QUESTION: I had a baby six months
ago. Before I got married two years ago I use to have a really good
sense of humor and I was easy-going. I have noticed that over time
I am becoming more irritable.
Since the baby I have gotten a lot worse. I
feel like my husband does not love me enough and does not pay any
attention to me. My husband works long hours that include some nights
and weekends. It feels as if he never holds my hand, never tells me
that he loves me, never gives me a kiss. I just feel like he is not
"in love" with me anymore. Not to mention that we NEVER go out by
I also feel like I am the only one who does
the house- work. My husband is wonderful with our daughter (gets up
every morning and feeds her and gets her ready for me to take her
to the babysitter) and will do anything to help out with her. But,
when it comes to laundry, dishes, dusting, mopping (you know the routine)
I feel like he does not do his part. When I confront him about it,
he feels he is doing his part (I don't know what part he is doing,
but he says he is).
Yesterday we had a MAJOR fight about everything!
I asked him the night before to fold the laundry and to try to pick
up the house while I was at work (he had a day off). So, I called
him and asked what he was doing and he told me folding the clothes.
I asked him if he had gotten the chance to pick up the house and he
went crazy. He said I was treating him like a four year old that had
to do his chores before going out to play! I only asked because all
of the other times that he has had a day off while I was working he
always comes up with excuses as to why he did not do anything around
the house. But on my days off I have to do everything!
Dr. Gayle, my husband slept until 11:15 that
morning! I asked him when it was my turn to have a day off and he
replied to me that I get a day off on Saturday and Sunday! I told
him that if he thinks getting up at 7:30 to feed and change our baby
and clean the house and make bottles and do laundry and take care
of the baby all day was a day off, then I guess I do get two days
Dr. Gayle, I guess after a really, really long
story, what I am wondering is, could this be post-partum depression
even though our baby is 6 months old? I am feeling as if my husband
does not love me enough and as if I am the only one doing anything
around the house. I am feeling very overwhelmed and like I can not
get out from the groove that I have gotten in to.
He tells me that I am not the same person that
he married (which I agree with) and that I am a lot more mean. He
also says that I never used to have a selfish bone in my body, but
now I am very selfish (I also agree).
I know that my husband loves me and I do love
him, but I feel that if things do not change it will not last.
I do not want to be mean anymore and I would
like to feel better about my home life and myself. I want to laugh
again, but I do not know how to get out of feeling this way. Can you
please give me some advice. Also, is this normal?
P.S. I love being with my daughter, and have
never experienced such joy as being with her and watching her grow!
I wish I could experience this joy with my husband.
ANSWER: You are lonely for your husband
and though you love your daughter, it must seem unfair that he saves
energy for her but not for you. Begin by letting him know that you
are missing him! And that you depend on his words of affection and
appreciation for the emotional nourishment that is a part of marriage.
The responsibilities of parenthood are initially confining
and certainly you and your husband are suffering from increased responsibilities,
decreased freedom, and less time to recharge yourselves as a couple.
New parents often forget that their child's health and well-being
rests upon their relationship to one another. Your relationship is
the garden in which your child grows. She benefits from the love that
flows between the two of you. But in your diligence to attend to her
needs, you have forgotten your own! Your husband's increased absences
may have to do with pressure he feels as a financial provider to be
successful, but he will lose his vital connection to the family if
his weekend and evening absences become excessive.
You love your child, but you also need to feel connected
to your husband. As you adjust to parenthood, you must carve out time
to be together. This precious couples' time no longer spontaneously
arises. You must replenish from the well that is your relationship.
But with Your husband's schedule, your lack of nurturing time together
as couple, and your sense of overwhelm with domestic duties, it is
no surprise that the well has run dry!
Let your husband know that you love him and you need
him home. Insist on being part of the decision-making about the time
he devotes to his career. Your depression and anger is likely a result
of not having a voice to positively express yourself in the relationship.
It is time to identify what you want and insist that your partner
discuss a vision of how you want your family life and 'couple time'
to be. Naturally, there are many responsibilities and chores to divide
up. Put aside some time to talk about what needs doing and clarify
It is true that you may not be feeling appreciated
for the work you do at home for your family. You may also feel that
your husband has not really jumped "on board" as a team player with
the amount of household duties that now abound, in addition to your
work outside of the home. Let your spouse know that you need his love
and appreciation for the household work you are doing, though it is
"unpaid". Ask for his assistance in developing a schedule for sharing
household responsibilities. It is true that you must depend on each
other for your sense of value in your domestic roles since our society
All of these forces can contribute to depression during
the postpartum period, as self-esteem is a major factor in our everyday
lives. But finding your "voting voice" and expressing your feelings
will go a long way towards creating a solution, rather than repeating
the vicious cycle of complaining and blowing up under pressure only
to feel guilty about it afterwards!
Your husband also appears to be under stress. He may
feel peripheral to the love and daily connection you share with your
daughter. And no doubt he is missing you, too! The good news is that
you are sensitive to the fact that he is trying to do his share. And
your "meanness" may be a reflection of your need for him to be more
physically and emotionally available.
Seek to recover the bond you previously shared. Begin
a weekly night (or day) out together. Make dates with one another
and establish time after your baby goes to bed to spend connecting
with each other.
Take special time to explore what becoming a father
and a mother has been like for each of you. Express your stresses,
your joys, and grieve the spontaneous nature of your relationship
before your daughter's birth. You are in the process of creating a
new phase of your relationship. And it is time to devote energy to
it. Your daughter will benefit from the time you take to be together.
You are at the beginning of your journey together!
Becoming parents is one of the most profound transitions you will
experience on the family life cycle. Though not an easy change, the
challenge inherent in this transition is to strengthen your commitment
to your relationship. Imagine yourselves on the other side of this
problem, perhaps years from now, dancing at your daughter's wedding!
Keep in mind that anything worth fighting for bears the capacity for
deeply rewarding and long lasting satisfaction in the years to come!