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Husband is Jealous of Baby!

QUESTION: My husband spends too much time watching TV and on the Internet. I confronted him and he said that all I cared about was me and my baby. It really hurt and it makes me angry that he's jealous of his own daughter. What can I do?

Your husband is reeling from the changes that having a baby has brought to your marriage. Instead of communicating his feelings, he is interpreting your bond to your daughter as an abandonment of him. You're probably feeling unsupported in motherhood and resentful of his interpretation.

The good news is that he is talking to you instead of withdrawing into the electronic screen. The bad news is that you have both cut off your discussion before it has had a chance to begin!

It's common for husbands to feel left out of the loop because of old family patterns in which fathers did not involve themselves in the emotional caretaking in the family. Your husband is having feelings, but he is speaking to you in "conclusions" instead of letting you know that he misses you!

It's natural to devote your energy and attention to your baby, and it is also true that your alone time with your spouse will decrease. But this does not mean that your husband cannot include himself in caring for his daughter or that the two of you cannot carve out "special" time to be with one another.

Let your husband know that you are missing him, too! Your relationship with your daughter does not replace the love and affection you give each other. Your daughter's emotional well-being rests on the security of your spousal relationship.

Is your husband spending special time with his daughter?

Ask him to share his feelings with you, using "I" statements. For example, "I feel left out when you cuddle the baby, and I imagine that you no longer have any desire to cuddle with me." Sharing feelings in a manner which encourages rather discourages discussion is the key.

You have both experienced much change in the past months since your child was born. But instead of building bridges to understand one another, you have been alone and bereft at a time when you need each other the most. Let your husband know that you want to reconnect with him. Learn the skills needed to communicate your pain without obliterating your love. Ask him to work with you, not against you to regain the emotional connection in your marriage. Your daughter will benefit from the love you rekindle.

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Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter..

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