Ashley Tisdale: Everyone prepares you for baby, no one prepares you for relationship issues

Ashley Tisdale and Christopher French welcomed their daughter Jupiter in March of last year. Ashley is pretty open about topics that Hollywood starlets don’t usually talk about. Motherhood has been no exception, she’s addressed her struggles with breastfeeding, not accepting her pregnant or postpartum body and how long it takes to heal post birth. While on the Skinny But Not Fat podcast, Ashely addressed another topic not commonly circulated: what a baby does to a relationship. Ashley said that she was unprepared for the changes it created in her marriage, like fighting and trying to see eye to eye on baby issues.

Ashley Tisdale has come a long way since her High School Musical days.
The actress and mental health advocate, 37, got brutally honest about the nuances of motherhood since giving birth to 1-year-old daughter Jupiter — including how it’s changed the relationship with her husband Christopher French, whom she married in 2014.

“I mean, it’s a rollercoaster of a ride. No one prepares you for it,” Tisdale said on the Not Skinny But Not Fat. “I love how none of my friends who had kids told me about this. It’s like a secret.”

“Everyone prepares you for the baby and no one prepares you for what your relationship is gonna go through, and so, it’s just wild,” she continued. “But Chris is like the most patient man. We never really fought [before having Jupiter], and so, we do fight now because it’s like you have a third little person and … you have your way, they have their way, and you’re trying to like, you know, come together as a team. So it definitely changes things.”

Having a child also forced her to evolve as a person in ways she didn’t expect.

“I didn’t even know who I was at that point. I was like, I know I’m not who I used to be because I have this little baby now,” she said, noting that experience made her feel “like a shell of a person.”

“It’s almost like you can never go back to who you once were, which is amazing, and different, but it’s like, trying to get comfortable with that — and your body — again,” she added.

[From Yahoo!]

I am fascinated by this topic, or by the fact that Ashley is throwing it out there. I’ll start by saying that I think it’s a crucial discussion because yes, so much changes when a baby is introduced into a relationship. Teamwork is key, but it’s also elusive in those early days when everything stresses you out and sleep is a distant memory. Usually, parents are forced to figure out solutions in the thick of a meltdown or some other highly-charged moment. No one’s having a thoughtful discussion on parental philosophies at that time. You just want to know where the child’s g-d comfort toy is and why can’t your stupid partner find it quicker?! Feelings get hurt – fast. A lot of it has to do with parents figuring things out about themselves, too, like Ashley said. So yes, relationships rely a little bit more on the post-squabble recovery period and talks during the early years. A former editor of mine told me that she was convinced raising kids is what drove her and her first husband to divorce.

On the flip side, Ashley and Christopher were married for seven years before they had a child. That was by choice, not fertility issues. I’m not commenting on their decision, I loved Ashley’s defense of waiting to have a baby. But I think a couple, especially a rich, famous couple, can get very used to a certain existence after seven childless years together. So it doesn’t surprise me a new little human dropped a grenade in their beautifully predictable lifestyle. That’s what kids do. Although I didn’t feel like, “no one prepares you for what your relationship is gonna go through.” I think anyone who has friends with babies heard what their relationship went through, even if they didn’t point a finger at the baby as the culprit. Maybe Ashley thought she and Christopher were impervious, especially if they never fought prior to Jupiter’s arrival. They’ll be fine. If Christopher is patient and Ashley recognizes things naturally evolve, they’ll figure it out.

Photo credit: Instagram

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49 Responses to “Ashley Tisdale: Everyone prepares you for baby, no one prepares you for relationship issues”

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  1. Sandii says:

    People are definitely not prepared enough to have a baby.

    Most babies “happen” or couples have them because it is “time” now..

    So many children just happen to come into this world….

    So she is more or less a “now was the time” person without being really prepared what that means.

    • Raz says:

      I don’t think you can ever be really prepared for your first child.

    • Putnam Princess says:

      My parents waited seven years before having me. It was good for their marriage. My mom said it allowed her to pursue her career in the way she wanted and get established before having kids. They were married 51 years so they must have been doing something right.

  2. Scout says:

    Aww I’m sorry to hear….wait, Jupiter?

  3. Erin says:

    It caused mine. A special needs baby exposed cracks that I didn’t even know we had. Blew up our relationship. He couldn’t handle any kind stress at all.

    • Erin says:

      Hey Erin, I’m sorry this happened with your husband. My oldest also has severe significant special needs andI definitely suffer from PTSD from it because we had no idea what the extend of it would be until after they were born and it was literally the worst case scenario, extremely rare and we were surrounded by family that had no clue plus we were in deep with them in religion (we hardly speak to them now but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, fortunately we worked really well as a team when it comes to parenting them but my husband has also had extremely flexible jobs with good benefits so he’s able to take off for appointments or unexpected bad days or medical emergencies. We were also together for years and married for seven before we had our first. We’ve had more kids since and that is what has actually put the strain on our marriage. Juggling all of their needs plus our oldest is exhausting and the pandemic really brought out all of resentment and cracks that we had the luxury to just ignore before. Today we are like two ships passing in the night. If I had to do it all over again, things would be a lot different. I also feel like we will be one of those couples that just gets the last kid out the door and then we separate because we no longer have a relationship.

    • MaryContrary says:

      Erin-I’m so sorry. This is so incredibly common. A few of my kids were on the spectrum, and later one had fairly significant mental health issues. The stress of dealing with that, trying (and sometimes failing)to be on the same page with treatment, or consistency, not to mention the financial burden: it’s a lot. I completely understand how people’s marriages falter and sometimes fail under the weight of all of this.

  4. North of Boston says:

    That’s a lot of Halloween costume changes for one child. The rich really are different.

    • nikomikael says:

      It was 3 outfits, and two of those were basically just rompers? Also i think it was two different days because the dad also had different costumes and two times of trick or treating?

    • Aviva2 says:

      Nope. Some people just really love Halloween. I’m pretty solidly middle class and I have several people in my circle whose children had 3 costumes or more and went trick/trunk or treating multiple days.

      OTOH, I stuck my kids in dresses they already owned, put a witch hat on one and a tiara on the other and bought candy to give out on the way to my mom’s an hour before ToT started. 🤣

  5. teehee says:

    Might I be annoying and say– nobody prepares you for ANY relationships, lest for being a good example and some basic wisdom, which, is it not applicable for all relationship challenges- including a child? Which is not to say that its on teh same scale as other challenges cos I’m sure it manyfold— but– what kind of extra preparation does ANYONE give ANYBODY.
    Everybody minds their own business so I mean, I don’t understand why new parents act all surprised constantly like they are expected a bunch suddenly.
    Nothing changed- not outside, that is. Maybe inside.
    I still haven’t fully figured out this “where’s my village” stuff.

    Addeundum: I hear most people say “no one prepares you for baby” and “no one prepares you for pregnancy” and every other imaginable thing. How bout, no one prepares you. You prepare yourself, with the knowledge nothing can prepare you for something so radical- not even yourself. Live and learn.

    • hangonamin says:

      maybe thats also the problem? not a lot of people are out there talking about the real issues and how you can prepare. people, social media, media (tv, film etc) paint this rosy image of motherhood/parenthood and how it changes you for the better)but no one is out there saying parenthood destroyed our relationship because we didn’t tackle issues we thought we had. Instead, we just followed the flow and said ok it’s x years in our marriage now let’s make a baby. more so i feel like the message is, “oh you’ll figure it out bc it’s so worth it”. I think what more people should be talking about is how hard parenthood is, to get ready to really struggle hard sometimes (emotionally, mentally, financially etc.) and figure out how you can work better as a team or any weaknesses before you have a baby. you gotta really know you’re ready to give up a lot of things. you’re right tho, no one can prepare you, you have to prepare yourself, but “mommy blogs” and instagrams should really talk about the harsh, cold reality too.

      • Lucy says:

        Hmmm…ALL I see on social media is “real talk” from mums of very young children and I’m not remotely in that stage of life. It’s a VERY popular genre of content creation.

      • teehee says:

        Agreed– its a ton of mom blogs and lifestyle channels out there, specifically to address the seemingly hush subjects. Its more like, the info is always there, why do people expect wisdom to be given to them by others somehow, rather than gathered (one way or another). Above all NOW, when so many people are doing so much to up the information exchange. It makes no sense anymore to act like some magical “somebodies” didnt do their part for you.
        Unrealistic expectations maybe?

    • mosshearted says:

      I don’t even think it’s about ” no one prepares you” for xyz. For me it was more like, it never occurred to me that I even needed to prepare for xyz. I didn’t think to prepare for how motherhood would alienate me from my husband because I took our closeness and compatibility and shared values for granted. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

  6. Arizona says:

    a lot of friends and family have had their first child recently. after visiting several of them, I returned home to my husband and said I think having a baby is probably the worst thing you can do to your marriage.

    I have three step kids with him, so we’re doing the parenting thing together, but without having to go through the newborn stage. and it still adds a ton of challenges to our relationship. there’s a reason I didn’t want to have one of my own lol.

    • SusieQ says:

      @Arizona, you and I are in similar situations. All my friends started having kids in the last few years (early and mid-30s), and it seemed to strain their relationships with the exception of one.

      I’m a stepmother to my husband’s two college-age daughters, and honestly, it’s the best gig ever. We get to see them, but we also have time to travel, read, Netflix, and just enjoy life. We’ve talked about having kids of our own, but at our ages (36 and 47) we’re just kind of set in our ways.

    • AMA1977 says:

      I tell all the new parents. My kids are older (10 and 15) and I make it a point to tell new moms I know that it’s hard, but it will be okay. My husband and I get along famously, hardly ever fight, are each others’ best friends, all of that. The six months immediately following the birth of my oldest were THE TOUGHEST period my marriage has ever been through, and we’ve been through some stuff. It was rocky. It’s a huge adjustment.

      I tell them that if you feel weepy for more than a couple of weeks, you need to talk about it with your doctor. I tell them that if you decide breastfeeding is too hard, your kid will be fine (my honor student/cross country athlete was formula fed from 3 months. His equally brilliant and athletic sister was forced to give me back my boobs at a year. They are both wonderful.) I tell them that your body just did an AMAZING thing, so be kind to it and yourself. I tell them to give people specific tasks that are helpful when they visit, and that they know their baby best so they should do what feels right to them. And I tell them that they will HATE their partner sometimes, but it will even out after everyone is sleeping a little more and adjusted to this brand-new family member.

  7. Lucy says:

    At this point on the internet, the “nobody talks about…” thing is WILD to me. There are a trillion hours of content on everything under the sun. Doesn’t mean life isn’t hard and things don’t punch you in the face, but “it” is being talked about.

    • Megs283 says:

      Right?! It was out there, she just didn’t want to accept it 🤣

    • teehee says:

      Agreed– again it still isnt being handed to you on a platter. You have to sit down and do your research. Whether in a forum or asking your colleagues– So no one else can really be blamed for this…

    • JP says:

      I think it’s possible, even with the internet. You don’t know what you don’t know. I was surprised at a lot that happened post baby and I read plenty. I think it’s possible to have an assumption that your partner will parent the same as you and be as baby aware as you and then suddenly you find yourself in a room with a sleeping baby and a partner who doesn’t know how to whisper or understand that a baseball game on the tv with a crowd cheering is too stimulating an environment for a child to fall asleep… Or at least that’s what I found and it caused issues, lol. I never read the internet article on grown men who don’t understand how to let babies sleep.

      • Lucy says:

        That sounds like a man problem tbh. They rely on their partners to carry the mental load and do all the emotional labour…which is another type of content I’m bombarded with on every single platform and they *aren’t*

    • Emmi says:

      This. It’s so annoying at this point. “Nobody told me breastfeeding is hard!” “Nobody tells you what happens during menopause!” “Nobody told me fast food isn’t healthy!”

      WHAT? Yes, they tell you. The information is out there. I’m single without kids (loving both circumstances more and more each day) and even I cannot escape knowledge about child rearing, about pooping during birth and everything else I’m definitely not seeking out.
      So you add a whole person to a relationship dynamic, a little person who depends on you 24/7, and you are surprised it affects your relationship? Right. You never heard that a “fix-it baby” is the absolute worst thing you can do to a relationship because it fixes nothing but tests everything?

      I know celebs want to live the drama of “Nobody told me!” but this just sounds naive.

      • Case says:

        Agree, Emmi! I’m also single without kids, but I feel like it’s fairly obvious that adding a tiny baby who needs you 24/7 into the mix will make life more stressful and therefore tensions will rise in a marriage. And I feel like it IS talked about. That’s what spouses complain about with their friends and why you see parents having meltdowns alongside their little kids on vacation. And that’s why a lot of people are now childless by choice!

      • Emma says:

        Do we think maybe that this inability to ‘hear’ what kids do to people’s lIves and relationships is an evolutionary super replicator? Like, if you are not really prone to hearing this kind of info, you are more likely to have kids and pass on your inability?

        There definitely seem to be people who see and hear all the info and think ‘god no’ and others who think ‘what info? I had no clue about what was going to happen to me.’

    • hangonamin says:

      hmm i’d disagree. while the info is there, it’s definitely not as advertised as the rosy image of parenthood. think about all the instagram and blogs where it’s all wholesome and there’s this portray of the positive aspects of child rearing. all the holiday photos, the cute halloween family pics with adorable captions, the family vacation pictures that everyone loves to post. these are what couples who are thinking of having kids is bombarded with. yes, we all know childrearing is hard, but no one is out there saying it will and can literally break ur relationship. not nearly as many people are putting that caption on a blog or instagram. I think the positive aspects of childrearing are way more visible than the negative parts. and often when women complain about the hard aspects of motherhood, they are shamed. “oh you’re struggling with breastfeeding, well that’s the ONLY and best way of nutrition for your kid, so keep trying and doing anything less is bad for your kid.” in general, i think we judge people way more on parenting and that just drives the difficult convos in the background.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      I’m quite exhausted with, “Nobody ever told me….,” conversations. That ship has sailed.

      Everybody talks about everything. Just do a search and bam! Information overload.

  8. Jessica says:

    I was a single mother for 7 years but all my friends had babies at the same time, and I remember listening to them complain about their husbands nonstop and I felt so grateful to be alone, lol. No one second guessing my decisions with the baby, no one to get angry with for not helping out enough, and no one bugging me for sex after a long day with a newborn dangling off my body. I can absolutely see how it wrecks relationships, especially since a lot of men haven’t caught up with the times and still think women should do most of the work with babies, and expect them to work outside the home as well. No thanks.

    • Miss Owlsyn says:


      I sometimes have incredibly challenging days. It gets low. So at those times I remind myself that yes, this went wrong and this and this, but at least I don’t have someone making me feel bad just for being me, or criticizing everything I do while not actually doing anything at all themselves.

      Like the diva said, I’d rather be alone than unhappy.

    • MaryContrary says:

      Thankfully my husband was always great when our kids were babies (and he’s been an amazing dad all the way through) but I remember going out with my mom’s group when my first was a toddler and one of the women said her husband hadn’t changed a SINGLE DIAPER. She said, “oh he works, and I stay home, so this is just part of it.” (Oh and he’d spend all weekend playing golf.) And I was aghast. Besides the fact that he’s probably not bonding with your kid-all I could think was “what a selfish a-hole.” I always wondered if they stayed together-for her sake, I hope not.

      • North of Boston says:

        Are you friends with Gisele?

        Unfortunately I’ve heard of way too many marriages where the man is not being an equal partner in parenting, home life or even the marriage itself.

        A friend refers to it as “he thinks he got married and went to Disney World” syndrome- he thinks he deserves to life in a magical place that’s fun for him, where someone else deals with all the details and stuff and he just shows up for the rides, pretzels and hot dogs and can crash back in his room when he feels like it.

  9. Concern Fae says:

    It’s the healing stuff that hit me. We truly need to change how we treat the birthing and post partum process. Birthing can and regularly does injure the body, but there is no series of checkups for that. A study showed that 84% of maternal childbirth deaths are preventable and wouldn’t happen if the mother’s health were looked after during the birthing process. Urinary incontinence is the main reason why women go into nursing homes earlier than men. Although there are some biological reasons women have more bladder troubles as they get older, the truth is many women already have issues because “pee leeks” are seen as normal after childbirth, instead of largely treatable pelvic floor issues. And I’m using mothers because this is because of misogyny and treating women as disposable baby creating brood mares. Although actually vets probably treat birthing issues in horses more completely, because brood mares have monetary value.

    • helonearth says:

      A friend moved to France many years ago. First baby born in the UK, second in France. In France they have a range of help before the baby is born with classes on what to expect and practical advice and then a full check up six weeks after birth with further post natal help after for several months depending on how the birth went. Its all on their national health. This should be the standard in all countries.

    • Sydney says:

      I never thought about that it’s so f-up.
      So many friends and family always talk about their week bladders post kids. I never linked it bladder infections and it being treatable with pelvic floor exercises.

  10. imara219 says:

    I knew having a child would change our relationship but I didn’t comprehend just how much and those challenges. My husband and I were always on the same page, having a baby and all of a sudden we were on different pages. Add the hormones, pain from a c-section, lack of sleep and sudden arrival of my MIL and stuff was rough with us for a little while. The 4th trimester isn’t really discussed openly and all the time. It isn’t apart of our culture to show the realness of that time. I didn’t have PPD. It was just a well of everything being off. My body had completely changed. Things that were correct for 34 years was no longer true.

  11. Stacey Dresden says:

    I think it’s constructive that she’s highlighting these struggles. It may be unwise but I think lots of young women preparing for the future get their impressions and ideas about relationships and child bearing from peers and media, and I can understand there is a facade in those spaces. Similarly I like hearing more buzz around the unreasonable division of labor (physical tasks and psychological responsibility) in western culture. This needs to be called out as frequently as possible.

  12. Notsoanonymous says:

    I haven’t read the comments yet, it here to say that I experienced this within my marriage when our kids were born. They are now elementary aged and people, women in particular, are JUST starting to open up to me about this topic. What I truly think it comes down to is that no one wants anyone gossiping about them as a parent or a partner, so many of us stay mum to protect that space, even when our marriages are rocky at best due to a new baby.

    • mosshearted says:

      I think it’s really good that she’s talking about this, too. And I’m a little bummed and a little surprised that most of the comments are completely unsympathetic. Children can be tough on marriage in ways that are difficult to prepare for.

  13. CruzMom says:

    This is so true! I’m not sure if you can totally prepare for it no matter what you read, but I love that she’s trying to help. My OB (who had 7 kids!) gave me the best parenting/relationship advice after my first was born. He said to remember to cuddle with my partner for at least 10 min every day. This sounded really odd (and mildly inappropriate) at first, but he was right. Intimacy (not sex, just closeness) is really hard when you are already touching another human nearly 24 hr/day. You just want to NOT be touched. That can hurt your partner, which annoys you, and resentment grows. It happened with a TON of my friends who all had kids at the same time. Heck, it happened with us too, but the daily cuddle helped keep our connection, and I credit it with getting us through that time. When my second was born (with complex medical issues that were missed in utero), that time holding each other daily was a short reprieve from the fear/trauma. We still do it 8 years later! Making time to cuddle your partner is now my #1 parenting advice to new moms.

  14. j says:

    Everybody has talked about this for as long as I can remember. They strike me as the kind of couple who probably did overhear this exact kind of conversation at parties and between friend and said to themselves “that won’t be us”.

  15. AnneL says:

    It’s amazing to me that there was a time people said you should have a baby (or “another baby”) to save your marriage. Does it give you an incentive to work together and keep the family and marriage together? Yes, I suppose it does. But often it’s the children that make the marriage harder in the first place. Any stressor (and kids ARE stressors, wonderful and rewarding as they can be) will make a marriage harder.

    My daughter is a doula in New York. She’s young so she’s only attended about 18 births so far, but it’s been enough that she has seen some stuff. She’s seen many different hospitals, scenarios, doctors, labors, complications, crises, etc. She also does postpartum and lactation consulting work. One of her jobs as a doula is to tell people what to expect both during and after birth, and to give them grace if they’re struggling.

    Now she’s about to start a fast-track nursing program so she can become a midwife. She has nothing against doctors or hospitals, but she wants to help people with a wholistic approach to birth and to help take care of the parents and babies throughout the whole process in a way that OBGYNs and pediatricians aren’t set up to do.

  16. Luna17 says:

    Young kids are brutal on relationships. I’m guess I’m kind of surprised she seems to have the same issues as us regular people. Honestly having a housekeeper, a larger space and extra help would help 99% of me and my husband’s parenting and marriage conflicts at this point with two young kids so kind of surprised she is still having it so rough since she definitely has those things but glad she is being honest .

  17. Aviva2 says:

    I think I’m an alien. My soon to be ex spouse and I had many, many conversations about child rearing before we had kids. The conversations continue to this day because our children’s needs are ever changing and our most important philosophy is to meet them where they are. We’re divorcing because we are both now on different personal paths, but after 18 years and 4 kids, we’re still team kids. First. Always.

    Our lives changed when we started having kids, but the core of our relationship didn’t. If anything having kids brought us closer. There were no fights, or sniping. But the more I talk to other people, the more I think we’re the odd ones out.

  18. S says:

    The reality is, most people have children a) because it’s ‘what you do’ and/or b) so they’ll have company when they’re older – which is of course not necessarily true. They ignore the bad stuff they read/hear about having children.

  19. S says:

    The reality is, most people have children as a) it’s what everyone else does b) so they’ll have someone when older which is of course not necessarily true. Hence they ignore all the bad stuff.

  20. Granger says:

    There are so many wise and wonderful comments here. Children really do change your relationship with your partner, even if they’re amazing and supportive and working as hard as you are. As others have said, I’m surprised when I hear someone in a position of privilege, like Ashley, talk about how hard it is, because for me, it was the lack of TIME that had the biggest impact. We were students when our first was born and our parents lived far away, so there were no babysitters because we couldn’t afford them, and we definitely couldn’t afford house cleaners or any other help. So the amount of time my husband and I could spend together, keeping our relationship strong and healthy, was minimal. Our sex life paid the price — I was too tired and too overwhelmed by the constant needs of a little one to even think about sex. But maintaining that intimacy is so important, and without it, you can find yourself living with a roommate instead of a lover. That’s what I found the hardest part.