For five years my wife and I courted each other. We loved each others company, whether it was a night on the couch with the TV, or grocery shopping. Wild sex in every room of the house, unbridaled, horny college boy girl sex. Then we get married (2007) and things are still hot and heavy, relationship going well. We were both great at keeping up with chores around the house, pulling our own weight. She'd cook dinner, I'd do the dishes, etc... Sure we argued, but nothing out of the ordinary. Three more happy years pass and then we have our first child.
After our daughters birth, and everyday since then, an alien has taken over my wife's brain. An angry, upset alien, who consistently looks at me with contempt and resentment, rather than love. The atmosphere in our home is now always tense, with a fight just one comment away. Words are chosen carefully by each of us and received with scrutiny. Our simplest daily interactions are cautiously handled because the slightest good morning or other salutation could be a setup for attack.
Since our daughters birth, I increased my house chores double time to help out with the child rearing, I try so hard to be supportive of her, helping anywhere I can to raise our daughter, nothing changes the situation. And I'm not talking about our sex life, which has changed drastically for the worse, but that's not my main concern.
Will my wife's attitude towards me ever resurface? The one who enjoyed my company? I could go on for 20 more paragraphs, but I'd like any feedback from the community. Are other new fathers going through this? Do any women on here have suggestions on how I can salvage our relationship? Any constructive comments would be appreciated. Thank you so much.
My wife sent this to me. I was actually thinking along the same lines. http://www.workingmother.com/me-time/5-steps-real-intimacy
Things are different now, you have kids, it is a different mode. Accept that and build stronger bonds. Have her read it an buy into planning time to snuggle and re-establish the bonds you both have for each other.
The relationship is salvageable but in our high speed lives tied to devices and not each other it is easy to let the connections slip to the point you exist beside each other rather then with each other.
Others have already mentioned help with chores, making sure parenting doesn't squeeze out alone time together, being extra supportive, and Post-Partum Depression. All of those are the types of suggestions that get the most air time in these situations, and for good reason.
Subsequent to those, consider these additional perspectives:
Despite the extra strain that moms assume when they become parents, they are still responsible for their attitudes. She doesn't get a pass on her bad behavior just because parenting is a tough job.
Is it possible that in your efforts to be understanding and supportive of your wife's newfound emotional struggles you've gone too far by catering to and being controlled by them? A woman can grow to disrespect and resent a man who caters to her unreasonable attitudes and emotional outbursts.
It sounds like you're being an above average husband and father by doing "double time" with chores and support. You should be proud of that even if it doesn't have the desired impact on your wife's attitude. I hope that you apply these extra efforts in a positive, charismatic, and self-respecting way, acknowledging to yourself that she's a lucky woman to have a guy like you.
Another way to look at it: Are you leading by the example of your emotional stability as you contribute to your relationship, or are you allowing her behavior to control yours? Self-pity is relationship poison.
You are right that women won't respect a doormat. But, it is possible to be understanding without being a doormat -- without surrendering your manhood, or catering to her like some kind of servant, or just taking a beating. It is difficult to be too understanding of a new mother -- she's genuinely in over her head.
This is one of those occasions when you're better off proving your manood by coming to her rescue rather than getting your back up against her. About two months after our third child was born, my wife called me at work sobbing ... the baby wasn't sleeping very long, she couldn't get anything done around the house. She was feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated. Keep in mind -- this was our third child. This wasn't her first rodeo, and she was still at the end of her rope. She later told me she prayed that I'd let her sleep and take a nighttime feeding (since she was on maternity leave, and I was working, she handled the late night stuff).
I didn't mind taking a feeding, but that was a bandaid, not a long-term solution. She'd get one good night of sleep and be back at the same place within a week -- or I'd start taking regularly late-night feedings, and would be useless at work. Later that evening ... I told her I'd been thinking about it, and I had a plan. The baby needed to be on a schedule -- he'd been going to bed sort-of whenever, and she'd been staying up after he went to bed. Nighttime feedings wouldn't be so bad if there was only one of them, and if she was going to bed early enough to get her sleep, even with a feeding. One interruption in 9-hours of sleep wasn't nearly as bad as two interruptions in six or seven. If the baby goes to bed at 6 or 7, she goes to bed at 8 or 9 (which she loves), I take an evening feeding at 10 or 11, and she takes the middle of the night feedings ... she should be able to get a solid 8 hours of sleep before the baby gets up at 6:30. Within two nights, everthing was running better -- she was rested and happier.
For what its worth ... I did also take the late feeding that night. She later laughed that her prayers about me are never answered exactly as she asks. She wants me to take a feeding -- I come up with a plan to streamline the whole thing so she's fine, the baby's fine ... and I still don't have to do 3am feedings. Win, win, win.
There's nothing wrong with coming up with your own solutions to problems -- so long as they work. Play to your wheelhouses. My wife is good at details, I'm good at big-picture. You don't have to do what you're told -- you just have to care enough to think about what she's going through, and help her out with genuine solutions to problems.
I agree with everything you wrote. I have five kids, the youngest of which is seven, and situation you describe is familiar to me. Personally, my wife has been exasperated and exhausted many times over the course of the childrearing we've done so far, but she's never been full of contempt or...well, maybe she's been slightly resentful on occasion. :-)
Now, consider that the OP is an understanding father who is concerned about the health of his wife and his child. This is my assumption based on his post as well as his blog post from early last year about the birth of their daughter. He's educating himself and doing his best to support his wife. The formulaic advise to young father struggling to cope with new mother is "Do More". And yet, after two years or more of this investment, his daily experience (reportedly) is a wife "who consistently looks at me with contempt and resentment."
Maybe he’s doing the same kinds of things you and I do to support our wives and families, but he’s not getting the same kind of results and appreciation we get. This is the reason for my emphasis on the self-respecting frame from which his investment should be applied to the relationship.
Correction: My oldest son is seven.
You want to help, but you do not what her to start thinking of you as the nanny. What you what her to see when you are helping out is James Bond changing a diaper.
Try this: treat your wife like your mistress.
No pecks on the cheek, long hard kisses when you come home or leave or hell just randomly. Hold her hair when you do so she can’t pull away.
Tell her early and often how much you want her. Example: She’s doing the dishes, you come up and a little nibble on the neck, then whisper in her ear what you plan to do to her that night, light bottom smack, and off you go to protect and provide for the family. Follow-text/call… be as open/dirty as your personal limits allow, or use a simple “I want you.” (Been with the wife for 28 years and some of our conversations would make a hooker blush, but to each his own)
Did she gain weight? Does she see herself as a frumpy mom now? Women can be brutal on themselves when it comes to body image.
I'm in this club too.
With my wife it's her anger. It's uncontrollable sometimes.
I've had success with a few things but ultimately i kind of just don't feel like being around her. The more that she realizes it, the better she gets it seems.
I have no answers really....
With what things have you had successs?
You're saying that as she realizes you're not enjoying her company, she becomes more tolerable? What do you make of that?