QUESTION: My husband seems to be addicted
to the computer. He goes into his own world, and you have to yell
to get his attention. We have a little girl who is a year old, and
I feel he spends more time on the computer than with her. He goes
to school from 8 AM to noon and works from 4 PM to 12:30 in the morning,
then gets on the computer as soon as he gets home. On weekends and
his days off he turns it on as soon as he gets up in the morning.
I have to beg him to please spend time with our child. I know he loves
her a lot, but I don't know how to make him see that family is more
important than a computer. Please help me!
ANSWER: It is possible that your husband
is burying himself in his computer as a compensation for the loss
of couples' time, which decreases dramatically when a baby arrives
on the scene. Your concern about your husband's withdrawal is valid
(unless of course this is a temporary problem stemming to intense
work deadlines he is faced with). It is important for the two of you
to realign your relationship before the gap widens any further.
Becoming parents requires a major reorganization of
your family system. It is all too easy for couples to lose their connection
to one another in the first year of parenthood. Our own parents represent
our first role models. Your husband may be repeating his father's
patterns of withdrawal into "his own world." Or he may be handling
feelings of depression by separating himself from the family, particularly
if this was a coping style he developed in childhood in response to
stress he felt helpless to solve any other way.
Consider carving out some couples' time to explore
the changes that have occurred in the last year. Ask your husband
what becoming a father has been like for him. Be sure to let him know
that you can hear both his negative and his positive feelings. Share
your own journey as a new mother. It is natural to lose sight of your
relationship when so much time is spent apart, and when you have separate
responsibilities. But it is time to catch up with the transformation
each of you has undergone this year and to establish a shared vision
marriage and the family.
Your marriage is experiencing growing pains. Take
a proactive approach to regaining intimacy and steering a new course
together. Shared activities which reinforce the joy of parenthood
must develop as part of the family's growth in order for the endeavor
to be enriching for all. Plan weekend outings to the zoo and other
experiences that help you see the world anew through your child's
eyes. And reserve regular dates for just the two of you to help your
couples' relationship thrive.
Intimacy is a one-on-one experience. Your relationship
is the foundation of your family life. Strengthening your couples'
bond will be the best insurance your child can have that she will
grow up in a cohesive and loving atmosphere. Consider joining a mother's
support group, and suggest to your husband that he attend a father's
support group in your area, if possible. He may also benefit from
reading the book "Pregnant Fathers" by Jack Heinowitz.
Invite your husband back into the marital relationship.
Remind him that he is married to you, not his computer! Now that your
daughter is here, there are fewer opportunities for spontaneous intimacy.
You must be willing to build in quality time to pay attention to one
another. By making your relationship a priority, you give your spouse
the message that he matters.