The struggles faced when becoming a parent without your family support network
As a young girl I just wanted to find love, settle down and start a family. Having just turned 20, that is exactly what happened… except it wasn’t quite was I was expecting!
I met my partner and fell head over heels, in love. Within six months we had moved in together, had a child on the way and, even though we wanted to be a couple, we were facing a rushed marriage so we were not having a child out of wedlock.
Life was wonderful. We laughed, had fun and spent so much time together. However, we had not had time to really get to know each other. The realisation that I was now eight months pregnant, needing support, feeling alone (having left my family who lived 100 miles away), a rushed wedding and emotional overload had a huge impact on our relationship.
After our ‘honeymoon period’ I was left alone on a daily basis. I needed support and as I had moved to the area to be with my partner, I had no help on hand from people who I felt at ease with. My husband, as he was now, was drifting away as he had huge work commitments. Thus, keeping him away and meaning I was feeling increasingly alone.
I didn’t want to say too much to him so I didn’t seem like I was moaning all the time, not coping with life and getting angry about the amount of time he spent at work. He would spend more time away because he would not be working to full capacity, worrying about how our relationship was and how he couldn’t find a balance between work deadlines and family life. This was heightened by the fact I had no support to turn to, meaning all pent-up emotions were directed at him when he returned.
Having only spent fun times in our previous six months together, we were now experiencing a different kind of life. He bought me a dog thinking that this would help my morale, but the mess and hassle just made things worse. Every text that he received, every late night and change in mood was interpreted by me that there was another person involved in our relationship.
I was now VERY alone, with a dog, about to give birth and felt desperately unhappy!
I felt that the only thing I had to keep us together was this small child growing inside of me. I clutched to this thought for the last few weeks of pregnancy hoping that it would change the way he felt about me.
After two days in labour, tired and emotional, there we were together with our little boy. I was happy. I finally felt that we were coming together again… until the day we left the hospital.
I was home again, the excitement over, my husband was back at work and now I not only felt alone but I also had a dog that wanted attention and a baby that didn’t want to sleep. My mum was back and forth on the train as I had slipped into the baby blues. Having her with me was great but it wasn’t a realistic situation and one that couldn’t be sustained in the long term. She could only be there for a while. At first, I would be happy she was with me, but soon dreaded it as I knew parting would be so difficult.
All I wanted was to feel like I did a year ago; in love, happy, needed and cared for. However, all the bitterness that had arisen between us over the last few months were splitting us apart. We both knew that and the more that I held on, the further he drifted away… until he found himself happier with someone else.
When you become pregnant you have a midwife and a small support network for mum and baby but that is it…there is no one to support THE FAMILY UNIT! If a relationship counsellor had been there as part of our support network we may have had a better chance of remaining as one and felt better informed about dealing with issues that may have arisen. I would have had someone to talk through my emotions and provide techniques to get me through the tough times. I could have done with that advice on how to communicate in a non- judgemental manner, so my husband could understand I wasn’t angry at him; just scared alone and I needed him. I just wanted him, as my friend and husband, to help me to learn how to cope when he wasn’t there.
It is important to know each other before you introduce any children into a relationship. If you don’t know each other, how can you support each other?
When there are communication issues, in what is probably the hardest, and loneliest time of your life means that a support network becomes vital. Some people do have a very close and loving support network, but in this day and age many do not, and this is where relationships break down.
Society has changed. People move counties, sometimes countries to find work. Women are having careers and these changes have disrupted the whole extended support network which is why Marriage Care is so important!
In times gone by, extended families consisted of mum living at home with grandma, and sometimes even great grandma. Often the new husband would move into the family home and when he went off to work extended families supported each other, especially during early parenthood. Any issues would be discussed and advised by an elder and this usually was sufficient.
I wanted to share my story to allow others to see the negative affects a lack of support can have on relationships. If I had known about Marriage Care back then, things could have been so different and my child may not have grown up without meaningful contact with his father. I believe organisations such as Marriage Care – especially with their donation-only counselling service – has such an important role in maintaining strong, healthy relationships.
I truly believe the extra support which Marriage Care could have provided me would have saved my marriage. May be this would have meant my child wouldn’t have grown up in poverty and would have . That is why I am so passionate about sharing my story and asking you to give what you can in order to help Marriage Care continue their fantastic support.
I hope you will join with me in agreement that the work of Marriage Care is so vital to help people like me. Unfortunately, I found out about Marriage Care 25 years too late. However, it isn’t too late for others. So, please click here to give what ever it may be to help Marriage Care continue supporting more than 6,000 individuals each year.