19 Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]
Let me start by saying this post is not the Rosetta Stone of all female conduct. It's not an all-inclusive panacea either, so don't consider this a rule book. But for many of you, whom the love of your life has just had a baby, you've discovered that there is indeed a difference between PMS and Post Partum hormones.
Honey, that's just the beginning.
One of the best ways to help understand her fragile nature is to understand her Love Languages. If you don't understand what that is, click here. Take the quiz. Do that first. Like, right now.
What does this quiz mean? It helps you understand how best to fill her tank.
Let me explain: when she is with children all day, the only thing they do is drain her. That's it. There are moments of pride, moments of epiphany, or moments of rest. But these are just moments. The rest of the time, even when the baby sleeps well, the toddler behaves and naps, the dishes actually get done, or the weather is beautiful, something or someone needs her. Constantly. There's no break. Ever.
When you get home from work, her tank is emptier than when you left. She may be half-full, and still have some steam left, but she's not the same person that you saw this morning.
If her language is touch, for instance, it's a double edged sword: there are little people physically attached to her most of the day. But they are a drain, not a filler. If she's not a touchy person by nature, she is learning that these little people need touch, and she's doing it all day by instinct, but it's hard. It's hard to have someone attached to you all day. In either way, a beautiful gesture is simply by a hug, playing with her hair, or holding her hand.
The Key here is Permission. Don't surprise her with a bear hug, but ask if you can cuddle with her instead.
If her language is Words, she is either starved from them because they're not talking yet or all she hears is "NO" This can be an easy one to fill: simply say "Thank you" to her! Tell her dinner was great, that she's amazing, that you don't know how she does what she does (hint: she doesn't either) or acknowledge what she's done today; dishes, laundry, vacuuming, or keeping kids alive.
The Key here is you actually have to mean it. She'll initially fight you on it, "It's no big deal," etc. but fight her back, "No, seriously, you take good care of us and I can't thank you enough."
If her language is Acts of Service, understand she is cleaning, bathing, doing laundry, etc. only to find that a little midget has literally un-done what she has just done. There's never an end to the housework with littles; rarely do you even get ahead. So let her see you fold laundry, do the dishes, play with the kids, give the kids a bath and put them to bed. Run her a bath, pour her a glass of her favorite beverage, watch the kids so she can walk around Target for a while. Or simply just make sure you pick up after yourself! If she has cleaned the same mess all day, don't make her clean up your socks out of the living room. The Key here is communication: "I was going to fold laundry or do the dishes, what would you prefer?" Then do both. "I ran you a bath. Go have some time to yourself." Then let her come out to see you folding laundry.
If her language is Time, understand she misses you. She will worry constantly that she didn't spend enough time with the kids because she was cleaning, or with you because the kids take up so much time. Make a point as often as you can to put the kids to bed on PB & J, and you guys have a meal together in as much silence as you can stand. Find a favorite program you both like to watch and make that your together time. Go for a drive until the kids fall asleep. Make sure you have a hobby that you enjoy doing together - bonus points if it's something active. The Key here is making it deliberate. There is so much jam-packed into our weeks that we will miss this if we don't make it on purpose: schedule it. It's non-negotiable.
If her language is Gifts, don't think jewelry. Think her favorite drink from Starbucks. Think takeout/pizza delivery or a cheap date after church on Sundays. Think random giftcards to iTunes, TJ Maxx, or wherever she likes to shop. Tell her it cannot be spent on the children or yourself. The Key here is don't make it feel like a payment; it needs to be out of appreciation.
One of the biggest thieves of all of this is Mom Guilt. Fellas, it's real. It will kill her spirit. You have to communicate with all of the languages: "You're doing such a good job; I just don't want you doing it alone." is a good start. Because of all that you want to do for her, she may view it as you don't think she can hack it alone, and that you're rescuing her. She needs to feel like Supermom and that you are doing XYZ because you are so blown away by her amazing-ness that you want to do it. I know that sounds crazy, but it's crazy-true.
So Men, have at it.