Help with partner after first child
Hey all. Not sure what to do or best action.
any advice or help would be great but feels good to write it all out. Sorry about the rambling.
We have a 7 month old baby boy. Love him to death. I love my partner. She is amazing with our son. Goes above and beyond looking after him. Couldn’t ask for more. I understand the mental capacity is crazy what she is going through to give him so much attention and understand how exhausting that would be. first child and both learning. I’ve done dumb shit waking him up by being to loud or turning on a vaccume that scares him, to me I see it as normal learning curves. Not intentional.
The issue is we are having is arguments over everything to the point I dont offer any suggestion or opinion. She talks to me like a useless person. For example our son had Covid and I picked him up from his cot after he was screaming in distress. Didn’t know where she was I knew she be getting things ready to help comfort him. She comes in while I’m trying to calm him and goes off calling me a potato and that I’m undermining her. My intention was in the moment calm the baby and help her next move. Anyway I just walked out and did everything else wrong after that apparently.
I Just try and go with what she wants. Either I hang up the washing wrong. Or dinner not ready on time Or don’t do the nappy right and now I’m at the point of not doing nappys. I would love to To help her out and feel like I’m capable of looking after and comforting him. She now won’t let me in his room at night after I say good night. Not to comfort or put his dummy back in. I am willing to do anything any time.
in the 7 months I believe I have gone for 2 10 minutes drives alone with our son and that was a big issue for her and maybe 3 walks around the block. Getting back at 6.03 three minutes late was the last I have done. As a father I’d love to bond with him alone to give her sometime for herself and also plenty of family bonding to. It as she doesn’t trust me and think I am capable. Not sure how she is with leaving him with her mum because I’m not there so I don’t know but my family at this stage is out of the question. I can’t pop over unless it’s planned and she is there.
She will not communicate with me or sit down with me to talk things over. Won’t get outside help. I have to ask to book in a time when she is ready to talk after an argument, recently it’s been 5 days and she hasn’t given me the chance to talk. She came up with a partnership agreement giving us opportunity to take back and rephrase things we say. I think it’s good but when I gave her the option it was void because it wasn’t signed and I didn’t file the hard version. But when it suited her it was in use.
So I guess How do I communicate with her and help us. Could this be post natal depression? In terms of intimacy it is 0. Won’t hug me. Doesn’t want a kiss on the head. Try to give her space as she might be touched out but things at the moment are dark, cold and I don’t know what to do.
I will not walk out on our son or her. It’s not an option I would consider. Don’t need to f up another innocent child.
I'm really sorry to hear you are going through this with your partner and as a new father. I am a father and my child is now 3 years old. She is our first child. And the first year was extremely hard. Although been a parent is the most beautiful thing, it is also the hardest and no one really explains how hard it is with a small baby. My wife an I had many arguments and disagreements and my wife also went through depression after having our baby. She also did not feel like been intimate with me for a long time and would cry about everything and be fearful that our daughter would get hurt. With my wife it was the opposite to yours, instead off not trusting me, she did not have trust in herself, for example she would get scared to bathe our baby alone incase she fell and why would only bathe her if I was there, she would call her mum crying all the time because she did not know how to put her to put baby to sleep or how to be a mother, she felt she had to do everything perfect but had no idea how too.
I also ( maybe we men are like this unconsciously?) would sometimes without realising make too much noise whilst walking and accidentally wake our baby up, my wife would get so frustrated. I think she would get like this because she was over tired and finally the baby was asleep and I go a wake her up.
I think your wife can be going through something emotionally and mentally and it's important to get help for her well-being, your well-being and most importantly your child's well-being. If she is okay and you are okay then your baby is okay. If she is not okay your baby can sense these things and it can affect them too even though they can't talk, they are like a sponge at this age and absorb everything.
It's also important that your needs as a father are met, you also have a right to bond with your baby and feel like you can bond with your family and feel included in this stage of your child's life.
If your wife has always been controlling and bossy and invalidates your feelings then I would seek support from a male domestic violence service as this is emotional/psychological abuse and selfish to only care about her own needs and not yours and also it's not okay to not allow you to have time with your child, whether with her been there or you been alone with your child, and you also have a right to voice your concerns in a safe manner and in a safe space.
However, if your wife has not been like this in the past and this is new behaviour for her then it can definitely be related to post-partum depression and I strongly recommend she sees someone or you see someone about coping strategies and support.
I wish you all the best.
Pazyamor offers some really good and solid advice. So many good points there, especially coming from personal experience. Whether this is typical behaviour from your wife or something out of character is definitely key to unlocking the best way forward.
While I struggled with depression in the years leading up to having both my kids who are now 21 and 18, it was so much worse when they were born, especially when my daughter was born (first experience with motherhood). I had it in my head that a good mum was one who managed in ways I just wasn't able to, which convinced me I was a failure at being a good mum. This definitely made it tougher for my husband. With the benefit of hindsight, him trying to genuinely help manage felt like him getting in the way of me proving myself to be 'a good mum'. To offer an example, while I struggled to breastfeed with both babies and was supplementing with a bottle, him taking it upon himself to help with feeds equaled him getting in the way of me managing to feed the babies any way I could, being 'a good mum'. So, every time I lost an opportunity to manage being 'a good mother', this led me to feel like a bad mother and a failure. For me, my babies weren't just my babies, they represented whether I was a success or a complete failure as a human being.
Controlling just about every way life's managed, was about controlling my own emotions. If I could control the feeds, I felt some sense of achievement amongst the failures. If I could control the baby's sleep schedule, I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment. If I could control the way the tea towels were hung up in the kitchen, I felt a sense of satisfaction in knowing they'd be dry the next time I used them and the list goes on. It was about controlling certain feelings, while trying so hard to manage not feeling any other way. For my husband, it felt like walking on eggshells, understandably. Poor guy. Rarely did I give him a chance to feel what he wanted to feel. Everyone suffers with depression, not just the person who experiences it first hand.
It was my mum who pushed me into post natal group therapy sessions after my son was born and it was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. Not only was it a relief to find others who could fully relate to how depressing motherhood could be, which led me to feel 'normal' under the circumstances, but it also took me out of 15 or so years in long term depression. It was quite the miracle. If my husband had suggested going, I would have felt like a failure as a wife and mother. With my mum suggesting it, it came from what felt like the right person. If you get along pretty well with your partner's mum, may pay to have a chat while getting a sense of whether she's picking up on some mental health struggles with her daughter. While discussing the idea of PND group therapy, you can emphasise that you don't want the idea mentioned as having come from you, if that's what you feel would be best.
The perfect recipe for depression in some cases would have to be 1)a seriously depressing amount of sleep deprivation, 2)a huge dollop of a sense of failure, 3)scatterings of people telling you you're doing this or that wrong or that you need to 'just try harder', 4)dashes of observing just about every other mother doing it 'right', 5)a few ounces of talk about how 'beautiful and wonderful' motherhood is plus a few other ingredients thrown in for good measure. Ben, you can be the best dad and partner doing everything right, everything to help make a positive difference but when you're up against a whole stack of depressing ingredients, sometimes the greatest difference comes from a whole new recipe that doesn't promote depression. Take care of your own mental health too. Chatting with people like pazyamor, can help make a positive difference in an incredibly challenging time in your life. Sometimes people who can relate make all the difference.
Thank you for your reply. It’s good to know others have been through the similar.
generally she has always been very caring towards me. I think the hardest thing is after a disagrees now it’s hard to get time to work it out. As previously before a baby you are always doing things together and going on dates etc.
I hope you and your family are strong and happy now :).
Hi thank you for your response. It’s great to hear from both sides.
I can relate to pretty Much all you have said. Breastfeeding and the bottle was a big issue she did say do you think I’m not capable. Obviously I do and was trying to help if it meant her getting some extra sleep or what not.
yes it feels like egg shells and “now what”. I understand she wants him happy safe and perfect and believe me that she is doing it. It’s hard not to react sometimes after coming home from work stresses of running a business and and feeling being told you’ve done something wrong when your intentions were not.
I don’t think her mum would be the best option at this moment. I’ll keep trying to keep calm and support her. I’ll try and grab an appointment with my gp and see any otherways might be able to bring it up with put her feeling like I’m blaming her or insulting her.
Thanks for your support.
I've found people tend to become super controlling and critical based on their circumstances. It's like they can't manage while everything's out of control so they make sure everything is under (their) control. This way, there's a greater sense of order, peace and security. I'm guilty of this myself at times. Problem with this is they're not just trying to control or manage situations, they're also trying to control and manage people. Not so good for those people. People will only tolerate being managed for so long until they can no longer tolerate all the conditions, with ongoing criticism sometimes being one of those conditions.
I think there's an art to developing a more reasonable relationship. Can be far from easy to do at times. When it comes to being reasonable, I'm wondering whether you could (carefully) suggest to your partner something along the lines of 'While you insist on telling me everything I'm doing wrong, you don't give me reasons for why they're 'wrong' or reasons for why you want them done a certain way. You need to start giving me reasons I can relate to'. It was actually my daughter who woke me up to becoming a more reasonable person, when she was around 12 years old. Up until then I was more a 'Just do as you're told (don't question me)' kind of parent. I'd picked up that parenting mantra from my own parents. In one way or another, my daughter had always challenged me to give reasons and I'd always been dismissive of the that challenge until the day I became fully conscious of what it was truly about, developing skills in reasoning. Our relationship automatically became more mutually respectful. I took those skills into other relationships too, changing ways in which I related to others.
While your partner may question 'Why have you become so challenging?', when it comes to you suddenly asking for reasons for just about everything, the response may be 'I will not do anything for no good reason and I will not take criticism for no good reason'. Perhaps her challenge is to lead you to understand her sense of reasoning. The question is 'Is she up for the challenge?'. Btw, I never accept people telling me 'I shouldn't have to give you a reason', when I seriously need one. My daughter has been a great teacher😊. I imagine your son will be one of your greatest teachers.
It's kinda funny in a way when you think about it, while as kids we can say to our unreasonable parents 'Why, why do I have to do that? It's not fair. You're so mean', we're less inclined to be this straight forward and honest with unreasonable people when we're adults. In some ways we're taught or conditioned to not rock the boat, to not seek reasons.
Thanks for your response the rising. I tried to ask her for reasoning today and I get the I don’t have to give you a reason.
every suggestion gets blocked and shutdown. And then she was like I just want to leave because it’s not pleasant here. She has no trust at all for me. Me moving her car is an invasion of her space. I just washed it so it wash clean and can see out of the windscreens. Never have I been in a relationship where permission to move or wash a car in our driveway.
we spoke last night about as I see everything as ours. Our money, our cars our child. Our house. I give her my car on anytime she heads away as it’s larger and safer.
i tried to explain in a relationship two people need to come to middle ground. I said I respect your feelings and how it made you feel but really a relationship asking permission to do good…. The more I shut down or let her be the better for her I believe but it tears us further apart and down a dark dark hole. Feel like I’m trying to dig our way up alone without making the hole deeper
It sounds like you're trying just about everything to make this work, including opening lines of communication, becoming more reasonable, becoming more considerate in a lot of ways, trying to be more conscious etc. While nothing seems to be working, perhaps it's a matter of questioning what she really wants or needs. Does she feel deep down that she needs support from a number of resources that may be of help during such a challenging time in her life or does she simply want everything her own way? Another way of phrasing that is...has she always struggled in some way, even before having a child, and having a child has intensified things in the way of her mental health or has she always been someone who simply wants her own way?
I feel so much for you as you try your hardest to find what works.