Yes, I said it. Babies will ruin your marriage. On purpose, probably. God, babies are the worst.*
Hyperbole aside, the addition of a child does tend to add stress to the lives of those charged with caring for the child. Years of research and America's collective schadenfreude/pity obsession with Teen Mom supports the notion that a newborn puts a strain on almost every relationship, which is weird because I thought that having a baby was the best thing for people who want to make everything in their relationship perfect and wonderful. I guess all those soap operas were wrong.
Turns out, infants, with their pants shitting, non-English speaking, vomiting, and sporadic, inexplicable crying, are a lot of work, and couples often board The Good Ship Parenthood without adequately preparing for their impending lifestyle change. The work of caring for a newborn often falls disproportionately on the shoulders of the mother, who is already dealing with the psychological fallout of post-pregnancy hormone fluctuations, changes in her body for which she wasn't prepared, the occasional frustration of breastfeeding, and fatigue. Men are also affected, but their decrease in marital satisfaction doesn't start setting in until the baby is a few months old.
A new breed of counseling has popped up to help parents-to-be get ready for Junior and the changes that Junior will bring. Mental health professionals are increasingly offering courses to expectant parents to help them adjust to the birth of their child. The Wall Street Journal reports,
Now, a growing number of mental-health professionals are advising couples to undergo pre-baby counseling to hash out marital minefields such as divvying up baby-related responsibilities, money issues and expectations for sex and social lives. A growing number of hospitals, midwives and doulas (birth coaches who provide physical and emotional support) are teaching relationship skills alongside childbirth education classes.
While I'm leery of representatives of a profession advocating that more people use that profession's services (kind of like when an insurance agent talks about how you need like $8 zillion worth of policy coverage or a car salesman encourages you to get an "undercoating"), whatever it takes to prevent the crumbling of a relationship post-baby is probably worth it. Even if that ungrateful baby won't even realize how thankful he should be.
*Writer doesn't actually hate babies.