So, you brought your beautiful bundle home from the hospital, and you and your husband are in awe.
This sweet little new being is amazing, and you and your husband are SO excited to be new parents—so . . . why do you suddenly want to kill each other?
Let’s take a deeper look.
Why do I Resent My Spouse?
Well, to begin with, know that there are a lot of couples who struggle with unhappy marriages after having a baby, or at least with feelings of resentment for their spouse (especially on mom’s side), so you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, you’re actually pretty normal!
As far as the reasons why you might be so unhappy in your marriage all of a sudden, however, let’s look at several possibilities.
1. Exhaustion and Hormones
This is one of the biggest challenges new mothers face. They have carried a baby inside of them for 9 whole months, and now that baby is on the outside. That means that mom’s body has to adjust (it takes time not to look and feel pregnant still), heal (ouch), and adapt (which is easy-peasy—not).
All those adjustments—and the exhaustion they bring about—can cause irrational ups and downs that make it easy to feel frustrated at anyone and anything.
Sounds like a sure recipe for an unhappy marriage after having a baby, right?
Think about the person that you are with the most (probably your spouse). A lot of this frustration from being so tired and hormonal gets taken out on them—even if they haven’t actually done anything wrong.
Add to that the fact that time together as a couple is virtually non-existent, and when you do get it, your new mom probably isn’t going to feel much—if any—desire to do anything more than sleep (I didn’t!).
So, Mom is at her wits end caring for a newborn. Now think about her spouse (who is probably even more clueless than mom about all of this) and consider how they feel.
They likely want to help, but this is all new to them too, so they don’t know HOW to help.
Most spouses don’t have any idea what the other person is feeling because of how new everything is (this applies to wives and husbands alike). Sometimes they don’t even realize that the other person is struggling or needs help.
And if one person doesn’t realize that the other needs help—or if they don’t understand HOW they need help—then the needed assistance probably isn’t going to come.
And that leads to resentment and unhappy marriages.
If there isn’t extremely open communication about feelings, it is easy for both parties to feel frustrated and resentful at how the other person is handling things—because they just don’t know HOW or WHAT they should be doing.
3. A Feeling of Unfairly Distributed Responsibilities
This is a hard one.
I struggled with resentment because I felt like my spouse wasn’t doing enough to help me, and it’s possible that in some cases (or maybe just on some days) that’s true for certain couples.
HOWEVER, the truth was that my spouse couldn’t help me. Or at least, he could only help so much. Gem was preferential quite quickly, and there were times when she just wanted ME.
And no one else. Which made helping me out with her pretty hard.
Not to mention, that when moms don’t bottle-feed (I didn’t, and frankly, Gem wouldn’t), husbands are even more limited in the ways that they can help.
Let’s also mention that it’s easy for some stay-at-home moms to feel like husbands have the “better” lot because they go to work and then come home and don’t have to get up every 2 to 3 hours to nurse a hungry newborn all night.
But who says that husbands have the “better” lot? While I was at home struggling to care for a newborn, my sweetheart was exhausted from working as much as he could to care for our family and pay doctor’s bills. Not to mention that even though he wasn’t nursing, he was still waking up every 2-3 hours to Gem’s crying.
He felt like I had the better lot, because I got to stay home all the time with our daughter and nap during the day.
Having a baby is hard on both parents; it can just be difficult to see that from one spouse’s perspective sometimes. And that can be even trickier if you have a spouse who just doesn’t talk about their feelings openly (some people just seem to be that way).
4. Financial Stress
This is probably not the end-all-be-all reason for why you suddenly resent your spouse or have an unhappy marriage, but it can definitely be a contributing factor.
You (like us) may suddenly be trying to live off one income when you were previously living off of two.
Or, you may simply have a lot of doctor’s bills to pay, and even with two incomes the budget is becoming seriously tight.
Either way, it’s typical for finances to be tricky after having a baby, and the stress of it can definitely contribute to feelings of frustration towards one another.
I also want to note that this is not an exhaustive list. There are many more reasons and factors as to why couples struggle and are unhappy in their marriages after having a baby, and I doubt it’s possible to list them all. However, if there is something you feel I should include, please mention it in the comments below!
How do I Fix My Unhappy Marriage After Having a Baby?
So now that we’ve talked about why you might be feeling this way, let’s discuss how to help with it. Some of these ideas might seem repetitive or might not apply to your situation, but it’s my hope that at least one or two of these suggestions will give you a good handle on kicking out that post-baby resentment.
1. Tell Each Other “I Love You” Often
What’s one of the best ways to get rid of anger and resentment?
Replace it with love. Finding moments to sincerely share your love with each other reminds you both that you’re in this together. It can mend hurts and heal hearts.
This sounds obvious, but in the craziness of having a newborn, it’s an easily forgotten exercise.
So, what if your husband doesn’t say “I love you?”
Some men are like that. Occasionally you get a woman who’s like that too.
That can be tricky. If you don’t know already, figure out what your spouse does do to show their love, and be thankful for it. Do things that you know they like to show your love in return.
That way you’re still saying “I love you”—and recognizing if they reciprocate it—even if no words are ever said.
Also, If things are getting really tense and communication isn’t happening, it might be a good idea to try out some marriage counseling
Remember that marriage counselling doesn’t have to be for drastic situations only; it can simply be something to add to your couple toolkit and help you get a handle on this new and difficult situation.
2. Practice Gratitude
Sometimes, you might feel frustrated and resentful enough that you don’t feel like you can say “I love you” sincerely.
When that happens to me, I like to think of all the things my spouse did that day that I am grateful for. (Maybe this feels like nails on a chalkboard to you initially, but push through that, and you might be surprised at the reasons you can find for gratitude.)
For me, I think of things like how my husband went to work for Gem and me, how he he passed me water while I was nursing, how he held Gem while I was in the bathroom, how he sometimes brings me flowers, etc.
When you take time to realize all the things your spouse DOES do for you, that helps to replaces the frustration of what they might not do for you. It can help to reset the lenses with which you see your spouse to a healthier prescription.
3. Talk Openly About Each Other’s Needs & Recognize That They Are Different
One of the hardest parts about that postpartum time for my spouse was that he didn’t feel as loved.
Why? In large part, because the need he had for physical affection wasn’t being met.
It’s not that husbands are terrible beings who need physical affection for gratification. It’s that physical affection—for most husbands, at least—is a major way through which they feel your love.
So, if physical things aren’t happening, they don’t feel loved, and that compounds feelings of resentment and leads to an unhappy marriage after having a baby.
I, in turn, didn’t feel loved because my husband wasn’t helping me in the ways that I wanted to be helped. I realized in time, however, that he was trying to show me love in ways that he thought would be effective, and I was trying to show him love in ways that I thought would be effective.
Do you see the problem?
This is where you both MUST communicate. Make sure that you both express the needs you have to one another and explain the ways that you would like those needs to be met. That way neither party is left in the dark, failing to meet needs that they either don’t know their partner has or that they don’t know how to meet the right way.
Sometimes you also just need to be forgiving and recognize that even though your spouse didn’t show you love how you hoped they would show it, they were trying to show you love, so you can be thankful.
4. Do a Self-Care Evaluation (Individually or as a Couple)
We talked up above about how exhaustion and hormones can cause a lot of the issues associated with an unhappy marriage after baby comes. Maybe you and your spouse are working well together and communicating love, but the biggest thing you both need to do is take better care of yourselves.
Do a self-care evaluation with yourself for with your spouse. Ask yourselves questions like the following:
- Am I hydrated?
- Am I doing all I can to get adequate sleep?
- Am I eating well? Do we have good/decent food around the house for when we’re hungry?
- Do I need to take vitamins or supplements to help my body out right now?
- Am I being active, in accordance to what my body can handle right now? (Remember how important being active is to good health—even if being active is just lots of vacuuming or short YouTube workout videos while the baby is sleeping.)
- Do I need additional support, like counselling?
Being in tune with your body and your needs can go a long way towards nipping issues with your marriage in the bud, especially if the majority of your unhappiness is just a result of exhaustion and/or hormones.
5. Decide to Be the Best Mom or Dad Ever
You’re probably wondering why on earth becoming the best parent ever is on this list.
Well, let me tell ya, this suggestion helped me just as much (if not more) than any of the other suggestions here (though they all did help in one way or another, especially #6).
I remember that one day a family member said to me “You are such a good mom,” and I knew that they meant it. And suddenly, everything changed.
I decided I was a good mom, and that I wanted to be a good mom. For some reason I hadn’t made that choice in my head before, but when I did, I stopped worrying so much about how hard being a mom was and how my load was heavier than my husband’s (it wasn’t really), because I just wanted to do a good job.
(If you want to learn more about this, see my article on becoming a better mom and wife.)
Focusing on being a good mom allowed most (if not all) resentment towards my spouse to just wither away. I was too busy focusing on my goals and enjoying this new mothering journey to dwell on unhappy thoughts directed at my husband.
The same can apply for husbands. Just focus on being the best husband and father you can be, and you will find that when you put all of your energy into that, you don’t have so much energy to look for nit-picky ways your spouse isn’t perfect.
This might not be in your comfort zone, and that’s okay. But no matter your religion, I do believe that asking God for help is important.
I specifically asked for Him to help take away my frustration with my husband, and he did so by guiding me to the techniques up above.
So, Does Having a Baby Ruin Marriage?
The answer here is a resounding NO, but let me explain why.
If someone told you that marriages are all fluff and cakes and rainbows, they’re dead wrong.
But I’m not going to be the person who talks for 10 minutes about how marriage is so hard, difficult, and frustrating, either.
The truth is, marriage is supposed to be BOTH happy AND hard.
I’m going to give you an analogy here. Think of peanut butter and honey sandwiches. To a lot of people, they are delicious. Why? Well, it has something to do with the enchanting sweetness of the honey contrasted with the mellow richness of the peanut butter.
That’s what marriage is like. You need the contrast of sweet and not-so-sweet because the two together create something beautiful.
Going through hard things with my spouse—like having a baby—has made our relationship more fulfilling. We had to stretch, learn to communicate better with one another, and learn to work together better. The results are beautiful—far more beautiful than if we’d just been “in love” and never gotten to work any deeper than that.
So, having a baby does not ruin a marriage. It will (most likely) make it more difficult for a time, because you have a lot to adjust to and learn. Stretching will happen. But when you and your spouse learn to work together better because of how challenging having a baby can be, you will find that the resulting relationship is enhanced—and more beautiful.
So, to those of you who are struggling as they read this because you just had a baby, and you and your spouse have argued 38 times since you came home from the hospital a few days ago, know that there is hope, and that this is going to be worth it.