‘I can’t stand be­ing around my wife and child’

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Front Page - Tr­ish Mur­phy

Q The mar­riage was good the first year. But things started to change af­ter our kid was born. She is four years now and I find my­self not happy at all around my spouse and the kid. And for the past six months, I even found my­self dis­lik­ing them be­ing around me. I know it might be just my prob­lem, and mine alone.

First, I hardly re­mem­ber the last time the three of us sat down to­gether to have a reg­u­lar meal at home. My spouse wanted her own “healthy” food that I can barely swal­low.

The other thing is the way the kid has her meal. She would fin­ish her meal in a mod­er­ate speed if the food is what she likes to have, or it would take for­ever if it’s not.

And some­times, the kid would just say she’d done with din­ner, and ask for snacks half an hour later, which I nor­mally dis­agree with. As time goes on, I have stopped talk­ing about this at all.

Sec­ond, for the past five years, start­ing with her preg­nancy, I have found less and less com­mon in­ter­ests be­tween me and my spouse. Be­fore that, we used to watch TV shows, movies, or go out to­gether.

But now, there’s no good con­ver­sa­tion be­tween us. I have ex­pressed my feel­ings, telling her that I do not feel like we are liv­ing to­gether as a fam­ily.

I felt like it’s her and the kid, and I am the per­son who is re­quired when needed, and mostly in fi­nan­cial mat­ters, as there’s no nor­mal con­ver­sa­tion, no com­mon in­ter­ests, noth­ing at all ex­cept the kid and her. And I have to find hob­bies for my­self to be at least some­how happy – ten­nis, gui­tars and piano are three ma­jor things I do in the ex­tra time I have be­sides work.

Third, there’s no in­ti­macy af­ter her preg­nancy. The cou­ple of times she wanted sex it scared and dis­gusted me. Scared be­cause she wanted to have a sec­ond child, and in a way it’s not in­ti­macy but an “ex­treme re­quest”. Dis­gusted be­cause she sees the act as to “have” an­other child in­stead of com­pas­sion or any­thing close to it.

These are just some of the things that makes me not feel well ev­ery day. And now I don’t re­ally feel like I want to be at home.

I am hap­pier be­ing at the of­fice, hav­ing cof­fee/food with friends or even strangers, play­ing ten­nis with other peo­ple, or locked in my own room play­ing mu­sic.

I tried sev­eral times talk­ing to my spouse about this, but seems to me noth­ing ever changes. A What you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is not un­com­mon when a first child is born. One spouse can feel very left out as the other bonds so com­pletely with the child. How­ever, chil­dren need both par­ents, and any par­ent­ing course will ed­u­cate and di­rect you in this area. In fact, it might be a great idea for you both to go to a par­ent­ing course as it would give you some­thing to do as a cou­ple and you would get ex­pert ad­vice that is not fo­cused on ei­ther of you com­bat­ting with the other.

You are feel­ing ex­cluded, lonely and un­wanted, and your spouse might be feel­ing alone in her par­ent­ing as you are dis­tanc­ing your­self from the home. This sit­u­a­tion is un­likely to lead to ro­man­tic in­ti­macy so it is im­por­tant that you both face up to the re­al­ity that your re­la­tion­ship is on the brink of sep­a­ra­tion, but there is a lot you can do be­fore that fi­nal step.

Does your part­ner know you miss ro­mance and at­trac­tion? Have you asked her on a date and re­minded her how at­tracted to her you are? You may need to em­pha­sise how much you ap­pre­ci­ated your early cou­ple-hood and in­stead of re­sent­ing its loss, you could in­voke its beauty. If you dis­tance your­self from your child, it is likely your spouse will make up for this loss by at­tach­ing her­self even more to your tod­dler. Can you set up times when you are alone and en­joy­ing your daugh­ter? This will so­lid­ify your re­la­tion­ship with her and al­low your spouse space to re­con­nect with her non-par­ent self.

Your cur­rent an­swer to your fam­ily is­sues is to re­move your­self from your fam­ily and the ef­fect of this is that they will feel aban­doned and hurt. Is this what you wanted when you got mar­ried and set up a fam­ily? It seems that what you want is to be at the cen­tre of their lives, to be in­cluded, wanted and loved but your ac­tions mean you are get­ting the op­po­site to this. There is no doubt that your fam­ily is in trou­ble but it only takes one per­son to ini­ti­ate change and as you are the most dis­sat­is­fied, you are the one to take the ini­tia­tive.

Book a par­ent­ing course for you and your wife. Tell her of your ex­treme un­hap­pi­ness, ask for her help by invit­ing her to cou­ples coun­selling with you (fam­i­lyther­a­pyire­land.com). The loss of in­ti­macy leaves you hurt and re­jected but there is no doubt your part­ner shares these sen­ti­ments but with dif­fer­ent causes.

There is a way back to in­ti­macy but only if one or both of you are will­ing to en­gage fully in chang­ing your pat­terns. The small things, like meal­times, are trig­gers for how ex­cluded you both feel so these sit­u­a­tions can be as­sisted by your com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing a fu­ture to­gether. Now is the time to fight for your fam­ily and make them feel the force of your de­sire for unity.

You are feel­ing ex­cluded, lonely and un­wanted, and your spouse might be feel­ing alone in her par­ent­ing

Chil­dren need both par­ents and any par­ent­ing course will ed­u­cate and di­rect in this area.

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