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Q&A with Relate - Relationships after childbirth - ANSWERS BACK

(26 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 10-Oct-12 13:13:07

How has becoming a parent affected your relationship? Has it been affected by issues like tiredness, not being able to resume a sex life to satisfy you both, arguments over who does what or about differing parenting styles? Are you feeling like you haven't got time to be yourselves as a couple anymore?

We're inviting you to send in your questions this week to Relate Counsellor Priscilla Sim. The Q&A is to coincide with the launch of THE 3 OF US - This new service is being funded by the Government in response to evidence showing that it's normal for couples to experience relationship difficulties following the birth of their first child. Relate is delivering some of the specially-devised sessions to help new parents, along with the Fatherhood Institute and the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships.

Whether you are a new parent or have a number of children, post your questions to Priscilla before the end of Tuesday 16th October and we'll link to the answers from this thread on Thursday 25th October.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Thu 11-Oct-12 14:25:54



AnnIonicIsoTronic Thu 11-Oct-12 14:26:53

(not being snarky - btw. Just hoped other folk would have saved me the trouble of articulating a question)

BessieMcBean Thu 11-Oct-12 14:32:17

I think the tumbleweed is because everyone can answer a loud YES to all of the above questions but the solution isn't to speak to a relate counsellor, the solution is to trade in the DH/DP for a more considerate and helpful model grin

BessieMcBean Thu 11-Oct-12 14:36:47

P.S See this thread for evidence!

Xiaoxiong Thu 11-Oct-12 16:30:39

I have been thinking of questions too. It's really hard to know where to start. I guess my main question is - how do you get your partner to understand just how hard it is being at home with a child all day and how much work parenting is?

I have an unusually empathetic, emotionally articulate and communicative DH (his father was a counselor). We talked incessantly before we had a child about parenting styles, division of housework, and even how our relationship would change. We even had a very helpful NCT teacher who basically said to the men in our class that if they were expecting 1950s wife, they had another think coming.

And yet...there was a definite sense when I was on mat leave that he expected to be greeted with smiling faces, dinner to be ready and waiting, and the house to be tidy. He felt I was the lucky one to be MNing "having fun" with DS all day and since DS slept so well in the sling I could do loads round the house while he was sleeping.

No matter how much I explained to him how much I did, how tired I was, how much work DS was to look after etc. nothing seemed to get through until DS turned 6 months, I went back to work full-time and DH became the SAHP for the summer and realized what it was really like to be at home with a baby all day and be expected to do everything. He rose to the challenge magnificently though and we haven't really had any issues since, as we both understand exactly what is involved in being the SAHP.

I think requiring all fathers to be the SAHP for a significant period of time in a child's first year would do wonders. The system they have in Sweden sounds ideal - parents are granted 16 months of leave and I believe fathers must take at least 3 months of that on their own.

BessieMcBean Thu 11-Oct-12 16:53:28

I have thought of a question.

Why did the DCs whinge, whine and quarrel when with me but be better behaved with their DF.

It might have been that on the odd occasions he looked after them he didn't really engage with them so didn't hear the whining etc so they didn't bother trying it on. Or he had a sterner demeanour and they just didn't start. But they were dreadful some days with me (and after reading the 'Why is Motherhood so fucking hard' thread realise others have the same problem) , I was a SAHM and they could never let up all day sometimes in the school holidays, exhausting.

I am going back 30 years now, and I was a SAHM and DH the 'bread-winner', so he was a hands off father, but that was more the norm then. I had better add that DCs are happy normal adults who show me love and respect now.

jennyftm Thu 11-Oct-12 18:54:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AndiMac Thu 11-Oct-12 19:58:55

Thanks for the link to the website. I'm looking for a sort of marriage MOT. Nothing, or nothing major, is exactly wrong, but it's not the same as it was before kids (obviously) and I just want to make sure that we don't get trapped into a lot of bad habits and situations that might lead to things being critically wrong. Would any of the Relate courses be appropriate for this? What if we live somewhere outside of the places listed on the website?

MadhouseMama Thu 11-Oct-12 20:28:18

I have a question:

Where do I start?

My relationship is at breaking point and sometimes I think I might be about to have a breakdown, or maybe I already am but am too busy to notice. I am always exhausted, as is DP. I can count on one hand the number of times I have slept 6 hours straight in the last 5 years. I run my family business and it has been tough in the recession. Between the lack of sleep, challenging parenting, financial strain and basically zero relationship time things have fallen apart badly. I don't even get time to think about what is going on. Before children I could process thoughts and come up with solutions, not any more, when I finally sit down its brain dead TV time or books (clearly any escapism that involves no effort whatsoever). We're both miserable and grumpy and that will start to affect the kids which just must not happen.

So, where do I start?

Offred Thu 11-Oct-12 20:44:34

I think if you are asking people to share intimate details about their relationships on a public forum in order to advertise some scheme that relate are running you need to explain why you are asking people engage with it and also warn that people should be aware that questions they ask and answers they get will, as always, be available freely on a public forum and may therefore be republished. This is not a normal relationships thread where people share individual and relevant experience to offer peer support and is obvious and rich pickings for scummy journalists nevermind what relate or other organisations might do with it.

Offred Thu 11-Oct-12 20:53:44

Or should that be a scheme on behalf of the government to try and "keep families together" keep the shoe firmly on the wife's face knowing the Tories

Blondesthanna Thu 11-Oct-12 20:58:05

In an argument the other day my partner said that he thinks i will let my son get hurt. We were both tired (it was 4:30am and baby was playing up) and the previous day he had fallen sideways in his bumbo and hit his head on the skirting board getting a bump. Yes my little one these past few months has had a couple of falls off the bed/sofa as he's taken us by surprise learning to roll/crawl early. He's ok!! But it could have happened to my partner either and he admitted that once we'd both calmed down but he's at work and I can't have baby in my arms 24/7 or don't want to (after each time I've changed my practice). The argument got very heated which is unusual for us and at this I actually felt physically sick. A lot of it, is tension between us caused by his mother's negative comments and thoughts on our parenting and this feeding my belief/self-consciouness of being a bad mum.

Now things are kind of back to normal, but I'm not sure what we should do or where this leads? And I'm always tired, this doesn't help our-time either which annoys my partner sometimes i think.

vikiseed Fri 12-Oct-12 07:35:08

This is an interesting one! we have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. My in laws live quite a way away but the issues they cause are pushing us apart.
They never come to be with our children, yet they spend months with sister in law's(and they are not very well behaved). My sister in law is just simply lazy to do anything with her kids! I am running a business, the household, looking after the children and completing my degree. they come twice a year for a week in my exam period and apart from having the children they do not have to do anything else(ie cooking, cleaning, etc).
Sister in law moved to same town now where we are. they stayed with us for 3 weeks, no offer of any money or anything for it. parents looked after their kids till then, all summer, then came down to help them settle in. they were around the corner from us for 5 weeks, but only saw the children 4 times. This lack of interest is getting me to the point of closing them out of my children's life as i dont want them to have the heartache of "granny grandpa are around, just dont want to see you" later. That is issue one.
The other is the way my father in law talks to me. He has called me "stupid bloody women" on my daughters birthday, in my own house. He walks in without even a hello. I cant say anything as i dont feel it is my job! I have been raising these issues with my husband for a few years now, he sees them, agrees with me, yet would not do anything. it makes me feel unvalued, not important and makes me very angry that he is not able to protect us even this much.
the next issue is sister in law. she know my husband cant say no and she is very much abusing this. She took our car for a weekend to see her friends (not insured on it, so shouldn't even let her). She then asked for it every day to pick her kids up from the childminders! I nearly slapped my husband when he said that! I am also the bad one for the whole family for not looking after her children and now she has to pay for a childminder. (|I used to be a nanny and I run my business from home or teach at evening mainly).
The fact that my husband can not put his foot down, protect me and his children is making me resent him. I constantly have been telling him this, have told him from the first issue what is bothering me, why and how it can be solved, but nothing. I now often think life would be easier without him. My friends all said how they could not cope with this either. I love him, cant imagine my life without him, but there are days when i cant even look at him anymore. I feel alone and not valued at all! Please help!

Singledadoftwo Fri 12-Oct-12 07:59:07

I have been the typical husband work work sleep i have been there physically but not emotionally for my family I worry about providing for them. My wife now wants to leave to get her life back we have not a day alone together in 3-4 years we have very little support from family and friends. My wife has developed an online life for herself and is now wanting this in real life too. I don't want forgiveness I want a chance to woo her back I have made changes cut my work hours arranged babysitter two evenings a months and a cleaner I know these are things I have arranged and not doing but it's a start, I am doing as much as I can to support her cooking cleaning washing when I can. But says she can't forgive me for not being there for her. Were can I start we are still the lovers underneath. Just need to stop beginning mum and dad ever once and a while for each. Help

cbeebiesatemybrain Fri 12-Oct-12 08:54:29

How do I stop being so irritable with dh all the time? I'm exhausted from looking after 2 little ones all day (3 and 6 months) and snap at him a lot which I feel terrible about. He is very hands on with the children and he will help out with the housework but only if I ask him which annoys me because I think he sees it as my job and him doing me a favour. The youngest is not a great sleeper so we don't get much couple time and we don't have any family nearby to watch the children for the occasional night so we don't get to go out together.

OlderParent Fri 12-Oct-12 10:32:57

I agree with most of what I've read on this thread so far.
As older parents (with one son), we have the added complications of age-related creakiness/tiredness etc. We didn't have much of a sex-life before we had him, as we hadn't been together long so didn't work through any 'issues', but it seems to have got a bit more sporadic in the few years since we've had our son, understandably. Unfortunately, this subject always crops up when we have an argument & we go round & round in circles. A bit too complicated to go into here, but the bottom line is we do love each other and want to stay together, and are generally good at talking to each other, but can't always find the right words.

JacqueslePeacock Fri 12-Oct-12 10:42:25

What MadhouseMama asked. What do you do when you're both doing as much as you can but long term sleep deprivation, work overload and high needs baby/child mean that most days neither of you can remember your own name let alone how to have a civil conversation where you enquire about each other's day?

Dozer Fri 12-Oct-12 12:46:24

Relate material (eg website, "babyshock" book) seems to make the assumption that both partners are "Ok" and that with better communication etc problems can be resolved. There is little material about abuse and the strong emphasis (eg after infidelity) seems to be on staying together.


AlexanderS Sat 13-Oct-12 17:11:38

Ever since I had my DS (now 3) my DP has been completely besotted with him. He is a great dad and I can't complain about that but our relationship has suffered for it. For example, if DS is in the room I can't have a proper conversation with him because all his attention is always on DS. He'll do things "for" DS that are quite unnecessary even if I've asked him not to - for example, when DS was a baby he was always turning the heating up because he was worried about DS getting cold, even though I'd be sitting there red-faced, sweating and irritable and was constantly asking him not to. The only time we have to talk is after DS is in bed and then DP is always too tired. I do feel quite disconnected from him - for example, I've just finished a course with the Open University, it's taken me 18 months on and off, and yesterday he asked me what qualification I'm going to come out with! I was like, do you really not know what I've been doing all this time?! What do you do when your partner's like this?

Boomerwang Sat 13-Oct-12 23:00:36

My daughter is 7 months old. I haven't made love with my partner since she was 2 months old. In that time I've put on weight, ceased making an effort with my appearance and spend all day at home with the baby. I can't remember if I stopped valuing myself before or after my partner stopped giving me attention.

My partner works full time, late into the night. I get up with the baby in the mornings and at around 10am I hand her to my partner when he gets up and I get a couple more hours sleep. Then he gives me the baby and goes to work. I rarely get to see him for more than 'handover' time. He's tired and stressed about work and our finances, which are dire. I am insecure and becoming increasingly more needy as I feel so lonely all the time. I have no family or neighbours nearby.

I love my daughter, but I feel that I am no longer my partner's girlfriend, just the mother to his child. I honestly think that if I hadn't become pregnant, I'd have left by now. I have no life of my own, I'm here solely to care for my daughter, who will also have no life of her own if we stay in the middle of nowhere. Without money, we cannot move. I cannot get a job because my partner's shifts are not regular, I have no means of travel within 6km and nobody to take care of my baby when I'm not here.

I'm spiralling downwards. I've been on antidepressants for three years and for the first time I think my dose isn't strong enough any more. I hadn't had a panic attack for over a year and a half, but now I feel them coming on just before my partner leaves for work. I'm afraid of the future.

Sorry, I didn't have a question did I? I'm not sure what to ask.

marmitericecakes Mon 15-Oct-12 22:09:08

Why doesn't post natal care exist for parents?
I spent hours of my uneventful, perfectly healthy + normal pregnancy being checked over at antenatal appointments but after the birth of my ds I've only had one check up (at 6 weeks).

I felt there was a focus on my mental health rather than the physical + as I had a pretty bad birth I feel frustrated by the lack of follow-up treatment (such as physio) to help me recover.

The birth of ds has impacted our relationship + although we love each other and ds our relationship will never be the same. In many ways this has been the happiest year of my life so it's hard to admit that deep down things have changed + we've lost all intimacy because of what dh saw. Will he ever want to have sex with me again? And if he does, how much is it going to hurt?

marmitericecakes Mon 15-Oct-12 22:39:32

Can men have a 6 week check up after the birth? This would be a good opportunity to talk about how they're feeling + coping with such huge changes. All the focus is on mum + baby in the first few weeks but it's time dads got more support.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Oct-12 14:25:27

The Q&A is now closed. We've send the Qs over to Priscilla and will link to the answers from this thread on Thursday 25th October.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 25-Oct-12 09:54:46

Hello, as promised here are the answers to your questions from Relate

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