I can pinpoint it to one night, after a long day caring for our newborn baby, full of feeds, burps and nappy changes.
I put her down to sleep in her crib and finally made it downstairs to enjoy my first proper meal that day. My husband was on the couch watching his favourite TV show and eating ice cream as if nothing had changed since our pre-baby days.
Just as I sat down next to him with a warm plate of food and was about to put the first bite in my mouth, there was a loud noise through the monitor. Our newborn baby was awake again and she was not happy about it.
I looked at my husband who barely took his eyes off the TV through the crying and I just erupted.
Could he not see that I had not eaten or slept properly for 24 hours?
Did he not think that it might be helpful to go comfort our baby so I could enjoy a few bites of warm food just once during that day? After all it was his baby too!
After an escalated argument he begrudgingly left his TV show and went upstairs to calm the baby. By that time I was so agitated I just wolfed down the food and went upstairs to take over.
What was the point of him going anyway if he didn’t want to?
But that wasn’t the end of it. Argument after argument ensued in the following weeks, over what I was doing wrong or about what he wasn’t doing. Spending barely no quality time together it felt like our relationship was on a ledge.
You begin to wonder if it’s normal to be so angry at your husband after having a baby, or if it’s just you.
Those perfect pictures…they’re a lie!
All the dreamy photos on your social media feeds make you feel as if every other couple with a new baby is living in a blissful bubble of loveliness.
They sure as hell don’t look like they have screaming rows over whose turn it is to change a nappy.
It turns out though that not every picture tells the full story. In fact, research from John Gottman and his wife revealed that 67% of couples become very unhappy with each other during the first three years of their baby’s life. Only 33% remain content.
So it’s actually quite common to be angry at your husband.
It seems that when you chuck a baby in the mix, couples can find it hard to adjust. Who do they tend to take it out on most? Each other.
Surprisingly it’s sometimes us mums who are the ones to compound the problems. Which sounds a bit unfair. Let us explain more.
This is the term for a common behaviour where mums limit or control fatherly participation.
If you’re a mum who stays home alone looking after a baby all day, then you’ll quickly find the best ways to soothe the cries, the best position for burping and 101 other little tricks to get through the day.
Even though you’re desperate for a bit of a break when Daddy comes home, you find it hard to take a back seat. You start hovering as he baths the baby, offering suggestions and trying to resist saying “Just let me do it“.
When he tries to soothe your baby your stress levels rise with each cry and you can feel your arms just itching to hold her. It’s all you can do to stop yourself leaping in and snatching the baby back to settle her yourself.
Maternal gatekeeping is understandable but it can mean that new dads take a step back.
They eventually stop trying as they can never seem to get anything right. And then mums fume at their husband as he never seems to do anything to help.
Break the cycle
It’s so easy to see how you end up in this cycle.
Getting out of it can be as simple as recognising what you’re doing and then asking your partner to take on more of the tasks.
Crucially you have to stop yourself from hovering over and criticising him while he does so. If a nappy goes on back to front the world won’t end.
Once he’s done it a few times, he’ll figure out the best ways to do things. Just like you did.
The night time battles over who gets the most sleep
When you’re knackered your crankiness can ramp up to record levels.
Nothing can make you angry at your husband more than when the baby is crying in the night – again – and your husband snores blissfully away beside you. Sometimes he’s even smiling in his sleep!
You’re convinced he’s pretending or that he has trained himself to sleep through on purpose just to annoy you.
It might not be his fault
A UK study looked at the brain waves of mums and dads when they were sleeping.
The number one noise most likely to wake a woman, was the sound of a crying baby. For men this sound didn’t even make it into the top ten.
Noises like car alarms, a strong wind, a dripping tap and even a teeny tiny buzzing fly are more likely to wake a man.
It’s still annoying but this knowledge might make you feel a bit more understanding and a little less angry at your husband when he sleeps through the baby crying. Maybe.
If not a short, sharp nudge will help him rouse to share some of the night time duties.
He wants sex, you want to be just left alone!
High up there on the list of reasons for marital arguments after having a baby is sex. Or lack of it.
It’s no surprise that new mums are often less in the mood for sex than new dads.
A recent study in August 2018 revealed that 63% of mums wanted less sex after they had a baby.
Childbirth, leaky boobs, crippling exhaustion and a day spent with a tiny human attached to your body can quickly dampen the libido. But, even if it’s nothing personal, being rejected doesn’t make your husband feel very wanted.
Also once you start a sex drought it can be hard to break it.
Use it, or lose it
The way past this issue is simple. Just do it.
Pick a time when you feel that little bit in the mood, get back in the saddle and then plan in regular times for sex.
You will probably feel worn out and that you don’t have time but you don’t have to have marathon love making sessions.
Researchers from Penn State University found that the optimal time for sex to last is between 7 and 13 minutes. We can all find seven minutes every now and again.
And the more you have sex, the more you want it.
The silent “he doesn’t do anything’” fume
A quick trawl on the internet reveals that a common complaint from mums who hate their husbands after having a baby is that “He doesn’t do anything“.
As a mum you spend the whole day whizzing about, multi-tasking and multi-thinking.
When you’re stacking the dishwasher with one arm, holding a baby with the other and skating over a spill on the floor with a duster under one foot, then it can make you angry at your husband when he is sitting on the sofa watching T.V. But do you say anything? No.
You perfect your best “I hate you because you’re not doing anything” stare and huff and puff, furious on the inside. You stop speaking to him but then get irate when he doesn’t notice.
And all the while your fury builds.
Husbands are not mind readers
You can spend hours silently being angry at your husband and not telling him why you’re annoyed OR you can tell him why and what he could do to help.
Calmly and specifically.
Husbands are not mind readers and it’s always better to talk about things before they reach boiling point, rather than hold onto frustration until it spills over.
You can then end up screeching at him because he didn’t hoover the lounge, even though you never asked him if he would mind doing so in the first place.
Weather the storm
Having a baby can rock even the most solid of relationships. You’re catapulted from being a couple to being parents.
You’re both on a massive learning curve and have to get to grips with the change in your daily lives and in your identity. You’re both knackered and snappier than usual.
It’s no surprise that there are times when you both get on each other’s nerves. It’s worth recognising why you get angry at your husband and taking steps to go easy on each other and start working as a team.
If you can weather the storm during these early months, and adjust a bit to help each other, it can set you on the path to a happier family life later on.
- “Bringing Baby Home: The Research”, Ellie Lisitsa
- “Why Women Wake When a Baby Cries”, Lisa Belkin
- “Revealed: How much being a parent really impacts your sex life”, Amy Lyall
- “Good sexual intercourse lasts minutes, not hours, therapists say”, Penn State News
- “How not to hate your husband after having kids”, Jancee Dunn