Is this part of my quarter-life crisis?
October 2, 2012 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Is this part of my quarter-life crisis? (a blizzard inside)

Is this part of my quarter-life crisis?

My wife and I are coming up on our 6-year wedding anniversary. We've been a couple for 12 years after meeting in college (I'm 32, she's 31). I love her, and our marriage has been enjoyable, with minimal conflict and great shared experiences.

But for the last two years, things have been...different...and not in a good way. I'm not sure if my negative emotions are a result of me, of her, of other circumstances, of our place in life, or something I don't know about. I'm writing this to get some thoughts and wisdom from the hivemind so I can determine how to quell the negativity. Perhaps others have had similar circumstances.

Here's what I don't like that I'm feeling:

1. I don't miss her when I'm not with her. For example, last weekend, two friends and I went to an amusement park for the day and stayed the night. I was happy she wasn't with me, because I enjoyed the time with them. I would have enjoyed it less had she been present.

2. I'm bored when I'm with her, often no matter where we are. Whether we're at a baseball game, we're watching a movie at home, we're at a family function...she doesn't stir my emotions or, perhaps more unfortunate, make me laugh.

3. I'm embarassed (for both her and me) by the way she tells stories. Recently, at a gathering of people we only loosely knew, she took over the room and spent about three minutes telling a story that could have been told better in about thirty seconds. She adds lots of unnecessary details and fails to get to the point. I used to find this quirk of hers cute and admirable, but now it's like nails on a chalkboard.

4. I often think about what my life would be like with another person. Mind you, not a specific person; there's no other fish, so to speak, that I'm interested in chasing. But if I see an attractive woman in a shop or a restaurant or the aforementioned amusement park, I begin thinking about what she might be able to provide that my wife can't or doesn't. For example, I've recently begun having this fantasy that I could call my wife on a Friday afternoon, say, "Let's go to Vegas for the weekend!" and she'd be delighted and say "Awesome, I can't wait!". This would never happen, admitteldy for real-world reasons (detailed below), but mostly because she doesn't have that spontaneous mentality that I am longing for or hoped would develop.

5. I resent her because our sex life is awful.

6. I resent her for not taking control of her health. She's overweight, and doesn't like how she looks, and she's extremely insecure about her body. Yet she doesn't exercise, and eats poorly. Frankly, I'm not going to be the husband who says "Oh, it's okay, I love how you look" because I don't. I want her to feel good about herself when she looks in the mirror.

7. I resent her for making me feel guilty about the way I live my life. For example, about a month ago, me and my two best friends had Guys Day. We played basketball, played video games, and went out for dinner and drinks and football-watching. And I felt guilty about it because she stayed home. She does not have close friends (her two best friends live at least a day's drive away) like I have close friends.

8. I resent her for being unable to communicate in any meaningful way about all of the above. Because she is rather insecure (to the point where she needs to hear from me at least once a week that I'm not going to divorce her), any discussion about our relationship and each other inevitably ends in tears. Then I feel bad for making her cry, she resents me for making her cry, and nothing changes.

Despite how I make it sound, my wife is a caring, loving person. She has a very hard full-time job that she's good at, and she is unselfish to the point where it's potentially harmful (ie putting others before herself). To that end, perhaps I'm blind to my own issues, as I alluded to above, or perhaps other circumstances are causing my negativity. It's worth highlighting that:

1. The last 3 years have been something of a settling period for us. We bought a house, physically tying us to a location after 7 years of apartment living in 4 different states. I've personally never been comfortable with physically settling...which brings us to #2...

2. I've settled, uncomfortably, into a profession and series of jobs that I have little interest in and am doing only because of inertia (and to pay bills). The years of apartment-living that I mention above were dynamic...I had exciting workplaces and was able to try out business ideas...I felt more alive and interesting and was meeting more people. I'm not one of those people who wants to be defined by my occupation/work, but I certainly prefer interesting work.

3. THE BIG ONE. We had a baby 7 months ago. I adore him, and I look forward to the days when we can pick pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, play catch, eat ice cream together, etc. Motherhood has clearly taken a toll on my wife - as I know it does all women - as breastfeeding and getting up at night kills sex drive, and the mere presence of a such a young child kills spontaniety. I get that, but I'm concerned it won't get better, and this little guy I love so much will, indirectly, continue to create the negative emotions I state above. Friends tell me the first two weeks are the hardest; her doctor told her the first year is the hardest. Are the teenage years the hardest? I have no idea, but I don't think life as a parent should be lived thinking, "Okay, it'll get better when XYZ."

These three factors, combined, I think, are making me resent my wife, and to some extent, life in general, even though I recognize I have a lot of great things in it. My hope, although I know the green isn't supposed to be a Dear Abby, is that you can point me toward some further reading or just spare some thoughts to help me get over this hump (leaving out the standard MeFi suggestion of therapy, as I certainly realize that's an option). My fear is that a lot of my options to feel happier are exhausted; the classic idea of Date Night, for example, doesn't much appeal to me at the moment, as I am already picturing an un-fun conversation at the dinner table. There's the useful "do the housework for her" suggestion, but I'll note that I already handle everything (money, chores, social calendar) that doesn't involve her job or the baby and have been handling those things for our entire marriage. We have tried doing rather unconventional activities together; for example, we tried to read a book of the bible together each week and then discuss it (we're not religious; we wanted to see what the fuss was about), but that didn't go anywhere after the first month (perhaps we just need a new book). We once tried to watch all three Lord of the Rings movies back-to-back-to-back on a rainy Sunday; we both fell asleep. I tried to get her to go through our pictures together with the goal of making birthday postcards for our friends; while I found it to be a pleasant walk down memory lane, she found it to be more like work.

So, what do we do? Am I the problem? Is she the problem? Is there a problem? Am I being an idiot? For those of you so inclined to look at my previous questions, am I dancing around issues? Thank you for reading this far; while I apologize there's no question in the normal sense, I do appreciate any help you can give in getting me to love my wife again.
posted by st starseed to Human Relations (71 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
You are being an idiot, but at least you've come here and we can set you straight.

You are on edge because you're sleep deprived. Your wife is boring and not thinking clearly because she's sleep deprived.

Your wife is overweight because she just had a baby. Your wife can't get her shit together because she's got hormones screwing up her brain.

You both desperately need some couples counseling and some separate counseling.

Marriage may not always be good. You have to be in it for the long haul. Do what you must to exhaust every avenue to make this relationship right. If, after doing everything you can think of to make this good, THEN and only then, can you think about bailing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:40 PM on October 2, 2012 [132 favorites]

Friends tell me the first two weeks are the hardest; her doctor told her the first year is the hardest. Are the teenage years the hardest? I have no idea, but I don't think life as a parent should be lived thinking, "Okay, it'll get better when XYZ."

Fair point, but still- you guys have a baby! You'll always have a child, but you won't always have a lovable little blob who can't feed himself, wipe his butt, or put himself to sleep. Cut yourselves some slack. Try to get as much rest as possible, even if you have to do it in shifts. Keep trying to think of fun things to do together; think of the sort of things your wife might enjoy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:44 PM on October 2, 2012

People can pick that apart, point by point, but Ruthless Bunny really said all that needs to be said.
posted by HuronBob at 2:44 PM on October 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

Welcome to marriage. For reference, see every stand up comic ever and/or your parents. There is a point in almost every marriage where it becomes work to keep it going. You have to decide, preferably sooner rather than later, whether you want to do that work or not. And I'm not talking about the chores.
posted by empath at 2:46 PM on October 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Ok, wut? You want the spontaneity of going to Vegas on a whim, when you have a 7 month old kid? For reals? Let's just tackle that one bit of your whole issue. You're a big kid now. You put on your big kid pants and deal with it. You bought a house, you have jobs, you have a kid. Maybe when your kid is like 13 months you can get away overnight without him but certainly not without some planning. That's just what happens when you grow up. It's totally normal to be like "dang, wish I could still be spontaneous," but in the vein that you still wish you could be 21 and do young things.

I don't wanna be the person that says you're totally selfish, but you're kiiinda selfish here. You don't have to be delighted with how things are right now, but this is a thing that happens with kids and a mom who has to work. Yeah, sex life's gonna suck. Take off your big boy pants and whack off to porn. It gets better, but you know what would help it get better? Not being a shithead about your wife's weight so she's completely insecure. Maybe make her some healthy tasty dinners. Maybe take a walk together.

Takes two, you know? Maybe I'm being harsh. But dude, you gotta think about this from her perspective.
posted by kpht at 2:47 PM on October 2, 2012 [34 favorites]

Oh, and from the other questions you've posted that I remember... it's you. It's not her. You're perennially unhappy with life (and especially a career) no matter what's in it. I think this is your issue to deal with yourself, and maybe together after some therapy on your own, or introspection, you can figure out marriage things together.
posted by kpht at 2:50 PM on October 2, 2012 [16 favorites]

Oh, golly golly golly. So much going on in your life!

First off, it sounds like you need someone to talk to. And I hate to say this when you know it's an option, but: THERAPY. That is what therapists are for.

I think you need to start by talking to someone on your own. It sounds like you have a lot of thoughts and emotions about small and large things that have coalesced into a lot of unhappiness. A therapist can help direct some of those thoughts so you can dig down and figure out what is driving some of these things into a big ol' swirl.

For me, I get antsy with my partner very infrequently since we're only 4 years in when I can't count on him and thus it impacts my own life. But for the most part, that only happens when I need to count on him because I'm the one goofing off. I want to blame him for something that is ultimately my own deal.

Example: I sub in a church choir maybe once every couple months. On church mornings, I have it timed down to a science, because god do I hate getting up on church mornings and I want to stay in bed until the last minute. But then HE takes his time, because he doesn't need to sing and thus doesn't have the same sense of urgency. He usually just drops me off and comes back to nap and take a shower at his own pace.

I get antsy and cranky because I am seeing that as GEEZ HONEY WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU DON'T YOU KNOW I HAVE TO GO? Except that a) he's actually doing me a huge favor by driving me in. And b) -- this is the more important part -- I'm actually kind of mad at myself, because if I weren't rushing myself, I would have had plenty of time to get dressed neatly, grab a water bottle and proceed leisurely to the car, as well as waking my husband up in time so that he can do the same.

So much of what gets me antsy at a partner is because I am mad at myself for one reason or another, and the little tiny thing that he does becomes the one thing that I can latch onto that says THIS ISN'T ALL MY FAULT. YOU MESSED THINGS UP TOO.

You're doing so very much right now as a dad and a husband who is navigating changing roles. You sound like a diligent and loving person who would rather figure out what's going on than let things explode. But that's what's going to happen if you don't figure out constructive ways of managing your own expectations.

So perhaps work on your own stuff before you suggest some kind of couples counseling (if you even get to that point). And I KNOW she is feeling weird and scared and out of sorts, too, because she's a mom! (And she's a person and woman and wife, but you see how being a mom overrides pretty much everything from here on out? WOW is that tough.)

She may need someone to talk to, too, but don't push her -- and ESPECIALLY don't push her if you're not showing that you're trying very hard, in good faith, to address your side of the bargain too.
posted by Madamina at 2:51 PM on October 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

Then I feel bad for making her cry, she resents me for making her cry, and nothing changes.

Crying is not a danger signal. Stop interpreting it as one. Crying just means your wife feels something very strongly: fear, shame, anxiety, whatever. Having a conversation about the state of your marriage isn't "making your wife cry," it's being an adult in a relationship. What she's probably saying is that she resents you making her confront things she's massively insecure about. Hand her a tissue and keep talking.

Having said that, you guys have virtually no communication tools. Please see a marriage therapist and get some.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 PM on October 2, 2012 [28 favorites]

or just spare some thoughts to help me get over this hump

This isn't a hump, this is your life. You chose to marry this woman, you chose the career path you're on, and you chose to have a baby. Those aren't three things getting in the way of your happiness. You're getting in the way of your happiness.

(leaving out the standard MeFi suggestion of therapy, as I certainly realize that's an option).

When people introduce and dismiss therapy in their AskMe question, it usually means they're not really interested in doing the work required to fix the problem in their question. Are you interested in doing the work required to fix the problem in your question? Because if you are, then therapy is not an option, it's the only option.
posted by headnsouth at 2:55 PM on October 2, 2012 [22 favorites]

8. I resent her for being unable to communicate in any meaningful way about all of the above. Because she is rather insecure (to the point where she needs to hear from me at least once a week that I'm not going to divorce her), any discussion about our relationship and each other inevitably ends in tears. Then I feel bad for making her cry, she resents me for making her cry, and nothing changes.

Out of all the points you mentioned, I think this is the most important (and the one which is most damaging in the long term). Everything else is fixable, but only if you both have the ability to communicate openly about your problems. Without that line of communication, nothing will ever get fixed. My prediction is that you will slowly start to resent your wife more and more until you emotionally disconnect from her (it sounds like this has already started happening) - until one day you announce to her that you want a divorce, and it will be completely out of the blue. She will tearfully say that she's willing to change, but at that point it'll be too late because you'll be fed up.

What I think you need to do is have a "Come To Jesus" conversation with her about this one line item, before it gets to this point. Something along the lines of "Honey, I'm sure you've noticed that our relationship has been rocky over the past year. We've been having a lot of problems and every time I try to talk to you about them, you start crying instead of listening to me. If you keep doing this, we're probably going to end up getting divorced."

At this point, she's probably going to end up crying. (My second girlfriend was this way, so I have a certain understanding of these types of behavior.) What you need to do is use negative conditioning at this point to emphasize that this behavior is unacceptable. At the stage where you'd normally comfort her - ie, when she's crying and tearfully asking "Are you going to break up with me?" you say "If you continue to use tears to avoid these conversations, eventually I will." She'll probably say something about not being able to help crying, and you just tell her "OK, well, when you're done crying and ready to talk about our problems, come find me" and leave the room.

Eventually, if you keep doing this, you'll be able to have healthy, productive conversations with her. At that point, you can start addressing the other issues. Be advised though, there are probably things that she would like you to change as well, and you may need to dig a little to find out what they are. If you want your wife to change, you can't just make demands - that's not a healthy negotiation. You need to offer something as well.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:01 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow. I cry when I feel intense emotions. These conversations sound intense. If someone I loved told me they wouldn't talk to me about intense subjects if I cried, I would leave them so fast their head would spin. Use that information as you will...

I can talk through tears - can she? Do you listen?
posted by pammeke at 3:05 PM on October 2, 2012 [70 favorites]

What you need to do is use negative conditioning at this point to emphasize that this behavior is unacceptable.

This is not a good approach, it is too mean and hurtful. Also the example is not factually correct, this is not an example of negative conditioning.
posted by kettleoffish at 3:07 PM on October 2, 2012 [49 favorites]

At this point, she's probably going to end up crying. (My second girlfriend was this way, so I have a certain understanding of these types of behavior.) What you need to do is use negative conditioning at this point to emphasize that this behavior is unacceptable.

Had your second girlfriend just had a baby?

OP - welcome to adulthood. You decided to get married, buy a house, have a kid - here you go!

See Ruthless Bunny's comment for just about all the advice you could ever need.
posted by heyjude at 3:07 PM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

So, what do we do? Is there a problem?

Either get over yourself really really quickly and just learn to deal with life as it is while making boring incremental improvements, or divorce, because you're asking MeFi and not your wife.

Am I the problem?

At least 50% of it.

Is she the problem?

Probably. Hard to say from what you've written here, but probably at least some of it.

Am I being an idiot?

Yes, for a ton of reasons. So you might as well divorce, if you won't get over yourself. It won't actually make you happier in the long run unless you change (which you could do with your wife and son), but it won't make you any more miserable than you are right now, and maybe when the dust is cleared, she'll make choices that will make her happy, and be a better mother to your son because of it.

But if I see an attractive woman in a shop or a restaurant or the aforementioned amusement park, I begin thinking about what she might be able to provide that my wife can't or doesn't.

Imaginary women won't make you happy. Only you will be able make yourself happy, by choosing it actively and then working towards it. Nothing external will ever make you happy, ever.

I get that, but I'm concerned it won't get better, and this little guy I love so much will, indirectly, continue to create the negative emotions I state above.

That's a lot of power to attribute to a baby. He's not creating the negative emotions, directly or indirectly. Whatever is inside you, gnawing at you, telling you that [X] will make you happy (when "X" is anything other than getting the fuck over yourself and working hard for the things you want), that's what's creating the negative emotions. Do you know what you get? The life of the kind of person you are, in every particular.

For example, you are miserable about your wife's weight and sex life. You are a married dude in his thirties with a baby, who is burned out and looking for an escape from his life. Okay, fine. Are you hot? Do you work out? You're not rich, so that won't work. Are you kind, a recognizable mensch? Obviously not. Charming, funny? Hard to say from your MeFi answers, but I doubt you're funny enough to charm the imaginary restaurant hottie. Your previous questions aren't bringing the lols. So what, exactly, is it that you have to offer a sufficiently hot spontaneous non-baby-having woman? Do you really think it's your wife or your baby or the job you hate or a lack of money that's standing in the way of this life you imagine for yourself?

I have no idea, but I don't think life as a parent should be lived thinking, "Okay, it'll get better when XYZ."

That's exactly what you're doing right now, except you're basically saying "Okay, it'll get better when it's not so bad". It won't, because at least half the contributing factor to it being so bad is you, and you cannot run away from yourself.

But yes, get some sleep and don't waste money and time on therapy.

What I think you need to do is have a "Come To Jesus" conversation with her about this one line item, before it gets to this point. Something along the lines of "Honey, I'm sure you've noticed that our relationship has been rocky over the past year. We've been having a lot of problems and every time I try to talk to you about them, you start crying instead of listening to me. If you keep doing this, we're probably going to end up getting divorced."

This is shitty advice. He needs to learn how to be able to deal with her crying. Maybe she's using it as a tactic, but he still needs to be able to handle tears. I have enormous problems with this myself, but if I made my girlfriend fuck off every time we had an argument that involved her crying (both of which are super rare), I would be an enormous dick. It sucks and it makes me feel really uncomfortable, but that's my problem, not hers. If the OP can't accept that he needs to suck it up and let his wife express herself, it's doomed. There are definitely kinds of behavior that aren't okay and it's okay to make off-limits in discussion. Crying is not one of them.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 3:08 PM on October 2, 2012 [32 favorites]

You're getting great responses, but I have a question (you don't have to answer in the thread). Are your "dude" friends supportive of your marriage? Are they making this situation better or are they snarking about your wife or telling you what they think you should do? Are they in serious relationships or living a single lifestyle you're idealizing? Worth thinking about - marriage, with kids especially, takes a village.

I have to agree with the poster who said your previous questions make it look like you're always dissatisfied, and I have to add: Wow. You posted a question about how to push your wife to lose weight four months after she had a baby and you didn't even mention that? Makes me think you're in denial about what a big deal becoming parents is. It's not a "blip". I have a nine month old and this is the hardest year of my life and my marriage by far.
posted by crabintheocean at 3:09 PM on October 2, 2012 [33 favorites]

I don't have time to get to all of this, but I wanted to address this one, because it strikes me as something that you might want to think of as a big warning flag.

7. I resent her for making me feel guilty about the way I live my life. For example, about a month ago, me and my two best friends had Guys Day. We played basketball, played video games, and went out for dinner and drinks and football-watching. And I felt guilty about it because she stayed home. She does not have close friends (her two best friends live at least a day's drive away) like I have close friends.

As written, this is 100%, totally, absolutely inside of your own head. This is on your side of the relationship. You don't say anything whatsoever that she is doing to make you feel guilty.

As written, it sounds like you have some guilt around wanting to have some guy time, and you are putting it onto her rather than taking responsibility for it yourself.

I mention this because, in my experience, when one person does this to another in one aspect of a relationship, it's not a bad bet that they are doing it in other aspects as well. You should consider whether you are actually being honest with yourself and taking responsibility for your own feelings all around.
posted by gauche at 3:12 PM on October 2, 2012 [19 favorites]

Your problem is you do not live in the now. Where ever your head is at, be it longing for your 20s or imagining what fun you'll have in the future, it's not *here*, today, in the present and that is why you are unhappy during the rare moments when you are present: because your reality can not and will not ever outstrip your ability to fantasize and romanticize. This can be solved but you are going to have to be brutally honest with yourself. Yes, a therapist should help.

At the stage where you'd normally comfort her - ie, when she's crying and tearfully asking "Are you going to break up with me?" you say "If you continue to use tears to avoid these conversations, eventually I will." She'll probably say something about not being able to help crying, and you just tell her "OK, well, when you're done crying and ready to talk about our problems, come find me" and leave the room.

I'm sorry, but this above advice strikes me as profoundly unhelpful and is not the thing that people striving to build a supportive relationship do to each other.
posted by jamaro at 3:14 PM on October 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

Holy cow.

Breastfeeding socially isolated mother of a seven month old and you're resentful that she's not interesting or spontaneous enough? Of course you're happier during a guys' weekends watching football. You get to have fun and she doesn't.

First of all, you should look into postpartum depression. Can your wife pump so you can take over one of the nighttime feedings and she can get more sleep? Can you take the baby on some weekends so she can go visit her friends? Because jesus christ, do I feel for her. I'd be really, really sad too.

Second of all, since you asked for resources, you need to read John Gottman. Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work.

But really, and I say this with a lot of empathy for your situation . . . you're not being much of a mensch here. I think some empathy for your wife would go a long, long way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:15 PM on October 2, 2012 [41 favorites]

when she's crying and tearfully asking "Are you going to break up with me?" you say "If you continue to use tears to avoid these conversations, eventually I will." She'll probably say something about not being able to help crying, and you just tell her "OK, well, when you're done crying and ready to talk about our problems, come find me" and leave the room.

OP, please do not do this. As someone who is a natural crier, I can say that it's highly unlikely your wife is purposefully using it as a manipulative tactic - and anyway, it's always best to assume good intent as much as possible. This suggestion will only make things worse.

I agree with the others who suggest just soldiering through the tears. Continue speaking with your wife like an adult. Crying is just a way of expressing emotions.
posted by lunasol at 3:17 PM on October 2, 2012 [29 favorites]

First, I agree with Ruthless Bunny.

Second, you're 32. You're a tiny bit early, but it's a mid-life crisis, not quarter-life. Sorry to be the one to break the news.
posted by The World Famous at 3:17 PM on October 2, 2012 [59 favorites]

Okay, that kind of "negative conditioning" that wolfdreams01 suggests is a total asshole move. It places all of the burden on her and puts her immediately on the defensive, when really you're both part of the problem. And even if it does stop the immediate problem, it will in no way lead to "healthy, productive conversations" -- you've broken the foundation of shared responsibility and caring that could make those conversations happen.

Don't do that.

Here's John Gottman's "Four Horsemen" (predicting the breakup of a marriage)... and, more importantly, their antidotes.

Criticism -> Complain without blame.
This is where "I feel" statements might come in very handy. "I feel like I can't go out with my friends." "I feel like we don't get as sexually intimate as we used to." You're able to express yourself clearly and accurately, but you're neither heaping blame on her nor shouldering it yourself.

Defensiveness -> Take responsibility. This can be tricky, but you know there are some things that you can do better. By expressing those, you can open the door for her to trust you and your genuine desire to work on the relationship, and then she can hopefully do the same for you.

Contempt (statements coming at her from a relative position of superiority) -> Build culture of appreciation. Yeah, she's fat now. Yeah, she's not working at fixing it like she could. Guess what? She carried a bowling ball inside her for the better part of a year and risked any number of permanent changes to her body. That was an awfully nice thing of her to do, wasn't it? (I hate to make everything come down to this, but MY GOD, that scares me.) So how about showing appreciation for the things that she has done and continues to do, even if you don't see as many as you'd like. "Have I told you how wonderful it is that your body was strong enough to create our kid?" (Okay, that's cheesy.) "You are a super capable person. I know you had a lot to do today/were tired, but it means a lot to me that you cleaned the living room." You know the old saying 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? Here you are. Again, you're setting up a foundation for her to do the same for you.

Stonewalling (emotional withdrawal from interaction) -> Physiological self-soothing. So she cries. Does she actually stop talking to you? Does she keep talking about the matter at hand, or does she start obsessing over "We always fight like this" or something else related to the way you communicate, instead of the things you're trying to communicate? You need to show her that you're listening so she knows that's taking place. Or you need to sooth yourself. Men are more likely to stonewall, which is a self-soothing and protective mechanism. After you've ramped up your heart rate, your stress level, adrenaline, etc. (Gottman refers to this as "flooding"), you can't be that productive; you're not feeling comfortable. You need to step back and help yourself get back to that equilibrium state before you can have better conversations. (And ironically, women recover from this more quickly, too. Huh.)

Scroll to the bottom of that John Gottman link and you'll see some of his books. Check 'em out.
posted by Madamina at 3:21 PM on October 2, 2012 [39 favorites]

You say you know therapy is an option. Is it an option you're willing to pursue? If yes, why aren't you pursuing it? If no, why not?
posted by KathrynT at 3:32 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you really think your wife isn't struggling with the same identity changes that you are? Yeah, you went from having an exciting life full of adventure to living in the suburbs. But what about her? She's gone from being the woman you fell in love with to being an exhausted, isolated, overweight new mother. She worries about losing you on a weekly basis? That is so stressful and scary; do you really feel ok with the idea of the woman you love feeling so afraid? I wager she's feeling just as trapped and scared as you are. Trapped in the suburbs, trapped into this life track that the two of you have chosen, trapped in a body she's losing hope of reshaping into one that she likes. I doubt she feels comfortable voicing those feelings, because as you say--she tends to put others before herself. She is too busy worrying about everything else in her life to take care of herself.

Aging and settling down are HARD. You married her so you could go through life together. This is what marriage is for; facing down these challenges together. I mean, you want an adventure? You want to do something truly difficult, something that will make you a better person? This is it. The challenge you want is right in front of you. Be her partner and her teammate, even though it's not easy. Right now, you're so focused on what you've lost that you've lost sight of the fact that she's human and needs your help and compassion. All things pass. Your life won't be this hard and confusing forever. Do you want to remember this time as a point in your life when you stepped up and uncomplainingly did your share, or do you want to remember it as a time where you failed to support your wife when she needed you?

I think you should focus less on trying to bring back your old life, because that's gone for the time being. Instead, focus on being there for her, both emotionally and practically. Be present in the life you have now. Tell her, often, that you're always going to be there for her. Tell her that you love her. Listen to her when she's sad, make her go to bed when she's tired. Make sure she's eating. Make sure she has time for herself, even if that just means 15 minutes for her to read a magazine. The other things--your sex life, your ability to be spontaneous together, and her willingness to take care of herself---will come back once she realizes that you are there for her. Right now she's scared to take care of herself and your marriage because she thinks she's doing it all by herself. Remind her that she's got you and that it doesn't have to be so hard because you're doing this together.
posted by rhythm and booze at 3:34 PM on October 2, 2012 [49 favorites]

Ruthless Bunny really hit it on target.

The things I can add are this. Start exercising together, even if it's strolls around the neighborhood. All the feel-good neurochemicals that come from exercise are great for any sort of depression. Now, don't come at it from the loosing weight angle, come at it from the "feel-good" angle because that is what you actually want to do. Take a daily walk around sundown. It is incredibly stress-relieving walking when the sun is going down and you two can use it as a non-stressful bonding time.

I also think you should give her a day where you stay at home and take of things to let her go out and meet people. She probably needs to get out of the house sometimes too. She can try She might even be able to find other mothers to have play dates with.
posted by eq21 at 3:39 PM on October 2, 2012

Love is work. Likewise I think maintaining passion is also work, you have to invest some. And maybe also work to be interested even when you aren't, and she'll respond, and you'll find you guys still have a fire. You could really show more compassion towards your wife, she's probably picking up on your vibe and throwing her love at the baby, if you want some of it back, you need to show her some love.

Obviously everyone's different, but my dr. said 9 months of pregnant, 9 months to take it off, so I'd give it a rest on her weight. Same with the sex, especially if she's breastfeeding. Some people jump right back in and for other women it's downright painful. But maybe she interested in eating better or exercising but doesn't have time? Maybe there's something you can do to make that easier for her instead of just blaming her for not doing anything about it.

Our friendship circle totally changed after our baby, my husband traveled a lot that first year and I felt really isolated until I reconnected with some women from our childbirth class. If she's working full time it can be hard to build a new social circle up, and the last thing you want is another 'chore' of having to now make new friends. You've had your guy days, overnights away from the baby, etc.... but have you offered to watch the baby for an afternoon, evening or weekend so she could have something similar?
posted by snowymorninblues at 3:39 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

rhythm and booze has really good advice, too.
posted by eq21 at 3:41 PM on October 2, 2012

I'm really catching a vibe here that fatherhood hasn't really sunk in for you yet. You mention going away OVERNIGHT after spending the day at the amusement park with friends and then you mention your 'guys night out,' and that you resent HER for 'making you feel guilty?' You feel bad because she's gained weight and your sex life is in the gutter , but you mention as #3 (!!) the little fact that you have a 7 month old baby. And that she's breastfeeding.

Your resentfulness at your wife is childish. Your demand for spontaneity and fun - days at the amusement park and nights watching football is childish. And by childish, I mean selfish.

I wish I could be more supportive - but your entire post has come off as unbelievably immature and selfish. I feel sorry for your wife.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:47 PM on October 2, 2012 [70 favorites]

We've been a couple for 12 years after meeting in college (I'm 32, she's 31).
Not to sound rude, but did you marry out of love or out of a sense of "we've been together X amount of years, everyone else I know is coupled, I don't want the work of starting a new relationship...." ? I ask this because your story sounds very much like a man I used to work with. He married his college sweetheart when he was in his late 20s. I worked with him for about eight years, including the time when he was still dating C and then married her. After they'd been married for three years C got pregnant and they welcomed a daughter. And then quite regularly this guy began openly ogling various women at work and would frequently mention how C hadn't lost her baby weight, and that he'd promised to buy her a new car if she'd get back to a size 10, etc. The more he'd chat on and on daily while we worked it occurred to me that he'd never talked that much about C back when they were dating - never mentioned how much fun they'd had over the weekend or anything like that. The most I'd heard from him about her was when they got engaged and started planning the wedding. In retrospect I got the feeling that he'd gone through all the motions by rote rather than via any sort of love connection.

It sounds to me as if professional therapy is your best option right now. You're facing all sorts of self-doubt and thinking that the grass is greener in every which direction. You need to confront some serious questions right now and sort out your answers, whether or not they are palatable.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:51 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think "nine months on, nine months off" can be really optimistic for some women. Sometimes the weight doesn't come off until the baby is weaned. And I can say from personal experience that being able to eat healthy and exercise is almost not possible when you work full time and have a young child. My son is 22 months old and I've only in the past few weeks found the strength and energy to start working out regularly -- though both my husband and I are still so exhausted by the end of the day that our son thinks dinner is called "pasta". I would also look into your wife possibly having postpartum depression -- it really sounds like she might need some attention and care.

As for you -- dude, welcome to marriage, homeownership, parenthood, and being in your thirties. I think everybody has some of the thoughts that you're having from time to time, but it does look like you really, really need to get some couples counseling so you're working as a team again. Gottman is good stuff too. Yes, of course we'd all like to go back to our freewheeling twenties sometimes but really, it's time to move on, grow up, and start nurturing your relationship with your family.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:52 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

You allude to therapy as an option and I would highly recommend it as the option you should pursue. First for yourself as an individual and then maybe with your wife as a couple. It's not that I think that there's anything clinically wrong with you, but a therapist can be helpful, neutral person to work through a lot of the questions that you have above.

It sounds like you're dissatisfied with and/or having difficulty accepting some of the realities of the life you've created with your wife. A therapist can help you tease those issues apart and figure out what are reasonable expectations for your wife and your relationship, what you need to take responsibility for in this situation and in your life, and what you can change or improve to feel more satisfied and "in love."

I think it's good that you're open to being told that you're the problem. You're question kind of makes it sound like you're a big part of the problem. But it also sounds like there are sensitive issues that you're looking for a way to discuss with your wife in a way that won't hurt or upset her. A therapist can also be helpful in roleplaying those kinds of conversations and helping you communicate most effectively.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 3:56 PM on October 2, 2012

Nobody can really tell you whether it's right to stay or go. But anecdotally my family was a lot like yours. My Dad wanted to be married and have a kid but only insofar as it did not quash his ability to have adventures. I always thought though he worked tirelessly and uncomplainingly to feed me and take care of me to some extent he always felt something vital had been taken from him. Nothing about our family life was ever satisfying enough. He many times had one foot in, one foot out the door of our house. I think in his imagination staying was a huge sacrifice he was making, but it actually felt worse for me in some ways because he seemed totally unaware it was his own choice and not some obligation to have a family. And that simply returning each time after walking out would not reverse the things that kept making him want to go.

What I'm trying to say is many people are pointing out therapy because these issues are internal. It's not about right or wrong, honorable or dishonorable. If you really understand all the factors at play-- which you've listed at length--then maybe this sense of unease there seems to be in many areas of your life will go away.
posted by kettleoffish at 3:58 PM on October 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

The reason you feel guilty is because you are guilty.

You're leaving your wife with a very young baby to go play charming man about town, then resentful when she won't join you in shenanigans when, presumably, she can't because she's got a goddamn baby to deal with.

Your sex life is awful? What are you doing to be attractive? And I don't just mean physically. Are you helping with the baby? Cleaning around the house? Giving her moments by herself? Taking the kid so she can go overnight with those friends of hers? Letting her get some sleep between work and baby?

She cries? Maybe she cries because she's tired and her husband is a flailing manchild who is obviously losing interest in her if it was ever there in the first place and blames her for it? Maybe she's exhausted and emotional from post-pregnancy hormones and not up to be a hyperlogical robot? Just a thought.

You're bored? Did this ever come up before the decision to move to the suburb and have a kid? Did you think about either of those things?

If she's having weight problems, what are you doing to help her out? She can't exactly strap a baby on and head down to the gym, assuming she even feels like the gym after 9 months of pregnancy and 7 months of baby. Does she have time to go to the gym or walk around? Does she have enough energy considering all she's doing?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:00 PM on October 2, 2012 [54 favorites]

I'm not married with a kid, but maybe I can still add some valuable advice.

This scenario, of being tied down in the suburbs with a boring partner, is my worst nightmare. I don't believe that you should just suck it up and hate life for the next 18 years. That sounds horrible, and not really do-able. You will have affairs. You will grow apart from your wife. Your dreams will die. It will kill your soul.

Also, you are NOT "being an idiot" or "being the problem". Neither one of you is the problem. You are a *team* facing a problem together: how to escape/transform a boring life. You shouldn't leave your wife. You should work together to make things more awesome, AS A TEAM.

To address your points:

1. You don't miss her sometimes. This is normal. You are starting to grow apart emotionally. When things get better, you will miss her again. Give this time. This will likely change when some of the other problems are fixed.

2. You are bored. Your life is boring, and her life is boring. When you start doing more interesting things together, you will be less bored.

3. She tells stories badly and it's annoying. This is one of her quirks. When you start feeling more emotionally connected, you will be less concerned about this.

4. You want a different life. Got it. This makes sense -- you should work toward this. TOGETHER.

5. SEX LIFE. This is super, ridiculously, extremely IMPORTANT. If you were having good sex, you'd be a much happier man. This is something you guys need to work on. Boring external situations are easier to bear when at least you're having good sex.

6. She's fat. See below.

7. You are feeling guilty because you are not happy in your life and you think that she wants you to be happy with the way things are. This is an assumption. She's afraid you'll leave -- that's true. But she'd almost certainly be happy for you to be happy in your life, and pursue what makes you soar, especially if she weren't afraid. This is something to work on together.

8. Communication. This is something you guys need help with. You need to be able to tell her two things that are very important:

1) Our life sucks and I'm not happy

2) I love you and I am not leaving you.

There are probably some very important things that she needs to tell you as well. This is something counseling can help with.

Therefore, here are some general suggestions:

1. If you hate your job, why not go back to graduate school and pursue another field (there is often childcare on university campuses, it's a great place for a kid to grow up, you can make more money when you leave, etc.). Just because you have a kid doesn't mean that you can't do anything you care about. Figure out how to get where you want to go. If you were on track professionally, you would feel happier about the other aspects of your life. This extremely important and one of the great things about a wife is that she can help you do this.

2. If your wife is fat, why not take over the cooking and make lots of healthy stuff for her to eat. Organize activities around physical exercise. Make it easy for her to sleep so she can feel rested enough to exercise. Start a fitness contest together (Bodyforlife, etc.) Use gamification apps like Fitocracy to score points. Or just find something fun and active you can do together.

3. Counseling. You guys have three things you need to work on together: sex life, boredom, and communication. Counseling can help you guys say these things to each other in a constructive way. Also, the Gottman books recommended above are fantastic. For $25 worth of books you can transform your marriage.

I hope this helps. This is really normal and you guys can go through it together.
posted by 3491again at 4:03 PM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

This and your previous questions make me wonder if you need either a really engrossing career, a really engrossing hobby (besides Guy Day) and/or a dope slap. You want to do cool kre8tive stuff--she just made a person. Her creativity is pretty much taken up with work and baby. Making cards out of old photos would seem like work to me, too. Falling asleep in front of the TV screen seems like heaven to me, esp. if I was still nursing.

She's tired, hormonal, stressed and maybe a bit bored with you and the baby. Have you hired a sitter? Can you get someone to take the kid for a whole day?

And yes, your kids, whom you love dearly, will engender negative emotions until the day you die. Welcome to life.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:10 PM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

There are a lot of great answers above and I usually don't answer questions like this, because I feel like so many other people here on Metafilter are good at the tough love sort of answers.

But, duuuuude, you think your wife is unappealing because she is fat, she is boring, you don't miss her when you are away, she embarrasses you, she has birthed your baby and is working and taking care of the baby while you are out having "guy days" and you complain because she doesn't want to have sex with you????????

The feelings you have don't exist in a vacuum and even if she can't directly verbalize them, I'm sure she can feel your disdain. My heart hurts for her.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:18 PM on October 2, 2012 [34 favorites]

Mod note: wolfdreams01 - you've made your comment, do not turn this into a referendum on your beliefs it's absolutely not appropriate.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:19 PM on October 2, 2012

There's nothing we can say about how terrible this situation is for your wife that isn't completely spotlighted by the fact that you put the baby last in this question. And in your earlier question about her weight, you didn't mention the baby at all.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:32 PM on October 2, 2012 [81 favorites]

It's not your fault. It's not your wife's fault. It's not a midlife crisis. It's not your responsibility to cater to your wife to fix the situation. It is not her responsibility to cater to you and the new baby without any compromise.

You have a temporary mess.

It will get better.

1. normal ("I needed to get away") - not "fixable" and doesn't need to be fixed, not every moment needs to be US

2. normal (if she has nothing going on, how can she be interesting) - fixable once your kid gets to school

3. a quirk shaped by perception - fixable once you guys get back on track

4. fantisizing is normal - not fixable, but don't believe the fantasy

5. abnormal - your sex life sucks - needs to be fixed but you just had a baby. Everyone gets a one year pass after a baby.

6. fat, insecure, eats badly - you can help with this but it's a long and painful process with a low rate of true success; I've known lots of husbands who tried the "let's exercise together" thing and it didn't work, ditto the eating better together thing. Get all the junk food out of the house and mutually agree to stop eating junk food. That wont do a lot for weight (because actually losing weight means being rigid and you guys aren't there yet) but it's a start. You asked about this before and there is nothing to add to previous answers.

7. it's in your head

8. insecure and defensive - you've dealt with this for 12 years, the problem here is the same as (3)

p1. you bought a house, this has tradeoffs. see how you feel about it in two years and stop picking at it until then.

p2. you and everyone else; part of growing up is accepting that you stopped doing certain things that you did when you were young because they didn't provide for you the things you needed when you were doing them - like steady income. Just get used to it and find a way to manage it.

p3. covered above.

Everything about this question has been covered in your history. Go reread the answers.
posted by rr at 4:44 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

We're constantly inundated with all kinds of hyperbolic messages about how exciting, spontaneous, sexy, and interesting our relationships can and should be, and how fit, attractive, and youthful our bodies can and should be. These messages aren't usually accurate reports of how our peers are living, but rather are often exaggerations or myths promoted by the media to get us to keep watching/reading so that we can be exposed to ads, or directly by advertisers to convince us that with XYZ product we, too, can be beautiful/interesting/whatever. And, while there's inherently nothing wrong with using certain products or admiring glamorous celebrity couples' lives, at a certain point, "I'd love to have [celebrity]'s life" or "[Celebrity] is so hot" can sneakily tip over into, "My life is boring because I don't have an interesting career" or "My marriage is dull because my spouse is fat." There are plenty of people who find happiness, wholeness, and peace in themselves and in their relationships without spontaneous adventures or an amazing "post-baby body."

I suggest that you take the specific complaints off the table for now, and focus on rebuilding trust and communication. A way to start the conversation might be: "We seem to be having the same kinds of issues and arguments a lot, and we're not really getting anywhere. I love you, and want us to find better ways to work together as a team to strengthen our marriage, and I think seeing a couples' counselor could really help us. I've found a few therapists [in our insurance network/on Psychology Today] who look promising. Will you go to one with me?"
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:46 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

"...If I see an attractive woman in a shop or a restaurant or the aforementioned amusement park, I begin thinking about what she might be able to provide that my wife can't or doesn't."

I don't want to turn this into a giant pile-on, but for real, what do you think you would bring to the table so that this attractive woman would even pity-fuck you? If any attractive woman read this screed against your "boring, fat" wife and your unhappiness with not being able to whisk off to Vegas while she takes care of your baby, she'd laugh and run, unless she was majorly evil or otherwise emotionally unbalanced. Or was twenty, but that brings a gigantic host of other problems.
posted by kpht at 4:57 PM on October 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

It's definitely possible to have a productive discussion while one or both parties is crying. It may not be the most efficient way to talk about something, but it's possible. In other words: Her crying is a natural, emotional thing. Not an attempt to shut you down. You're responsible for defining your wife crying as the end of discussion time.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:57 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

but I'll note that I already handle everything (money, chores, social calendar) that doesn't involve her job or the baby and

Wait... what?

And does "chores" include cooking?
posted by small_ruminant at 4:59 PM on October 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

Oh, holy crap, you're the guy who asked the question about how to make his wife lose weight and never mention she was 3 months postpartum???

Dude. You need a new perspective. Life isn't about you anymore. It's about your family.

I see that once it was revealed (not by you) that your wife wasn't fat, she had simply recently given birth, that screening for postpartum depression was suggested. Has that been done?

I can also say, as the parent of a young child, that I feel boring a lot of the time. I think that's just part of the territory for the first few years.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 5:00 PM on October 2, 2012 [17 favorites]

There are times in life when we have few responsibilities, few dependents, few promises to keep, few challenges to respond to. At those times it is right to be exploring our whims and dreams of different lives.

This is not one of those times for you.
posted by ead at 5:26 PM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

I started reading your question, and I thought to myself "Huh, well, it sounds like the relationship is over, at least from his end. Sucks, but it happens, and maybe it's just time for everyone to--wait, a 7-month-old baby?!" Because, seriously, from your descriptions of your life and priorities--going out fairly often, still kind of bouncing between jobs--that is the last place I expected this to go.

So...I mean, what exactly do you do, where the kid is concerned? Because it sounds like you're still effectively in low-responsibility young-adult-mode, while she's got a demanding job and an infant to deal with. Worse still, it sounds like you don't have a lot of empathy for her. You mention her job and the baby (and man did you ever bury the lede on that one), but you don't really seem to understand what kind of toll that can take on someone. Maybe you're actually a super-understanding guy in real life and just dropped the ball on writing the question, but you should think about how people are perceiving you and your attitude based on this question, and ask yourself if your wife might be getting a similar idea.

If I had a stressful job and a very young child and not a lot of family or friends in my new neighborhood, and I had a husband who was a lot more interested in living like he was an unattached, carefree kid than in me, I'd worry he was going to divorce me as well.

Though if he did and I made it through the tough few years that'd follow, I might be relieved in the long run.
posted by kagredon at 5:48 PM on October 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

it sounds like you don't have a lot of empathy for her

That's what stands out to me too. It's not that you aren't TRYING -- I know you are. But you have lost a lot of respect for this person and you are pessimistic about her potential for change.

Also I hate to bring this up, but if this is part of your quarter-life crisis, you are counting on a 128 year lifespan. No sir, this is more like the onset of a good old-fashioned MID-life crisis. I'm not saying that to scare you, I'm saying it to point out that the perspective you're approaching all this from is rather immature and underdeveloped. You seem to be in denial about so many of your responsibilities, and it's not surprising that your fantasy life is beginning to intrude further and further into your real life. Even your relationship with your son seems to be totally steeped in fantasy.

What are you trying to escape? Which parts of your fantasy life are really "you," really attainable? These are things you need to unpack with a qualified therapist. You can't dig yourself up out of a hole -- you're going to have to accept some help, and it doesn't sound like you want/expect it to come from your wife's corner.
posted by hermitosis at 5:59 PM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

DUDE! I cannot believe you snuck in having a 7 month old baby at the conclusion of your laundry list of reasons why you resent your wife.

To echo headnsouth: This isn't a hump, this is your damn life.

Please stop resenting your wife and baby. Unless your wife forged your name on the mortgage or secretly stopped taking BC pills against your wishes, you have no one to resent but yourself.

We had a baby 7 months ago. I adore him, and I look forward to the days when we can pick pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, play catch, eat ice cream together, etc. Motherhood has clearly taken a toll on my wife - as I know it does all women - as breastfeeding and getting up at night kills sex drive, and the mere presence of a such a young child kills spontaniety. I get that, but I'm concerned it won't get better, and this little guy I love so much will, inbidirectly, continue to create the negative emotions I state above. Friends tell me the first two weeks are the hardest; her doctor told her the first year is the hardest. Are the teenage years the hardest? I have no idea, but I don't think life as a parent should be lived thinking, "Okay, it'll get better when XYZ."

A couple things about this. You are a dad, not your son's fun uncle or big brother. What are you doing to parent RIGHT NOW? Mom takes a lot of responsibility in the early months for biological reasons, but at this point in his development, you should have a major role as a parent. I'm sure playing catch will be fun, but there's a whole lot you have to do before you get there. I agree that "it'll get better when" is a bad attitude, so drop it and do your best to be a good parent to your son.

Your life sounds pretty damn good to a lot of people out there. Take a step back. House? check. Loving wife? check. baby? check? health? check. friends? check. Sounds pretty good to me.

And for the love of all that is holy, do not talk to your wife again about her weight any time soon.
posted by murfed13 at 6:00 PM on October 2, 2012 [29 favorites]

I found it hard to grow up and settle in to settling down myself, so I can almost kind of sympathise with you.

There's a mental exercise that I used to cure myself of (most of) my "escape" fantasies that you might find helpful.

Let yourself imagine fully walking away from your wife and child, cutting the strings and being free, free to resume that early 20's college lifestyle.
Picture yourself living in rented apartments, hanging out with your buds, playing videogames all day if you feel like it, drinking beer, working only in 'fun' jobs.

- How do you feel about That Guy? What would you have thought of That Guy in his thirties when you were twenty? Would you have wanted to hang out with him?

- Now fast forward a couple of years - you are definitely in your mid-thirties. How many of your friends are still going to be available to hang out college style? How many will have moved on? What are you getting out of life, what are you achieving every day, and where are you heading? Where is the meaning in your life?

Are you kidding yourself that you will suddenly, painlessly "grow up" at 40? 45? And that you'll be awarded the same chances for building a home and a family then, with a background of twenty years of shallow escapism behind you?

My advice is to quit mourning and move on, and take up the challenge of making the life you have awesome for your family - your wife and your child come first - not just you.
posted by Catch at 6:07 PM on October 2, 2012 [18 favorites]

Best answer: I'm 32, but single, and my life has challenges too. From the perspective of the other side, I think you should know that some, though not all, of what you have is pretty attractive to single people in their early (and late and post) 30s.

More than that, though, I'm writing to say thank-you to all of the folks who responded without being mean or hurtful or insulting to the OP. For whatever faults there are in OP's question and conduct, he's human, he's trying to figure this out, and he (probably) wants to try to make things better. That's a more positive approach than I see in a lot of people from a daily basis.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 7:37 PM on October 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

Chiming in again. I was bored and decided to look at your previous questions. Some of them have some good advice.


and here

and here.
posted by eq21 at 7:50 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

But be careful reviewing the overweight wife question because most of the mefites answering didn't know your wife was 3 months post partum. I'm sure many of those answers would be different had we received that piece of information.
posted by murfed13 at 8:00 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

After seeing those past questions, I can't help but feel that most of this is your fault and it's your own negativity and view of your situation coloring things and making them difficult for your wife. You internalized some weird things about growing up equating to boring. If I was your wife's friend, I'd tell her to DTMFA. You need to work with a therapist to see what is blocking you from happiness, because the things you are currently blaming aren't the real blockers.

your views on your wife's weight so soon after pregnancy are straight up douchey.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:09 PM on October 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

Yeah, I know it's gonna sound like a pile-on, but I'm reading your question and I'm going, yup, yup, yup, sounds a bit sucky, oh does she have depression, OH WAIT YOU GUYS JUST HAD A BABY???? And hey you think she resents you having fun guys days? No fucking kidding.

You two need to start talking to each other. You think your life has changed? You haven't become a food machine for another person. She is not having much fun at the moment (even if she loves being a mother) I promise you. Amusement parks are so far off her radar.

I'm really kind of gobsmacked that you mentioned the kid last.

Anyway, yes, it gets better, and it's normal to take this long to settle down. Honestly? My sex life with my husband didn't get back to normal until I stopped breastfeeding and that was after a year. Hormones and sleep deprivation proved to be more powerful than basic sex drive. Work through it: your wife is still the same person that you fell in love with. She's just got a lot going on.
posted by gaspode at 8:40 PM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Looking at your previous questions I don't think you've been honest with yourself or your wife along the way about the kind of life you want. Maybe because you're actually genuinely confused about it, and you resent having so many of those decisions determined by a partner whose standards are more concrete and attainable.

No wonder your wife cries all the time. You spend so much time trying to convince her that you're not going to divorce her, that everything is going to be okay, but surprise: she doesn't believe you, because for years you have been radiating discontent and resentment. Imagine how confusing that must be for her, to hear the reassurances over and over but to still sense the conflict. She must think she's losing her mind!
posted by hermitosis at 8:49 PM on October 2, 2012 [25 favorites]

You sound depressed. You should see a therapist.

Once you're getting your mental health taken care of, you can view your marriage more objectively.
posted by spunweb at 9:59 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, echoing hermitosis: you are, perhaps unintentionally, gaslighting your wife. She *knows* that you are unhappy, that you are considering divorce, that you want a more free lifestyle. Your reassurances don't work because they aren't *true*.

Tell her the truth, and then work through it together.
posted by carolinaherrera at 10:38 PM on October 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I think you should acknowledge these feelings. You should try to reconcile the fact your choices led you to where you are, and now you're there you are totally not interested. If you think you are alone in missing the fun times and the sexy times and that your wife isn't, I can almost guarantee you are wrong. Do what you can so the two of you are on the same page. Talk about some of what you are feeling, be sensitive, be ready to be vulnerable, be ready to have some tough conversations, because it sounds like you need them. She might cry, you might cry, your baby might cry its all good.

I'm the father of a 7 month old ... and yeah I went through a period of mourning the single carefree life - now that I'm waking up every 2 hours and life consists of just work and then home. But you know what? I made the series of choices that led me here, and I had a moment where I just did a "boo hoo poor me, that life is gone, suck it up, own that decision, support your wife and child" - this is just the hard time we are in at the moment and we can get through it. Have a look through my posting history for some of the difficulties we faced.

One thing that really released the pressure valve for me was my wife saying to me "wow don't you miss when we could go out all night, or travel to weird places, or be spontaneous" It let me know that its not just me thinking these things, we were on the same page, and we could have a laugh over it. Not a resentful conversation, like "because of you I can't do blah" or "because of the baby I can't do blah" but just a confirmation that, yep, its pretty tough at the moment, and its not all laughs and giggles, but that we are in this together. It took bravery for her to say that.

When I talk to my wife about problems, or vica versa, we try to use "we". "We" forgot to buy more nappies, "we" should have scheduled the doctors appointment later, "we" didn't clean the bottles properly. We. We are a team.
posted by Admira at 10:56 PM on October 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

Maybe, just maybe, your wife is unhappy because she's not a moron, she knows you've lost interest and - frankly - respect for her and that on top of the major changes she's gone through is making her unhappy?

What exactly have you been doing the past 7 months to make life easier for her? Marriage is a two-way street, something horrid advice like "What you need to do is use negative conditioning at this point to emphasize that this behavior is unacceptable." overlooks. I'm really wondering how much you handle "everything" for her. Are you changing diapers every day? Holding your son when he cries? Feeding him? Doing his laundry? Taking him to the doctor? Forget about future trips to the pumpkin patch, what are you doing right now?
posted by GadgetryOwl at 11:13 PM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think that for the most part, the pile-on above is totally warranted and you are being an asshole. But I'm going to try to give you some real practical advice regardless, because you are obviously struggling and you're asking for help.

I also have a baby, though she's almost a year old now. Life changes so much in the first year, and it's only natural to mourn your old life and snipe at your spouse over little things. The thing that has helped my relationship with my husband the most during this time, though, is to remember that we're both in this together. We're both struggling, we're both doing the best we can, and we both make a lot of mistakes. We have stupid fights from time to time. We both act like jerks. But we try to step away from things a bit, and realize that we're in this together. We created a life! A wonderful, beautiful, sometimes annoying, occasionally rage-inducing baby! It's supposed to be hard.

Try to have some compassion for your wife. She's struggling just as much as you. Unlike you, though, she's also terrified that you're going to leave her. Please try to remember that the two of you are in this together, and you both want to have a happy satisfying life. Maybe lay off the fat talk for a little while. Just focus on being partners again, and deal with the little things like that a bit later.
posted by barnoley at 5:45 AM on October 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

There's a lot of good stuff above about how you should seek therapy to deal with possible depression/communication tactics. However, as a cryer I must address what I think to be your wife's perspective on your weekly divorce conversation: crying is (especially hormonally) an uncontrollable emotional response that cannot just be turned off like a faucet because it's causing you resentment. It is absolutely in the wrong for you to resent your wife showing emotion during an emotional conversation. (Whether you or she is starting this conversation is irrelevant, and if your wife is insecure it is not her problem. A new father who has started rolling his eyes at her storytelling out of nowhere and is resentful he can't just pick up and go to Vegas are what we call relationship warning signs.) When I start crying I only feel resentful of the other person if I am treated as though I am doing it on purpose or am not being listened to because I am "too emotional." You are having a tough conversation about DIVORCE seven months after the birth of your child: expressing emotion during that conversation is inevitable, and should not cause you resentment or make you feel it's time to end the talk or stop listening to what follows. I suspect, that while you are resentful because you falsely believe she is trying to manipulate you in some way, she is not resentful at you for starting the crying but for shutting down your intake the moment she is getting to the emotional core of what she's trying to say. Next week please keep in mind when she starts to cry that resenting her has not stopped the action: try your hardest to put those feelings out of your mind, listen to her words, and honestly respond. If anything, you might start getting laid a little more if you're more perceptive during this talk.

Now this second piece of advice could be good or terrible, I'm not sure but I think it's worth considering: You say you really enjoy parenting your son and that your career isn't interesting to you, so have you ever considered trying stay at home fatherhood? If your wife likes her job and finds it demanding and you don't and the cost of the baby's childcare is in the range of one of your salaries, perhaps taking some time off to care for the baby and look for interesting career paths would give you some new perspective? You say you're already taking care of everything but the baby and her job, if you enjoy that it seems like a great life transition. You're trying to create happiness by roping your wife into making postcards (? that sounds boring and horrible btw that's what my grandmother does for fun. If you really enjoy that do it while the baby is napping by yourself. If you're trying to find your wife a friendless lady hobby, stop, and gift her a day with a babysitter so she can be alone at an art museum or something. I bet she is dying for some true alone time.) but it seems like your own happiness with your place at work is a huge contributing factor to conversation with your wife suddenly seeming tedious.
posted by itsonreserve at 6:11 AM on October 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

I know you selected your best answers and you may decide not to come back in here and may never see this (some of the comments were harsh) but I noticed on this q and others you picked best answers from those who could say they were in your shoes...which is great - that's metafilter. Because those answers resonate with you, please do a search on this site and the wider interwebs for postpartum depression and see if anything there may fit with your wife; it may not but just check.

I also noticed you didn't select any best answers about therapy. Therapy is not a failure. My husband and I were going through stuff last year - and honestly some of the issues for a few years - and we started with the Gottman book mentioned above. It gave us a common language, exercises that reinforced some good things and reaffirmed our feelings, and some exercises that better pinpointed some issues. We took that experience and brought it to a couples therapist who was familiar with gottman and it was a great experience for us. Difficult in the moment but we look back with a few issues resolved and a better understanding of some hat will never be resolved and sometimes joke we should give that book and a gift certificate for therapy as wedding gifts; more than ever we feel like a team. We went together only a handful of times for double sessions but we also went individually to work through our insides privately.

You've asked lots of related questions in the past about reclaiming youth, weight, your wife, settling down each one of those questions revealed a bit more about you. There is nothing wrong with realizing you're in a place you don't want right now - especially with a baby! - but you aren't alone in this place and you and your wife need to work through together and may need a therapist as a guide. If nothing else, make sure your wife doesn't NEED it. At the end, you may be stronger and more secure as a couple or you may realise you won't be happy with the path your on ...ever. Either way, it will be better for you, your wife, and your child if you figure that out.
posted by adorap0621 at 6:56 AM on October 3, 2012

Looking over your series of questions here at MeFi, it is clear that you have wrestled continuously with finding your place in the world post-college. And that's fine- the confusion over what one really wants their life to look like I mean. The thing is, the time to decide whether you want to live the life of a free spirited spontaneous go-anywhere-anytime kinda man and whether that is compatible with your love's goals and dreams is BEFORE you get married. If you wanted to be able to pursue all your spontaneous stuff you shouldn't have married a woman with goals that are very different from that. You had these concerns and internal turmoil and got married anyway, despite the fact from everything you've described your wife's life goals were more traditional (steady home, putting down roots, children, etc). Well you committed to that relationship so the responsible, mature, selfless and HONORABLE thing to do is to work out a plan for your lives that will accommodate both of your outlook's as much as possible. Look for the win-win. That would have been my advice at that stage of the game (others may have told you marriage is no big deal and just walk away if you were unhappy).

But you didn't do either of those things- instead you dug your misery hole deeper. You signed on for a mortgage, even though you clearly were STILL wrestling with angst over being the kind of a man who is tied down with a mortgage. Not as big a commitment as marriage (you can always sell the house) but again, probably should have resolved your issues before taking that step.

THEN you signed on for a baby, even though that would make life even less "free spirited" and likely more miserable for you. A baby is not like a mortgage. It's not even like marriage (people walk away from marriages all the time these days if they don't like it sadly). It's FOR LIFE. Only the very worst of characters walk away from their children. So now, my friend, you have to stick with it no matter what your inner 20 year old is crying for. You chose to make this baby; in fact you CHOSE all of this life you've setup for yourself. At any time previously you could have made different choices- YOU HAVE AGENCY AND POWER. But you didn't. And now you must step up, be a decent man, and honor your commitments to your wife and child, no matter how "miserable" it makes you.

Point by point advice:
1. You have these commitments in place now that you freely signed on for. Honor them. This means your circumstance isn't going to be changing, so you'll need to change your attitude/outlook/goals/dreams instead. See a therapist for help in this matter.
2. It's okay to occasionally think/wonder how life would be different if you'd made different choices. But it's incredibly unproductive and CRUEL to your wife to focus on this and harp on it. Even if you don't say it out loud, i am sure your disdain/self-pity-party for your situation comes through in a thousand subtle ways. KNOCK IT OFF. You made your choices - stop complaining about them. What's done is done.
3. Your wife surely wants you to be happy while you honor your commitments to her. Work with her on brainstorming ways to introduce *some* (non-selfish) free-spirited aspects into your life to honor your need for this. Some friends of mine take their baby traveling all over the world. That's just one example, but you can work some travel and fun into your life if you want to. Maybe the suggestion to be a stay at home Dad would be a good one too- you could have all sorts of daily adventures with the kid all over town and when they are older design their creative curriculum, etc.
4. As an adjuct to point 1, one thing you can do right now to help your attitude adjustment is to make a list of the GOOD things that have come from your marriage and having a baby. At least 12 items (always someone to sleep next to at night for example; your list will vary). Every night reread your list and give a verbal out loud thank you for these blessings.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 6:56 AM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

When I started reading this question, I immediately went, "WHY IS MY HUSBAND WRITING THIS INSTEAD OF TALKING TO ME?!"

Seriously. We're your same ages, met in college twelve years ago, coming up on our 6th wedding anniversary. But guess what, we have TWO kids. Yup. Twice as many as you.

And we have some issues in our marriage -- all marriages have issues. And sometimes one rears its ugly head a bit more than others and we have a spat and we calm down and we apologize and we come together and move forward. It's a lot of freaking work, and it's really, really hard.

My youngest is just over a year old, and I am finally now in a place where I'm able to focus on what I eat a lot more and get in some exercise. Breastfeeding requires a lot of calories. A LOT. Women are advised to eat 500 more calories per day than when they were pregnant. 500!!!! That's at least a meal and a snack! And just to make milk.

Eating that much food while sitting around breastfeeding means the fat does not come off quickly. And being exhausted from taking care of a baby and working full-time means the fat does not come off quickly --- all that energy and all those calories are going to making milk.

I think you should learn more about breastfeeding because it sounds like you know very little.

And I wouldn't discount the possibility that your wife has post-partum depression --- it's hard to say, and I don't want this to become the NEW THING in your next question about your life --- but I also wouldn't discount the possibility that she knows exactly how you feel about her. And she's sad because you are not the man she thought she was marrying.

The question is --- do you want to be that man she thought she was marrying? Do you want to be the father she thought you would be?

Or do you want to be the guy who gets to go to Vegas spontaneously?

Because you would be doing your wife a huge favor to either man up and be that man or to get out so she can move on with her life.

(And, you know --- how many times did you actually spontaneously fly to Vegas before you had the baby? 'Cause really, my husband and I certainly didn't do anything spontaneous like that before we had babies anyway. I also really wish I could give your wife a hug right now -- she sure sounds like she could use it.)
posted by zizzle at 8:00 AM on October 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

I won't rehash the advice above. But I recognize some of myself in your search for the right fit and your desire for novelty, so I have some short-term advice that has helped me as I've transitioned from a move-every-year, try-new-jobs type to a stay-at-home type. I'm also a novelty-seeker who loved the college dilettante / "drop in whenever you like" lifestyle and I've had to reconcile that with stability - holding a stable job and building a life with a partner who likes stability, and this bit of advise has eased my transition.

My short-term advice is: for the time being, fake it till you make it. Seriously. Now, I don't mean mislead your wife. You need to work on your communication with her, as previous answers have noted. I have to be honest when discussing feelings, desires, and hopes for the future with my SO as well. But you can also ACT with kindness and make your SO feel loved and supported. So while you sort out your feelings, give your wife the love and support she needs. Something that might help is thinking "what would a loving, selfless, excited husband and father do now?" and taking that action.

The goal here is to keep your relationship with your wife strong as you figure out how to be happy. Anything you do from here on out - couples counseling, honest talks with your wife, trying to include just a little more novelty in your life - will be easier if your wife feels supported and cared for. You don't have to feel like being supportive and caring all the time, but if you act that way most of the time it will go a long way to showing her your in for the long haul, which will make both of you happier.

What I've found is: even when I don't 100% feel like acting like a selfless partner, I can just do it anyway, and it has a positive effect. My partner feels cared for and we build just a little more of a bond. When she feels better, I feel better. It's contagious. And by acting like someone who enjoys being in this stable situation, I increasingly find that I like it and it meets my needs like novelty used to meet my needs. If you fake it till you make it, you might find it gives you and your wife the little boost you need to make it through this transition together.

I don't mean you have to be utterly selfless and give up everything that brings you pleasure. Go ahead and have a fun day with friends. But also make sure your wife gets what she needs - not just time away from you, but whatever it is that she wants. If you have a fun day, then give her a day when she gets what she wants. Maybe that's a day-long visit with her family. Maybe that's a day-long visit with her family where you come along and take care of the kid. Maybe it's a picnic as a family, or a picnic while a babysitter watches the kid. Maybe it's you asking her how her day was every single day, and really paying attention for 30 minutes. Whatever she wants, give it to her, just like you got a "guys day" that you wanted.

You can keep sorting out your feelings and finding the path that fits you. Don't mislead your SO, be honest and work on communicating. But at the same time that you express your feelings with words, express your care for your wife and child with actions.

As a novelty-seeker, I realize that the same-thing-every-day grind seems limiting, and you're probably feeling stifled by the "fake it till you make it" idea. But here's the thing: you're already living in the same house and interacting daily. It's a very small thing to be more caring. It doesn't really limit your options: you can always turn around later and stop being so caring. But what you cannot do in the future is go back in time and change your past self-absorption into caring. So for now, even with your doubts act engaged and caring, because by being a caring, engage partner you'll keep your options open. If you become too absorbed in figuring your own stuff you, you may find that the wedge between you and your partner is insurmountable even if you eventually get used to the idea of being more stable.

Basically, lay the foundation for being happy with your wife in the future. Let's be honest, you can leave and have adventures. People do it. And acting like an engaged, caring partner isn't going to limit your ability to do that. But if you disengage and grow resentful of your wife, then you may cut off one possibility: having a happy relationship with your wife.

(Also, acting like a caring spouse is a great way to use foot-in-the-door technique on yourself. In all likelihood the more you act like you care, the more you will care, and the happier you'll become with life as it is now)
posted by PCup at 8:11 AM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, something I forgot to add: right now is probably a tough time to add lots of novelty to your life. Young baby + wife feeling insecure with you is a tough time to add new activities and adventures. But later, as the kid becomes more independent and as you and your wife work on rebuilding your relationship, you might be able to add enough novelty to scratch that itch without completely recreating the college lifestyle.

What I realized was that I tend to seek new jobs and novel surroundings, but I do not tend to seek new friends or leave loved ones behind. My SO and I eventually realized that I seek environmental novelty, but not interpersonal novelty. If you have a group of close friends, perhaps you are similar.

What this means is I can scratch my novelty itch without leaving my SO behind. We visit new restaurants. We take trips together to new places. I take trips to friends' bachelor parties. I try new sports, and she'll see me when it's over. I take classes and music lessons. I don't do these all at once, and they're planned, but they're novel. So it's possible that you can feed that side of you that wanted to move apartments every year for 7 years and also have the stable family life. You just have to plan ahead a bit more - is a trip to Vegas really going to be ruined just because it wasn't spontaneous? Is checking out the newest gin joint in town going to be ruined because you did it with your SO, or at least got her approval to check it out with friends two weeks in advance? I doubt it. So don't think that your days of exploration are over - sure, your exploration will change, but it can come back.

After you rebuild your relationship, that is.
posted by PCup at 8:27 AM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think it's worth taking a step back and asking what your ideals are and where they come from.

Seriously. What's your idea of a perfect life? Do you want to have guys' night on a whim? Why is it so important for you to have a guys' night? Are you afraid of disappointing your buddies if you bail for a baby? Are they supportive of your having a baby and settled life, or are they sitcom dads who resent their spouses?

I think a lot of marital strain comes from our environment. If you're inundated with images of guys who see their wives as shrill nag-machines, that breeds resentment. If your dad treated your mom like a whiner, that breeds resentment. If you see your Facebook friends posting photos of their trip to Italy, that can spur longing for adventure and more resentment towards your settled life.

Also, why do you resist therapy? You've never really answered that, and I can't help but correlate you stating "no therapy" with no explanation and a tendency to "lay down the law" without flexibility and nuance.

(Incidentally, I've learned to ask these questions about myself and my past through therapy, and I recognize a lot of myself in your questions. I too long for adventure and do not like to tell my closest friends no, but I've learned to do that, and I've learned why I've resisted such through a couple years of seeing a counselor who I trust. I urge therapy or counseling for people if only so they can learn about themselves; we're a lot more complicated than we want to believe.

And yes, it is beyond scary and a little shameful [especially if you grew up with people who mistrust emotion!] to set up that first appointment.)
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:32 AM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

You say that you know therapy is an option, but you haven't taken it. Here's the thing: I looked back through your questions, and you have a lot of the same thread throughout them all. You're disappointed with life after college. I get it; I really do. I miss college life too! My 20s were fantastic! I miss the novelty and the newness and the potential and possibilities.


You're dwelling on the same things, over and over. You're not happy. You continue to march down the same path. You continue to ask a slightly different version of the same questions on MetaFilter.

Your current process isn't working. If it was working, you wouldn't need to ask these questions anymore. You wouldn't be longing for your 20s in this way anymore. You wouldn't be so miserable in your current life anymore.

Therapy is what people do when what they're doing isn't working anymore. I know it's not pleasant, it sounds so incredibly bourgeois to say you're in therapy. But wouldn't it be worth trying something different and maybe not feeling this way anymore? If nothing else, it would be DIFFERENT.
posted by RogueTech at 10:50 AM on October 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Also - I know it's not likely that you'll see this, as you've already chosen the best answers, but please don't assume that your wife will wait around forever for you to figure this out. One of the dumbest, cruelest things I ever did in my marriage is assume that my husband would just wait around forever, without being resentful, while I figured my shit out. People don't work that way - you need to take them into account even when you're trying to figure this stuff out.
posted by RogueTech at 11:11 AM on October 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

The Light Fantastic: "I'm really catching a vibe here that fatherhood hasn't really sunk in for you yet. You mention going away OVERNIGHT after spending the day at the amusement park with friends and then you mention your 'guys night out,' and that you resent HER for 'making you feel guilty?' You feel bad because she's gained weight and your sex life is in the gutter , but you mention as #3 (!!) the little fact that you have a 7 month old baby. And that she's breastfeeding.

Your resentfulness at your wife is childish. Your demand for spontaneity and fun - days at the amusement park and nights watching football is childish. And by childish, I mean selfish.

I wish I could be more supportive - but your entire post has come off as unbelievably immature and selfish. I feel sorry for your wife.

Agreed. I'm a new parent and the idea of leaving my wife alone with my son for an extended period of time -- just for my own entertainment -- seems a bit crazy. I felt bad when she had to go on an overnight trip on her own with the baby because I had to stay at home and work.

When the baby starts walking around, it may be a challenge for her to keep up with him because of her weight. So that's definitely a good reason for her to lose some pounds. And also just for her generally health -- I would agree that 200+ lbs is not a very healthy weight for a 5'3" woman. It sounds like she has always been a little heavier than usual but maybe she gained extra weight during the pregnancy, it can definitely happen. I don't think I know many women who don't carry a little extra weight on their bodies after having kids. But you seem more upset about how her being overweight makes you feel than her actual emotional and physical health. For example, surely the concern should be that she's upset about her self image, not that you resent her unhealthiness or that it makes her touchy?

I don't think there are any easy ways out of this.

First of all, caring for a baby is a shared responsibility of both parents. It's not a "chore". Perhaps you just poorly worded that phrase.

It's also possible you're actually active in raising your child and just haven't made it clear in the posing of your question. The fact that you talk often about going out and having fun suggests you're not as active as you should be. As someone who splits the child-rearing fairly evenly with my wife, I can't imagine finding time to go out and do fun things on my own in the way that you do. That's with my child being a year old now; at 7 months they need even more looking after in many ways.

However, if you are *not*, the first step is probably taking a more active role in child rearing. I mean, you always talk about exercising together. How, exactly, are you supposed to do this when there is a baby that needs to be watched over? No, the answer is *you* stay home and watch the baby while *she* goes and gets exercise. My wife did water aerobics (while I watched the baby at home) and she loved it. It's easy on the joints and is the sort of thing someone can do fairly easily after childbirth. Also, unlike normal gym settings most people in water aerobics are going to be older or in less active shape, so she's less likely to feel self-conscious than she would in, say, a yoga or Pilates class, or even out jogging in the park.

Maybe it's an energy thing? If your baby is on solid foods (now's about the right time for that if you haven't started yet, and it does take the pressure some off the wife in terms of nursing or bottle feeding) then *you* take the morning shift so she can sleep in a bit later. If she gets more sleep, maybe she will feel less depressed, have more energy, and be more willing and able to be active?

Have you expressed sincere appreciation to her for caring for your child? You mention her "job" which means she's working *and* caring for a baby, so it's no wonder she's exhausted.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2012

I'll add this:

Friends tell me the first two weeks are the hardest; her doctor told her the first year is the hardest. Are the teenage years the hardest? I have no idea, but I don't think life as a parent should be lived thinking, "Okay, it'll get better when XYZ."

When you're a parent, life doesn't get better. It gets different. I don't know that there is any time during parenthood (except maybe when the child becomes an actual adult) that being a parent becomes less "hard". You are going to have different challenges all along the way. Assuming this child was a choice, it was a conscious decision that altered your adulthood in a significant way.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Your wife has a fulltime job, plus she's sleep-deprived from getting up multiple times each night to breastfeed.... meanwhile, you 1. regularly get a solid night's sleep; 2. have days out (sometimes overnight) with the guys; and 3. feel justified in in carping at her about how fat and boring she is or how she doesn't turn you on.

Just out of curiousity, other than playing with the baby, what do YOU do at home? Who is doing the laundry, housekeeping, cooking and kitchen cleaning, baby care, etc.? Because your wife is breastfeeding, you really ought to take on MORE than half of the rest. Perhaps your wife could pump some milk, and you can then take over several straight nights' worth of feedings, plus perhaps SHE could have a day out now and then: after all, if it's okay for you to leave her alone with the baby, then it'd be okay for her to leave YOU with the baby, right?

Also, therapy, both couples and individual, is definately called for.
posted by easily confused at 5:21 PM on October 7, 2012

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