The "I'm So Tired I Could Scream" Syndrome
Sleep deprivation -- one of the most common gripes among new parents -- can spark dramatic mood swings and unprovoked arguments. "Without adequate amounts of sleep, we can become short-tempered," says Rhonda Nordin, author of After the Baby: Making Sense of Marriage After Childbirth. The key: recognizing when anger toward your partner is actually just crankiness and circumventing the argument before it escalates. "The heat of the moment is the worst possible time to try to deal with something," says Jordan. "We often push issues at these times because we think if we postpone them, they'll never be addressed." Put discussions off until later that night when the baby is in bed, she suggests. "You'll learn to trust that the issue isn't being brushed aside but merely put in a place where it doesn't take control of your life." The Maricles learned their lesson: "We overreacted to what might normally be a perfectly appropriate comment, and that turned into an argument."
The Maricles also needed to work on making themselves less exhausted. Alicia went for a tried-and-true solution: "Sleep when the baby sleeps!" she says. "I would take a little nap when J.P. was napping instead of trying to clean the house or do laundry." The couple also agreed that it wasn't necessary for Jon to wake up with Alicia for all of J.P.'s night feedings. "I realized that there was no reason for both of us to lose sleep," says Alicia. "Now, Jon gets some extra sleep and really appreciates my 'sacrifice.'"