Ignoring your partner after you have a baby happens, and it sucks

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The boy and I and a red balloon

A friend of mine with a nine-month-old recently told me that she’s not super interested in her husband right now. It’s not that she doesn’t love her husband… she just has all this love for her son that she can’t wrap her head around. I was nodding along with her words in a “been there” kind of way.

Here’s sort of how it happened with me: one second I was a happy mom-to-be with a baby safely tucked up in my womb. The next thing I knew, the baby was born and all of the sudden I was 100% certain I loved this child more than I had never loved anyone in the world — including my partner. Prior to our son’s birth, I’d looked to my partner for happy expressions, security, and love… but post-baby, I found myself repeatedly turning to my child.

Basically, the overwhelming love I had for my son after his birth superseded all other love I felt it was possible for me to feel. Nights that had previously been spent holding hands, dancing, or listening to music with my husband were soon focused on feeding, nourishing, cleaning, and holding this tiny little wonder we had created. This was more than just feeling exhausted from ’round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes — it was more like, since I love my child so much, I kind of just… blanked out on loving my husband.

Granted, I still LOVED my husband… I just didn’t feel like I needed to demonstrate it all the time. By comparison, I couldn’t even stop myself from demonstrating my love for our son: there were so many centimeters of cheeks to kiss and little hairs to marvel over, ten little fingers and toes to smooch and coo over, and all those sweet baby sighs. How could I help myself? It felt like love for my son radiated out of every pore of my body… and love for my husband was just there, like it always had been.

Of course, I’m not the first person to experience this: the internet is filled with many, many examples of this behavior.

By: Seth SawyersCC BY 2.0

However, I am offering a different conclusion: it’s totally normal to feel like you love your kid more than your partner for a while. But eventually you either realize that you love them both (in different ways) and equally (also in different ways)… or you don’t. And if you don’t, then you have much larger challenges to deal with than just caring for a newborn.

For me, after almost a solid year of disconnectedness and basically around-the-clock sucking, my husband and I got over ourselves and our various hurt feelings (it turns out your partner is TOTALLY AWARE of the fact that you think you love the baby more) and realized we still love each other quite a lot. In our case, when we broke it down and were honest, we realized that there’s tons of love in our family that can be evenly distributed. It’s not a zero-sum issue. More love for my baby can translate into even more love for my husband.

So, here’s my advice: if you’re talking about having a baby and want to try to avoid the “ignore your partner” stage, make sure you’re really talking about the issue. If you’re finding yourself smack in the thick of this stage — dude, I totally feel and understand you. Do whatever you can to prioritize spending regular, scheduled time together without your baby (your baby might even welcome the face-time with a friend, family member, or other babysitter!). Take the time to talk it out, and do what you need to do — make sure you’re both happy with what is and isn’t happening. I’m pretty sure this behavior rears its head across the board — LGBT families, adoptive families, hetero families alike — so it’s smart to assume you’ll experience it, and prepare accordingly.

Now we’re gonna talk it out: did you and your partner experience a disconnect or perceived lack of love after your baby arrived? What did you do to overcome it?

Comments on Ignoring your partner after you have a baby happens, and it sucks

  1. I had a huge pit in my stomach reading this, because I was just googling this the other night when I realized I needed to know whether someone else thought it was normal.

    Not the dogmatic kind of, “I love him more, my husband will just have to deal with it!” kind of agreement, either. The, “I want to FEEL the love I have for my husband and I don’t know why I can’t right now,” kind.

    Anyway. Thank you for talking about this. My husband and I never discussed it but it’s something I have struggled with for a long time now, and it’s just now starting to come back into balance 18 months later. I wonder if it would’ve been faster if I’d had the guts to address it.

    • I totally understand and feel you. I didn’t really become aware of it until my son was 6-7 months old, and my husband and I didn’t really talk about it until he was 18-20 months old, so I completely understand. πŸ™‚

    • “The, “I want to FEEL the love I have for my husband and I don’t know why I can’t right now,” kind.”

      so glad i found this article and comment. i’ve been struggling with this for a while without being able to pin point exactly what my issue was. now i’m crying at work. haha thank you. :]

  2. One thing that I think really helps is making sure that you both take active roles in parenting your newborn – if Mama is the “main parent” it’s easy to fall into the MamaandBaby and Dad trap. I breastfed my son, and my husband did pretty much everythign else in those first weeks(months) – it really was very equal parenting, and not only did it forge a really strong bond between Dad and baby, it also kept he and I close, because we were “in it together.”

    • You know.. I’ve read that in other places (when looking up stuff on my own about it), and I can say in our case it didn’t make a difference. We’ve both been equal parents from the beginning — my husband has always had a pretty flexible schedule that allowed him to spend an abundance of time with our son from his infancy to the present, and he has always been really hands-on with parenting. So while I’m sure in plenty of instances the splitting of parental roles is part of the problem, for us it wasn’t.

      • I am oddly concerned that I won’t be going through that disconnect alone. My husband is going to be 100% involved and equal parenting – he doesn’t have it in him to not be. And I’m afraid that he’s going to stop loving me as much for a little while, and that I will stop loving him as much at the same time because we’ll both be so focused on the kido and that just seems dangerous. We’re a very in touch, talky, lovey couple and I would hate to lose that.

        It’s really nice and inspiring to know that there are couples our there that get through this.

        • I think, and I could be wrong, but the lesson to be learned from this post is to frame it in a way that you won’t/don’t love your partner LESS than you did before, just that right now you love your baby more than your partner. Like, I love my partner with 100% of my heart, but when the baby comes I increase my ability to love by a lot and now I love my partner that same amount but there’s 150% more love available for the baby. Percentages make this tricky for me to explain so I hope I’m communicating what I’m trying to say.

          Anyway, I think it would help ME to know that my partner doesn’t love me LESS, just that there is OMGSoMuchLove for the baby that’s bursting to come out. And I think also that Not Talking About Things is what makes them scary for me. Someone said above that it got better after they talked about it, and knowing me that’s what would happen. I want to make a point of my partner(s) knowing that this could happen if/when kids come around, so that if it does then we can say Oh Hey, this is the thing we talked about. Are we Ok for now? Do you need some space or do we need a date night?

          Often I find that just checking in and hearing my partner say, “We’re good” is all I need. We may be in the middle of a fight, we may be struggling with some outside-stress issues or even relationship issues, but just knowing that “WE” are good and WE are still committed to being together makes the interim stress bearable.

    • I love this. It is basically what my husband and I did. It hit me around 9 months and I flat out told my husband “I know I said I wouldn’t but honey, I love DD more than you. Okay?” and we have been so equal in parenting he said “me too.” and we both smiled and stared in wonder over our daughter. We never had to talk about loving each other because it’s obvious in how we act to each other. We just know that our daughter is number 1. It’s a different kind of love though. My husband and I upped our passion and intimacy because it separates our love from parental love. Giving us the satisfaction of knowing yes, we continue to love each other. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, I’m not entirely sure equal roles completely stops it from happening. It can actual make it worse, because then there’s two people prioritizing the kid and not prioritizing the other. [Edited to add: I am still COMPLETELY 100% in favor of shared parenting.]

      My husband confided in me he felt the same way I did – our kid is 1000% the person he loves and he would die in a heartbeat for him.

      What helped us overcome it was time and realizing that fighting (essentially) over who loved our kid more was silly. That we really work best as a TEAM and also that sleep deprivation was making us both crazy.

      And getting regular dates going. But we couldn’t do that til our kid (who was “high needs” and we know now is on the autism spectrum) was old enough that he wouldn’t just scream the entire time he was with someone else.

      • “because then there’s two people prioritizing the kid and not prioritizing the other.” YES.

        This post is totally 100% MY perspective — it’s not like my husband was all “I love you forever and ever and ever” and I was like “WHAT EVS, DUDE. I HAVE A BABY NOW.” We were both in this “I love my kid so much!” phase… I’m just writing about my side of it. Establishing regular dates is HUGE, and is actually something we still struggle with. Not nearly as much as we did when I was breastfeeding ’round the clock, but making sure we spend quality time together while not being in our parent roles is something we work on all the time.

        • My husband is a stay at home dad, so when I get home, he kind of acts like his “shift” is over. “I’ve been with him all day…” There have been times when I didn’t even get to settle in or use the bathroom, and I’m being handed the baby as I walk in. Then he is off reading a book or sleeping. Not cool. I like reading and sleeping, too! No matter how much we talk about this, the resentment and jealousy can build up… So we spend the same amount of time with our child, but he is more balanced because he has time for hobbies and gets to sleep a full night. It’s gradually getting better, but it’s taking a LOT longer than I thought.

          • I totally can relate to this. My husband was home with the new baby in the summer when he was off from school and he would do the exact same things. I got up early too, worked all day and now I have to come home cook dinner, nurse a baby, do laundry and maybe (just maybe) by 8:30pm I’ll be able to sit down and relax after I put the baby to bed. Things got better when school started back up and now that a sitter watches our son, during the day, we both are excited to spend time with him in the evenings. I know it’s hard being with a baby all day but it’s also hard to be at work and then being with a baby all night.

          • I’m sorry that this is happening to you, but from the other side, it’s really hard to be the stay-at-home parent as well. Sure, my husband had worked an 8-hour day, but I had done everything, including peeing and showering (if I was lucky) with a kidlet. Some times it was hand the baby off or lose my mind. I don’t know how you balance that; it’s something we still work on, but I will say that when I tried to see it from his side, it helped. I still felt resentment, but I understood his as well. It made me speak more honestly about the way I was feeling. And I think it helped him as well.

          • Also, I forgot to add that my husband is an extrovert and I am an introvert. Spending time with a baby all day, especially when he was away on business was one of the hardest things I did as a new parent.

  3. This was probably the best piece of advice I got while I was pregnant. A coworker and friend told me the one thing she wished she’d done differently in her son’s first year was really pay attention to her relationship with her husband. Thanks to her wise words, my husband and I had some good conversations about the ways our relationship was likely to change and the ways we wanted it to change while I was still pregnant, and I think it’s the best thing we could have done for our marriage.

    Another thing that helps me is watching my husband with our daughter. Seeing what an amazing father he is has made me fall in love with him even more–in some ways I think it’s like my new love for our baby reflects out into my love for him. It does mean I have to back off and give the two of them lots of time together, which is certainly hard sometimes as a new mom, but the long-term benefits are so, so worth it.

    • We definitely didn’t have many “here’s how our relationship might change” conversations pre-baby, but that was because we had NO IDEA how it might change. We didn’t know many people who had children before we had our son.

      I totally agree with your last part! From around three months I was very insistent that my husband and our son have their own time — a lot. We’re lucky in that my husband has been able to do this. They easily spend half the week together, just to two of them. I definitely agree that this is really important bonding time for the partner that isn’t home the most with the child. πŸ™‚

  4. My partner and I had a rough start with our daughter in the beginning, when breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby wearing didn’t work out like we planned. Add to that a colicky, gassy, refluxy baby, and we really needed each other’s support. If anything I’d say we bonded over the misery, but I can see how it would tear people apart, too.
    I didn’t feel like I ever loved my partner less, so maybe my POV isn’t that helpful here. It did make me think, though, that maybe our experience in being polyamorous helped us get ready to love another person without lessening our love for each other. OTOH I may be mixing up the cause with the effect: Maybe some people are more wired to love multiple people than others?

    • It’s not that I felt like I loved him LESS — I just felt like I had all of this love for my baby exploding out of my body. It was kind of like… my baby was new, and so was my love for him, whereas I had already been loving my husband for a while so I just took it for granted that my husband still didn’t need me to show him that all the time. You know?

      As for poly, I can’t comment! We’re not poly. πŸ™‚ But I wanted to stress that in my case, it wasn’t a lessening of love for my husband as much as it was taking for granted that I didn’t need to express the love all the time like I did pre-baby.

    • Mrs C, I think that poly people may be able to transfer their understanding about the nature of NRE (new relationship energy) to the fascination with their love for a new baby. It is in many ways similar, imo. But as a polyamorous person I know that NRE is something that doesn’t last forever, and leads to sort of obsessive thoughts and feelings. You learn to sort of temper this, while still enjoying it. It’s a balancing act.

      • Yes, when I was reading Stephanie’s clarification about her experience I also thought of NRE and how maybe having experience with that helped. Although most of the NRE I’ve experienced paled in comparison to the super crazy intense love obsession I felt for my daughter at first.

    • I think that being poly often means getting a lot of practice talking and communicating about relationships, feelings, how they’re working, how they’re changing, and so on. Not that there aren’t other ways to get these skills, but poly is one route. So it totally makes sense to me that having lots of practice talking about that stuff would come in handy when negotiating new, uncharted territory with a baby. Certainly having some extra language/concepts (new relationship energy, for example) to describe the different things you’re feeling is helpful.

      Anyway, I hadn’t thought about it this way before! Definitely something I’ll be bring to my “what will change when the baby comes” discussions with my partner.

  5. These are the times when I like to break out my armchair anthropology degree (you know, the invisible one in an invisible frame in my invisible office…) and think, “Maybe there is something *more* going on here.” Like, how so many animals retreat with their young for a while during the early phases of raising offspring. Who knows, maybe we are psychologically and hormonally programmed to go through an ALL BABY, ALL THE TIME phase; with something as helpless as a newborn, it makes sense that our brains would be uber focused on their every move.

    That’s not to say that it should be ignored or that we should let it run rampant. Instead, thinking about unknown factors which could underlie our feelings let’s us give ourselves a break from guilt and look for a solution. Looking at it this way also helps alleviate the worry that maybe something bigger is going on, like, “Wow, I must not love my partner like I thought I did.”

  6. Baby’s due next week, so I haven’t experienced this first-hand yet, but the one piece of (good) advice I’ve received from countless people through this pregnancy is to make it a priority to keep dating your significant other once the baby is born. I know, I know, easier said than done when things are crazy and time is tight and money might not be abundant. Everyone from our pastor to our Bradley Method teacher to our parents have recommended this to us. In fact, our Bradley teacher made us sign a contract stating that we would have our first after-baby date once baby was 6 wks old.

    And be flexible! It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can take the baby if you can’t find a sitter or don’t want to leave baby that early. Have a date at home if money’s tight–go to the grocery store together, cook dinner, and watch a movie. Just make each other a priority.

  7. I get this. I am there. My daughter is my world. My wife is always second to her. My wife always comments about couple time, sex, ect. Truth is I want none of it. I am home with my little girl but I still want to be with her the whole time. Truth is I have even thought about divorce. I just could never give up time with my daughter. So its bad. I used to think I would have three kids but now I am beyond content with my one.

  8. You know what, I don’t think I’ve felt this way, but I think my husband has! πŸ™‚

    I already had a child when we met, and I had been a single mom for years. When my husband and I had our first child together, I was so happy that I go to parent WITH somebody. I was so excited to do things together as a family, and I loved watching my husband interact with kids. While we both had to put the kids first a lot, I never felt like I put him on the backburner.

    We actually had many, many conversations about how we’d handle the fantastical situations that will more than likely never occur in our lifetime. My husband always said that if he had the choice to save me or our unborn child, he’d choose me because we could always have more kids.

    Well, as soon as our baby was born, he told me that he changed his mind and he’d save the baby over me. I don’t mind at all πŸ™‚

  9. We don’t have kids yet, so no experience on that front, but I totally felt somewhat similar (though much less intense, obviously) when we got a cat two weeks ago. Suddenly, there was this other creature to focus on, and I really had to be conscious of not just paying all my attention to the kitty, but giving my fiancΓ© some love too.

    • Happened with us to, and we have two cats each of which have chosen one of us. Thankfully they both like to cuddle with us together.

      I’m glad this was talked about. I remember by parents going through this with my younger siblings. Any advice on avoiding the worst of it should we have kids someday is welcome.

  10. Love this post! I teach the Bringing Baby Home program – it is all about this! What the transition to parenthood does to the parental relationship and how you can bring the love back to stay. As you said, this is totally normal yet many couples don’t know it and feel there is something wrong with them or their relationship. We prepare so well for our births and our home for the baby but we totally forget to prepare our relationship.

  11. My husband brought this up early to me- around 3 weeks pp. He made is clear that he wasn’t looking for sex, just some physical contact. I guess I hadn’t realized how much less contact I’d had with him. So, I made a point to stay up and watch a Tv show with him every night (which we used to do before the baby) and I’d try to rub his back or something to ‘connect’ with him. At the time, it was hard because I was (and still am) sleep deprived, but it made things much smoother between us. Esp, the back rubs because by being skin to skin, our intimacy was still there. I was surprised that it only took a 20-40 min tv show time slot to do so much for our relationship.

  12. I was totally oblivious to it when this happened to me/us because I was TOO TIRED all of the time. Between 15 hours of classes and the baby, the last thing I wanted was another person or thing to “take care of.” When we finally realized the problem, the only thing that helped was lots of caffeine and modifying our lovey-dovey habits to fit our new life.

    It’s been working. We have two kids now πŸ˜‰

  13. I slightly different perspective – if you find yourself angry with your partner all the time (rather than just dismissive) you might want to consider getting checked for PPD. When my daughter was born I just became furious with my husband – resentful that my life changed so much and his hadn’t, I was physically exhausted from pregnancy/labor/breastfeeding and he wasn’t, etc etc. But it was completely irrational. I once (only half kidding) threatened to divorce him if he left the house to mow the lawn without taking the baby (yikes!). I was never diagnosed, but looking back on it, I was clearly struggling more than was healthy and “normal.”

    On a more related note, I remember once talking to a friend who said she couldn’t ever have kids because she was afraid her husband would love them more than he loved her. I responded by saying that I couldn’t ever get married to a person who didn’t plan on loving the kids more than he loved me. I think just knowing what you expect in terms of a change in dynamic, and making sure you’re on the same page, is really helpful.

    • I think you’re right to mention expectations. My husband and I both talked about how someday our children would be grown and move on and how it was important to us that we don’t wake up at that point realizing that we invested so much in those child-rearing years that we neglected the lifetime we promised each other. I think it has been helpful to know that even when the kids do take up most of our attention, we’re both committed to our adult relationship being the most important thing for us. To us, making our adult relationship can also be an investment for our children, too, as we can hopefully be models of a “good” marriage someday.

  14. I actually had the opposite problem, in an odd way. Of course I fell madly in love with my baby the second he was born, but something I struggled very hard with was how much I desperately missed my husband while the baby took up every waking moment.

    The only way I could describe it was that I loved the baby hormonally, but loved my husband logically. The baby made all my mommy hormones crank to eleven, but I didn’t really know him as a person, although I know that will come with time. Meanwhile my husband has years of being my other half.

    A lot of people talk about loving the new baby more than their partner, and it’s expected! In fact my mother in law tried to help me by warning my husband that I would feel that way. But I didn’t, so then I just felt a combination of missing all the time I wanted to spend with my husband and awful guilt for feeling so, like I was a bad or selfish person for wanting more time with my husband instead of 100% baby time.

    • My baby is almost 3 weeks old and this is exactly how I feel. I just want to spend time with my husband. I miss him so much. We see each other everyday, but I miss being able to spend baby free time with him. Couple time. Husband and wife time.

  15. We are about to have our second child, and we were just discussing this issue yesterday — how to weather the coming tensions in the household.

    In our case, unless this baby is a spectacularly good sleeper, there’s no real way around the tensions to come. I am so sensitive to sleep deprivation, and so for me it does not matter how many baths my husband gives, how much cleaning and shopping he does, etc. Because he won’t be doing the nighttime nursing, and because I so need sleep — more so than he does in fact — I will be paying a bigger price early on. Period. And when I am tired, I say things I should not, am shorter than I should be, etc. It isn’t super appealing or endearing.

    I end up falling into martyr mode, and he ends up feeling guilty.

    The main thing we concluded is that a) we just need to be gentle with ourselves, b) we need to not make our situation more stressful by putting on ourselves expectations for romance, or even some nights for basic civility, that are OK to skip for a few months, and c) we need to remind ourselves that “this too shall pass.” It did the first time; it likely will again.

    I also think the relationship he has with our son will help me resist the martyrdom thing — I will be so appreciate that their wonderful relationship will allow him to really spend time with our son and help him with the transition — and that this relationship will also help him feel less guilt because he isn’t nursing all night; he will, after all, be spending critical time with our son.

    So, all said, I guess my concluding thoughts are: honest communication is important, and I also think we all need to cut ourselves some slack early on. I don’t mean to suggest we willfully neglect our relationships, but just that we shouldn’t borrow trouble by freaking out over every tension that emerges, as many will likely take care of themselves soon enough anyway.

    • Is there not a way you could pump so he could take some of those night time feedings? It seems like if women can pump to go to work, they ought to be able to pump to get a damn night’s sleep!

      • This didn’t work for me since I had to pump at the same time as the feeding to keep up supply. I always pumped when I was at work during the times that the baby would have normally nursed and used that milk the next day. If I pumped extra before sleep, it would be too close to the last time I fed the baby and my body would think that I needed more milk, then I would be over producing and ready to go in the middle of the night feeding, but the baby would be drinking a bottle, so I would get engorged.

        I guess, for me, it just wasn’t worth all that.

        • EXACTLY. Pumping extra before sleep doesn’t do it if one has to vigilant about supply issues — whether under or over supply.

          In fact, I remember telling a friend, before I was pregnant the first time, that my husband was a light sleeper and so I would just pump and let him deal with at least one night feeding, and her comment was “I hope that works out; just be prepared that sometimes it is trickier than it seems.” Turns out, she was right.

          As it was, I pumped a bottle every evening so that my husband and child could have special bonding time and I could get some time off to shower, read in the tub, etc. But, it wasn’t REALLY time off in that I still had to pump! I tried to make it fun by watching TV, etc, but it sometimes felt like even more work for me, in order to facilitate special bonding for them (and also keep my child consistently taking a bottle, which was very important because I did eventually return to work). All said, it was worth it to me to pump that bottle, but it wasn’t a complete “break” either.

  16. I’ve found some of the comments here quite threatening – in that they clash with how I Need my life to be if I have children, and also they are making me feel guilty.

    So, hopefully my response now is in the spirit of OBM and just putting forward another pov.

    From my perspective, I’ve found the comments about not wanting to marry a man who doesn’t put the children before you and being ok about your husband choosing your child’s life over yours amazingly scary. I don’t have children but one of my absolute pre-conditions on it that my husband and I have discussed, is that we Have to remain each other’s priority. For me, he is the joy of my life, and I find the concept of that being taken away from me absolutely horrifying. So yes, my intention if we have children is absolutely to keep him as my top priority, and I will fight tooth and nail for that to be the case. I do not think that will make me a horrible mother, because I will still care for a

    nd love the childn but it won’t be my life’s priority. And I hope that will actually work out for the best, as then my life won’t be over when it moves out etc.

    I did find the polyamorous peoples comments very helpful in explaining this ‘love for your child’ thing, as the idea of loving someone else tons but keeping a grip on the new relationship glow makes a lot of sense to me – thank you for that. And thank y
    you to everyone who has commented, even if your pov scares the bejesus out of me, as I hope it will help us to avoid that kind of way of seeing things if and when it happens.

    Sorry if the typing reads horribly, but the comments box is just gurgling insanely at me and refusing to scroll down so all I can see are lots of jerky words as I type. Argh!

    • I was one of the people whose POV probably scared you, which was not my intent, obviously. I think that the most important thing is that you both have the same priorities, and are open about them.

      The one other thing I will say, (and I really don’t mean this as a “you’ll see-ee”) is that you just can’t anticipate how you’re going to feel towards your children. So I think that there are ways to keep your _relationship_ a priority without predetermining the emotional component.

      The nice thing about love is that it grows. There’s always enough for everyone. Unfortunately, time does not operate in the same fashion, and that is often where the conflict lies.

    • I also think it’s all about priorities. You and your partner need to be on the same page as far as that. I’m one that agrees with you that my husband and I consider our relationship first and the children second. Others are different. As long as you and your partner can agree, then that it the opinion that matters.

    • While I personally share Strawbs’ view that those comments are unnerving, I understand that the commenters did not mean them that way. They were only explaining their situations and for the most part it sounds like things are working out for them.

      I do not think it is necessarily “bad” to love your children more than your partner, or vice versa. I think problems arise when both partners are not in agreement about it. I believe one important conversation to have before getting married- a question which I don’t see mentioned too often, in fact- is whether you want to be parents first or partners first. Personally, I think being partners first is more important since your relationship with your partner sets an example for their children and influences them more than you know. However, if two people agree they will be parents first once the kids arrive, that is totally ok too since it will presumably work for them.

      • I think this line from the piece sums it up: “it’s totally normal to feel like you love your kid more than your partner for a while. But eventually you either realize that you love them both (in different ways) and equally (also in different ways)… or you don’t”
        Ideally, it’s not about who you love more. You just love them differently. When I think about how I feel, in my heart, about my partner or my daughter, I know I love them both, but I also know the love is different.

    • I’ve been enjoying reading these comments — thanks for the civility and interesting points of view, everybody! Strawbs, you might like reading Ayelet Waldman’s piece “Truly, Madly, Guiltily” that she wrote for the New York Times in 2005 about loving her husband (Michael Chabon) more than her children. She got a lot of shit for it, but I thought it was very brave. Regardless of the reader’s opinion on the subject, it’s an amazing article, so it might be worth checking out!


      • Just as a PS, that essay inspired me to read her entire essay collection, _Bad Mother_. It’s an excellent read, full of many thought-provoking insights. I suspect many a reader doesn’t agree with all that she says, but there’s much to think about.

  17. I didn’t get this when my son was born because I was single. I wonder if it is as common with the second baby, because this pregnancy I am not single.
    I’ve got to say, I run with a lot of crowds who I think take the baby love too far. I think it’s totally normal to feel that overwhelming baby love, and even to slack off on your romantic relationship duties for a while, but if you haven’t bounced back from that by the time your kids are in school, I think there’s a problem. I was frightened by how often I saw this in moms groups ehen I was a single mom. Women who hadn’t had sex with their husbands for years or refused to leave their kid with a sitter, even if it was the kids grandparents, for even a few hours to have a date night or something. I found myself constantly wondering “If this is what marriage with kids looks like, what’s the point of even being married?” Their marriages sounded like my relationship with my mom. We lived together, we didn’t have sex, and my son was the focus of the majority of our emotional out put. Lol. It’s lucky I had a few other examples of what marriage and kids could look like, otherwise I would have never gone on another date, never met my husband, and never moved out of my mom’s house.
    I think there needs to be a balance, and it’s something I thought a lot about when I was single and thinking about what kind of relationship I wanted to be in. Since I already had a child, I was evaluating every man I dated not only as a lover, but as a father as well, so being forced to think of both at once probably helped me. I wonder to what degree my husband and I will go through this though. This being my second baby, but his first, will he feel it more than me? I also worry about doing this to my son. Will I go through a period of feeling less enthusiastic about my love for my son? That’s terrifying to me even more than the husband wife thing, because my husband is a grown up and can understand, but my son is four, and it might really hurt him. But my husband and I have talked extensively about what we’re going to do to make sure my son feels as loved and as part of it all as possible, so I hope planning ahead of time is enough. I really can’t say for sure. I’ve never done this before.

  18. This to another level. As someone who chose to have a baby without a partner, my daughter is 19 months old now and I still have zero desire to even try dating. I would much rather raise babies for the rest of my life. Seems like much less work.

    • I’d like to say dating gets easier as your child gets older, but dating is a lot of work. I think it was before I even had kids, but I can’t remember for sure. I will say that my husband was worth the work, but that’s for me, maybe you wouldn’t feel the same way. However, I wouldn’t say that being a married mom is any easier than being a single mom, it’s just hard in different ways. But that, too, might depend on what kind of single mom you are. I had a ton of help and support from my family, especially my mom. If you don’t have family support, maybe being partnered would be easier, I really can’t say.
      I guess what it comes down to is evaluating what you really WANT. You shouldn’t date because you feel like you need to provide your child with a father, or things will be easier with a partner. You should date because you want to be with a partner, or you simply want to date. And if you don’t want to, then don’t. It’s all good.

  19. Jane, it actually helps for people who said the scary things to respond in a way that makes my pov sound feasible and ok πŸ™‚ thankyou πŸ™‚
    And I do take your point re not knowing how you’d feel about children, but yes, I can definitely put in plans to keep being considerate and loving to hb regardless πŸ™‚ thankyou

  20. Some other comments alluded to this, but I want to strongly second the idea that you might see your partner in a whole new light (in a good way) after the baby. For me, it just makes me ever-so-much-more-so in love with my husband to see him interacting with the baby. It’s definitely different than the way I interact with the baby, and I think it’s really good for him. But most of all, it is too, too adorable.

    Another thought — your reaction to each other after baby’s arrival may be affected by how you’ve handled similar situations earlier. Nothing is quite the same as suddenly being full-time around-the-clock totally-absolutely responsible for another human life; but while you were dating/married before baby, you had times when you couldn’t give 100% of your time/thought/energy to your partner: a stressful season of work, an extended-family emergency, etc. If you were able to respect your partner’s needs in those times, and still feel loved/connected, then you can adapt the same strategies to the newborn weeks.

    I may have missed it, but I didn’t see anything about the primary caregiver feeling “touched-out” — sometimes, having a small person hanging on/being carried or “worn”/breastfeeding all day (and it is sometimes ALL DAY! and ALL NIGHT too!), can leave you feeling like the last thing you want is more skin-to-skin contact. I expected this, but it didn’t happen to me, although it’s very real for a lot of people. In that case, maybe a compromise between touch and some other way of connecting would be good. In the beginning, just having my husband watch stupid shows on Netflix with me while baby breasfed felt good πŸ™‚

    Last point — I do believe that my relationship with my partner is the most important. More important than my relationship with the baby. And I believe it should be, even for the baby’s own good. I have seen moms let the children edge out the partner in ways that had unhealthy consequences (and put too much pressure on the children to fill an adult’s emotional needs). However, the baby’s needs are more URGENT right now. Remember that URGENT and IMPORTANT are not the same thing! Also, what is urgent changes over time, so it won’t always be like this!

  21. In the early months of sleep deprivation, think of it as being in a long distance relationship with your partner. We feel far away, we aren’t as physically connected, we don’t talk as much, but I still love you the same, and I will see you when we can be reunited again!

    • I like this way of framing it. I think the early months are just their own bubble in a lot of ways. And it all does get better, usually, once the baby is on more of a routine and everybody gets more sleep. Then, one can start returning to some degree of normalcy!

      For us — not for everyone — just reminding ourselves that it is OK for us to be a bit “long-distancy” at first is helpful and ultimately produces more calm and less guilt and panic than otherwise. It’s just a few months, just a phase, just a really long vacation!

  22. I think the crazy love my husband has for our son makes me love him more and I love my baby more because he is half of my husband…. its a big tangled web of love. I do agree that the first years are difficult but open dialog with ur partner really is the only way to keep it together. More then a few times I have had to say, “Babe this isnt working for me” and scheduale in a date night. I guess its all how you look at it, I see us both exahusted and feel proud of us and my love grows. I do agree that a healthy relationship must be made a priority. It sets the standered for children and their future relationships, gives them a sence of security, helps whith disiplin as the parents present a united front, and lastly and more importantly who wants to live in a home with someone they dont know anymore.

  23. Having a baby with my man has made me love him even more, but it’s different that when it was just me and him. And I think he is beginning to understand this. My whole being right now is wrapped up in making sure our 16-month-old has everything she needs to grow and thrive. Sometimes, I’ll plop exhaustedly on the couch after she is finally asleep, and instead of picking up a book or project, I’ll spend a little time cuddling my man like I did before baby happened.

  24. As a stepparent with no bio-kids, I would be curious to hear how blended families not only handled the transition with their partners, but also the other children.

  25. I’ve ended up really appreciating this conv, so thanks everyone. And I will go check out that link!
    I hope my terrified response didn’t make anyone who does roll the other way feel bad, and vast apologies if it did.

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