My husband says: “I’m tired.” What??!!! You had 9 hours UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP and you’re tired? How dare you say that? Let alone think or feel it?? Try breastfeeding throughout the night, then burping, then breastfeeding again, then singing baby to sleep and then eventually passing out just for a few minutes with baby on your chest.
I feel rage. Cold blooded rage boiling through my veins… You! It’s all your fault! I HATE you!
Sounds harsh but this has been a common scenario in our house the first few months after baby. Lets just make one thing clear from the very start: I truly have an amazing husband. Not just your average good husband, but an amazing father and bonus my soulmate. So this has actually got nothing to do with him, but unfortunately I learned (while researching this blog) that I was half of the problem.
Here’s some (scary) stats for you: Research from couple’s therapist John Gottman found that 67 percent of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet when they have a baby. Tell me if this sounds familiar?
You’ve been trying to get baby to sleep for hours, finally she’s dowsing of and hubby slams the backdoor doing who knows what outside. It takes you another 60 minutes to get baby to sleep. Walking out of the room hubby is lying on the couch watching cricket and yes drinking a glass of wine… He looks up innocently and you snap! You feel better for a split second and you feel guilty because not ony are you a terrible mother (who can’t even get her baby to sleep) you’re also a terrible wife. Vicious cycle I can tell you… Yes? Then this is for you…
First we have to ask ourselves: Why do we react and feel this way?
Believe it or not there’s a scientific explanation why many Moms “lose it” in the early months. A Simple four-letter word: NEED. Suddenly you’re needed all the time. You need to be there 24/7 for baby (no choice there), you need to still run a household, need to make time for friends, need to sleep and somehow still NEED TO BE a loving wife?
That overwhelming feeling of “everybody needs you all the time” leads to anxiety. And when you’re anxious you’re irritated and all these little things build up and up until kaboom! There’s this big explosion.
Some little things that unassuming Dad’s do:
- Their non-existent diapering skills – the one time he puts on a diaper and it’s so loose that everything is wet!
- Drinking a glass of wine while you’re breastfeeding – how is that supportive?
- Going to the gym, looking all toned and energized and happy? While you’re drowning in diapers and spit up! And smells like poo and by the way is getting FAT!
- The way you hear every whimper in the evening and he’s obviously faking being asleep so you have to get up every single time?
But wait… the truth is most men are trying their best – just in a DIFFERENT way.
What can you do to not lose your husband after having a baby?
1. Acknowledge that you’re different
Understand that there’s physical and psychological differences. You know the saying Women are from Venus and men are from Mars. Yes, it’s still true. You will jump out of the bed faster than you can say crouching tiger leaping dragon while he is snoring away… Make your peace with it!
2. Tell him
Although you’re fundamentally different there is something called COMMUNICATION. Men are simple creatures. Don’t assume that he will just magically know what you need, tell him: I need a breather right now, please take the kids.” Nonverbal clues are completely lost on some men!
3. Stop comparing
I work harder, is more tired, is more entitled… It’s a cliché but you are a team!
4. Me myself and I
Yes, you! Make time for yourself. I know this is hard but it is doable. Unless you live on a remote island you can ask for help. Grannies, good friends, reliable babysitters – there is a way that you can get out and have a drink with some girlfriends. This way you won’t get all worked up when hubby grabs a beer after work.
5. Divide House chores
The days where pregnant women is standing barefoot in the kitchen cooking a 5 course meal is long gone. These days most parents are working fulltime. Still there’s a notion that women is primarily responsible for stuff like washing the dishes, cleaning up after everybody the list goes on… Negotiate and find a way that works for both of you. “I’m putting the kids to bed tonight, so you can wash the dishes.”
Remember even SAHM need a break! Raising kids is a full-time job and doesn’t mean that she’s lying on the couch watching the 7de laan Omnibus. Show some respect. And wash that dishes!
Some basic stuff… try to get some sleep! And drink enough water! A lack of these leads to irritability.
You can follow these steps and hopefully it will lead to less blow-up fights but we all know that sometimes it’s just bound to happen: The Big Fight! Whether its hormones, lack of sleep, water or just him chewing with his mouth open.
According to Dunn there’s 2 sorts of personalities in an argument. The yeller (that would be me) and the other who avoids or ignores the yeller (obviously hubby).
These arguments normally resolve you guessed it: Nothing. According to former crisis negotiator from the FBI Gary Noesner (they can quickly calm down a so-called agitated person, so why not a worked up spouse?) there’s a certain way to talk to an agitated individual.
Gary’s guidelines to remember when you argue:
- Level your voice tone: You won’t even notice but your probably shouting. Remember the harder you push the more likely we will be met with resistance.
- Contain the situation: Remember what you’re arguing about in the first place. And try to resolve that issue. Do not go down the “but you ALWAYS do that route.. it’s like trying to change an overflowing poo-diaper.
- Try paraphrasing: “So you are saying…” Repeat your partner’s words to him. Almost like a mirror. That way he will know that you’re actually listening and more important hearing what he has to say. According to Gary agitated people just want to be heard and understood.
- Offer minimal encouragement: Stay clear of word-vomiting. Short phrases that convey interest and concern such as Yes, Okay, I see. I know you’ve got a lot of (good) points to make. But listen and respond with short answers.Remember that much hated Spanish bachelor Don Pablo (if not google his name). He was driving women crazy with his laidback response to some serious issues by just saying… “Its ooooo-key…” And you know what? He actually had a point.
You will get past this.
Soon baby is off to college and this will be a little dot in the bigger scheme of things.
Time is a wonderful thing. You will get over the “everybody needs me all the time” phase, you will settle into your new role as wife and mother and trust me: You will not hate him forever. Meanwhile: Try to see the good stuff.
How he lifts her up for a big wave, sing to calm her down, take her for a drive so you can nap, finally handing you your wineglass when she is asleep.
And if all else fails…
Just tell yourself:
This baby is half you and half your partner.
Helene & Minki
*Click the link to buy Jancee Dunn book from Takealot for R329.