When you become a mom, your entire life changes. Your view of the world, your perspective on other people and your priorities shift. Most moms know that their life won’t be the same, however, it is important to note that there is one big change that you won’t find in parenting books.
When your first baby is born, you are overwhelmed with the realization that you can love someone so much that it physically hurts, yet pray for them to leave you alone at the same time. You will be amazed that one person can make you laugh until you cry, but make you so mad that you could cry too. One person can be the light of your life and yet make you want to shake them until they understand what you are saying.
I’m not talking about your baby; I’m talking about your partner. The person who helped you make your baby, the person who you are now tied to for the rest of your life, can literally make you want to scream and bang your head into a wall.
Many women resent their partner after having a baby
Ask any mom of a six-month-old how they are feeling and you will get the same response from almost all of them.
“Yeah, things are good. The baby is so sweet. If only my husband would do more around the house.”
“Oh, he’s great. He’s such a good dad. I just wish he would help out more.”
Every mom I have ever talked to has felt that she is carrying the burden of the housework and child-raising. Let that sink in for a minute. EVERY mom I have EVER talked to . . . there are a lot of different types of guys out there and yet, almost every mom feels overworked and overwhelmed.
Resentment is real and it affects most women at some point in their lives. If you have one of those perfect, mythical partners who gets up with the kids in the middle of the night, vacuums daily and rubs your feet, you might as well stop reading here. For the rest of you, read on and know that it is not just you.
I’ve been married for almost eighteen years and have been doing this mom thing for over fifteen. I’ve spent countless hours wondering why so many women experience this (usually while I was cleaning, doing laundry or running errands), and here are my not so expert observations and wisdom.
The Golden Circle Analogy
When it is just you and your partner, you have the time to be super loving and take care of them. You anticipate your partner’s needs and try to make their life easier. Or you pick up after them and make their favorite meal. You try to greet them eagerly with a smile when they get home from work. In other words, you try to be the perfect wife to show them how much you love them.
Hopefully, your partner does the same for you so you feel loved, appreciated and taken care of too. Picture a beautiful, golden circle of light. It’s a feel-good circle, where each good deed is rewarded with another. Sure, you don’t always get along and there can be fights, but for the most part, the two of you are wrapped up in each other and everything else is white noise. The golden circle is complete and shining.
Then, the kids start joining the party and things become exponentially more difficult. When you have a small person literally hanging on you all day, you don’t want anyone else to touch you. When you are in charge of keeping someone alive, you don’t want to also be in charge of finding a grown person’s shoes. You don’t want to pack lunch for your partner when you already have to pack lunches for your kids. The shift occurs and the golden circle starts to lose its luster.
Momma Bear has to prioritize
Being a good mom almost makes you go into survival mode. It’s like when someone asks you, “If you were in a boat and it capsized and you could only save one person, who would it be?” Every mom is going to choose her child, not her partner.
Sorry dude, learn to swim. Momma Bear has to get the babies.
And that right there is the crux of the problem. Momma Bear isn’t showing Poppa Bear any love, so he gets resentful and stops doing all the little extra things to make her feel loved and make her life as a new mom a little easier.
She starts to feel overwhelmed so she snaps at him and makes snide comments. In return, he does even less around the house, which makes her more resentful because she feels like she has to do everything and then she pays even less attention to her spouse because she is busy taking care of the children and everything around the house.
Whew! It makes your head spin, doesn’t it?
Instead of that feel good, lovey-dovey circle where everyone’s needs are met, they are now in a downward spiral of rage and resentment. Then, most people throw another kid or two into the mix, the workload gets bigger, money gets tighter and the resentment circle seems never-ending.
So what is the solution? How do you change this and have an equal, reciprocal relationship with your partner? How do you polish up the golden circle and get back to feeling loved and appreciated?
Communication is key to stop resenting your partner after baby
Honest, open communication your partner is usually the best place to start. When was the last time you actually told him (in a calm tone) what is bothering you?
Most of us expect our partners to read our minds and get frustrated when they don’t. If your partner is actually a mind reader, then go ahead and be frustrated. If not, then you need to help him understand how you are feeling.
Instead of assigning blame and name-calling, ask for his help in finding a solution. In general, men are natural problem solvers, so tell him what is making you feel overwhelmed and ask (again, calmly) for his help to fix the problem. Most men want their partner to be happy, but sometimes they just don’t have a clue that you are feeling overworked and upset.
The key here is to have this discussion at the right time. You can’t attack him when he walks in the door from work and it’s not really ideal pillow talk. Likewise, when the baby is screaming or you are about to blow your top, I would hold the conversation for later. Find a relatively quiet moment and have an adult conversation.
Take the high road to stop resenting your partner after baby
Another idea is to take the high road in the best interest of your marriage. Sometimes, you have to be the bigger person and stop the runaway train in its tracks.
Try doing something totally unexpected for your partner. Make their favorite meal, give them your complete and total attention while they are talking or greet them eagerly at the door when they get home from work.
Is it hard to set aside the time to go above and beyond for your partner? Quite honestly, yes, sometimes it is. I understand that you might not have the extra time in your schedule, but marriage is hard work. Only you can decide if you want to put in the work and be in it for the long haul or not.
When I do something nice for my husband and he eyes me suspiciously while asking, “What’s going on with you? What do you want?” then I know I have been an evil wife for far too long.
Full disclosure, this is something I still struggle with. I’m really good at being an Evil Mommy, but I still suck as a wife most days.
Believe me, I know exactly how difficult it is to get back to your happy, shiny, feel-good circle, but really, what are your options? You can try to make it better or you can suffer in silence. And you never know, he might just surprise you.
Feel free to comment below with your own suggestions. I would love to hear what works for you and your partner!