As first-time expecting moms and dads, we read up on pregnancy, on labor and delivery, perhaps on breastfeeding, and, if we are wise, on baby sleep.
But most of us fail to read up on the profound ways having a child will affect our lives, particular our partnership with our spouse.
Contrary to what some of your colleagues at work may believe, having a baby is not some kind of convenient excuse for a months-long staycation. Having a newborn is like a bomb going off in your life. You and your partner transmogrify from well-rested, well-adjusted, social people to a tired, infrequently showered, and low-EQ zombies.
As difficult as this transition is, few books or blogs tackle this huge life shift. It is a startling lack, given the profusion of books on pregnancy, delivery, baby sleep, and the first year with baby. Perhaps no one wants to deliver the bad news to glowing first-time mom-to-be. Or perhaps we all engage in a collective forgetting that allows the human race to survive.
Whatever the reason, the result is clear: Many new parents woefully underprepared, left to navigate the marital challenges of early parenthood without a map or even a compass, and often with profound sense of isolation and loneliness, despite how commonplace these challenges are. It’s the reason books like “How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids” are written.
I would like to recommend two books that help–in very different ways–new parents-to-be prepare for the emotional toll of being a new parent.
The second, which I describe below in detail, is Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift.