Before I say anything else I will say this; I love my boyfriend. I love him so much that if you catch me at the exact right moment (like, say, upon opening the dishwasher, poised to load it with dirty dishes only to realise it's still full of clean crockery), I could literally weep with how much I feel for him.
But f**k me, that love has been tested over the past 11 months and five days - the exact amount of time our precious little boy has been on this planet. After all, there's nothing quite like a baby screaming in your face at 4am to make you realise how much you hate your spouse. Of course, you don't really hate them, it's just that sleep deprivation is a cruel mistress. It messes with your mind. It turns you against each other. It makes you lay in bed, rigid with faux sleep, pretending that the baby monitor blaring away next to your head hasn't just woken you up while you silently fume 'It's your bloody turn!'
I wasn't a complete moron, I did have some inclination that our relationship would be effected by having a baby (for reasons unknown, people - mostly men - seem to delight in telling expectant parents to bid adieu to their sex life). I was prepared for bleary-eyed night feeds and shockingly early starts, but, in my naivety, I thought we would be united in our disrupted sleep pattern. I thought it would be... romantic. Pah! I had visions of him in low-slung lounge pants, sleepily filling up the cafetiere while I fed the baby, the pair of us snuggled under a cashmere blanket on the sofa. Granted, what I was imagining were scenes so sickly sweet they could have been plucked straight from the glossy pages of a Boden catalogue. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that there has been less swapping of sleepy smiles from across the room and more snapping and sniping at each other than I knew we were capable of.
And I know we're not alone. Research shows that there's a spike in couples splitting during the first 18 months of their new baby's life compared to any other point in their relationship. It's shocking, but hardly surprising. After all, as you adjust to your new role as caregiver/breadwinner/bottle steriliser/Calpol fetcher, you tend to let your role as girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband fall by the wayside. You deem it to be less important. And to quote my favourite fictional prostitute, this is a Big Mistake. Big. Huge.
So where do we go from here? Well, you can start by trying to be a bit nicer to each other. Heck, perhaps just try not to be such a sarcastic tit when one of you gets Sudacrem on the carpet during diaper duty. Oh, and for goodness sake, if you hear the baby monitor in the middle of the night, IT'S YOUR F**KING TURN!
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