We have a baby on the way, why is my husband treating me like the enemy?
September 24, 2011 9:11 PM   Subscribe

How did you and your spouse/partner handle relationship difficulties during pregnancy?

Sorry for the length—I keep backing out of posting this and really just need some perspective:

Despite wanting a child at this point in our marriage (married for a year and a half), my husband can act in ways that say otherwise. We had some not-uncommon adjustment issues before I got pregnant, but since the baby has been on the way other things have come up.

When he perceives that things rest solely on his shoulders he becomes resentful. For example: I was in my first trimester, working full time, and attending grad school when we moved. I was exhausted. I helped pack the things in our apartment, but apparently I wasn't doing enough in my husband's eyes because he would gripe and yell about how he had to do everything. Since we've been married, he stresses about money constantly even though we both have decent jobs and faithfully contribute to a savings account; and even though he makes substantially more than I do. You'd think the (partially paid) three months I'm taking off to stay home with our child are going to be impossible to handle. Also, he doesn’t want to touch our savings at all during this time.

Today we walked to the grocery store, and when we crossed the street my husband just left me. Of course I'm slower now and didn't want to be put in a position where I'd have to start running to avoid any cars that might come (we were jaywalking across a neighborhood street). Instead of waiting at the curb with me until I was comfortable he just crossed without even looking back so he could beat a car that was making its way down the road. Just the week before I'd asked him to stop doing this after it happened for the nth time at an intersection with stop signs and he left me mid-street because I couldn't match his pace.

He treats me like an inconvenience or a nuisance. I'm an independent person, but I've made it clear that I need help without acting entitled or overly needy about it.

I'm a couple of days past my due date now and hubby hasn't done things like pack his hospital bag or put together the baby's rocker. He'd rather have a beer and watch TV, and says he will get around to some of the preparations "on a night when there's nothing else to do." If I say anything it just leads to defensiveness and arguing. I'm excited to meet our child but I’m wondering why my husband is being an unemotional robot. Things weren't perfect before I was pregnant, but now they just seem to be devolving. What makes it worse is that he’ll be even keel and things seem fine with us, then out of the blue he’ll observe how my car is messy and criticize me about it instead of offering to help or just clean it himself. This is a man who's come to just about every doctor's appointment, but my day-to-day needs (keeping bottled water in the house, occasional foot rubs) and limitations (bending over) seem beyond his comprehension.

Anyone been here? What happened after the baby arrived? My husband has taken a month's leave to help but I'm fearing that he'll just give me extreme cabin fever.

Forgive me if this sounds gripe-y or whiny but the message boards at most motherhood blogs have responses to similar questions that read in the vein of "LOL! My husband is like that too, just take it with a grain of salt." This is not funny to me and I guess I'm just hoping for some deeper insight into what’s going on, and what I could start/stop doing to change things. Thanks for reading.
posted by luckyveronica to Human Relations (24 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
For whatever it's worth, this isn't funny to me either and doesn't sound like something to just blow off. It sounds like your husband is deeply resentful towards you and is taking it out on you. I don't think your needs are beyond his comprehension, I think they're perfectly well within his comprehension and he wants to punish you by withholding them. That your husband is passive-aggressively punishing you is really fucked up to me. Especially since he's doing incredibly dangerous things like pressuring you to run with him in front of oncoming cars and leaving you in the middle of the road while jaywalking while you're 9+ months pregnant.

I don't think there is a magic bullet to this. I think you guys need serious therapy so that he can work out his resentment and whatever is behind it, without resorting to passive-aggressiveness, punishing you, and putting you in fucked up situations.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:21 PM on September 24, 2011 [35 favorites]

The following advice is courtesy of my mother. She advises you to say this to your husband:

"Hey, I've noticed something lately and I need to talk about it with you. Is this a good time? Okay, cool. I've noticed that lately you've been acting less like a husband and more like a live-in roommate who is, ultimately, resentful of and unhelpful to their pregnant apartment mate. Obviously this really sucks -- I miss my old husband, and I miss feeling loved and cared for, as I love and care for you. Will you please do one or more of the following: a) get your shit together and stop being a jerk, b) tell me why you're upset/afraid/acting the way you are, c) go on a three day weekend by yourself and figure a and b out and then come back and talk to me? I love you, but you've been acting like a tool and I'm not putting up with it anymore."

And then ask a girlfriend or two to come stay with you and send him packing until he gets his shit together.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:23 PM on September 24, 2011 [57 favorites]

Anyone been here? What happened after the baby arrived?
We got divorced.

No, it's not funny. I think a lot of the advice women get makes feel like we shouldn't take any crap, that he *should* be doing or saying or feeling whatever, that we shouldn't ever settle for not being treated as the goddesses we are during this time. Well, OK -- but speaking only for myself -- that leads to a lot of judgeyness and passive-aggression. And when a person so unquestionably has the moral high-ground as a pregnant woman it can be very distancing. This is a big deal for him too, it's scary for him too, but he can't talk to you about it... or anyone.

Again, I am saying how it was for me, what I now realize I did to help torpedo my marriage -- I'm not accusing or judging you.

If I had it to do over, I'd have given it a rest once in a while with trying to involve him in all the pregnancy stuff (and getting pissed when he did it wrong) -- I'd instead have been a partner to him, concentrated on making sure he was OK, made food he liked or something, once in a while. No one will ever blame me for the divorce -- he's the deadbeat, even in his own eyes. I have, and had, the moral high-ground-- but I know I could've stepped down from there sometimes.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:38 PM on September 24, 2011 [10 favorites]

Holy shit.

No offense.

My husband's older friend told him (and I've written this before on the green) "Put your ego in your pocket during your wife's pregnancy - and keep it there."

I had the best time while while I was pregnant, despite issues that some would feel a super hardship.

Your husband needs to step up. Full stop.

Does he understand you are making a PERSON in there??
posted by jbenben at 9:41 PM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Oh, honey. I missed the part where you are at your due date. Geezus. So sorry.

Just get through the next hurdle in a healthy manner and re-evaluate your situation in 6 months to 1 year.

What you describe would have been a deal-breaker for me. But I am not you, I know nothing, and stuff can change!
posted by jbenben at 9:49 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, he is choosing to act that way. I would recommend therapy where hopefully he will understand a third party telling him to grow up and take responsibility. You don't mention any support or family, has no one else noticed this, or are there any mentors who can talk to him? If you haven't been telling anyone (out of pride or whatever) I think you need to break your silence. His behaviour is pretty far out of the norm for a man in contemporary Western society. I am so sorry you are so stressed at such an important transition.
posted by saucysault at 9:54 PM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Steel yourself! I cannot predict your future but those days were extremely challenging for me. In addition, the baby will come and it will be all about the baby, especially for you, and these behaviors of your husband will not be helpful.
I imagine he is in unfamiliar territory and fearful; my H had already produced a couple of kids before "us" and felt knew the eventual outcome of everything. My old friend and lover disappeared and was a full-of-himself and resentful prick. Then of course, he made most of the money and became very controlling. It was awful.
I mostly went along the path of least resistance in those days, made things work as best I could but I had very little power in the relationship(s) or choice to effectively change things. My main concern was the baby (and I predict yours will be too!) and without money of my own and few options I stayed.
All this time later - 20 years!- we have been an imperfect couple, we have been up and down, I have a LOT more power and hell, sometimes he is still the superman I married.
If you have the means and opportunity, don't take any shit. Whatever you have, use it to separate yourelf from this mean-ness.
Leaving you in the street at 9 months pregnant, really?
I'm sorry.
You can deal with whatever you must, though. I did. Our kids are great, and the kids he had before we met are too.
Best of luck! I wish there was something I could do for you personally.
posted by bebrave! at 9:59 PM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: I'm around 7.5 months along, and Mr. Stomper's been pretty good about the whole pregnancy thing. But even so, I don't know if the dad can ever really understand what the mom is going through. He doesn't feel the tiny person doing somersaults all the time, or the horribly puffy feet every morning, etc. The baby's not already here for him like it is for you (in a sense).

BUT. It's one thing if he isn't quite "feeling it," though, and another if he isn't doing things that you really need done before the baby gets here. That's not cool at all. There's no excuse for doing the basic things like PACKING. I would make a list, go over it with him, and get someone to back you up if possible.

The problem is whether or not you guys are going to have the time and emotional stability in the next few months to address all this stuff with a therapist. Have you talked about how baby care duties are going to work (how often Dad changes diapers, feedings, etc.)? I would make sure that you know what you're going to need and say it clearly NOW if you haven't already. If you can arrange for family and friends to come by and help as much as possible (or even just bring food), that would also be good. If your husband just won't do things, find someone else to help you. Like jbenben says, you have to get through the next few months, and a healthy baby and YOUR sanity should be priority.
posted by daisystomper at 10:00 PM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Who knows what's going on? You sound upset and unhappy, and that's a shitty way to be any time, especially when you're about to give birth.

The comments here make it seem like your husband is an unrepentant douchebag whose behavior verges on emotional abuse. I'd submit that a more charitable explanation is that your husband is confronting a major life change (as are you) and seems to be freaking out about it. This does not excuse his behavior, but it does move it from the "he's a villian" category to the "he's a mess" category. By all means, you should have a (more) serious talk with your husband about how his behavior is making you feel, and about how you think he ought to be acting.

(We also have no idea how you're acting right now. The question is yours, the framing is yours. The "stay strong, sister" brigade seems to me to be overstating their knowledge and his villainy. Maybe if you go into counseling, for instance, you'll end up surprised when someone calls you on your own shit. Keep in mind that those who are talking about this breaking the deal are not the people about to have a child with your husband.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:00 PM on September 24, 2011 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Basically, this is either Red Flag Central, or this is stress related to pregnancy/family/changes combined with some boneheadedness. Strangers on the internet really can't tell you. (I know you know that.) He might be snapping at you because he feels all this new stress on his shoulders and, well, there's no one else to snap at. Which is a shit reason, but it happens. (In the premiere of "Up All Night," Will Arnett had a line about how he was really pissed but he didn't know who to be pissed at ... I identified with that line, and I bet a lot of new parents do. And a lot of them take it out on their spouse, as the other party involved in having the new baby.)

Incidentally, freaking out about money and being really irrational/strict/ridiculous about it is a super-common way that men cope with the stress of impending fatherhood. Lots of pregnancy manuals even have chapters on it. It may evaporate after birth, or evolve into being focused on saving for the child's future.

One of two things is going to happen once the baby is born (which is pending fast!): Either he will find a new normal and a lot of these behaviors will have turned out to be crappy ways of coping with stress, or else things will get more and more problematic. The good news, I guess, is that as a new mom you will have a lot of people (ob/gyn, pediatrician, friends) keeping an eye on you for post-partum depression, so you will have many places to turn for a recommendation for a therapist -- which is what I, personally, would do. Marital therapy. Because if this was just crappy stress coping mechanisms, it'd be good to have a couple of sessions to talk some of that out. And if it's more problematic, well, therapy's a good place to start.

"My husband has taken a month's leave to help but I'm fearing that he'll just give me extreme cabin fever."

My husband (with whom I didn't have this much conflict while pregnant, though I certainly picked on him) gave me HELLA cabin fever with my first one. For me (and I am not you), that was just too much togetherness and all the tiny little annoying behaviors everyone has became Big Giant Annoying Behaviors that made me weepy. Well, everything made me weepy. With our second one, he took a few days off right when the baby was born/came home, so that he could be there right at the beginning, and then he worked a flexible schedule for a while -- taking a day off here, working a half-day there, working from home sometimes, etc. His office was good about it, and I think it worked for them because they were getting about 3/4 of his work out of him for say two months instead of no work for a month. That was a lot better for us. It's a little late in the game, but if you have flexibility it may help.

Otherwise, some days, just ask him to go fishing or to the library or something for six hours, if he's giving you cabin fever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:00 PM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

I just want to add, luckyveronica, that my biggest worry in your question is that he is putting you in physically dangerous situations. Everything else is bad, but that is seriously bad.

I do think pH Indicating Socks is on to something when she talks about this being a big deal for your husband and him not having an outlet for his feelings. That is the biggest reason why I think therapy would be helpful. It might also be helpful for you to read Living with the Passive Aggressive Man because it says some similar things.

HOWEVER, no matter what he feels, no matter how scared or overwhelmed or frustrated, or whatever that he is, it is still really, really, really frightening to me and not okay that he is putting you in dangerous situations. Don't swing too far the other way into feeling like you have to be understanding of all his behaviors or you will be a "princess."
posted by Ashley801 at 10:04 PM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

Wow. My wife could have written this.

Let me say this. Your post is full of anecdotes which shed an entirely terrible light on your husband. I'm not sure you meant it that way or if you just went with a stream of thought or whatever.

But I was in the same boat as your hubby about 3 months ago. Nothing I ever did was right, and everything I did do was wrong. That crossing the street thing, yeah, been there. The money thing, yeah, been there. Unemotional robot? Yep that's me.

If your husband is anything like me, and I'm guessing he might be given the evidence provided, he is also very overwhelmed. He has a major life change going on right in front of him and he's managing the best he can. He's saving money in any way because, you know, babies are expensive. My wife and I don't want for anything, but I was watching every penny for a few months there. He didn't notice you weren't crossing the street because he was in his old life still, where his spry wife would be running right along. It's a hard learning process.

Husbands do not really "get" pregnancies. I mean I didn't. When I was at work, I was at work. I didn't even think of my wife being pregnant until people mentioned it. Many men, like me, compartmentalize their lives. Work is work. Family is family. There is mixing once a year at the Christmas party. That's it.

My wife was 7 days late and I still had my regular routine for a Friday. Nerd around on the internet, have a few beers and watch a little TV. All the while my wife was in the other room having contractions. She did NOT want me in there monitoring things, she yelled at me to BE NORMAL. So I went to bed like normal. At 1 AM she woke me up and told me it was time.

After that, after I counted ten fingers and ten toes, everything was fine. I like to think my wife was just being pregnant crazy, and she probably was, but she also called out a lot of things in my personality that I'd like to expand on. Namely my stoicism and non emotion in daily life. I have gathered that and didn't even have to work on it. My 3 month old brings out the stupid, wacky, extrovert in me that I didn't even know I had.

In summary. Let it go. In a few months you'll read this post an laugh.
posted by sanka at 10:04 PM on September 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

What? Seriously, your husband needs to grow up a bit. You didn't have a choice whether to adjust to the pregnancy or not, and he needs to, um, un-compartmentalize you. And please do not think of yourself as "pregnant crazy" because you don't want to be left on the other side of the street (I really can't imagine having to remind someone about this more than possibly twice?). Therapy sounds like a very very good idea, because I don't know if you'll be able to communicate to him that he's lacking basic empathy toward you. (The stress about money is really the only part that sounds like reasonable father anxiety.)

He might change his ways once the baby's born, but he could still really use some work on his empathy skills (especially toward his life partner). That the baby comes out healthy does not mean that ultimately his behavior was "fine."
posted by stoneandstar at 10:17 PM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I am a man. A husband. My wife gave birth to our first child five weeks ago tomorrow.

I do not feel like we had the problems you described during the pregnancy, but this is for two reasons. 1) I tried to do everything I could to be helpful, but 2) my wife didn't spend much time trying to get me to do things that she knew I did not care about, like decorating the baby's room (the baby still doesn't sleep in there, so this seems justified). Still, I let her do her decorating like she wanted and she was happy to let me take care of other things. There were things that she cared so much about -- she spent *months* agonizing over which type of reusable diapers to get. I didn't care. I still don't. She bought some. I couldn't tell yo which ones they are. If she had forced me to be a part of this entire process it would have been infuriating. But she didn't.

I feel like things have been more difficult since the baby was born, but that is because it is *SO* *MUCH* *WORK*. It is hard. It really is. People tell you it is but you don't understand until you do it.

I have been trying really, really hard. I've been staying up past midnight every night (usually I'd be in bed by 10:30 or 11) doing laundry and washing dishes and cleaning the cat litter box and stuff, because my wife is busy feeding the baby and is generally exhausted by 8:30 or so, and the two of them tend to be in bed by 9:00. I took a month off work. I brought my wife every meal for weeks. I ran every errand. I did all the cleaning.

Tonight we got into a bit of an argument. We had been having a generally good day, and had time to make dinner and watch a TV show. I cracked open a beer (my third of the evening, which is more than I normally drink), and she started off about how I worry her by drinking too much, about how she's worried that I haven't been happy since the baby's been born, and how I shouldn't be staying up so late. She kind of stuck "you seem unhappy" in the same breath as "you can't have a beer or stay up for an extra hour after you finish the household chores to have a little time to yourself." I had to say "I feel like I'm working really hard and doing a pretty good job and all I'm trying to do is find a few things for myself once in while squeezed in between trying to take care of everyone else, and you worry about me doing those things?"

Anyway, I think we worked it out, because we talked about it. Basically I just wanted her to be able to say "thank you" and let me do my thing when I'm being helpful. She can ask for any other help when she needs it, but if she doesn't, is it so bad if I take a few minutes to myself or stay up an extra hour reading and have a beer? Key here is that we were able to discuss it.

Having an infant is 100x more difficult than hang a pregnant wife. You will cry. There will be friction. You will wonder if you're doing everything wrong. The two of you will not handle situations identically.

Two other people said:
"Does he understand you are making a PERSON in there??"
"Husbands do not really 'get' pregnancies."

The answer to the first question is "logically yes, but practically, NO!"
The second statement is true.

While you are pregnant we see you getting rounder. We are familiar with the concept of a baby but really don't know that much about them. We figure we will have one eventually and then we will deal with it. In terms of understanding what the product is going to be like, think of it like this: The father is waiting for the iPhone 5 to come out. He thinks it will probably be a cool phone and he'd be willing to pre-order one. Otherwise he's not going to worry to much about it. The mother on the other hand, is a hardware engineer at Apple's who's livelihood is absolutely dependent on being able to figure out how to build a phone. The level of intimacy and involvement with the phone at this point is *so much higher* with the mother than the father. Once the phone is done, and both parents get to use it, they can say "oh, cool, look at all the neat things it does" but before the baby's actually born the father does not "get it" like the mother does.

Sorry for comparing children to iPhones.

I don't know if this comment helps anyone at all. It is my experience, and I am only a few weeks ahead of you, so it's fresh in my mind.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:20 PM on September 24, 2011 [57 favorites]

Phew, ok. We are not your internet therapists, obviously. Just random people blathering.

So, instead of diagnosing What's Up with your marriage from this distance, let me ask you, do you have any support aside from each other? Because NOW is the time to activate that particular bat signal.

Does he have (nice, apparently sane) buddies who are dads? You should call one of them, and tell them to call him and go out for a beer and talk; don't be "he's being a douche!" but just "he seems to be having a hard time, can you talk him through it?". Trusted male relatives may also be an option for this.

Do you have any female relatives or friends who have your back and can come be with you, talk to you, take you for a lunch or walk in the park or a cry on their couch? Do that.

Both of you are freaking out in your own ways; it may or may not be a relationship long-term problem. Or you may go into labor before you have time to cope.

But right now, you both need someone to lean on who is not so conflicted and problematic. Call them if you can.

If you can't do that, look into therapy for yourself and/or both. But the baby is going to put you into survival mode for at least three months, and postpartum depression is something you really want to be on the lookout for, so marshal whatever assistance you can.

He may snap out of it when he sees the kid, but you shouldn't count on that.
posted by emjaybee at 10:31 PM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

I tried to laugh it off. I tried to say it was his way of dealing with a big life change. I tried to be very charitable. I went out of my way to make him comfortable even when I wasn't. I worked my ass off trying to keep bones and soul together during a really crappy time and kept a smile on my face as much as I could. I worked very hard to not provoke him on any level. I backed off on involving him when it seemed he wasn't interested, choosing only the most vital things (naming, familiarity with role at hospital) to make a big deal about.

And then, once she was here? That point where all the well-meaning people said he would get it and things would improve? It got harder. He got worse. And now I had her outside and the wall of stress was making it hard to do things like feed her.

So we split up. We were in separate living situations for a few months and he saw her on a very occasional basis. Due to financial and childcare issues and a willingness to experiment with parenting without romantic partnership, he once again lives with us. We rely upon a framework of agreements about what I will provide and what he needs to accomplish. Any sign of the BS that brought us low and he knows he'll be on the lookout for a new living situation. He tested that line a couple of times and I stayed firm. He's a good dad and genuinely cares for our daughter, taking a big caretaker role that needs very little guidance from me except for quick new-stuff downloads when she transitions from phase to phase.

So, that's what happened with us. I hope for the sake of everyone that this isn't the case with you. The money thing does sound normal-ish. The other stuff seems pretty selfish and disconnected, and would be good material to bring to a therapist...even if you're just taking yourself and the baby (I did that, too, after the split when I was trying to figure out how to hold it all together; it helped a lot).

Before the therapist, though, do experiment with a few low-confrontation ways of bringing this stuff up, pick the one that feels most natural/safe, and sit down with him to broach it. Maybe he really is a good guy and just needs to know you're not feeling supported or understood.

NB: It's pathetically true that many men (and women, too) do not understand how utterly physically (etc.) vulnerable you feel when you are pregnant, particularly the closer you get to the due date. And also be aware that "pregnant crazy" is considered a viable explanation and permission to ignore even the most rational request - examine your asks carefully to be certain they cannot be dismissed as petty or find ways to clarify why they are not if they seem to be.
posted by batmonkey at 10:43 PM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

The idea that men "just don't get pregnancy" is a little demeaning to men. Yeah, there is an aspect to it that no one who hasn't done it will get, but the most of it? Not fucking rocket magic. Acting like it is just demeans everyone. Nine months pregnant? Gonna be hard to move. It shouldn't be that big of a deal to remember, and if you do forget, certainly not a pride killer to apologize for. Same with cleaning out cars (hell, at 35 weeks I was a like Tyrone from Snatch, hat and all) (which sent my husband into hysterics, so it's not like he's a saint). It's lowest common denominator crap. But you have to work out if it's something you're wiling to live with, this living down to expectations, because every couple I know with that issue have it all the time. Kids, no kids, all the time.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:38 AM on September 25, 2011 [11 favorites]

Just my experience here: the week I went into labor with our first born, my husband was undergoing major stress through work. As in, in one week he had to fire a partner and move his office to our home. He was not very nice to me. He didnt understand on top of having a brand new baby, I was also recovering from a c-section. He didn't help with the newborn baby and forbade me from calling my mom to help. He was kind of awful. And although I knew he was going through two major life changes at once, I was angry. But I took care of the new little baby and waited him out. He came around in a few weeks. He's a good partner and a better Daddy. He was a perfect husband/father by the time our second son arrived. So my advice, wait this time out - but if this doesn't get better, you should try therapy. Hang in there and Congratulations on you impending bundle of joy!
posted by JacksonandFinch at 6:39 AM on September 25, 2011

My second child was born two weeks ago; my first is 19 months old. I am a man :)

For me, both pregnancies were fairly abstract until the birth. It's much harder for the partner (or anyone not the mother) to feel the same connection to the growing child. Of course that has to be the case. I needed some reminding from time to time -- I think it's good if the mother can ask for help when she needs it; I'm not always going to do everything right, and not because I don't care.

However, from my observation, I think the pregnancy itself makes little things seem much more pressing for the mother. It's easier to have an argument, and the non-pregnant partners needs to have more patience and forethought and consideration than usual.

It sounds like your partner isn't being as thoughtful as you need him to be. Sounds like he's low on patience. Sounds like he's feeling stressed about the responsibilities of being a father. I think it's hard to tell how he'll react or behave after your child is born, but it could easily change for the better. I think you should definitely make sure he's on the same page as you for the birth -- letting him know what he can do, telling him explicitly that you value him being there, and also making sure that he knows that you won't be paying him attention or saying "thank you" all the time while in labour -- and then work it out together after the child is born.

Good luck for the birth; I hope it's a great experience for the three of you. :)
posted by FrereKhan at 7:09 AM on September 25, 2011

Forgive me if this sounds gripe-y or whiny but the message boards at most motherhood blogs have responses to similar questions that read in the vein of "LOL! My husband is like that too, just take it with a grain of salt."

Go to the forums at altdotlife.com. Seriously. Right now.
I can't really offer advice on the rest of your post, but the forums at altdotlife have been a lifesaver to me for the past 5 years. Lots of intelligent, honest discussion of pregnancy, parenting, and relationships.
posted by belladonna at 7:50 AM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Those first few weeks with a newborn are a very unique period in a couple's existence. Not only will he have seen you at your worst (the pain of labor, plus the complete without shame physical side that he'll see of you... any shame you felt pooping in front of another human will go away very soon.)

Then once baby arrives, you (mom) are ON IT... boobs, mostly. And dad is sort of left out - yet he has a big job -- keeping mom hydrated, fed, and sane. It is a weird time for him because he basically is going to have to do everything that you say and it is URGENT. And while you've had 9 months of constant physical reminders that you're about to be a parent, he has not. So once baby arrives, he'll really know it.

And add on a layer of hormones...)

I think that his behavior during this period will say a lot about what sort of father he's going to be.

So judge on that. Don't stress about his boneheaded assholeness now.
posted by k8t at 10:13 AM on September 25, 2011

Sounds like your husband might be afraid and nervous of the whole situation that's going to be happening very soon (new baby!).

The "needs" that you expect:

Instead of waiting at the curb with me until I was comfortable he just crossed without even looking back
keeping bottled water in the house
occasional foot rubs

Are things that are not needs, but wants. Sure, it'd be nice to have these things, but they're not necessary. Maybe you feel they're necessary because someone in your life (Mom, TV, mother boards, magazines) are telling you they're necessary?

And holy cow, maybe you guys shouldn't have moved when you were pregnant anyway, ugh that's tough on the person who's not pregnant too you know. He probably had to do all the heavy lifting and move most if not all of everything.

We've had 2 kids, and I know that at this point in your pregnancy, you may be freaking about everything right now. Maybe you feel that you're entitled to a lot of pampering because you're big and unhappy and feeling yucky. And, the emotions may be just raging inside!

Just don't do anything crazy right now, okay? Pull back on your resentment of him, try to be nicer to him right now even though you're feeling really crappy, and remember, this is your husband, the man you love and wanted to make this baby with. He's a human being too, and he may be exhausted from the move, from all the things that he has done for you that you think are necessary, from worry about finances when you'll be off work, etc. And, maybe he's afraid of being a daddy and how that'll change his relationship with you. This is a HUGE change in your lives about to happen. You both need pampering and love and care and comfort. Reach out to him and remember the love you feel for him.
posted by minx at 11:46 AM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with others who have said that he is probably really stressed right now. And that we don't know the whole story. And that he may be overwhelmed and feel like nothing he does is right. He does sound like he's being a jerk, but I guess I don't see the street crossing, lack of water, lack of packed bag, lack of water in the house as dramatic a problem as others do. I guess I just don't think this has to mean that you're doomed or headed for divorce. I think - if he has been a good partner beforehand and wanted this baby - he's likely just freaking out.
  • What often works for my husband and me when we get asshole-ish like this, is for the other person to sit down next to them, lovingly get their attention (we have a sort of loving, teasing mantra we use to snap each other out of a funk/freakout/asshole streak) and then say things like, I know you are probably freaking out right now, but when you do x,y,z it makes me feel a,b,c and I really need you to do d,e,f,. We just try to snap the other person out of their asshole freakout. And sometimes it works.
  • Does your husband have an outlet for impending baby stress? I'm 22 weeks along, and my husband has told me that he doesn't feel like he can talk to me about his anxieties, because he doesn't want to make me anxious or sad. He is an emotional, emotive person, so he needs to vent to someone regularly; he's worried about money, he's worried about his freedom, he's worried about our relationship, he's worried he won't be loved and cherished by me the way he currently is. It's true, in this state I'm probably not the best audience for these freakouts. He says he vents to his mom every few days. And the result - so far - has been that with me he is loving and sweet and excited about the baby.
  • Also, I don't know if it's possible at this point, but if you could do some things to make him feel loved and appreciated, that might be helpful. Two years ago we had a period where I had to be the caretaker for months and I do remember that it took a toll, and I eventually ended up tired and a bit resentful. So while he does most of the taking-care-of these days, I am trying not to have him constantly do things for me; I make him food he likes sometimes, I give him foot rubs sometimes, etc. I joke that I don't want him to burn out before the baby even comes, but it's true.
  • And I am trying to be conscious of the fact he's going through a huge, stressful, exciting, emotional time too, and not to minimize that.
Ultimately though, I guess I would try to focus on the goal. My goal now is a happy, healthy family. That means happy momma/wife, happy dad/husband, happy baby. And, to me, that means that we each have to take care of each other. And hang on tight and hope for the best.

Good luck. Congratulations!
posted by n'muakolo at 2:28 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sounds awful. Don't hesitate to go stay at your parents / friends /sisters house if it gets to be too much. If he doesn't change after the baby is born (or it gets worse), just grab a bag and go to your mothers. The most important thing is your and your baby's emotional safety and comfort.
posted by zia at 2:55 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

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