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Basically, the overwhelming love I had for my son after his birth superseded all other love I felt it was possible for me to feel.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’ll be honest- this is the thing that terrifies me most about having children. I truly treasure the bond between me and my husband, and I don’t want *anything* coming between us. I know that things would change with having another human being to care for, and I actually worry way more about that than the time, money, effort, sleep deprivation, and not-feeling-ready-ness issues associated with starting a family. We’re not planning on having any for a few years yet, but I sort of feel like we’re just putting it off out of fear rather than “right place right time.”

  2. I’m a new dad to an awesome two month old boy. I work from home so I’m able to share many of the baby duties as well as help out with the regular house chores. I’ve tried talking to my wife. I’m trying to be supportive and understanding but I’ve never felt more ignored or taken for granted before this. It’s really hard. I hope it gets better and a balance returns to our lives.

  3. “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.”

    Uh oh. This is very unhealthy.

  4. This totally happened to us. The children are ruining our relationship. And my wife doesn’t care at all.
    It was already bad when our first child was born, now six years ago. For at least two years we spent no time whatsoever together. I cooked, shopped, washed up, and cleaned, beside my job, but spent all my evenings alone, while my wife was busy with the baby full time. Even after 2 years, I still rarely ever got the chance to see her in private – at the very most once a week on Saturday evening, for one hour after the child was asleep, and even then we couldn’t talk much. Always when I brought the subject up of spending more time together, she got upset and started crying, because she was ‘too tired’.
    This was the reason I was always against a second child. But she wanted it so badly. Finally, after five years, things started going a little bit better, so I agreed to have a second child, providing we would continue to spend more time together. It seemed then like she agreed that we needed that. But of course, I could have known that nothing would come of that.
    The second baby is now two months, and the situation is worse than ever. I take care of our eldest in the evenings when I come home, while she gives me instructions and goes off to sleep with the baby. I so would like to talk to her or spend some time with her, but all I ever hear from her in the brief time I see her, is orders and complaints.
    If she is so little interested in spending time with me, I am positive that she doesn’t love me anymore, she is just holding on to me because she needs my help. But to me this does not feel like a relationship, but a second job.
    If things don’t improve soon, I’ll be out. Of course I’ll feel lonely then, but I can’t be much more lonely than I am already.

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