Help! My Husband and I Are Constantly Fighting Since We Had a Baby

Posted in: Advice, Division of Labor, He just doesn't get it, Newborn Stage, The Chore Wars, The Great Mom-Dad Divide, The Great Mom-Dad Divide, The Newborn Stage

Squirrels fighting.

Because who wants to see another picture of a miserable looking couple?

(And squirrels are so cute. Even when they’re fighting)

Q. My husband and I are constantly fighting.  We fight about who gets up when, who is going to get the baby – day or night. We fight about who has done what, who has cleaned what, who’s more tired, etc. He doesn’t understand that I can barely get anything done during the day by myself because 1) I’m exhausted and barely functioning, 2) I can’t put the baby down b/c she cries and cries (though for some reason he can put her down and she doesn’t always cry), 3) by the time I’ve tried to get some sleep, fed her, held her, changed her, fed her, held her, changed her, it’s suddenly 5pm and he’s walking in the door.

Unlike some of the stories I’ve heard about some husbands, I can’t complain that he doesn’t chip in. He totally does. He’s very hands on. But sometimes, he will go tend to her of his own accord but then complain about doing it! WTF?

In tonight’s argument, he actually said “You’re just home all day relaxing, but I have to go to work. I’m exhausted.” I’m freaking exhausted, okay. He’s up early and out to work and some days are stressful, but he also gets to have lunch with his buddies and be out there in the world. I’m home covered in spit up with my hair a knotted mess, calling a good day one where we (me and baby) actually make it out of the house!

I’m sooo exhausted from lack of sleep and I’m sooo beyond tired of arguing 24/7.

A. First of all welcome to motherhood! You – and your husband – sound completely 100% normal. The arguments and the “WTF?!?$%” feelings you’re having happen in hundreds of thousands of homes across America when a baby arrives on the scene, and based on the emails we get, the same things seem to be happening all over the western hemisphere. So, the first thing I need to tell you is don’t panic. You’re normal. You’re marriage seems to be proceeding as exactly as it should!  Your hormones are probably still in overdrive and no one is getting much sleep. So you’re all acting a bit crazy. Things will get better with time.

Ah sleep, this brings me to recommendation #1. Prioritize it above all else. Trade off nights with your husband so that both of you get a decent block of sleep. I don’t need to tell you that when you don’t get enough sleep you get irritable and your ability to deal with a less than perfect husband is seriously compromised. You’ve heard this one before – sleep when the baby sleeps – but it’s good advice, not just for your health but also for your marriage.

Recommendation #2. Tell him you appreciate how hard he is working. Now, I realize that is probably the last thing in the world that you feel like doing right now, but before you dismiss me to cyberspace, hear me out. Your husband probably has Provider Panic, meaning that even though he is doing the same job he has always done, now that he’s a dad he feels a lot more pressure to perform. Mike, my husband, told me that he started to feel like he was walking a tight rope at work. I’m not saying that they’re right, but that’s the way they feel. So, your husband wants to feel that you appreciate him. Even though telling him you think he’s great might be the last thing you feel like doing right now, try it. Be the one to start a positive cycle. Tell him he’s wonderful and he’ll be more likely to point out how fantastic you are.

Recommendation #3. Give him a Training Weekend. Take off and leave him with the baby for 48 hours. He obviously has no idea how mind-bendingly hard it is to be at home with a newborn. Most guys just don’t get it because they haven’t done it. So let him see for himself the hell you have to get through every day.

Recommendation #4.  Leave the baby with a sitter and get some time alone together. Have some fun. Remind yourself of all the reasons you married him. He’s still the same guy you fell in love with.

Recommendation #5. Instead of arguing about who is going to get up when, just figure out a game plan. Divide up the night so that you both get some sleep and you’re not playing “Midnight Chicken” at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Once again, everything you describe is normal. In fact, all three of us Babyproofers went through pretty much the same thing. Hang in there. Remember that you love each other. Spend time just gazing at the baby, put her in the middle of the bed with one of you on either side and just revel, if even for a few minutes, in the fact that you are a family now.

 

 

 

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