I will focus more on the female perspective on the matter, as it is more familiar to me. Over and over again around me I have witnessed the same scenario: lovely couple gets married, sooner or later they get a child, and after a while they alienate from each other and might even separate. In this simplified scenario version, there are some predictable aspects that can play a major role in how things turn out once the couple gets children.
Our life is influenced by the way we perceive reality, and we filter information through believes and stereotypes, without actually being conscience about it. We learn to put our thoughts in tight boxes dictated by the society rules. We learn from early childhood what a woman means, what a wife must do, what is to be expected from a man, how a husband should behave and so on. We focus on cultural aspects of womanhood and live aside personal aspirations, personal desires or even personal reflections on the feminine role. We take as “the right definition” what society imposes us, rather than making up our own mind about what things mean to ourselves.
Before experiencing the reality of having children one can only imagine what a parent should be like. It is not difficult to create the perfect parents portray, but it is damn difficult to live up to the expectations. In the new role as a loving caring mother, you experience joy, enthusiasm, infinite love for the little one; you would go to the moon and back for her or him, no matter what. You end up with sleepless nights, poor diet, as you only have the time for a small bite before your baby needs you again. The house is a mess, regardless of the fact you’ve been in the house the whole day, cleaning up after little wonder, washing, cooking… it doesn’t really matter as from the outside, efforts don’t matter, results do!
As your beloved husband and father of your child comes back from work, you are exhausted. Your mother role has drained you. And for a moment you are happy that now it is his turn to take care of the little one, and maybe you can have a break and go to the bathroom in peace and quiet.
Of course he is happy to be home, to spend time with the little one. But he also wants to see the women he loves, not just the mother of his child. Oft, this woman is just not there as she left the place for the busy loving mother. So he acts from his perspective, sometimes more from the father role, other times from the husband role and he might end up frustrated as it is not always clear what is expected from him. Just a simple example: you ask for help and he says yes; you expect him to do it right that second, exactly the way you would do it, while he thinks as long as he does it in the next minutes that should be fine, after all, the result is what matters. But because you cannot wait a few minutes, you end up doing it yourself, assuring that both of you are irritated. This kind of action shows little respect and faith in the partner and repeated over time in various forms undermines the relationship.
How about bringing more equilibrium into the picture? After all, you both agreed on creating your family together. You are both still the same people, just with new roles. From this perspective, decide what stereotypes help you, go on and be the person you want to be, and get rid of those keeping you blindfolded. Allow yourself to ask for help and know how to receive it. Allow your partner to show you he can still be your lover, your friend and your co-parenting responsible.
As soon as you realize that in the new family constellation there is need and space for so many different roles, you can reconsider your thoughts on the matter, you can shape the way you want to experience these roles, and you can strengthen your relationship with your partner so that your family can last.
Just think of the multiple facets each role can develop: a mother can be loving, caring, a great cook, a good house keeper, but also playful and creative, punitive if needed, in a good mood or a bad mood; a woman can be powerful, beautiful, intelligent, resourceful, playful and daring, sad or happy, healthy, sporty, creative, attentive, organized, etc. All attributes can correspond to all roles. It is up to each one to choose what fits a certain role at a certain point in the given conditions.
Enjoy being a woman! Enjoy being a mother! And if you decide to take some time to reconnect with your partner as a woman does not imply you are less of a mother. It only means you care enough!