Friday, December 6, 2013

The Good Husband (and dad)

It's been a busy few days but I'm finally getting around to the part 2 of my previous post. Yeah dads you're not getting off the hook either!

So you liked this girl, you courted her, married her and now you helped make her a mother. She's been your crush, your girlfriend, and your wife but now she is not only your wife but the mother of your children. You have wandered into uncharted territory. You're a new dad.

Even if this isn't your first baby it never hurts to be reminded how to help be the best husband you can be to your wife as you both take on parenthood and navigate its murky waters without being eaten by an alligator.

1. Don't try to understand.
You have never experienced the wrath of estrogen and progesterone, well not first hand anyways. If you have, well you may need to be checked by a doctor. These two hormones go nuts after a baby, they have some friends like oxytocin that mix it up too, oh and the sleep deprivation doesn't help. Don't try to wrap your head around why she is crying because you bought the wrong paper towels. Just accept it for what it is: she's feeling upset. She probably doesn't even know why she feels certain ways. Instead of trying to understand, work on finding out what can help, if anything. Whether that's a hug, a pint of ice cream, or the right kind of paper towels. Don't worry, the hormones will settle down and you'll have your wife back soon. Please, if you think your wife has more than a little baby blues call a doctor right away. Excessive sadness is not normal.

2. Offer help.
She's probably exhausted, frazzled and overwhelmed. Offer to help, or better yet just jump in. Dishes in the sink? Wash' em! Layers of dust on the mantle? Get the pledge! Has she been eating and drinking enough? Offer to make lunch or bring her a glass of water. Remember she just grew a human being and birthed it and now she is trying to recover. It's very traumatic and caring for a newborn on top of it is just flat out crazy. No, you don't have to feed her grapes and fan her with palm fronds but just be aware. She needs help and probably (if she's like me) won't ever ask. You're part of a team now.

3. Encourage her.
You are your wife's biggest cheerleader. Encourage her and remind her she is doing a great job. I know many new mothers feel like they are falling flat on their face. She is probably questioning every single thing she is doing. There is insane pressure on her and she needs to know you think she's doing great. To just hear "you're a great mom" or "you're doing really great with this mom thing." can make her day and give that vital boost of confidence. I know you probably don't realize it but she needs that encouragement.

4. See her as a wife again
Sure she might be wearing a pair of stained yoga pants, a shirt adorned with spit up and possibly unshowered, but she's still your wife. Remind her you love her. Whether it's asking her on a date or just telling her she looks pretty. Remind her she still has a husband who sees a wife not just a mom. Remember how you tried so hard to woo her when you were dating? Do that again. Make her feel loved for being her, not necessarily because she is a mom.

5. Take an interest in the baby
You would think this is pretty self explanatory but I've talked to a lot of friends who say they wish their husbands were more involved with the new baby. I know you probably feel like you are kind of useless. That mom is all baby wants and needs. Nope. Get in there! Rock the baby, feed the baby, read to the baby, change the baby, bathe the baby, change the baby. Seeing you interact and love on your new babe will no doubt make her heart swell with love for both of you. Thanks oxytocin!

So, having a new mom as a wife can be hard. It can be a challenge to figure out what exactly your role is as husband/new dad. Don't worry and just go with the flow. Use your instincts and everything will be fine. Remember why you fell in love in the first place and repeat it to yourself every day.

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