Mamablog: postnatal relationship – my husband, my enemy

Mamablog: Postnatal relationship – My husband, my enemy

Since the birth of her son, our author’s partnership has changed. That this could happen to her, she never thought possible.

Reason enough for a dispute: The constantly dirty cup of the man in the lavabo causes tension in the relationship

I love my husband more than anything. And I know exactly why I married him four years ago. I could sing a love song to him. One with such flowery passages that I could cry just thinking about it. But since our son was born six months ago, I can also do things differently.

"A child puts a relationship to the test," I’ve read and heard all my life. We were sure that was true. But we were also sure that we will handle it cooler than everyone else. We both don’t argue, are willing to compromise and respect each other very much. We know how well one complements the other and therefore how well we fit together. But on the subject of postnatal relationships, we were a bit naive, because since giving birth, my opinion of my husband has been changing seemingly every hour. And I don’t like it at all.

Suddenly everything has become a discussion of principle for me. The towel that is not hung up properly is no longer just a towel that is not hung up properly – for me it is a symbol of a conservative distribution of roles. And it represents a perceived lack of respect for my housework. Our son, I always tell my husband, will one day find it normal that I clean up after him. Or worse, having a woman do his dirty work for him. And vice versa: That he does not have to worry about his own wife’s dry towel. He’ll never learn that there’s no such thing as a conservative division of roles, but only a division of tasks that a couple agrees on individually. It’s not a towel anymore. It is the trampled respect towards me as a woman and a person.

Of cups in the sink and shoes in the living room

And that’s just the towel. Such discussions suddenly draw wider circles. The cup in the lavabo. My unfluffed pillow when he makes the bed. His shoes in the living room (mine are ok because I take them on and off all the time anyway because of the dog). My empty glass of water and his full one. His music request in the car and not mine .

I have already called my girlfriend dozens of times since the birth in November, boiling with rage, to vent about my husband in all harshness. I was never like that. And I never wanted to be like this. I also don’t want to trivially dismiss my new feelings with the explanation that being a mother has made me "thin-skinned," because I think my new sensitivity deserves to be taken seriously – and especially by myself. But what am I really about? And why it’s my husband’s fault?

The family, the new project

We educate a person. We are raising a person who will one day have some kind of influence in his environment. He will make people happy or unhappy. It will be part of a society that we are helping to shape with our education today. And last but not least: His upbringing will one day influence my life as well. When I’m 90 and sitting at home old and gray, it will make a difference to me whether I have a son who calls me, comes to visit me, and takes loving care of me, or not. I don’t want to seem dogged, or to be dogged. But I am taking seriously the responsibility I have as a mother. And what we lead by example will play a decisive role in shaping what kind of person my son will be one day.

That my husband has suddenly become the enemy of this life task and in my home, I find terrible. He too. Most of all, our initial arrogance that we will do this much better than everyone else disappoints us. We were always so good at everything. When we planned our wedding, we never argued. He was the wedding planner and I was the laid-back bride who trusted his taste and organizational skills. Rightly so: our wedding was a dream. But this now is not an event anymore. It is our child and we as a family are the new project that will never end.

New tolerance level

My new expectations of my husband are so high that he can’t possibly meet them. I have to be honest. By the way, I too could get more involved in his area of responsibility, but somehow find it ok not to. I have this arrogant attitude that just because I am the mother, was pregnant, gave birth and breastfed, I am more untouchable than him. It probably boils down to the fact that I can’t find my way out of the role of mother when dealing with him. Or in other words: That I don’t live my role as a wife and girlfriend enough anymore. That would be good not only for him or me, but also for our child. And now comes the hardest part: I’m just learning that I’m only 50 percent of the parenting team. If the other 50 percent decide that shoes in front of the bedroom floor or a crooked towel are okay, then it’s not my totalitarian opinion that counts, but his too. After all, it’s his home too. Sounds strange, but it is.

I’ve decided to show mercy, or at least try to. I find this extremely difficult. My husband does not have to be able to read me all of a sudden. And we don’t have to agree with everything either. But above all we can show our son two different versions of being a parent, a partner and a human being. As long as the two versions do not fight, but complement each other, everything is actually fine. After all, I don’t want to be a mother who freaks out over every towel and storms out of the apartment in a huff with the dog. Being a mother means for me at the moment above all that I have to get to know myself anew and work on a new tolerance limit. And let’s face it, a crooked towel will shape our son less than a constantly irritated mother.

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