What to do when you’re having relationship problems after your baby
You recently gave birth and had a baby (or more!), and now your relationship is in trouble. Perhaps your partner or husband is distant, not interested, unsupportive and neglecting of you.
Naturally, you’re worried your relationship is heading for a breakdown.
I understand, I’ve got your back!
In this article, I’m going to help you figure out what might be going on for your husband or partner to give you a better handle on the problem. And, I’m going to suggest what you can do about it, setting out steps to help you fix your marriage.
The answers to the following questions will help us figure out were it all started to go wrong:
- What was your relationship status by the time you were expecting?
How long ago did you meet?
Were you planning to get married or already married?
Had you been in a committed intimate couple relationship before?
Do you, or does he have children from a previous relationship?
- Was your relationship already in trouble before you got pregnant?
- What were the circumstances of its conception?
- What role did the father have during the birth?
How was it for you?
- And how are you both faring now?
So, let’s get cracking.
Were you already having relationship issues before you became pregnant?
Well, which couple isn’t having any relationship problems? So, having issues in your relationship need not mean you’re immediately heading for a breakdown.
Chances are, though, that the arrival of the baby has highlighted existing problems.
Here’s what’s likely to have happened…
Your relationship as it was before you got pregnant and, in particular after the birth of the baby, has changed dramatically.
You are no longer ‘just’ a lover and a friend, a partner or spouse – you’ve acquired a new role.
Your focus has moved away from your partner or spouse to your baby – near enough one hundred percent! It had to be so, your baby is, for a while, completely dependent on you for its survival after it’s birth. You had to change to accommodate that need.
The change in you has led to a change in the dynamics of your relationship. The fit the two of you had is no longer what it was, and you’re both in transition going through the process of adapting to the new reality.
With the baby growing inside of you, you had no choice but to go along with that process from the start.
However, your husband may have been much less aware of the whole shebang. Or, he might not have realised it takes focussed attention, contemplation, conscious effort and energy to adapt. Without all that, faced with this new situation, he might feel like he’s walked into a glass door!
So, he’s potentially been caught on the back foot and feeling insecure – see further down – and you’re understandably feeling more vulnerable.
No wonder, then, that things that bothered you about each other before may now begin to play a more significant part.
Here’s what else could be an underlying factor in your husband withdrawing after the birth of your baby…
Under which circumstances was the baby conceived
Did your partner or spouse really want this baby?
Or did they never want a baby in the first place?
Did you unexpectedly become pregnant, meaning they’d had little choice in the matter?
Were they reluctant to have (another) baby, but you were desperate for a baby and convinced them to go for it?
Was your baby conceived by donor insemination?
The answers to these questions matter, if your partner has become distant after the baby. It means they’re dealing with some unresolved conflict and it requires an honest conversation between the two of you.
Read on – I’ll help you with that further down.
Had your partner lost interest in you even during the pregnancy?
Hop over to my article: What to do when your spouse is unsupportive while you’re pregnant to get some insight into what might have caused his lack of care and attention.
I’ll be here when you come back. And, remember, all the information you gather is to help you focus on a solution, so you can move forward and hopefully enjoy being family.
Is your relationship or marriage falling apart after the baby?
Are you worried that you’re facing a relationship breakup or divorce?
I sooo understand your distress – I’ve seen many couples in a similar situation. I want you to keep the faith and remain hopeful that the two of you can sort this out and fix your relationship.
Believe me when I say that relationships can get into deep waters without it leading to a breakup. Relationship skills need to be learnt, and that takes time, effort and experience with ups and downs.
Let’s now sift through the possible reasons your partner or spouse is withdrawing and appearing distant. It will help you laser-focus on the cause of the problem so you’re not sweating the small stuff. You’ll be better able to use your problem-solving skills in the steps I’ve set out further down.
So read on…
15 potential reasons your partner or spouse is withdrawing from you
- He (or she) is acutely aware of how much life has changed and how it’s affected his (her) independence
- He feels stressed having to look after other children and chores
- He feels overwhelmed by the responsibility of having a child (or more)
- He finds it difficult to know how to be a father (or mother, if you’re in a lesbian relationship) and you’re worried they’re getting it wrong, particularly if they grew up without a father figure in their life.
- He’s worried about being shown up as a failing dad in the presence of others.
- He suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and the disruption of their routines and rituals by the arrival of the baby is causing considerable additional stress.
- He feels insecure and abandoned by you, taking personally your need to focus almost solely on the baby for a while.
- The arrival of the baby is for him ill-timed for whatever reason.
- He’s missing- and possibly feeling resentful about the lack of physical relations and intimacy at the moment.
- He feels rejected by the absence of a physical relationship (note that this is different from the previous point).
- He feels trapped. Perhaps he’d already planned to end the relationship before you fell pregnant.
- He doesn’t know how to deal with your postnatal depression
- He has male postnatal depression.
- He is having an affair.
- He has an addiction, and now the baby has arrived it may be more difficult to hide the addiction (see also my article on what to do when your partner or spouse is lying all the time).
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Underlying reasons your husband is withdrawing from you since the birth of the baby
It’s no wonder then that you feel neglected after the baby when your spouse has stopped being attentive and affectionate. I totally understand if you’re also feeling angry and let-down.
Let’s not judge, let’s figure out what might be going on for him (or her). Here are some potential underlying factors:
- He disagrees with you on how to care for and bring the baby up (depending on the age of the child – discipline often causes disagreements in couples)
- He was in no way prepared for what having a baby involved with regards to time, effort and energy – you were probably much more prepared
- He can’t get over having seen you in such pain during the delivery
- He has someone else – that’s why he’s no longer interested in you
Remember, that if you’re both from a different culture – this too can bring about all sorts of relationship issues and differences about what’s expected of a father, and how you ‘should’ bring up your children are common.
Is your partner no longer interested in you physically after the baby?
Has he (or she) stopped being affectionate? Do they no longer appear to want you? Is he no longer interested in being intimate with you?
If so, it’s no wonder you’re feeling rejected!
Let’s deal with why your partner might have stopped being interested in you. I’d like you to think about the following:
- Might he be concerned about the safety of your contraception?
- Could he be worried about hurting you since he’s seen you in such pain?
- Could he be cheating on you? I do so hope for you this isn’t the case, though.
What to do when you’re having relationship problems after the baby
The following plan isn’t going to be easy, but it’s do-able. You’re going to have to fight to save your relationship.
You’ll have to work hard at making your relationship work. Yet, you can’t ‘make’ your spouse do anything. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix.
However, you (both) now have an opportunity to grow and develop yourself and your relationship. It’s way more positive than resenting, scalding, nagging and worrying yourself sick about what could happen.
Your 10-step action plan when your marriage is falling apart since the birth of the baby
Write down the answers to the questions at the start of this article. Then consider what the impact of those could possibly be on you both, and in particular, your partner.
If you were having relationship issues before you fell pregnant, I’d like you to hope over to 25 (and more) common relationship problems. Click on the link of whichever problem applies to you and learn all you can about it.
Using all of the above information, make a note of every possible reason you suspect your spouse is withdrawing from you. Be sure not to jump to conclusions – you’ll be looking for evidence for your suspicions in what you hear from your husband.
Read my article on how to stop fighting to learn all about how to have a, let’s call it – a challenging discussion. It’s essential that you take heed of what you learn in that article in anticipation of the next step.
This is a tough one. Of course, you’re more vulnerable when you’ve just had a baby – hormones are still playing havoc with your emotions. But, I’d like you to consider how you might have played a part in what’s happening. I’m offering some guidance to make it easier on you in my article on how to ‘make’ your partner love you again.
Write down what you want to say without shaming your partner, calling him names or shouting. Remind yourself of your newly-acquired communication skills, if you need to. 🙂
You are now prepared for an open and honest conversation with your spouse or partner.
Plan to sit down, undisturbed, as soon as possible. Remember the following points:
- Your partner or spouse’s feelings need to be heard and acknowledged – so, take plenty of time, allow for silences, don’t butt in and let him finish.
- Listen without judgement or condemnation. He’s entitled to his feelings, however difficult it might be for you to be confronted with them.
- Stay quiet except for encouraging him to say more every now and then (imagine you’ve got Duck Tape over your mouth!) by nodding and the occasional: “Uhuh, can you say a little more about that?”
At least their feelings are out in the open. I hope, it will bring some relief for him (or her) to realise you haven’t stopped loving them for the way they’re feeling and how they’ve been with you.
Then ask to be given the chance to talk about how you’re feeling (get my free list of emotions and feelings!). Remember he’s probably not read the article on how to stop arguing, so you might have to (gently) remind him you’d like a chance to finish explaining what’s been going on for you.
Use my Loving Couple Communication Kit to (re)build your relationship and set some relationship goals.
I highly recommend you consider getting some relationship counselling (online). Your relationship and your baby are too precious just to hope that everything will be okay if the previous steps are not working out for you.
Just in case…
What to do if your spouse is cheating on you
I hope your partner or spouse isn’t unfaithful. But should you, sadly, discover he is, or at least you’re wondering about the signs of cheating, then I definitely recommend you connect with one of our online therapists.
You’ll also find a ton of help and advice here – see my page The complete guide to surviving infidelity.
What if you break up after the baby?
If you are the one considering ending your relationship, I urge you to wait until you’re less vulnerable after having given birth recently. You’ll find that over time, you become less emotional and grow stronger every day. So, it’s better to wait with making such a life-changing decision as breaking up, ending your relationship or getting a divorce.
If your spouse has decided to walk away, then that doesn’t necessarily mean the two of you have definitely broken up (unless you want it to be so).
Give your spouse the time to come to himself, and hopefully you can still save the relationship.
If there sadly is no hope, I’d like you to hop over to the following articles:
I’d also like you to read the section on how to look after yourself in my article on what to do when your spouse is not supportive during your pregnancy.
I know this is a really tough time for you now your partner or husband appears no longer interested in you and you feel neglected and let down after having had a baby.
I hope this article is of some help to you. Know that you’re much, much stronger than you think you are. You can do this – I’m rooting for your happier days as a family. 🙂
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