Coping With Less Attention From Your Wife
The arrival of a newborn usually creates a certain level of chaos in any household and both new Moms and new Dads can get so involved in caring for a baby that they forget about each other! Men in particular report feeling a bit neglected by their female partners after the birth of a new baby. You might find that your wife or girlfriend simply has no energy or time for the things you used to do together, including sex! The important thing to remember is that by talking to one another and showing understanding and respect for the differences in your parental roles, you can work through this difficult period.
Changes In Daily Life
You were, of course, expecting changes. You knew there would be sleep-deprivation, late-night feeds, smelly diapers, a lack of sex, etc. But now that fatherhood is finally upon you, you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by just how hard it is. On top of this, your partner just doesn't seem interested in the things you used to do together. She spends all her time either with the baby or, in the few moments that you spend alone together, she wants to talk about nothing but the baby. Whatever you do, don't give into the temptation to withdraw into yourself and brood on the problem. If you do, you'll end up resenting your partner and perhaps even your baby.
Striking A Balance
Your partner can't be expected to know how you feel unless you tell her. The important thing is that both of you try to understand what the other is going through. This is a massive change in your lives; whether you've just had your first child or your fifth! The way that you talk to your partner about the problem is very important. If she thinks you are blaming her for being too focused on the baby and simply demanding more of her attention, she's going to feel exasperated and stressed. Before you speak to her, sit down and have a good think about what it's like to be her. Consider the following factors:
1. She's just had a baby. Could the lack of interest in sex be due to her still having some pain? Or being self-conscious about the extra weight she gained during pregnancy? What can you do to make her feel good about herself?
2. After a birth, a woman experiences a dramatic decrease in the pregnancy hormones that have been flooding her body for the last nine months. This can cause mild to serious depression. She might be feeling blue and inadequate as a mother - and is focusing so much on the baby because that's what she thinks she has to do!
3. She is sleep-deprived too! Just as not getting enough sleep is making you grouchy, it is probably having the same effect on her.
4. She's under pressure. Being a mother is something that most women do at least once in their lives. Therefore, there is a tendency for a lot people to consider themselves experts on the subject. For a new mother, a flood of well-intentioned advice and instructions from more experienced Moms can leave her feeling inadequate and thinking that she has to leap into action each time her baby makes a noise. She needs positive encouragement from those around her, including you.
4. Your roles are different. You are a Dad. You might think you know what it's like to be a Mom but in truth, you are never really going understand what it's like to breastfeed, for example, unless you listen to your partner express her feelings about it. Likewise, she needs to listen to you. The important thing is to accept that the different experiences you are going through will cause you to act in different ways.
When you've been feeling hurt or neglected, it may to be hard reconciling yourself to doing more for your partner in order to solve the problem, but if you do, it's likely that you'll benefit from the results. When you talk to her about your feelings, be ready with practical suggestions for improving the situation, not just negative accusations. For example, could you help out more with baby-related tasks in order free up some more of her time? Could both of you agree on a "date night" when friends or relatives baby sit while you two spend some quality time together? Could you surprise her with a romantic gesture to make her feel wanted and attractive again?
When Things Get More Serious
If you are really feeling depressed or worried about your relationship with your partner or your baby, or you think you partner needs serious emotional support to help her cope with her situation, you should consult a doctor. He may recommend relationship counseling or other treatment to help both of you adjust. Don't be ashamed to admit that it's tough to be a parent. When you're honest about how you feel, you'll find that many other people have gone through the same thing.