Fissures and Fantasies

Common wisdom says that a baby will draw a couple closer together, and while that certainly can be true, a baby is also a litmus test for the true strength of a relationship. Whatever was solid before becomes even more golden, and whatever fissures existed before start to deepen very rapidly into massive cracks.

Like any stressful situation, having a baby brings out the true character of a person. Combine the cocktail of sleep deprivation with nerve-jangling wailing, elevator hormones, less money, and fewer friends and social escapes, and it’s easy to see why the person you’re closest to might become the target of your pent-up frustration and angst.

On the other hand, when you view your partner in the middle of all that mess cooing lovingly at your child, then praising you for doing an excellent job as a parent, you can’t help but fall more deeply in love and realize why you married the person in the first place.

I wonder how many relationships break up over the stresses of raising a child together. Is it because knowing the person as a parent allows you to view them truthfully for the first time? It’s hard to keep a romantic fantasy going when you’re in the middle of explosive poos and projectile vomit, and a little one depends on you for their very survival and happiness.

Or does it all boil down to emotions and immaturity, not being able to work together toward a common goal, which is raising this beautiful human being? Maybe if more grace were given, more words glossed over, more fights forgotten, then more marriages would last. Maybe a baby is a test of endurance, and not just for eighteen years: till the end of your life.

If getting married is the dessert, perhaps raising a baby is like the meat and potatoes, the solid substance that may not always taste sweet but strengthens both the soul and the constitution. If a couple can join together and savor the experience, gristle and all, true growth can occur right alongside baby.

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