Just to add, my dh gets at least 10-20 hours a week of 'personal' time. He has a finished shed in the back yard where he spends a lot of time. He's generally building something, but I know he stays back there by himself and watches movies and such. He simply needs that alone time to function well for our family. When he was working full time (he's not working now), he would spend at least an hour by himself every day after work. However, if I ask him to do something specifically, he would always be there for me. Often you just have to ask for what you need every time you need it.
Division of parenting responsibilities - Page 3
A couple of thoughts: I read this article recommended by my therapist and it TOTALLY changed how I view relationship dynamics. I thought DH and I had a really good, healthy relationship before, but now it is even better (he read it too) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201112/are-you-the-right-mate Great article, J. I emailed it to my DH to read. A few key things stood out to me that have me questioning things even more... I hope DH can read it with some introspection. In a non-defensive state, he is usually able to see things from a clear and rational perspective. But lately he's less predictable. I am even more uncertain now that we can fix things due to key behaviors he's exhibiting that are pretty much relationship killers.
Also, this first year is a HARD time especially as far as the parent relationship goes. It really does get easier as the kids get older, at least in our experience. When the kids' needs shift to less physical needs (diapering, dressing, etc) and more emotional, mental, etc, it is not as physically taxing on the parents. KWIM? I do understand what you're saying. I think it'll be like that for me but not necessarily DH. I am concerned about how he is going to respond to Sora's emotional needs when she gets older. He is even worried that he's going to screw her up. He's said that to me on several occasions since she was born, after we were calming down from fights... If things are this bad now just meeting her basic needs, and then Sora is going to start soaking in how daddy treats mommy, what's in the future, you know?
I do think you need to nurture, respect, and love your husband. And I think when you do, he will return the love. But I would make sure he is reciprocating. I don't always think you need to be the one initiating that cycle either. Even if he isn't the "type", he needs to learn how to be present in the relationship and be a good partner. This has been an ongoing argument between us for YEARS. It never ends.
I think from what I know about your family, you are providing an exceptional level of routine and structure for Sora. She has naps, she has bedtime routines, you are in a stable home, YOU are always there with her as her home base. That's what she needs. Routine doesn't have to be 100% regimented. It's okay to stray here and there for special occasions, visits, etc. It teaches a level of flexibility, you know? Just don't be too hard on yourself in that area. And Sora did great at the hospital! She is obviously okay with change here and there :-) I was just reading an article about stability/change with regard to secure attachment. I'll see if I can dig it back up. Thanks for the reassurance.
I would be mad, too, that he didn't want to work a day job especially because it seems so much healthier for your family dynamic, and you want to be working too so it doesn't seem reasonable to have two parents working on two different shifts. I know people do it, and I am sure it works, but in your situation it doesn't seem sustainable. Yeah, it kind of feels like he pulled the whole bait and switch thing on me with this one... He knew from the start that I didn't want to be with someone working 3rd shift forever, and he reassured me he'd get on 1st shift eventually. Then I come to find out years later that he isn't really interested in working 1st shift, and especially not in the positions that have been available to him. The day jobs require he answers to someone (like most jobs require!) and he can't stand that, besides valuing his autonomy to a fault. Part of the reason I keep going to school to finish my bachelor's degree is to get an accounting job that allows me to be the breadwinner so he can then do something else. But then I think - why the heck am I going to such lengths to do something so unselfish to make things easier on him when he's so ungrateful and uncaring about my efforts? I do things with my eye on OUR future, and he does things for HIS future.
I'm sorry you are a having a hard time, Joanie. The first year with DD was so hard for DH and I too. And he's a SuperDad. I don't think it's unreasonable for you to expect more from your DH if it's what you truly feel you need to be a happier person. For me, it really was. But for some, it might mean changing yourself to become more understanding of your partner's needs too. So that's a personal journey. I also don't believe it is always the woman stepping up and doing all the work, in our house it was my husband, as I navigate my way through PPD. But each relationship is so individual.
In our season of small children (which we know won't last forever) DH and I have assumed these roles: I take care of the kids, he takes care of me. Taking care of me sometimes means taking care of the kids too, but ultimately I do the research and make the choices on their upbringing, and ask him to be on my team. But he does everything but nursing when I need him to - babywearing, diapers, dressing, putting to bed. Our understanding is that my "job" is taking care of the kids while he is at his job, but since my job doesn't end at 6, neither does his work, he just gets a change of venue. I get a bit more time to sit and relax in the evening because I don't get lunch breaks and coffee breaks during the day like he does, so I get my breaks once he gets home, and in the morning before he leaves. It really helped to frame it in this way for him.
- How do the rest of you find time to stay connected with your partner when your busy lives get in the way? (If I get this job, we'll only see each other for a handful of hours per week, and that's not baby-free...) I tried working, and it just didn't work for our relationship - so we chose to be poor so I could stay home. I liked getting out to work, it was good for me socially and mentally, but it wasn't a good trade off for all the extra stress I was incurring. At all. I had 3 breakdowns while I was at work, and kept cutting my hours down and down, until I finally realized that yes, it wasn't as fun and stimulating to stay home, but it was necessary. So not doing anything extra during that time we have together is the most important aspect. Takes the pressure off. We also watch shows together in the evening, and take turns giving each other shoulder and scalp massages and foot rubs. Every once in a while this leads to DTD, but if it doesn't, that's OK. We still have those tender moments of intimacy and giving to each other.
- What kinds of activities could we do to center our marriage again? (I'd kill to be able to do a couples marriage retreat...) Weekly date night, or afternoon, without baby. And be religious about it. And of course, I am a big fan of reciprocal touch. Make a point to think about your partner and do something nice or surprising for them every day. And make a deal with them to do the same, but don't make it about what you GET - uphold your end of the bargain regardless and make it about doing something for them, to show your love. Ideas would be love notes in his work bag, sexy texts, a special treat, a compliment, a cold glass of something on a hot day etc.
- How can I get my DH to learn how to treat other people better? He has a complete lack of respect for authority. He answers to no one. He pretty much raised himself and had the worst upbringing. He never learned proper social skills. He does well in a work setting but outside of that, he's a mess. He is pretty much a loner. He doesn't talk feelings to ANYONE. Not even me. Therapy takes wayyyy too long to produce results. I know. He was doing it for 2 years and nothing stuck. Are there other meet-up groups of some sort that he could benefit from? I just feel like there has to be some way besides years of slow-going therapy to help him develop some of these skills and get him living life like a responsible adult instead of remaining in this independent adolescent stunted mindset he has... For this I have no advice. From what I can tell it takes a lot for someone like this to make a real effort to change. My sister's ex was just like this, and after the first time they split he PROMISED to be better. And he was, marginally. For about a month. Then it was back to the same old, same old. So when she finally got fed up with it again, they split for good, despite all his promises of being better. She didn't believe him that time, because not even the shock of a split was enough to make him change his ways.
The teething baby wants me so I'll end this here. Any thoughts are appreciated.
There's been a lot said already, so I'll try to keep it in mind as I respond. I know you already know a lot about my experience and pov, Joanie.
I think Sara said it: the first year is not the time to make any relationship decisions. Things are so crazy right now... but it is all still new. You've gotten lots of good ideas on how to spend time together. I don't really have anything to add. I'm better at more concrete advice on the specific issues. What exactly is going on, if you don't mind sharing more? From your posts, it seems like the issues are: he doesn't want to switch shifts at work, meaning he doesn't want to make a decision that is better for your family. He is being selfish. Also, he wastes time when he is off work (video games, tv, etc.) He doesn't take any responsibility for working on the relationship. He is lacking in social skills, especially in regards to authority. So, when you are both awake and he is home, is he not helping with Sora at all? You say she will soak in how he treats you... how is he treating you? Is there a lot of disrespect, etc? I ask all this to get more of an understanding on what you are dealing with and how fixable it is. (Not that I'm an expert of course!)
My dh decided to start a business recently. It was bad timing. Yes, we really need the money and his job wasn't providing it. But now he is basically working two jobs. I was/ am pretty pissed. He works all the time. Constantly. I finally had to get really upset and argue with him. I had to figure out a bare minimum for him. So I told him I need 30 minutes of him playing with Jasper per day. That's it. So many days, it works out that he does only give me 30 min. The rest of the time he is working. I've had to become okay with that. It would be easy for me to be resentful and angry all the time, but that doesn't help anything. He is trying to do better for our family. He is also trying to find happiness in his career. If I get overwhelmed, he will step up. Also, he tries to spend a few hours with us on the weekends instead of working the entire time.
Anyway, my point is that I have very little help from dh with Jasper or the other kids or the house. But (and I'm thinking this may be the difference??) he will step in when I need it. And he still gets up with Jasper on the weekends and lets me sleep in an extra hour. And if he has the time and sees a mess, he'll clean it. And if I haven't managed to clean the house all week, he'll make time to help me on the weekend. And he will make time to listen to me vent or support me when I am down. And I sincerely believe that he is working so hard for us.
Ah, I'm rambling. I'm trying to be helpful, really!
Okay, so I've said it before: divorce sucks. It is pretty much the worst thing ever in the universe. I firmly believe it should be the last possible resort. Also, every relationship has issues. The grass is always greener... then you get there and realize you traded one set of crappy problems for another. Bad marriage traded for broke single life with no support. Broke single life with no support traded for challenging blended family. Also, being a single parent is absolutely nothing like being a partnered parent who doesn't see their partner often. I could go on and on.
That said, there are plenty of things you should not have to put up with. And if your dh can't see the issues and/ or doesn't care to change them, there isn't really anything you can do about that. I've seen so many couples get stuck in that rut, get trapped in that place where they can't seem to dig their way out. I really don't know what you can do at that point. At some point, with some problems, you have to do this (which is what I did): you have to decide that you can not change your partner, but you *can* stop condoning their behavior by staying with them. My exh was treating me horribly and treating dd1 horribly. I couldn't stop it and years of therapy couldn't fix it. So I had no choice but to stop being complacent in that behavior.
Finally, I think it is very important to take a step back and look at the big picture. If you looked at a timeline of your relationship, how much of it was actually spent in crisis? How much of the time were you unhappy? I think we all tend to get caught up in the moment and forget about the past and the future. Sometimes, dh will say he thinks we've been arguing a lot. I remind him that we've argued several times in a few days, but not at all the prior week. I also remind him that the first year with a baby is very hard on couples. Then he tells me he doesn't know how we'd get by if I wasn't so analytical. Lol.
Anyway... hope there was something useful in all my rambling. Remember that we are all here for you.
Joanie, your feelings are very valid. And it is likely that changes and compromises will need to be made on both sides in order for your relationship to make it through this time. But like Sara and others have said, this is a very difficult time for relationships. This is part of what my dh studies so here is an article...
- The Effect of the Transition to Parenthood on Relationship Quality: An 8-Year Prospective Study.
- Doss, Brian D.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhoades, Galena K.2
Stanley, Scott M.2
Markman, Howard J.2
- Journal of Personality & Social Psychology; Mar2009, Vol. 96 Issue 3, p601-619, 19p
- This longitudinal study examined the effect of the birth of the 1st child on relationship functioning using data from 218 couples (436 individuals) over the course of the first 8 years of marriage. Compared with prebirth levels and trajectories, parents showed sudden deterioration following birth on observed and self-reported measures of positive and negative aspects of relationship functioning. The deterioration in these variables was small to medium in size and tended to persist throughout the remaining years of the study. Mothers and fathers showed similar amounts of change after birth. The amount of postbirth deterioration in relationship functioning varied systematically by several characteristics of the individual, the marriage, and the pregnancy itself. In a group of couples who did not have children, results indicated more gradual deterioration in relationship functioning during the first 8 years of marriage without the sudden changes seen in parents, suggesting that the results seen in the parent sample may be due to birth.
I would echo Sara's advice and recommend not making any drastic decisions about your marriage right now. Instead, more fully realize how different things are going to be with a child and that the relationship must have a chance to adapt. It's like the relationship needs a grace period so that you two can figure out what life is like with Sora. You're past the hardest changes, I would think, so perhaps this is what makes your relationship feel at its worst as well. But you've only been parents for 6ish months, so things are still pretty new, too. Of course Sora will continue to be challenging as she gets older, but in different, less physically draining ways. Everything is worse when you're bone tired. I call these the dark days because in so many ways dealing with a newborn and infant can feel like you're down in the trenches of parenthood and can't get out. The change is so sudden it's like you were thrown into those trenches and it takes some time for the shock to wear off and for you and your dh to find your way out of there, together.
I guess my ultimate advice would be to make a list of what you'd like to see change so that you have a clear idea of what your expectations are for yourself and for your dh. Have him do the same. Compare your lists to see where you are both coming from, where your expectations are the same and where compromise will have to happen. Make goals. I would suggest very small goals, daily goals like today we will remember to each say something nice about the work the other puts into the family or a compliment about the other person in general. And make larger goals like your dh pursuing a day time job if that's what both of you want. But don't expect huge changes right away.... climbing out of the trenches takes time because it requires us to change who we are. Now we are parents.
Sometimes it's good to talk to someone (even privately) about what's going on. In retrospect I wish I had talked with someone more about how my dh had been acting in the months before he had a psychotic manic episode. He was making some really poor (classically manic) choices, but I didn't want to make him look bad so I kept quiet. We might have gotten help earlier if I had been more open. Now that he's on medication (lithium), he's doing so much better! The rough times suck, but you can come out of it on the other side in a very good place.
I've had several friends who had a VERY hard time in the first year pp. They stuck it out and all of them are doing quite well now. There is hope!
You could always try Dr. Laura's method.. Stop talking and just start treating him really nicely again. Most guys (my dh included) tend to feel really neglected in the pp period. ::hugs:: I hope you guys are able to work it out.
Oh honey. I'm just so sorry.
At the very least, make it a RULE that neither person can drop the "d" bomb unless that's what you've decided. Either you are negotiating the conditions and details of your divorce, or you are working on your relationship. And until divorce is a final decision, do not use it as a threat or a means to hurt the other person. Just don't bring it up AT ALL. The "d" word is off the table until you have both decided that it's what you both want.
I want to throw up right now. I just received a job offer for the job I interviewed for last week. I think the manager wants me to let him know by the end of today if I'm accepting or not so he can schedule orientation. I'm so overwhelmed. This is literally the only job of its kind that I could work without needing childcare for Sora, still get almost all of my SAHM time with her, working afternoon/evening weekends opposite of DH's inconvenient work schedule, there might be flexibility too, making decent money, in this field, and the location is just a mile away. I'd be working alone for the most part, it would be easy to pump, the job should be super low stress because it's repetitive low-thinking work, and it's in the financial/banking field that would completely round out my work experience to open me up to a world of job opportunities in the future... Every single thing about this job just screams, "Take it or miss out on your one opportunity!" I wanted this so badly before DH and I spiraled downward again and my anxiety shot through the roof... Maybe the work would be good for me, though, and DH will have to figure things out with Sora more. Maybe he'd realize how much work I put in and appreciate me more? I'm all over the place. Can somebody please shoot me with a tranquilizer dart?! I want my anxiety to freakin' give me a break so I can make a sound decision!!! I hate anxiety. UGHHHH
Really, dope me up. I need to calm the heck down.
PS I'll pm you back soon!
DH and I decided we aren't going to make any life-altering decisions about our marriage right now. (Thanks for sharing your insight and that study, Jaimee.) Our relationship has had ups and downs like any others in the past, but this extreme level has only been present since the baby entered the picture. I am definitely worn out by the lack of reciprocation in this marriage, but not every marriage is 100% effort on both sides, nor should we expect to be 100% happy with every trait our partner possesses. (I'm not justifying his behavior, just verbalizing something I need to keep reminding myself of.) I think it was Dr. Phil who once said that you find 80% that you like in a person and learn to live with the other 20% (something along those lines). 100% would be ideal in a perfect world, but that's not always practical when you have two people with very different styles and personalities. And let me tell you, I wouldn't get along with someone who was just like me... which is probably why I've never been with someone who really met my needs in specific areas. Our former therapist had talked to us about our personality type numbers a few years ago. DH and I have differences for sure. We have different love languages too. Many of our differences have been the things we've valued most in one another because we bring to the relationship what the other is lacking. Like a puzzle piece. We fit. We learn from each other. We have a lot of things in common too, not just differences. We are an odd couple, no doubt. We've been together almost 6 years. Clearly we were compatible and loved each other or we wouldn't have gotten to this point... I remember we were very happy together at the time we decided to have a baby. We planned it out for a while. We were once on the same page with everything! Neither of us can remember what that felt like, though. We've gone downhill so quickly and unexpectedly with complete neglect of our relationship. I am guilty as heck of neglecting him and giving everything to the baby... Having a high needs baby is hard. So hard. I hate when my friend tells me that she leaves her 6-month-old daughter at her grandma's house for 4-day stretches and has long weekends doing anything she wants with her husband(!!!). Her baby pretty much never even fusses and could care less who takes care of her. Meanwhile, DH and I don't even get one hour without our finicky baby. I love our daughter to pieces and don't regret a single thing. I just realize when comparing our situation to others that we have a lot more on our plate than the average person that interferes with us connecting (working opposite shifts, spirited baby, lack of alone time, mental illness, etc). Neither of us is ready to call it quits. I feel I deserve better in some areas, but DH has never denied his issues (except in a heated fight) and hasn't had an avenue to make real change. If he were completely unwilling, then I never would've made it past one MONTH with him. He's smart and aware. He is just lost. I always take everything so dang personally and forget that he has issues... This is a guy who has changed a lot from where he once was. He successfully quit smoking cold turkey (rare!) when we started dating because I told him I would never date a smoker. He never complained once. He stuck by me when I was hospitalized numerous times and when I was making his life a complete living hell... He may not be willing to get off of 3rd shift right now, but early in my pregnancy he was willing to switch to this hospital he's at now in order to increase his pay so I could be a SAHM when the baby arrived. He supported me through every decision I wanted to make regarding prenatal care and homebirth with a midwife (which most husbands I know IRL are against). He wants our baby to have the upbringing neither he nor I had. I never freakin' focus on these good things. I am such a jerk. He focuses on the good things in me, and that's why he never has a problem with me unless I'm on his case about something! But I suck at that.
Anyway, I'm just babbling here. It's good to let all of this out. I talked with my parents about our situation and my dad had a really good suggestion we'd never thought about: to find a therapist for DH who is an older male with children and a successful marriage who can mentor him and really guide him with the behaviors he needs to acquire and challenges he's having. I found a guy through his EAP and he'll get 10 free sessions! I also made an even more important decision for myself... I'm finally going to go on an antidepressant. I worked on myself in therapy these past few years and got as far as I could without meds but I need to start accepting that even if I have good days, I'm still chronically living with anxiety and dysthymia... and it's no way to live. I deserve to feel what normal people feel. I hope the meds help. DH is feeling more hopeful now that I'm going on meds, and his meds are being changed too. He agreed to see this new therapist.
Oh, and I took the job. I go for orientation in an hour so I should get moving! Thanks for all of the support. If things don't get better and DH and I decide it's best to split, then I am really lucky to have such an amazing support system here with all of you to help me get thru it.
It sounds like you have some good ideas now and that you two are trying to put things in perspective. As for your friend leaving her 6-month old for 4 day stretches... well, I don't envy that at all. That's the entire idea behind attachment parenting- being attached! Don't compare your situation to that one. I could say more about that, but I will restrain myself and be sweet.
I'm glad you made the decision to try antidepressants. Not because I'm saying you need them, but because I'm glad you are going to try something new to help yourself. I hope they help!