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Relationship Struggles since the birth....

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm new here, so forgive me if I don't use the proper abbreviations for everything. 

 

I gave birth to our son 6 months ago and now my partner and I's relationship is suffering greatly.  We knew it would be hard, but this is SOOOOOOOOOO much harder than we ever dreamed.  Here's some info

 

- both excited to have children, agreed I would carry 1st and her 2nd (though now she's unsure of carrying #2 - which is fine with me, I'd love to carry again)

 

- she was awesome during labor and birth

 

- 1st two weeks after birth, she felt like I was a "burden" as I was in bed and healing for 2 weeks.  Went to therapy and things started to get a little better. Though I still have some resentment that I'm going back into individual therapy to work on.

 

- I went back to work 8 hours a week for the fall semester. She went back to her regular 32 hours a week to a job she hates.  I start next week at 12 hours a week.  She is resentful of me being at home (besides my hours working) with our son AND it's especially been bad since she hates her work. 

 

- We have a family bed with our son (queen sized - we need a king!) thus, not much snuggling happening and often she sleeps in guest room on days when she has to get up early for work so she gets more sleep.  (our son isn't a cryer and wakes/fusses a little to let me know he needs to nurse but then we go right back to sleep, we are having success with pocket diapers in the night, so no need for diaper changes either).

 

- We are heading back into therapy to work through this.  We are both highly skilled in conflict resolution and skillful communication, but of course, all of that falls by the way side, we get triggered and resort to old (unheathly and often hurtful) patterns of interacting.

 

I would just love to get some insight from others who have struggled and got through it or are gettting through it, and ideas to bring intimacy back into our lives (though I have zero sex drive). I would like to know that I'm not alone.

 

best.

post #2 of 32

I don't have advice, really, but a lot of sympathy.  My son is almost 2, and my relationship with my partner is only finally getting back on track.  My sex drive was nil while I was nursing, and I had to do a lot of reassuring that it was hormonal (no ovulation, no sex drive) and not personal.  On top of that, due to a rather traumatic (e.g., unexpectedly premature) birth, my partner got hit with a serious case of depression that lasted for a good 18 months.  It was really hard, and my faith in us is still a little shaken, really.  We ended up struggling over limited resources instead of working together or taking care of each other.  That makes me worry about what will happen with future life stresses, you know?

 

I guess my only advice is you're REALLY not alone in this, and to keep working on honest and kind communication.  It does get easier as the baby gets older, and you get more used to the new way of things.  We'll all be here cheering you on.

post #3 of 32

 

 

hug2.gif you're not alone!


Edited by osker - 1/9/11 at 3:22pm
post #4 of 32

Hi there, queermama, and welcome to MDC!  I just read "She Looks Just Like You" which is a memoir of a non-gestational lesbian mom.  Prior to having their child, they'd been together for eighteen years and their relationship took a tailspin in their first year of mothering.  It was a great read, and sounds like it speaks to some of the things you and your partner are going through.

 

ETA: About bringing intimacy back into your life ... I'm going to speak for myself and my partner here.  We'd both been in prior relationships that had suffered from Lesbian Bed Death and part of our commitment to each other in our marriage is to a healthy sex life.  We make it happen, whether or not we're both on the same page at the time we've set (yes, dates seems to be required with an infant/child at home).  We roll in the hay, have a good laugh, get physically close, and always end up DTD, even if we were a little distracted/annoyed/frustrated/lonely/indifferent/resentful to begin with.  I knew that being a nursing mom would dampen the fires for me, but what I've noticed is that yes, my desire for sex waned (and I'm still nursing two years later with the same effect) but my ability to enjoy it once we get going has not.  In fact, it's better than before.  I think too often women believe that both parties need to be horny, but I've learned over the years and the girlfriends that this is not the case.  Make a commitment to do it anyway.  Again, I speak just for DP and myself here. 

post #5 of 32

Queermama, you're definitely not alone.  While I'm pregnant with our first child, we did adopt two older children 4 years and it almost cost us our marriage.  I suffered from some post-adoption depression and dealing with all of the kid stuff and the transition really strained our relationship. 

 

One of the things I really related to in your post was the stress around the work/stay-at-home.  I was the partner who left her job to take a parental leave to be with the kids.  Yes, they were in school full-time (which really is only 5.5 hours a day), but with all of their appointments (drs, dentist, psychologist, school + activities + issues) I never really had much down time.  My DW did get a bit resentful when I wasn't able to get to the housework or the meal prep as she didn't really grasp what the day entailed.  She felt like she was slaving away at work, when I was sitting at home on my ass.  It wasn't until I went away for a few days and she was left caring for the kids that she got a true appreciation of what it was like to be the primary parent.  I also didn't necessarily have a full appreciation of the pressure that was on her to be the bread winner, to support our family, and to have to be the one to go to work everyday.  Having children creates a huge role shift in any relationship, and that takes time to work through which is completely normal.

 

With respect to intimacy, I think that's different for everyone.  My DW and I are able to remain emotionally intimate, despite the waning of sexual intimacy.  That happened with the kids' adoption and now in my pregnancy (physically right now, I hurt and really great sex just isn't an option as I'm not so much able to move with much grace or fluidity or without assistance).  I'm assuming that it will continue on through the early newborn months.  We remain close, connected and intimate in other ways, openly talk about sex, and find other ways to keep sexually in-tune.  We also laugh a lot about it.  For us, as long as we still desire one another, we know that we can make it through.  Talking, touching, kissing, laughing, dancing, making out, nourishing each other with food, inserting romance with small gestures is how we're maintaining intimacy in the absence of lots of sex.

post #6 of 32

Chiming in with another "you're not alone!" I think the impact of having DD has had on our relationship is the biggest surprise for me about having a child! I have always heard people say how much having children brought them closer together and how amazing it is to share that, etc. For awhile I wondered how the hell that was possible! I realize now that these were people whose children were older now and out of the intensity of newbornism. DP and I argue A LOT now...about really small, insignificant things. It drives me crazy, upsets me and I hate it. But I'm trying to work on things and cut us both some slack as we both learn how to become moms and how our relationship has changed. It's getting better but it's still hard not to get caught up in the little things or the emotional intensity of becoming a parent. I try and focus on the big picture and enjoy every moment. It helps.

 

Good luck!

post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by gumshoegirl007 View Post
...I also didn't necessarily have a full appreciation of the pressure that was on her to be the bread winner, to support our family, and to have to be the one to go to work everyday...

 

With respect to intimacy, I think that's different for everyone.  My DW and I are able to remain emotionally intimate, despite the waning of sexual intimacy.  That happened with the kids' adoption and now in my pregnancy (physically right now, I hurt and really great sex just isn't an option as I'm not so much able to move with much grace or fluidity or without assistance).  I'm assuming that it will continue on through the early newborn months.  We remain close, connected and intimate in other ways, openly talk about sex, and find other ways to keep sexually in-tune.  We also laugh a lot about it.  For us, as long as we still desire one another, we know that we can make it through.  Talking, touching, kissing, laughing, dancing, making out, nourishing each other with food, inserting romance with small gestures is how we're maintaining intimacy in the absence of lots of sex.

Getting up with the kids every day means you're also the one going to work everyday... I totally know you know that, but still had to point it out. winky.gif

 

This is also how Sonja and I remain close. We make sure that if we're getting cranky with each other, we make time for a little snuggling and smooching. It almost always helps. Yes, that sometimes means we have to skip doing something else, but it is SO worth it.
 

post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 

thank you all for your insights.  it is great to know that I am not alone.  keeping my chin up, one day at a time!  You'll be hearing more from me, I'm certain!  Again, Thanks!

post #9 of 32

Thanks Queermama for bringing this up and thank you all for the responses.  So much of this is the same as what we are going through.  Our son is just over a year and, unfortunately, it is now even worse than it was before (although for MANY it is getting better by this time.)  My partner works all the time so that we can afford to live and she is down and resentful that she is working all the time, while I am "playing."  I am exhausted by a son that still doesn't sleep through the night and doing 95% of the child care myself.  Also, I do work one day a week but even if I worked 5 days, I would end up bringing it the amount of money my spouse makes in a month and minus childcare costs it would so much less than that even.  So I could put the baby in daycare, work full-time, and it still wouldn't give my partner much of a break if we want to live in the expensive city we live in.  I also feel stuck and am having a hard time problem solving because I am so exhausted.  And we are both really lonely and can't seem to help each other out of it because we are so extremely busy.  And each needs to be taken care of and doesn't have much left to take care of someone else.  Further, I'm embarrassed that this is so hard for us.  We have many friends with similar aged children and none of them seem to find this as hard as we do.  And I have outright asked.  While they can relate in many ways, it isn't the "crisis" for them that it seems to be for us.  I agree, however, with the schedule some sex aspect.  We do that and it works, b/c even if I'm not in the mood, I get there and it pays off a lot to have that connection.  Also, despite all this, I passionately want another child - even though I know it makes NO SENSE since we can't even handle one and two will be that much more work.  But wanting/having children doesn't come from a rational place anyway.  My partner, reasonably, does not want another and so we are at odds with each other over the fundamentals of what comes next for the family.  This decision can't wait very long as we are both significantly older parents already.  It helps to hear that others have struggled similarly and lessens the sense of shame and failure I have that we can't manage to do what others do easily, but also I would welcome any and all concrete tips that others have for how to get through this.  ???  We are looking for a couples therapist now which of course is a good idea but seriously do all the good ideas also have to come with serious roadblocks as well - ie Spending a LOT more money when money is a stress, and finding childcare, when childcare and the cost and the difficulty finding someone are also super stressful?  Timely post mama.  I hope it starts to look up soon. 

post #10 of 32

How are you doing Queermama?

 

In addition to the "She looks just like you" book mentioned above (great book!), I somewhat hesitantly suggest the book "The Transition to Parenthood" by Jay Belsky.  It's a qualitative sociological look at why some couples have relationships that improve dramatically after the birth of a first child, and some (many) have a relationships that take a precipitous decline.  My hesitation is that the book is dates (80s), somewhat sexist in places, and of course contains only straight couples, but if you can take it for what it is and read between the lines it might be helpful.  It was for us.

 

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

thank you all for your support and the book suggestions! 

post #12 of 32

At the risk of being unpopular, I'd say if you're crunchy or AP-oriented at all, I would NOT recommend "She Looks Just Like You". I, personally, found it rather horrifying. shake.gif

 

I also found the author seriously irritating anyway. lol

post #13 of 32

Yes, "She Looks Just Like You" is far from AP, but I do think her experiences with her partner might be helpful to folks who are struggling. 

post #14 of 32

ErtheMama--What was horrifying about it?  Just that they didn't nurse for very long or did more rankle than that?  (I'm genuinely curious)  

 

I agree it wasn't really AP, but then, it's not a parenting book.  As starling & diesel says, the writing about her struggles with her partner, which do seem to stem at least partially from conflict around division of labor and outside work, is what seems relevant here (though for the author, it was the non-bio-mom doing most of the caretaking). Less relevant for the OP, I'm just grateful there's a book out there describing the lesbian non-bio-mom experience in nitty-gritty detail, not matter the approach to parenting overall.  Other than this book, pretty much the only other thing out there is the Aizley "Other Mother" anthology (which is OK and a few of the essays are great, but if we're talking about books that rankle, there are some essays in there that make me want to crawl out of my skin).

 

Always interesting to hear the different takes.  (oh, and I guarantee you the Belsky book I mentioned isn't AP at all, and had plenty of other problems, but again, still potentially useful)

post #15 of 32

I am so sorry to hear that you and your partner are struggling in this way.

 

My wife and I separated 14 months after the birth of our fourth son (perhaps notably: the first of our children whom she gestated; I gestated the first three), and are in the process of getting divorced. I do not believe that our relationship struggles are as simple as post-baby adjustment stuff, but I do think that the tender postpartum time did help to bring a lot of our well-overlooked relationship shortcomings to the surface. It was partially in contemplating that we were now--after seven intense years of parenting--done with making babies that our relationship started to falter.

 

I really don't feel like I'm in any place to give relationship advice at this point, but I will say that my wife and I were definitely of the mindset that it didn't matter that much that our relationship was lacking in sexual intimacy while our kids were so young, and I very much disagree with that notion now.

 

I will also say that the experience of Non-gestational parenthood was a much bigger issue for us than I ever anticipated it would be. I struggled very much in becoming the NGP (though it was something I desperately wanted to do), and I think, in retrospect, that my wife did, too, when I gestated our first three kids. I wish we had been able to talk about these issues more openly and to more graciously support each other in claiming the experience and becoming our kids' mothers.

 

Best of luck,

 

Lex

post #16 of 32

Lex -- hug2.gif

 

All manner of peace and support coming your way.

 

Thinking of you and your family....

post #17 of 32

Wow, Lex, I had no idea! I'm sorry. hug2.gif


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lyn_ftst View Post

ErtheMama--What was horrifying about it?  Just that they didn't nurse for very long or did more rankle than that?  (I'm genuinely curious)  

 

I agree it wasn't really AP, but then, it's not a parenting book.  As starling & diesel says, the writing about her struggles with her partner, which do seem to stem at least partially from conflict around division of labor and outside work, is what seems relevant here (though for the author, it was the non-bio-mom doing most of the caretaking). Less relevant for the OP, I'm just grateful there's a book out there describing the lesbian non-bio-mom experience in nitty-gritty detail, not matter the approach to parenting overall.  Other than this book, pretty much the only other thing out there is the Aizley "Other Mother" anthology (which is OK and a few of the essays are great, but if we're talking about books that rankle, there are some essays in there that make me want to crawl out of my skin).

 

Always interesting to hear the different takes.  (oh, and I guarantee you the Belsky book I mentioned isn't AP at all, and had plenty of other problems, but again, still potentially useful)


The part that I found horrifying in particular was how they let their nine-month-old scream in her crib alone for over two and a half hours just so she would supposedly be more independent with her sleeping patterns. There are other aspects that I'm not fond of, but that issue really takes the cake for me. While I realise it is not a book about parenting per say, writing about negative parenting behaviours can normalise them, and behaving that way should not be "normal".

 

I'm also not a fan of the relationship dynamics displayed in that book. It seemed to me like they really worked hard at ignoring each other and their struggles.

 

All in all, I suppose that the book just wasn't for me. ;)

post #18 of 32

Lex ... It's good to see you here.  I'm so sorry to hear about the difficult transition your family is going through.  Know that a beautiful constellation of sparking, brilliant stars is still a constellation, no matter what the new arrangement is.  

post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 

thanks all for sharing about your experiences in life and with the books.  my partner and I interviewed a new therapist last week and now we are trying to schedule an appointment with her.  since my first post, I'm noticing some things rise to the surface that I wasn't aware of.  My partner used to have an eating disorder and was a size 0 when we met.  One year before our son was born, she finally quit smoking and faced her disordered eating.  Since she has put on weight and is a healthy (and sexy/curvy i will add) size 6.  But she has expressed (through projections) that she is not comfortable in her body and being intimate with me ("you don't want to touch me because I'm fat", she says... when in fact I have tried to touch her and she pushes me away).  This, with her unhappiness in her job, and the stress of a new baby... ugh.  Couples therapy is gonna be FUUUUNNNN!   And I'm not happy either and feel like I don't have a confidant that I can confide in - in the way that I really want to.  As I said before, i need my own therapist (but money is always an issue with me working less) and I just want the space to unload in a horribly unskillful way by just saying "she... she... she..." before I begin to look inward at myself.  So here goes a lil... "She won't communicate, she dissociates or deflects", "She won't take action to make changes in her job", "She doesn't touch me", "She doesn't acknowledge the work I do inside (and outside) of the home while also taking GREAT care of our son".  "anytime we have a mild arguement, she always jumps on the 'this isn't working' or 'we should split' or 'we don't love each other' train (again, all deflections to what is really going on)". And she's taken to lying about little things "yes, I called the therapist" or "I'll be home right after work" but then goes to the gym and I find her swimsuit wet in the back seat of her car.  ugh.  I know I'm no perfect angel either, but thanks again for listening. 

 

the thing is, when both of us are being skillful and listening to each other, we can see that on the surface we are doing okay, beneath that we are struggling, and beneath that we are a wreck,  but beneath all of that, we really have a strong loving bond and are just fine.   

 

again, thanks for listening.

 

best

post #20 of 32

I hop it feels better to get that stuff off your chest. :) I really hope the therapist helps; it seems like you have a good grip on what's happening. hug2.gif

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