Resenting your partner after children

Having children doubles your heart in an instant, but it can also challenge your love for yourself and those closest to you.

As I watched my husband become a father, twice over, I felt a tremendous outpouring of love for him. But as paternity leave came and went and I was left a wobbling lump of sleep deprived hormones, the resentment came hard and fast.

It wasn’t fair that he got to hang out with actual grownups, achieve a list of things every day and ultimately be a functioning person in his own right. Whilst I on the other hand was beholden to a tiny person who I often didn’t understand, trying to reconcile my new life of rocking, shushing, feeding, cuddling and walking around in a daze.

I mourned the structure of a working day (if not the actual work..), the companionship of an office, spontaneous meet ups with friends and just feeling like I had an iota of control over my day, and my body. But I soon realised that feeling these things so acutely was driving a wedge between my husband and I, and that was not what I wanted.

After a lot of thinking and reading, I realised that whilst I couldn’t change his day, I could change my response to it, and also how i viewed my day. I needed to reframe it to be a huge privilege that I got to nurture and watch my baby grow, believing that it would all get easier as we both grew and found our flow.

I changed my view from “I have to….rock her to sleep/do all the washing/walk around the block all day” to “I get to… “. It was a monumental shift and one that has finally created more harmony within our marriage. Yes I still want to throttle him multiple times a week, but I also respect his time and everything he does both with us and without us.

I really don’t think we talk enough about the strains that having children puts on a relationship. We ready ourselves for sleep deprivation, feeding woes and the myriad of challenges that a child will put on us, but we don’t steady the relationship ship - don’t set up rules of engagement or expectations between parents, and I think this is key.

Because what I found hardest about my resentment was that I often wasn’t able to articulate it without it sounding petty. I was so full of rage but it wasn’t actually about one thing that made any sense to my husband, it was about the seismic shift that I felt only I was having to deal with. And that’s tough, and lonely and bottomless.

I'd highly recommend opening up the lines of communication with your partner. Tell them how you’re feeling, or talk about how you might feel and what you might need from them if you’re currently pregnant. Because parenting is all about team work, it’s about finding harmony within chaos, but harmony can only come from understanding how everyone is feeling and knowing how to support each other best.

Comments

Alison Burden

I couldn’t agree more! We definitely don’t talk enough about the challenges parents are facing as individuals, as partners and simply as human beings who struggle sometimes and need time to understand, learn and grow. You’ve put those struggles and thoughts into words so beautifully. Blog posts like this add to collective wisdom on the complex topic of parenthood.

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