Why you resent your husband after baby arrives

Can’t seem to stop hating your spouse after babba’s birth? Find out why.

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Like any other married couple, you and husband have probably had your fair share of conflict. However, you’ve always managed to work things out, and never found yourself hating your spouse.

But after your baby’s arrival, it seems like everything he does frustrates you. Slowly, frustration turns to resentment and hatred ― you can’t even remember the last time a conversation didn’t end up in an argument. Sounds familiar?

“After becoming parents, a couple’s focus ends up shifting to the new baby,” observes Anita Barot, marriage and family therapist at Lotus Psychotherapy. “You’re already tired and emotionally vulnerable, so you end up having a disconnect when you don’t get where your spouse is coming from.”

Mum Lydia Ng recalls, “There were many areas of conflict after our son was born. I guess it was about the different expectations we had. During that time, I just felt that my spouse did not understand how I felt and wished he could be more supportive.”

If you find yourself resentful of your spouse after your baby arrives, rest assured you’re not alone. Here’s why you might be feeling this way, plus, how to handle your emotions and get your relationship back on track.

“You’re tired both emotionally and physically, and may feel angry for being in this situation. As a result, you take it out on your spouse.”

Reason #1 You're completely exhausted

One of the toughest demands of looking after a newborn is the physical fatigue that comes along with it.

“You’re not sleeping enough, so you don’t have as much tolerance as you did before,” explains Barot. “You’re tired both emotionally and physically, and may feel angry for being in this situation. As a result, you take it out on your spouse.”

Ng agrees, “Emotionally, it was really tough because my body was handling all the hormones as well as the chronic lack of sleep. I wasn’t able to make decisions and was feeling down most of the time.”

To cope with the exhaustion, Relationship Matters director and psychotherapist Jean Chen emphasises making an extra effort to eat and sleep well.

Recovering physically after giving birth and breastfeeding is challenging,” she says. “Having sufficient rest and nutrition for at least a month after giving birth will be helpful, before trying to work on any relationships.”

Reason #2 Previous stressors start to add up

Small issues that used to bug you may be amplified after baby comes along, especially when you feel you’re not emotionally tended to.

Additionally, Chen explains how a couple’s pre-existing communication issues further feed feelings of resentment.

She says, “When there is an existing communication breakdown, each issue a couple encounters before and after baby arrives becomes a trigger to the resentment that a wife feels towards her husband.”

When a couple is caught in this pattern constantly, this strains the bond. Also, tempers flare over issues like:

* The amount of time spent on work/personal hobbies.
* Extended family issues.
* Finances.
* Parenting.
* Personality differences.

“If the marital bond becomes very strained, reduce stress temporarily by trying to find other sources of help, such as a confinement nanny, helper or food catering services,” Chen advises.

Reason #3 The in-laws are meddling

Your in-laws may be a great source of help, but they may also unwittingly be fuelling your hatred towards your spouse.

“For example, a wife’s in-laws may have different opinions about breastfeeding or handling baby and her husband may not have stepped in to mediate,” says Chen. “This may make her feel that he doesn’t protect her.”

Chen also adds how a wife may perceive her husband as not respecting her boundaries ― through actions like allowing parents to come into the room when she’s nursing, letting family visit the house without advance notice, or telling his parents what her child-raising opinions are.

Mum Chan Hui Ping says this became a source of unhappiness for her. “The newborn period was particularly stressful for my husband because he never liked handling newborns. Hence, he would often asked his family to come over to help or ‘complain’ to them about the babies. This led to some of my unhappiness because asking others for help is not my preferred solution.”

In such situations, be transparent with your husband about how your in-laws’ involvement is affecting your relationship. Also, acknowledge that your husband is learning to deal with the demands of a newborn too.

“I realised that we have different coping mechanisms, and for him, letting his family know of his feelings is his way of trying to cope,” says Chan. “We managed to work out a weekly schedule for family members to come over, and also have private time and space for ourselves.”

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Reason #4 You may be suffering from postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is common for many mums, and there’s absolutely nothing to feel ashamed or guilty about.

“When mums experience postpartum depression, they feel that their husbands can’t comprehend their situation, adding to the frustration,” observes Barot. “The reality is that mums don't want to feel unhappy, and spouses might not recognize that.”

Combat postpartum depression by first recognising that it’s a real condition, and one which needs to be addressed. Communicate your feelings to your spouse, and seek counselling if necessary.

“A lot of people have a stigma against counselling and feel it’s something you should never resort to,” says Barot. “But sometimes, there’s only so much your spouse can do, and you need more support. So, be open to counselling.”

Come to terms with your feelings by lowering your expectations, bearing in mind that just like you, your husband will inevitably slip up.

Reason #5 You feel your husband is incompetent

Maybe he forgot several important details, leading you to believe you can’t depend on him. It might have been a spelling error on your baby’s birth certificate, or missing feeding times and medical appointments. Whatever it is, it’s put you in a hyper-stressed mode.

Come to terms with your feelings by lowering your expectations, bearing in mind that just like you, your husband will inevitably slip up.

“You may feel better after being able to understand him,” offers Chen. “He may have missed important details because he too is hyper-stressed because of your criticism, and really wants to do well in your eyes.”

You might even make your spouse feel so incompetent that he comes back really late because he feels unappreciated, notes Barot.

As such, words of affirmation are key in showing your husband you value him during this difficult period. Simple phrases like “Thank you for doing this” or “You’re doing a great job” can do wonders for reassuring him.

“Look at your spouse from a positive lens, focusing on his strengths,” Barot recommends. “When you acknowledge what he can do rather than expecting him to fail, you end up getting a better result.”

Reason #6 You’re going at it alone

“Don't be a martyr,” warns Barot. “Mums feel they have to do everything, otherwise things won’t get done or be completed the way they like. This ends up causing a lot of strain for yourself.”

Be proactive about asking for help from your spouse, whether it’s waking up earlier to tend to the baby or relieving you of some household chores. Your spouse will feel more involved as well, and recognise that he has more to give.

“I was blessed with lots of support from both my spouse and the people around me, “says Ng. “My husband was very hands-on cos and gave me lots of assurance that I am doing fine as a mother. Also, I had a group of mothers in church who talked us through our decisions so the guidance from them helped

Most importantly, remember that you’re doing your best! Carve time out for yourself ― go out for a coffee, attend an exercise class, or catch a movie with your girlfriends. Doing some of the things you used to enjoy will make you a happier mum, which will, in turn, enable you to better provide for your child.

Photos: iStock

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