December 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm , by Lauren Piro
Do you remember that classic Ferris Bueller line? “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.” It’s truly a great rule to live by, and one that Amy, 27, and Sean, 29, forgot after they had kids. As Sean himself puts it, “Everything happened quickly. We got married, had a baby, moved halfway across the country, had another baby.” Now, with two kids (Jake, 3, and Ian, 4 months), the couple’s connection is waning, they’re constantly fighting, and they’re dealing with other major issues they can’ t ignore any longer. Read the full story here.
Amy’s turn: This stay-at-home mom just had a new baby and has a lot of the typical gripes that come with the job: her husband doesn’t understand how hard she works, doesn’t help out around the house, and forgets the things she asks him to do (“Just when will Sean look up those flights to Seattle so we can see my family?” Amy laments). But there’s also a larger problem at play—Amy’s suffering from postpartum depression. She cries at the drop of a hat, doesn’t feel a connection to her newborn, and no one seems to get what she’s going through. Sean took a temporary leave of absence from work, and her mom stayed with her for a while, but now that she’s without them again, her anxiety is at an all time high. She misses feeling like herself, misses the satisfaction of working as a nursery school teacher, and misses her husband’s friendship. All they do now is fight, not to mention Sean’s mother meddles and makes back-handed comments about how Amy runs her household. Everything feels wrong, and she’s not sure her marriage is going to make it.
Sean’s turn: Sean just can’t figure Amy out. It seems that in her eyes he can do no right—she’s always screaming at him for something. He knows he could work harder at controlling his temper and could do more around the house, but he just doesn’t feel like he and Amy share the same special bond they did before. He knows his mother can be difficult, but Sean grew up with a physically abusive father, and is glad to have fostered a decent relationship with his mother later on in their lives, though she still denies the abuse. Amy calls Sean at work hysterical, and he just never thought it would get this bad. His secretary mentioned that counseling helped her when she had a newborn daughter, so Sean decided he and Amy should give therapy a try.
The counselor’s turn: The first step for these two was recognizing and dealing with Amy’s PPD, a condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of new mothers. The counselor assured Amy, whose complicated pregnancy, loneliness, and perfectionism put her at a higher risk for PPD, that it wasn’t her fault, and told Sean that he had to continue to be there for her. Reluctantly, Amy began taking medication, and it helped her anxiety enough so the pair could focus on mending their marriage. Like many couples, young children and stressful work had become a recipe for constant anger and blaming. They really needed to work on having more productive, calm conversations, using “I” phrases instead of “you” or “why” phrases, that put each other on the defensive (“Why don’t you ever help with the baby??” Not actually helpful.). Sean worked on thinking twice before he spoke rashly, and Amy traded micromanaging for a less stressful home, even if her kids toys aren’t always put away. The couple takes more time to spend together, and Amy plans to return to work after Ian is a year old. And Sean’s mom? She’s still a piece of work, but their new stronger marriage helps them deal with the situation more easily.
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