What no one tells you about becoming a mum: you’ll hate your partner:
If looks could kill, my husband would be dead many times over. Shortly after our first baby was born I was annoyed by literally everything he did. My anger towards him was triggered by what now seem like such trivial things; taking too long in the shower when I wanted help; deciding to take a loud call when the baby had just fallen asleep; hanging her clothes out so that they became misshapen.
I would either unleash my fury or sit quietly seething. If I wasn’t outright hostile I was frosty and the few words I spoke were laced with bitterness. Our marriage had become contested terrain, not a partnership. I was told that having a baby was hard, but I did not anticipate the emotional rollercoaster I would go through and the tremendous strain it would place on our marriage. These little battles weren’t how I pictured the early days of parenthood.
There’s a reason he’s your metaphoric punching bag
It’s little wonder that a perfect storm is brewing when you combine hormones and a complete upheaval of your daily routine. In my case, my anger at my husband was really just a holding tank for everything else I felt – exhausted, overwhelmed, and worried that he and I would never be the same again.
An article on Psychology Today explains why we take our feelings out on the ones we love, saying that in everyday relationships, we are bound by etiquette around politeness and good manners. In close relationships like marriages, couples are less careful in what they say and do. The price of being able to behave freely without having to consider every consequence is that we sometimes say and do things that may cause you to lash out at your partner.
Reclaiming your relationship
My husband is actually a fantastic partner and a hands-on dad so looking back it’s difficult to reconcile the feelings I harboured towards him at that time. We both agree that the hardest time in our relationship was after the birth of our first child. The good news is that things do get better – the children we went on to have after our first baby are proof of that.
It was such a tough transition but we managed to smooth things out and carve out an even stronger relationship. Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate this tricky period with your partner:
- Don’t let resentment creep in – think about what is irritating you and why, and talk to him about it rather than letting it gain traction.
- Seek counselling if you think you might benefit from it. Having someone from outside give you guidance and facilitate communication can make you a stronger couple.
- Fight fair. It’s easier said than done, but sticking to the issues and not rehashing every past grievance is the way to move things forward.
- Spending time together is a must. Call in someone to look after the baby and go out and enjoy each other’s company away from the stress of parenthood.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does it really matter if he dresses the baby in a mismatched outfit?
- Take some time out for yourself; you’ll be better for it.
- Remember that the relationship is not doomed; eventually the anger will subside and give way to a gentler way of interacting.
When your resentment might actually be something else
Sometimes depression masks itself as other things – anger, anxiety and resentment. If you need to speak to someone, you can call PANDA Post and Antenatal Depression Association (1300 726 306) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) for support and advice.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or think you may be in an unhealthy relationship, contact the White Ribbon Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 737 732.
I’d love to hear your experiences. Did you hate your husband after your baby arrived? What techniques did you use to ride the storm?
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