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Female perspective needed(43 Posts)
Hi all - slightly odd to type this as a new(ish) father - daughter is 11 months old - on a site which I guess is aimed at mums more than dads. However, I'd really appreciate a female/mum's perspective on things.
My wife (of 4 years) and I are really struggling to hold things together after the birth of our little girl - she's perfect (our daughter!) and was the result of a long process of trying, surgery for my wife and a miscarriage along the way. My wife has always been pretty strong willed, after a less-than-perfect childhood, and is in all honesty a much tougher person than me. However, that drive and determination has (in my eyes) turned into something far more negative since our daughter was born, and we are a long way apart emotionally.
We've tried counselling (at my suggestion) via Relate but my wife was not keen and it petered out after a while, and she's not willing to try again. Other people (my family and to a lesser extent my friends) have noticed the level of (verbal/emotional) anger - I'd go as far as to call it aggression sometimes - which my wife clearly feels and aims at me. It's a pretty much never-ending stream of bitterness and anger which I am just at a loss to understand or deal with.
I've spoken to my GP who was supportive and queried whether there may be a hormonal element to it all, but is a bit powerless unless she goes to him for help.
I'm well aware that there are two sides to every story, and am sure I p*ss her off perfectly justifiably, regularly - that's the nature of relationships, I know. But I just want to be a supportive, loving dad and husband, and others outside our relationship have commented that things just don't seem right. Even if I'm wrong 50% of the time, that still leaves the other 50%, right?
We're now at a stage where I can't see how things could change, and she's dropped hints about how she and my daughter would be "better off on our own". My own parents are desperately worried about losing contact with the grand-daughter they adore, just when they feel that they may not have much time left (both are elderly and not in great health), and my wife's own parents sympathise with me but have nothing to suggest, though they try to help as best they can.
To be quite honest, the only things that keep me from saying we need to be apart are our daughter, and the practicalities of it all (I'm resigned to the fact that my wife would have custody of our daughter, but I'm not sure how I/we could afford to live separatel). I'm ashamed to say that I think my wife knows this and plays upon it - she knows I cannot imagine anything more awful than our family ending, and not seeing my daughter grow up, and she knows I have so much to lose that I can't say or do anything.
Anyway, I guess I'm hoping that someone can tell me (honestly) that they were in the same situation and turned it around somehow, or perhaps that their partner behaved in a similar way and it was just a phase. Thanks for reading this far - it's good of you.
Hi - thanks for replying so quickly. We're both 37 (yes, old enough to know, and do, much better, I realise). I genuinely don't know how we've got to this point. No-one's been unfaithful, we have a wonderful, wonderful new baby to get to know, I don't drink excessively, or beat her up(!) - I love her parents and her friends. I work hard to support our family and have not pressured her to go back to work (or not go back to work) - we're lucky in that things are OK financially for now.
Obviously there are the normal ups and downs in any relationship, I know that, but it just feels like now that she has a baby (after a long time trying), everyone and everything else can go to hell. I was at a friend's house yesterday and was just struck by just how nice they were to each other - nothing amazing but there was real tenderness between them.
No-one needs to hear/read pages of self-pity, so I'll call a halt. I was just looking forward to being a dad, and part of a family, so much, and the harder I try to fix things, the less she seems to care.
I'm not going to be the man "who walked out on his wife and his baby daughter" - that's not how I was brought up, but there must be a point at which our daughter will realise that her parents aren't being nice to each other, and we cannot subject her to that. I can't believe I'm typing this - I'm so ashamed of us both.
Having a baby is such an enormous life changing event and the first year or so can be particularly tough. She may well be finding it all a bit hard and lashes out at you. It could be that she wasn't totally happy in the relationship before your baby arrived and now that she has what she wants ie a baby then she feels she has no further use for you. I think you have to sit down with her and have a very honest discussion. Tell her how her behaviour is really affecting you and ask her what it is that she wants from you. If she says she wants to split up then you need to ask her how she thinks that can be facilitated and and tell her that you would apply for joint custody ( I presume that is what you would go for?) she may need to rant and rave and get things out if her system but she does need to be told the effect her behaviour is having on you and how in time this is going to affect your DD.
Hi, sorry you are going through this. What issues specifically is your wife angry about?
Please don't be ashamed of both of you. You are a couple experiencing enormous stress and difficulty at the moment. You have every right to feel sadness but please don't feel ashamed. You are trying hard to resolve it and want to be a happy family and that is commendable.
Post natal depression can present as anger / aggression. It did for me. Get her to the doc if you can
I know that I bitterly resented my H for quite a while after our first was born because he got all the good bits of having a baby but by and large his life and his personal freedom was still the same as before.
It sounds laughable, but just the fact that he could get up every morning and have a shower without it being a military operation in planning and/or accompanied by constant screaming and crying felt so unfair.
If you have been quite an independent person beforehand, the arrival of a baby who is utterly dependent on you is a real shock. Could this be a factor in your wife's response to you? Is she still on maternity leave? Could she be suffering from depression or sleep deprivation?
what is she angry with you about? is it a consistent thing(s) or more you can't do anything rright? i felt very overwhelmed by my first looking back and didn't really have anything left for my DP. When you say you're trying to fix things what do you mea? what i needed then i think was support in parenting e.g. cleaning, getting up with the baby in the morning.
What's she aggressive about? What does she say is wrong?
Wow - so many replies and so quickly! Can't tell you how grateful I am - truly.
Heydey/angryangryyoungwoman - Thank you. To be fair to her, about 2 months ago she sat and listened while I told her how I felt about things and tried to explain how I wanted things to be different - how I am sorry for the things that annoy her (using the wrong nappies, forgetting to switch the oven off, etc). I said that I absolutely understood that having a baby and being constantly knackered, plus not knowing whether she wants to go back to work (etc etc) is putting massive pressure on her, so I understand that she needs to let off steam from time to time, and often I just happen to be the closest person. Problem is that absolutely nothing changed afterwards. Her focus is 100% our daughter and her, and anything outside that may as well not exist, at best.
The problem is that the things that I completely accept merit giving me a bollocking (using the wrong nappies, for example!) just produce a nuclear detonation from her - anger that is out of all proportion to the offence - often involving some pretty foul-mouthed rants about my parents or hers or me, and I just think "where on earth did that come from"? I can sort of cope with that, but increasingly anything that goes right with our daughter when I'm in charge is a negative to her. Today I had a day off to look after our daughter and managed to get some washing done and bake a cake - but this was bad because obviously I only did it to prove how great a dad I am and how much better I am than her! No - I did it to lend a hand and because I thought she might like (a) clean clothes and (b) a cake!
I know this probably reads as though I'm setting myself up as some kind of saint - and that isn't at all what I'm saying. I KNOW I get things wrong but if we're married and responsible for a new little baby, we have to get on well enough to apologise for things that go wrong and leave it there, and not rejoice in the fact that if something goes wrong it's another stick to beat the other person with, surely?
Tealady1983 - thank you (and I'm sorry you suffered that). It's so tempting to say that it must be the same thing here, but I don't want to minimise my responsibility for where we are now and in all honesty, we always had a fairly volatile relationship before we got pregnant (mainly because we couldn't get pregnant), but now it's like someone turned the dial to 20. I'll try and suggest that talking to the GP might be a good idea, though I might do it from behind a locked door. In all seriousness, I can't see her accepting that this is even a possibility - as far as she is concerned, I'm either guilty of pissing her off, or over-reacting to her.
Lizziemint - thank you. And I'm sure there is at least an element of what you say going on with us - it rings very true. I am doing my best to help (I do most of the washing, cook, make sure the dishwasher is run every night etc). I've cut down my hours at work as best I can, and have tried to encourage her to take the support that's on offer from our families, but she hates my mother and has a very difficult relationship with hers, so those suggestions usually end badly. Yes, she's still on maternity leave, though truing to decide whether she can face going back t work full/time or maybe try and negotiate part-time.
I guess I feel like we don't face any difficulties that countless other parents don't face - we're so lucky in many ways - and I'm reaching the end of my tether. Yes, I know things are hard for her, but I want so much to help and get things back on track, she has other help available if she wants it. I want to say that it's just not OK to treat anyone with the contempt/hatred I honestly feel I am treated with, let alone someone you are supposed to love and want to raise your child with. But when I try to say these things she has said (quite literally) that she does not care what I think, and she knows that unless I am prepared not to see our daughter grow up, and to leave our home, then there's nothing I can do. It used to make me angry, and now it just makes me very very sad.
Bumdiedum and bunchoffives - thanks. And I've kind of said it above - she's angry (very angry) about the little stuff which she is perfectly justified in being a bit angry about, and she's angry about the big stuff - it feels lie there has to be a "winner" and a "loser" in how we get on with our daughter, and that is beyond awful.
There must be a lot of resentment behind the reactions to trivial things fueling the anger.
If you have tried talking, counselling, doing your best etc then I think you should probably conclude that she doesn't want to stay together and start thinking about how to split up. Sorry
But there is no point in staying with someone who won't try to make it better. You can't fix a relationship on your own. For your DDs sake you probably need to accept that its best if you split and co-parent from separate homes.
Bunchoffives - I know you're probably quite right. I just cannot accept the reality or the awfulness of what we're doing to our little girl. Thanks anyway - kind of you to follow this thread.
I just cannot accept the reality or the awfulness of what we're doing to our little girl. Do you mean now or if you split up?
She does sound quite resentful, if the issues are around housework and you are genuinely pulling your weight, then perhaps she and you have different standards or ways of doing things and to get past this, you both need to communicate and sort out what these are and how they can be resolved on a practical level.
However, she may be seeing this as proof for her that you are not compatible, both over household issues and your relationship overall.
She may, as other posters have suggested, be depressed and so these issues may be exacerbated if they do exist.
You could insist on discussing what would make her happy and discuss what would make you happy too, both agreeing to stick to any agreement. If you can't resolve this, you are as able as she is to say enough is enough and work out how to amicably split so that your daughter is not brought up in a negative environment, which is what this sounds like at the moment.
Bunchoffives - I meant if we split up, though it's a fair question - though we both do our best to make sure that our daughter doesn't witness raised voices etc, there will come A point I guess when she senses the less than pleasant atmosphere.
Angryangryyoungwoman - I'm not really sure where the anger comes from. Housework is a trigger, but it could just as easily be anything else. It's just as often stuff about our families, her job, etc etc
So what are you going to do about it?
I just don't know. Judging by past experience I'll do what I always end up doing - and tell myself that I've made my bed and I'll have to lie on it, because I cannot face the prospect of being apart from our daughter. I've pretty much given up on the idea of having a loving relationship with my wife - I'd settle for one where there's no active hostility. Sounds pathetic and self-pitying, but there it is. Thanks again for taking the time to reply to these ramblings - it is very much appreciated.
Can anyone babysit so you can have a proper conversation with her? Hard to guess what she's thinking but my advice would be to spend lots of time listening to find out (not implying you don't listen to her now - you might just need more time in a 'neutral' place).
I really feel for you OP.
I have a 4 month old and it has been the hardest but best 4 months ever! I was very career focused until the birth and now feel a bit like I've lost my identity. I also feel guilty for occasionally not enjoying it as much as I think I ought to.
It sounds very much like postnatal depression to me. It sounds like she is taking every event both good and bad and putting a negative twist on things.
If she won't go and see the GP, what about alerting the health visitor.
They are trained to watch for symptoms of PND and have always asked me about our relationship etc.
It could be "disguised" as a visit about your daughter......
Is she still breastfeeding? If so, any hormonal element may settle a bit after she stops
It sounds like you're being bullied, OP. yy lots of reasons why she may be half out of her mind, but projecting all her bile at you is not only not good for you, it's not good for your daughter and, ultimately, it's not good for her. How would she be about going to a counsellor alone? She may not have taken to couples counselling because she couldn't say what she needed to say with you there - though, that said, she appears to say vile things to you normally. To that end, perhaps you need to see a counsellor alone, too. This is a tricky situation and you could do with some professional support.
I'm sorry it's so bad for you, I hope something shifts soon.
to cobble together some old sayings 'it takes two to tango but only one to walk off the dance floor'
Sadly your wife is doing that at the moment and there doesn't seem to be much more that you can do.
So you are left waiting for her to change her mind about fixing your relationship. waiting for her to end the relationship, or becoming so unhappy that you end it. All pretty crap options but for all your goodwill and hope there really isn't much you can do outside of being supportive and seeing how it plays out.
I don't get a sense that she's told you what's wrong - that is, she tells you what's immediately wrong, but not what's going on overall. When you had your (laudable) State Of The Nation a few months ago, did she have the same opportunity? did she take the opportunity?
Don't forget that she can only see what you do, not necessarily what you intend. So if you sort the dishwasher (for example) then she might read it as implied criticism that she had not done so. That certainly seems to be her reaction to your laundry and cake day.
It's easy to infer criticism when one is not feeling secure. She's weighing up her employment options, and let me tell you they are all shit. If she works ft she hears that she might as well not have bothered having a baby; pt and she isn't pulling her weight; SAHM and she's a kept woman without the identity she spent 15/36 years building.
I think it would be worth casually dropping into conversation how well she's doing/done, with referenceto how full-on an 11mo is - ie genuine awe rather than patronising. And you need to give her a chance to unload without trying to fix it. To say "I hate my baby belly" without your suggesting situps.
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