main banner

What-Should-I-Do-If-It-Seems-Like-My-Husband-Resents-Our-Baby_

What Should I Do If It Seems Like My Husband Resents Our Baby?

After struggling for a long time with something like getting pregnant and finally have a baby, one might think that you and your partner’s relationship should be rock solid.

But it sometimes happens that one of you might struggle with a change as big as starting a family.

One of our readers is in a similar situation and don’t have a clue about what she should do. Dr Sara O’Byrne, senior clinical psychologist, had some useful advice.

I’ve been married for eight years to a fantastic man and I always believed that we had the perfect relationship. We tried for four years to have a baby, and finally after two years of IVF, we had a beautiful baby girl six months ago. My husband has been a great help with caring for our daughter, but he has become very cool and distant towards me.
It feels like although he longed for a baby just as much as I did, he resents her now. He’s not loving and attentive to me anymore, which really saddens me. I really thought he’d be much more supportive. I want to try and fix things before they get worse –what can I do?

Sara Answers

The move from a couple to a family is one of the biggest changes you face when you become a parent. This adjustment often happens differently for fathers and mothers and in many instances this places strain on the parental relationship.

READ MORE: What Can I Do To Minimise Stress After Having A Baby?

Managing Expectations

There are a few considerations to make when addressing this issue. One is in relation to considering your expectations of each other and of being a parent. You might find that your sense of what having a baby would be like differs significantly from the reality and this requires a period of adjustment. You might also feel quite different in yourself, and be re-evaluating your life goals and values in response to the move to being a parent.

When parents think about their life experiences pre-baby and post-baby these often seem worlds apart. We tend to operate in “doing mode” pre-baby, whether this is focusing on achieving in work or even preparing for the arrival of baby him/herself. Even the process of going through IVF, difficult as it is, is often task-focused. In contrast, having a baby, certainly in the early stages, moves us more in to a ‘being mode’ in which we are challenged to ‘be with’, accept and tolerate the needs of our baby, and respond to these. This is a very different pace of life and by no means less busy as I am sure you have found out.

In many families, one parent (often the father) will return to work prior to the other. On many occasions, this can lead to somewhat of a clash of modes and values. The parent who returns to work will be in a task-focused adult environment and the parent at home is looking after the very important and demanding role of raising a little person. It can be difficult to use perspective taking and put yourselves in each other’s shoes.

Practical Issues

Secondly, it is important to consider the practical factors that are likely to create strain on your relationship. One of the biggest issues leading to tension and difficulties in relationships after a new baby is tiredness. Lack of sleep can have a huge impact on day-to-day life and it can be useful to talk about how you manage this. For example, one parent may need to take some time sleeping in another room to catch up and you might need to divide out household tasks.

As new parents, you will also likely find that you have less spare time in the day. The time that you previously spent relaxing together in the evening, going out with friends, and completing housework is greatly reduced and this can change the dynamics of the relationship.

READ MORE: Expert Advice: How To Cope With Big Changes In Your Life

Changing Roles

New fathers sometimes report feeling left out and isolated. They might even view the baby as taking over the mother’s time and attention. We also know that men tend to take on the identity of 'parent' more slowly than women. Different paces and roles can lead to withdrawal and sometimes even experiences of depression for men. To help, include your partner in the care of the baby, take up his offers of one-to-one time with the baby, and ignore any differences in approaches he might take.

If your baby is old enough to be left with a family member or babysitter, arrange to spend time together as a couple. This can be as simple as going for a meal or a walk, something that says that you value your relationship and spending time with each other.

Know When To Seek Help

Seek professional help if you are concerned that either of you might be experiencing signs of postnatal depression (PND). Be aware that the symptoms might differ. For women, symptoms of PND include low mood, anxiety, lack of interest in activities, poor sleep and difficulty coping, PND can present differently in men.

For men, additional symptoms can include hostility, anger and conflict. It is important to realise that depression is a genuine condition, and not a weakness or sign of poor coping.

READ MORE: The Mental Load

Be Open And Honest

Finally, remember, the transition to parenthood is stressful even for the closest couples. The extent to which parenting changes the relationship often comes as a surprise. What we know from research and experience is that one of the most difficult aspects of being a parent is that so much is unpredictable and unexpected.

If you can find space to have an open and honest dialogue and share your fears, disappointments, hopes, dreams, and joys you might find more common ground than you think. This will be the common ground you need to move forward together as a couple and a family.

About Sara
Dr Sara O’Byrne (BA, MSc, D Clin Psych) is a  Clinic Director and Senior Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience working with children, adolescents and their families. Sara provides consultation, assessment and therapy services within a multidisciplinary team setting at the Treehouse Practice in the Beacon South Quarter.


About the Author

eumom team 

Comments

Please login to leave a comment.