Question: I need advice! I’m 30 years old and my husband is 35 we just had our first child 3 months ago. Neither of us had any other children so it is a first for both of us. He is a person that experienced a hard childhood with his father and does not want to be anything like his Dad. So he has an issue with being in control and although he is working on it its a problem. I don’t know if I’m making it worse.
We fuss all the time. For example, my husband was holding the baby – and our baby has colic – so he was crying very badly. And my husband said a bad word as he was adjusting his hold on the baby and I walked over to grab the baby and this caused a huge fuss because my husband thinks that I think he can’t take care of the baby. And that is not how I feel. My husband suffers from anxiety and I just wanted to help and to stop my baby from crying. Please help me, I don’t want us to be fussing over the baby all the time. It is making me really depressed.
Answer: You and your husband have a brand new baby. The first few months of parenthood are not easy. Most couples experience relationship stress and arguments as they come to terms with caring for this wonderful, though unbelievably demanding, little person. So, please take comfort from the fact that yours, and your husband’s, behavior is normal.
You mentioned that your husband had a difficult childhood and did not have a good relationship with his father. You also mentioned that he suffers from anxiety. Now, those two issues most likely have absolutely nothing to do with how he is now acting as a new father. From what you’ve told me, he sounds like he is acting the same way most men do when they have a newborn. He wants to help. He’s not sure how to help. He gets frustrated when his attempts to help you and the baby don’t work. Don’t start to overanalyze his behavior or try to find reasons behind what you perceive as controlling behavior. Now is not the time for all that. Save your mental energy for your baby and don’t create problems for yourself, when there is very possibly nothing for you to be worried about.
You say that you and your husband “fuss over the baby” all the time. Again, you sound completely normal to me. Most new parents fuss over their new baby. The whole thing is terrifying. Has the baby eaten enough? Is the baby too hot/too cold? Is the baby sleeping too much/too little? Fuss. Fuss. Fuss. You worry that you are fussing too much, but it seems to me that you are just loving your little baby.
Let’s talk about some action items.
#1 Talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s colic. It might be reflux, and consequently something that can be addressed with medication. Even if it is just plain colic your doctor will have some tips for you to try out that might soothe your baby.
#2 Tell your husband that you love him and that you believe that he will be a wonderful father, that he is already a wonderful father.
#3 Tell your husband that he needs to hug you and tell you that you are a wonderful mother.
#4 Prioritize sleep above all non-essential activities in your life. Lack of sleep makes us hyper-emotional, over sensitive and likely to turn tiny marital problems into huge, divorce-threatening mountains. Encourage your husband to get sleep, too.
Bottom line: this is a very, very difficult chapter in your marriage and your lives. Most likely, it will pass. Take care of yourself as much as possible, and don’t panic.