In a raw and poignant Instagram post on Tuesday, Hall has described the effect on her marriage of having her baby, Raja, who was born in May; the first child with husband Denim Cooke.
“The first time you have a baby you’ll notice a few injustices,”she wrote. But then she says something many mothers know to be true; with each subsequent child, you either become accustomed to the injustices – or you leave your marriage.
“The second time you have a baby you’ll be used to them. And the third you could accept it or you could just move out.”
The injustices which Hall speaks of are due to the significant imbalance in parenting that most couples experience in the first year after a baby is born. As Hall explains, it’s something she’s very concerned about, “because I don’t want the stats to keep growing on relationships breaking up in the first year of a baby being born.”
You won’t find the statistics Hall’s talking about reported in the Census results – because it’s not a direct question that’s asked. But the incredible stress a partnership experiences after a child is born is regularly discussed widely by academics, professionals, and of course, parents, world wide.
Speaking to Mamamia, a family therapist from Relationships Australia confirmed that, “Many couples do find the first year after childbirth stressful on their relationship, and seek counselling as a result. They also commonly experience an ongoing decline in marital satisfaction.”
The main causes for discord include factors such as sleep-deprivation, transitioning to one income, and a dire lack of personal time; but arguments about the changed roles in the couple place a particular stress on many couples.
In 2016, The Conversation published a piece called, Decades of Studies Show What Happens to Marriages After Having Kids, which said, “On average, couples’ satisfaction with their marriage declines during the first years of marriage and, if the decline is particularly steep, divorce may follow.”
The author, Matthew D. Johnson, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University in New York, cited research about the challenging – and sometimes catastrophic – affects on couples after children.
“For around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive: the relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along. Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples. In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationship.”
Some bloke messaged me on instagram the other day. It’s always interesting when blokes message me.. occasionally it’s to tell me that their wife loves me and that they think what I’m doing is awesome.. but usually it’s a) to have a crack or b) to have a go. This guy was the latter… “Constance why do you have to get your tits out on camera to feed your baby… have some respect for your kids and your husband….” So to answer his question, I have to have my tits out to feed my baby because he does this thing called Breast Feeding- so fucking weird, the baby literally feeds off my breast!! It’s so hard to do through clothes… Babies love it, I love it, It’s proven to be nutritionally very beneficial.. I’m raising my children in a world that will hopefully finally desexualise breasts so that mums and babies are free to feed in public with out the scrutiny of someone like yourself feeling awkward because its giving him a stiffy.. ????????♀️ You know, free to do it anywhere we want, like ya know… every other mammal on Earth…. Which is why in fact I have a lot of respect for my children. And as for my husband.. What the fuck has any of this got to do with him? ????
The almost-universal experience is what makes Hall’s post so brutally honest – and relatable. In it, she carefully explains how the imbalances have affected her.
“I carry the mental load of our baby. I know when he’s hungry, tired or needs a bath.”
She observes that the situation is not dependent on her husband’s participation. His contribution, which he happily makes, is almost ‘the icing on the cake’ – which she finds infuriating. The frustrated mum provides a recent example to explain her point:
“The other day I was giving my husband a kick up the arse to get ready quicker so we weren’t late and he turns to me and says.. “Calm down, Iv [sic] been looking after the baby all morning…. for you..” Wait what? For who? Oh me? Doing me a favour? Hang on should I get you some cash?”
Hall also notes the imbalance between her husband’s personal freedom, and hers:
“When I need to leave the house without the baby I must book it in, ‘darling I’m going to the shops, you have Raja, I’ll be 20 mins’. Nobody reminds me that I have my baby when they leave.”
Hall admits she is exhausted, and explains her state of mind as “brain fried”, and that she’s tired of “single handedly micro managing every member of this god forsaking family!!!!”
She also explains that she’s not trying to “bag blokes.” Indeed, far from simply complaining, Hall’s point is expressed perfectly in the conclusion to her post:
“Equality doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t start in the home and what better place to start showing your kids what equality looks like then when they first arrive on this beautiful world.”
And it’s that important conversation that Hall is now trying to start.