Relationship issues magnified when we became parents
I will try to keep it as short as possible.
My husband and I have been married for four years, and recently became parents to a miracle of a baby girl.
In the years prior to meeting my husband, I was with a man who was purely self involved, but a good actor. This relationship ended after I needed surgeries that left me allegedly infertile.
Hubby is very kind, however his mum very controlling and effectively locked him in a room his whole life (he's now 28). Since we met he has made great progress with some life skills, however when left to his own devices he does not ever choose to contribute to the household or relationship. He will happily do what he is asked, which although helpful leaves me feeling like I am responsible for managing him.
Last year we were both happily surprised by a positive pregnancy test. Husband assured me he would be supportive and involved in the pregnancy, and that he is over the moon to be a dad. Cue 9 months of inaction and arguments based on me struggling and needing help and him assuring me that he would.
Due to my surgeries, I was told a complex c-section would be required to safely deliver our baby, with a longer recovery. Again being assured that I would be supported and not alone in this. Our daughter (who is my absolute everything) is now 8 weeks old. Husband has not taken on any further responsibilities other than those he was doing pre-pregnancy (pet care, his bills, his laundry, trash duties) nor has he amended the time spent on his hobbies in order to spend time as a family. Without prompting, he defaults to whatever he feels like doing - nothing more.
In essence, I feel very much like a single parent living with a bachelor housemate. Each time I try to talk to him about how I feel, he assures me he is working on it, then things stay the same. It feels as though he endures the conversation just to ignore it afterwards, leaving us to continue on a merry-go-round of the same thing over and over.
The reason for this post is that tonight, he said he isn't ready to step up yet. I'm just absolutely lost as to how to proceed, how to accept that we're this far in and apparently he still isn't ready, that the last 4 years haven't been what I thought they were.
I have no doubt that he loves both me and our daughter, he just never learned to consider the needs of others - just his own.
If you've made it this far, thank you for your patience. I would be immensely grateful for any advice or scenarios you could share.
Hello OT and welcome to the forums.
First of all massive congratulations! To have been told you were infertile and be blessed with a child is something truly wonderful! 8 weeks is an exhausting time. Given that your husband isn't helping much do you have support available from others? It is truly important that you have time to rest and time to yourself too. Easy to say... Very hard to do.
How can you make time to care for yourself? Time to brainstorm and look at your finances to see what ways are achievable to make your life a bit easier and free time for self care.
As a mum too I know the trap we can fall into of losing a sense of self. You love your miracle daughter of course but it is ok to want time to be you too.
Which brings me to the part you wrote which rang alarm bells for me... That you feel like you are responsible for managing your husband.
You're his wife not his mother. Sounds obvious but this is a huge problem for both parties and needs to be addressed asap.
Why? Apart from you being exhausted and not having any support the arguments can fuel resentment on both sides.
In my own marriage the arrival of kids has changed the dynamics of us as a couple massively. I became unwell. Depression and an autoimmune arthritis triggered by pregnancy that left me with a newborn and a toddler, in pain and unable to walk properly. So like you my other half took over until I was well enough to share the responsibilities again.
The downside was that hubby got so used to being in control. If he was doing the work it would be done his way. So even now when I take back responsibilities it is never good enough.
The more he criticises the more worthless and useless I feel. And sometimes angry and resentful enough to just lash out and tell him I married him not my father.
Somewhere among all this stress and change he got so used to having to be "the responsible one" that often I feel they'd be better off without me because I feel like I bring nothing to the family.
Is that really true? No.
When I feel this way it is a sign we need to talk openly and try again. Usually it is both of us falling back into old habits.
Have you considered couples therapy? It helps to find out what is happening between you both and why. If your marriage continues this way what do you feel will happen?
I hope this makes sense. Just hoped it would help you to see a different perspective.
First things first... How can you get yourself more practical help?
Congratulations on your miracle. What a truly beautiful gift you've been given and what a gift she has been given, in having you as her loving mum.
Mums typically begin as the primary carer for a number of reasons and it can be seen as being largely up to them to manage the baby. Of course, this way of thinking can create a lot of issues. When both our kids were born, I had to push my husband to have more to do with them. One angle I used involved telling him that he needed to form a stronger bond so that they got to know him better. Sounds a little harsh I know but I also forced situations onto him. Example: Due to a combination of post natal depression and the inability to breast feed, I'd make up bottles and when feeding time came sometimes I'd say something like 'I don't want to do this feed, you do it' and then I'd sit a bottle on the table in front of him, plop a baby in his lap and walk away to cry. Again, yep, a little intense but it forced him to care for his son and daughter. Occasionally, when a parent has little choice, they'll step up. For some dads, this scenario would have led to resentment but for my husband it created a stronger bond with his babies who are 13 and 16 years old now.
Sounds like your husband believes he has a choice in how much he wants to help you and bond with your daughter. There can be a lot of resentment here, leading you to feel like you have no choice at all. Nat offers, like usual, some great advice in a number of ways; one including finding others who can help you with the challenges of being a mum. Personally, if it wasn't for my mum being my #1 support person, I would have completely lost the plot. It's important to have support from somewhere.
You could try asking your husband 'Who do you want to be at this stage of your life and how are you prepared to be that person?' Instead of hearing 'I'm not ready to step up', it would be far more reassuring to hear your husband say 'This is my plan for stepping up'.
Take care of your self Ot and look for that #1 support person
I can't add that much to what Nat and Therising have already said except I had one thought. His mum seems to have been the dominating force in his life, she was effective even if not necessarily a positive.
If she is still around do you think there is any way of enlisting her aid? Or will that simply open another can of worms with her trying to control everything?
Unfortunately this is not an isolated problem, do you have anyone else to help? My wife had her mum too, which made a real difference.
I still have "fond" memories of buckets of Milton, the old twin-tub and lines of cloth nappies in the rain (I was officer-in-charge nappies:)