day for each other no matter how small; i.e. a note in the lunch box, a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store or cook a special dinner and eat it in candle light. Joe and Cathy would do well to remember that the love that brought them together and produced baby Kevin is a dimension of God’s unending love for the two of them. God will help them keep their coupleness at the center of their family unit if they ask him.