First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the I SWEAR TO LUCIFER TELL ME YOU’RE TIRED ONE MORE TIME AND I WILL END YOU.
Ah, babies. We love them (Their wittle toes! That new baby smell!), but damn, they can do a number on your relationship. In fact, two-thirds of parents are less satisfied with their marriage after having a baby, according to a widely cited 2011 study.
WATCH: Yeah, you might hate your partner after giving birth. Story continues below.
Resenting your partner is a surprisingly common, but little-discussed side effect of bringing home baby. All that change, stress, and sleeplessness can bring out the worst in us.
But while it might seem like a new mom is flipping her lid over something “small” or unavoidable, we promise you it’s usually about much more than ignoring that pile of laundry or going for a jog.
To bring the conversation into the open (and out of private mom Facebook group rants), we asked a handful of Canadian moms what their partners did that sent them into a blind rage after they had a baby— and, more importantly, what it was really about, and how things got better.
They’re being identified with pseudonyms due to the deeply personal nature of their stories.
I hated my partner for: exercising
The offence: “Played tennis on the three days he took off work to be with our newborn. Went to the gym every day after work and wouldn’t get to my place ‘til 8 p.m. when our son was a newborn, then have the couples counsellor applaud him because ‘balance is so important.’ WHAT ABOUT MY BALANCE?!?!?”
How it made her feel: “Cue postpartum rage.”
What she wished he’d done differently: “I wished he had put his needs aside to recognize that as our newborn’s lifeline, my need for support trumped his need to play tennis and go to the gym, because caring for me meant caring for our son. It’s important for men to be able to make that connection.”
How things got better: “Now that our son is older and can go live at his dad’s a few days a week, things are better. But we are not together.”
— Anjelica, Ottawa
I hated my partner for: communicating
The offence: “When my first was six weeks old, my husband said to me (when I was using my rare free-from-babe-in-arms time to spend time with him): “I feel like we don’t communicate anymore.” Thus indicating to me that not only was it my responsibility to do all the baby care (which I was), but also for meeting his emotional needs.”
How it made her feel: “Oh, it was awful. I burst into tears at the time, but really internalized that our relationship was solely my responsibility, which it really had been up to that point. And I held onto that idea/responsibility for years, until I was pregnant with my second and my mental health really started to unravel from all the responsibility/pressure to keep two kids and myself alive, plus be the sole carrier of our relationship.”
What she wishes he’d done differently: “Known how to be an equal emotional partner in a relationship before we had kids.”
How things got better: “Things got better when we both started to go to therapy about five years later, but got much, much, much worse before they got better. It was a dark time. I was only 24 when I had my first so I was pretty young/naive, which played into it, too.”
— Hannah, Vancouver
I hated my partner for: pooping
The offence: “I literally hated my husband after my son was born. Mostly because of his useless nipples and ability to sleep through the screeches of our newborn. I used to whisper sweet nothings to him while he slept that sounded an awful like ‘I hate you.’ True love right there LOL!! Then came the one hour escapes to the bathroom to poop ... ummm what?! No one needs an hour to poop.”
How it made her feel: “I felt like he was prioritizing himself over our new baby. That his need for me time was more important than my need for it. That it was always me giving things up while he had everything. He got to leave the house every day and socialize with adults (even though he was working!). He didn’t have to keep a person alive all day; he still got to maintain his sense of self whereas I was running on empty; he wasn’t the food factory. I had no sleep, I was touched out, I had now become mom and I was a shell of the person I once knew.”
What she wishes he’d done differently: “I wish he had taken the time to ask me what I needed or just told me to go take 30 minutes and breathe.”
How things got better: “I’ll admit I didn’t communicate very well at first. I expected him to just know and change immediately like I had. Once we opened our lines of communication and I expressed my frustration and my needs, things changed. He started waking in the nights to help with diaper changes and burping so I could nurse and then go back to sleep. He cut down his bathroom time and would offer me some solo time.
“No one can read your mind: you have to tell them what is going on in your head. Communication is key. We both made assumptions rather than having conversations. Neither of us realized how our actions were impacting the other.”
— Heather, Ottawa
I hated my partner for: leaving me in charge
The offence: “Before my daughter was born, I did most of the managing of our household but it was manageable. I made sure we had all of the staples in our home, the sheets and towels were washed, etc. And then our daughter was born and I was considered the ‘expert’ (despite having some serious postpartum depression and anxiety) and definitely in charge. There were many instances of my husband going out for a beer after work when he could have come home, or walking in the door past a crying baby and mom, straight into the shower.”
How it made her feel: “It made me feel like my entire world had flipped upside down caring for this small human all day and his life was barely affected at all.”
What she wishes he’d done differently: “I explained to him that your family is not a shift at McDonald’s and I am not the default. That I was struggling at home and needed all the help I could get all the time.”
How things got better: “We had many, many difficult conversations about what ‘equal’ actually looks like over the first year. To be honest, the tipping point was a conversation he had with my mom one night where he tried to explain how much he was doing and she said, “Well, I hope you guys make it.”
— Jennifer, Vancouver
I hated my partner for: having a life
The offence: “I hated that my husband’s life didn’t seem to change at all but mine changed significantly. I hated that he felt he should sleep because he worked.”
How it made her feel: “When his life continued as normal, i.e. he would wake up, go to work, come home, visit friends (after consulting me), I felt lonely, jealous, and trapped by a tiny human.”
What she wishes he’d done differently: “I wish he acknowledged my hard work and sacrifices as often as possible. Hourly would have been good!”
How things got better: ”Things got better with time and when I accepted I could still have a life, too. Then when baby #2 came, he became equally as busy with kids as I was and it was awesome.”
— Danielle, Ottawa
I hated my partner for: working
The offence: “I was stuck at home all day with a screaming infant while he was out working, with real people and hot coffee. He once had the balls to ask for ‘decompression time’ when he got in the door from work. HAHAHAAAAA.”
How it made her feel: “I guess I felt undervalued and under-appreciated ... I had gone from a busy career to being tethered to a crying baby all day. When do I get to decompress?! I was jealous that my spouse got to go out into the world and interact with adults and use his brain. I was even envious of his subway commute because at least he could sit and play games on his phone. In hindsight, I see how ridiculous that is. He also had his own challenges.”
What she wished he’d done differently: “I wish that he realized that when he got home from work, I finally had someone to offload our child to. Like if he was 30 minutes late, it would throw my entire world off its axis.”
How things got better: “Honest communication and managing our expectations is key. I still resent that I do the majority of cooking and laundry and things like signing our daughter up for classes or appointments. When I confronted him on this, he said I just do things without consulting him. So it’s a work in progress.”
— Charlotte, Toronto
I hated my partner for: walking over a pile of laundry
The offence: “After our first, I was feeling completely overwhelmed and overworked. At one point, I was sorting out piles and piles of dirty laundry to try and get a load in the washer but was interrupted by our baby, who woke up and needed to nurse. While I was changing the baby’s diaper, I saw my husband literally just step over the giant laundry pile in our bedroom doorway, laughing at something on his phone and lie down in bed. Come on!”
How it made her feel: “What he did made me feel very alone and unsupported. I also felt like he clearly didn’t recognize or appreciate how much of the load (housework/parenting) I was carrying and how much I was struggling with my new role. I thought it was quite selfish of him to put his needs and wants first, while I had to drop everything to care for our baby. I think I was resentful that, while we were supposed to be partners, my life changed drastically when our baby was born while his mostly remained the same.”
What she wishes he’d done differently: “I wish he had realized just how much work I was doing in caring for our son. I wish he had pitched in so that I wasn’t left with the mental burden of continuing to run our household, while caring for our baby.”
How things got better: “We went to a couples’ therapist and she helped us to communicate better. When either of us is frustrated, overwhelmed or just needs to get something off of our chest, we carve out time for the two of us to talk about it alone and uninterrupted by kids, phones, etc. She also suggested we make a chore list, which helped both of us. He was doing more than I gave him credit for but it was still fairly uneven. We made some changes to our responsibilities and then hired a cleaning lady to give me us both some more free time!”
— Andrea, Ottawa
I hated my partner for: cleaning a bit
The offence: “The first time he watched my son for almost a full day (son was about four months I think) and I went out for a few hours, he got dishes done and cleaned a bit and says to me ‘I don’t know why you always feel like you can’t do it. I did. It was easy. I just left him on his play mat and checked on him. Being on leave is easy.’ It was easy because I did the damn base, dude!”
How it made her feel: “It made me feel really upset and hopeless that I was in it myself. I had a lot of panic attacks from the state of the house and feeling overwhelmed, especially for him to think it was easy and I was just complaining to complain ...”
What she wishes he’d done differently: “I wish he had acknowledged how difficult it was raising a child in general quicker and that I shouldn’t have had to ask for help around the house. But once he really saw what it was, since I had a lot of appointments at the end of my leave from planning the wedding, he apologized for ever being so naive in saying it was easy.”
How things got better: “After I went back to work, it got a little better with the house but not much. It’s still a work in progress but he’s coming around slowly. Realizing how much work it all takes. Especially with this pregnancy, he said it on his own: ‘After you have the girls, I’m going to have to step up and clean the house because it’ll be hard on you. It won’t be like you have it now but I’ll do what I can’ which makes me happy because I know he’s listening to me.”
— Joanna, Ottawa
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