Dear Ellie: My husband of 13 years and I have always fought due to differing opinions.
He helps a lot in the house, which I appreciate. Now we have a toddler and a baby but no family living in this country. He doesn’t allow friends to help, because, “they won’t be able to do that every day.”
So, there are no breaks. We’re always exhausted and unhappy at day’s end.
My second delivery was a complicated Caesarian section. I couldn’t do anything for a month. My husband took care of me and both children, while also working.
Our second child’s now five-months-old. I’ve done all the cooking and child care from the second month. My spouse does the cleaning, yard work and also works from home.
I’m on maternity leave. We’re both at home. I have no time without my kids. I drop the older one at daycare, cook lunch while caring for my baby. My husband picks up the toddler, drops her to me. I feed/take care of both kids. He goes shopping if anything’s needed.
Later, I’m cooking dinner, feeding my daughter, my husband, and myself. We alternate loading the dishwasher.
By then, we’re both exhausted. I get very grumpy, he gets very insensitive, making snarky comments. I’ll start the fight, he’ll say something hurtful, I shut down.
But he rejects getting couples’ therapy. If I want an hour free, he lectures me for using my phone and watching tv while feeding/rocking the baby.
I don’t live my life. My husband always thinks I’m overreacting. I don’t like talking to him anymore. I try to avoid him, stopped sharing with him. Also, my friends are busy with their own kids and don’t have time for me.
How can I improve my life, get my husband to listen to my feelings, and understand what I go through?
I still love and want to be with him. How can I make our relationship better so we’re happy again?
Every parent can relate to this hectic beginning of family life. Even with helpers, you’re still dealing with demanding youngsters, crying babies, repeated cooking, house cleaning, etc.
A couple without regular help has to become a team… and you two have done this. But with a Caesarian delivery of your second child, exhaustion was unavoidable for you. You need support, and a post-partum check-up, so that depression doesn’t take over.
Also, strengthening your marital relationship needs help. You could benefit by talking on your own to a psychologist regarding your current feelings towards your spouse, and your admitted rush to start a fight.
It’s normal for you both to be cranky when exhausted. But you face an inevitable reality: The kids must come first — baby’s feedings/soothing/sleep. The toddler’s day-care socialization and supervision are also important.
Meanwhile, a post-surgery mother needs rest, re-building inner strength and good health. Unless yard work is related to the family income, its care is secondary to that of the mom and children.
As the current sole earner, your husband needs time to work, but also time to bond with his baby and toddler.
The adults must help each other take breaks … “time for oneself” applies to both — time to read, rest, watch TV, get out for a walk (baby in stroller), etc.
Don’t avoid your husband. Ask about him — how his work’s going, etc. He sees what you’re “going through,” but expecting more than he can provide adds pressure to you both.
Reader’s Commentary regarding the man’s uncomfortable choice about whether to reveal his ex-wife’s “old/latent” syphilis diagnosis to a woman with whom he wants a relationship (July 9):
“My question to the letter-writer, despite his own negative test: Can you look at this “great woman” you care about without telling her the entire truth, and keeping her involved in the medical discussion?
“Being a man, that is the very question I would ask myself.
“I strongly suspect the answer is NO.
“Including her in the issue would show her exactly how much you genuinely care for and respect her.
“The reality is that those of us in our mid-60s have had much life experience. Unfortunately, not all was good or safe. Openness and total honesty would show his sincerity.
“I like the idea of inviting her to discussions with a doctor. That allows her to ask any question she may have, from her own perspective.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Overwhelmed parents of toddlers/babies should seek local moms/dads groups where kids play (babies watch/sleep) while parents chat and learn.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.