Mother and Baby

"Who's more tired?" and 13 other things couples argue about after having a baby

Section: Relationships

When two people, who have perhaps been together a long time, feel they know each other inside out, and have decided to spend their lives together, they often think that this bond could never be broken or tested, especially by a nine-pound little lump of wailing cuteness.

They’d be wrong. It’s extremely easy to underestimate the effect a teeny tiny baby can have on two whole grown-up, logical and very capable human beings, who love each other beyond comprehension.

With all the adorableness and heart-bursting love that comes with it, no matter how prepared you think you might be for a baby, even seasoned veterans who are six kids along will tell you that everything gets turned upside down with the new arrival.

Comparing how many hours you’ve slept, who changed the most nappies that day, and whose turn it is to wash the dishes are but a few of the seemingly petty subjects that can get a couple bickering to no end.

Here are 14 things new parents argue about when a baby comes along, that their pre-baby selves would never in a million years imagine they’d be fighting about.


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1) Who’s more tired

Petty? Yes. But even that extra 20 minutes of shut-eye your partner managed to get on the couch while you were scrubbing poop (that projectile shot out of the baby earlier) out of the carpet can get you feeling all kinds of resentment.

20 minutes is 20 minutes. They will pay.

One new mum tells us, “My partner tells me that even though he doesn’t get up when the baby cries at night, or even open his eyes for that matter, he still wakes up, therefore his sleep is also disturbed. Needless to say this is something we row about often. We literally count how many hours we’ve slept and compare, trying to one-up each other on who is more sleep-deprived.”
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2) Who does more around the house

Keeping score of how many times you’ve taken the rubbish out and whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher may seem like a lot of work but the one tab that is fully functional in your brain is the mental spreadsheet of who’s done what and when.

Dora, mum of three, including a newborn, said, “I texted my husband, ‘FYI, I changed the baby six times today and I believe you’re down to four, so you’re picking up the next two.’ He replied, ‘I already have two changes in the bank from that time that you were ill. So we’re even.’”
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3) Vaccinations

There may be one of you in the relationship that is a staunch believer that vaccinations are the cause of every modern day childhood related illness, while the other fears the outcome of non-vaccination.

If you’re not on the same page, this can unfortunately cause many an argument.

“My boyfriend believes that we’re all test subjects for the government,” says new mum, Mel, “and that by vaccinating our kids we’re all just walking right into their trap. Not to mention, he firmly believes that vaccinations cause autism. We’ve been over the issue so many times that I don’t know what to believe anymore. However, I don’t feel comfortable with my child not being vaccinated.”
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4) Parenting style 

Despite your best efforts to discuss and agree on a parenting style, the truth of the matter is that we don’t all equally care about the same things all the time.

You might be a stickler for please and thank-yous, whereas your partner could be more concerned about the child picking his nose in public.

If one of you doesn’t show the same enthusiasm for the other’s concerns, things could get a little sticky.

It’s also highly likely that post-baby, one or both of you could have a change of heart on some previously agreed rules.

Rene, mum to a toddler, explains, “We said we wouldn’t let our child turn into a YouTube zombie, but I caved somewhere around the one-year mark. My husband still goes on about it. His weak point is when our son begs for a chocolate biscuit, even though we said no sugar. Then it’s my turn to have a bit of a moan.”
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5) Food

There’s usually one parent that is a little more manic when it comes to what the child consumes, but both may very well have an opinion on the matter.

Whether breast or formula, organic or regular, store bought or homemade, unless you discuss these things and come to an agreement in advance, the subject of food will come up many times a day and will most likely lead to a full blown row.

Is the child getting enough fruit and veg? Calcium? Are they allowed snacks in between meals? How do you feel about sugar?

“I don’t want my child eating so many animal products,” says Maria, mum of one, “but my husband believes that’s the only way the child will grow up to be strong and healthy.” Another food related subject you may argue about is who ate the last cookie and then forgot to buy more.
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6) Who spends more time on their phone

In this day and age, the phone has become a pastime and a means of escape, and there’s no one more in need of escape than a new parent.

Unfortunately, while one parent might be escaping on their phone, the other most likely has kids hanging off them and still has their reheated coffee in the microwave four hours later.

Joanne, a mum of two under two, says, “If I’m not having a go at him for scrolling through his phone when we have a million things to do, it’s him laying into me about it. It’s got to the point that as soon as one of us even picks up a phone, the other starts to huff and puff. I don’t even recognize myself anymore.”
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7) Toilet time

“I feel like my husband takes ages in the toilet to get away from us,” says Sophie, mum to three girls.

“It’s such a silly thing to row about but I can’t help it.” It may seem silly, but when you have to do your business either with an audience, or in under a minute because someone or other’s banging the door down, it’s easy to feel envious of your partner’s precious uninterrupted toilet time. “It’s got to the point that I’ve told him not to take his phone in there.”

Now there’s a solution!
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8) In-laws

Granted, in-laws can be a source of relationship peace-disturbance even if you don’t have kids, but there’s something about their children having children that makes a lot of grandparents feel that they have to do double the parenting.

Whether they like to meddle, show up unannounced, or complain about the lack of visits, if you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye on where the in-laws should stand, prepare for war.
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9) Agreeing to things without informing the other

Pre baby, you may have loved the spontaneity of a simple, “Honey, I’ve invited a couple of friends over for some wine and Scrabble.”

Obviously that could never happen now. (“What? Have you not seen the state of this house and that my top still has baby vomit on it from two days ago?”) Post baby, agreeing to attend a wedding six months from now without thoroughly liaising with your other half first could very well incite rage.
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10) Feeling like you’re not being understood

If there was ever a time that a couple truly felt the meaning of men are from Mars and women are from Venus, it’s when children enter the equation.

“All of a sudden, it felt like we were speaking a different language,” says Claudia, mum to twins.

“Communication is key. He felt that I’d changed, and I couldn’t believe that he hadn’t. In reality, what he was seeing was me, his usually patient wife, at my wit’s end with a zero tolerance level, and what I was getting was my zen husband, as zen as ever, seemingly nonchalant to the fact that our world had been turned upside down.”
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11) Religion and traditions

While religion might not have been something one paid much attention to in their single, child-free life, there’s something about having a baby that brings out all the closeted religious beliefs and traditions we may have buried deep inside.

“My wife never even spoke of her religion before we got pregnant,” says Des, “and now all of a sudden she wants to christen the baby, attend church at Easter, and get the priest round to bless our home. Where is this all coming from?”
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12) Response time

With a baby, it’s safe to say that when you need something, you need it now. Food? Try telling the baby to wait. Explosive diaper?

Unless you want to just throw the whole baby away, better get to that immediately.

Phone rings just as the baby is about to fall asleep? Smash that thing into the wall. If one partner is not as spritely as the other in their response time, let the squabbling begin.

“My baby threw up on my foot, and I screeched at my husband to bring me some kitchen roll,” says Katie, a mother of one.

“I could feel it seeping in through my sock and in between my toes. He told me to wait because he was in the middle of something.”
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13) Sex

It’s no secret that a lot of men feel neglected after a baby enters the scene.

Despite your best efforts to explain what’s going on, your partner might not understand why you’re not up for hanky-panky as much as you used to be.

It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s not that you don’t love your partner, or that your feelings have changed. In addition to the fact that you’re exhausted and haven’t showered in days, it’s also biological.

Even when your libido does eventually return, the extreme tiredness could very well remain.

“Sometimes I just want a hug,” explains new mum, Wanda, “but he always uses that as an opportunity to make a move. He says that I’m not attracted to him anymore, and I argue that he only wants me for sex.”
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14) Who’s to blame for the child picking up bad traits

Looking at each other agog in faux shock when the kid drops the F-bomb for the first time is a game we all like to play.

Suddenly, no one has any idea where the child could have heard this from, and you both settle that it must have been the TV. Crisis averted.

Bad language, however, is not the only bad habit kids can pick up from their parents. “Much to my husband’s dismay, I bite my nails,” Daniella, mum of one, tells us.

“I managed to stop before we got married, but I unfortunately started up again after I had our daughter. Imagine his face when he noticed that our now two-year-old has started biting her nails. I’m never going to hear the end of this.”

What do you find arguing most about? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Now read:

12 ways to stay close to your partner after having a baby

10 genius ways to make new mum friends in your community

  • Author: Kat de Naoum Kat de Naoum
  • Job Title: Freelance Writer

Kat is a freelance writer based in the UK and Greece. She has written for many publications, and, as an advocate for female empowerment, loves to write about women’s issues, and helping fellow mothers feel supported and less alone.

She has birthed one child and written two books. She can read and write and tends to spend most of her (non-parenting) time doing that, as well as taking care of her several pets.

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