Jen, 34. Three children, aged 6, 4, and 1

“The big thing for me is that having children forced us out of our mutual independence. Before, we both did things the way we liked: sometimes that complemented each other, and sometimes we just did things merrily on our own. For instance, we could never cook together. It always led to fights. So we’d just decide, pre-occasion, who was in charge. We never worked well as co-leaders of anything: ultimately, we both like to take the lead and felt threatened when someone else wanted to do it differently. For me, there was a lot of trouble around being a “wife” thrown into this. I was often terrified of following his lead.

But then suddenly, we had this massive project to lead together. And we had to do it together. We had to respect each other, hear each other, figure out what was our own personal issue and what was theirs – and learn how to find the right path in the middle.

I found it impossible when he would tell me how to do it (helpful breastfeeding tips or sleep suggestions) and then he got obsessed with Gina Ford and it was game over. I felt so unbelievably undermined the whole time. But the stupid thing was that I loved that he was involved, and needed him to be. I never ever wanted him to think that because I was the woman it was all up to me: I’ve seen that in marriages, and don’t aspire to it in any way. So I was a bit stuck. We both were.

It has taken us three babies – the third of which was a trial that we’d never known before in terms of how unhappy she was and how terribly she sleeps – and five years. And hundreds of pounds in marriage therapy. And we’re finally getting there.”

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