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Divorcing after a Baby

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Anonymous Mom: When I had my son, I felt an immediate disconnect from my husband. We were like ships passing in the night. We were taking turns caring for the baby, and if we were not taking care of him, we were taking naps.

I had a very tedious pregnancy with a lot of sickness, and my husband was not very sympathetic or nurturing. In fact, most of the time he made it clear that this was what I had wanted, so I should stop complaining.

Throughout my pregnancy, we just became more and more distant. As my son grew, I felt like my life had turned upside down; I was more in love with my child and less in love with my spouse. I started fantasizing about how I would leave him. Did I have enough money saved? Would I be able to stay in our house?

We were both so unhappy. Although we were great companions and parents, I had no more love -- and, in turn, we had no more sex. Finally I brought up leaving, and he cried hysterically at the thought of not seeing our son every day. I felt terrible.

We started couples counseling. I explained how trapped I felt, how depressed I had become and how distant we were because of how he'd treated me during my pregnancy. I then learned that nearly all the moms in my baby group had started couples counseling since having a baby, too! They frequently talked about how they wanted to divorce their husbands. I was confused. This was supposed to be the happiest time in our lives, and I felt like I was drowning. Had I made a mistake in getting married? How do you undo a mistake of those proportions? Should I just stick it out for my kid's sake? Those were the thoughts racing through my mind.

Then we got pregnant a second time. It was something he wanted, and it was unplanned. I felt even more trapped. How was I to leave with two kids? Who would want to date me? I mean, my son is cute. But while one is plausible, having two kids under 2 .... How could I afford that? Thoughts of not keeping the baby danced through my head. I felt held hostage in a marriage and parenthood.

Does everyone feel this way? The other day, I looked at my husband and I thought, He eats too much. I don't like him. My friend said, "Don't you wonder whether those are moments of insanity ... or clarity?"

For now, I am sticking it out because I have sought psychological and medical advice, and it turns out that the problem may be hormones. However, I do know people who have decided to go through with a divorce after having a baby. It's a very taxing situation; you need a good support structure in place. And you need to ask for help. Everyone will help you if you let them.

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22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Angela December 26, 2010, 10:28 AM

Wow, what an honest piece. As a single and (for now, anyway) childless woman, I don’t know how to advise you. But your post helps me. Recently I broke up with my boyfriend, a divorced Dad of two. I love him. But whenever the subject of having a baby came up, he seemed to be very focused on the difficulties and stresses involved, and to express doubt about my abilities to deal with them. He also insisted if we were to have a child, I would need to move cross country (where he lives). My instinct is I will make a fine Mom, but want and need the support of close family. Your post helps me to realize it is ok to feel as I do; it is not weak and does not mean I would be a bad Mom. On the contrary, new Moms need and deserve solid support from family, including a loving partner. Thank you for writing this. I truly hope whatever you choose, it works out. Hopefully your hubby will shape up and be more supportive since it sounds like he does love you. Remember, you deserve support in being a Mom, which is a demanding job even under the best circumstances.

Liz December 26, 2010, 11:24 AM

It is a very difficult thing. When my daughter was an infant and I was going through a similar situation, I spoke with an attorney who thought the best thing for me to do would be to stick it out until she was in school….I tried but I couldn’t do it….now, I realize that no matter how difficult the situation, It’s no worse than it could’ve/has been. Now I have to beg and/or share the time I have with my daughter and only hope and wish I could be with someone who could love and accept us as we are. No one will love your children like you (or their father).

Anonymous December 26, 2010, 1:51 PM

I just have to say I disagree with Liz. Someone can love the child the same way a mom or dad does. My best friend is a step father and he would die for his baby girl. From the moment of meeting her he feel in love(she was 2 years old) There are really good men(and women) who love a step child as if it were their own.

My husband and I also went to counseling after having our son. We were actually on the verge of divorce, but we both were open and honest in counseling and it saved our marriage. I really hope things work out for you and just know that it is normal to have days where you can’t stand your husband(I know I have them at least lol) but it shouldn’t be all the time. Good Luck! I hope you find the path that is meant for you.

KS December 26, 2010, 10:07 PM

If my husband had treated me in that manner I would feel the same exact way. I’m sorry you are both going through this. I’m sure there are needs he has that you aren’t meeting too. One thing I can tell you having been divorced and having worked through some tough issues with my husband it’s worth working through the problems if there isn’t abuse or addiction..

If you were in love you can be in love again. You both just have to care about each other and express it in ways the other person appreciates.

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Rhona Berens (Parent Alliance December 27, 2010, 3:59 PM

While every couple is different—in other words, one size or statistic doesn’t fit all—one of the best-kept secrets, in my opinion, is the immense stress that having a baby (and sometimes a pregnancy) can place on a relationship. If we take the specifics of your very moving—and wonderfully honest—story out of it for a moment, consider this: 90% of couples report a drop in relationship satisfaction after the birth of a baby, there’s a major increase in relationship conflict and the recurrence of a couple’s “trigger” or hot-spot issues rises, plus lots of couples experience a shift in sexual frequency and intimacy. Having a baby puts enormous pressure on couples and while we often do a lot of baby-prep, we’re rarely given the opportunity—or encouragement—to do relationship prep. While sometimes these kinds of stresses indicate there’s little room to shift the dynamics in our relationships, often there are ways to improve our relationships. There are some great books (my favorite is John Gottman’s And Baby Makes Three…or 4 with your 2nd baby on the way) and other great resources. I blog on this topic and coach couples ( and there are counselors who work with couples dealing with these issues. Bottom line: much of what you describe—the general shift in your relationship, at least—is quite common. What differentiates couples is not whether or not they have a lot more conflict and, indeed, emotional and sexual distance after a baby, it’s whether they’re willing—together—to address these challenges and find ways to if not fully overcome them, then better understand each other, support each other and, hopefully, find ways to reconnect again. Hope this helps!

Anonymous February 8, 2011, 1:41 PM

The moment my wife had a baby — to the minute — she lost all interest in me. The baby was top priority. It was as if the kid could not be left aside, could not be kept off the bed, and had to stay between us at night. Most of the early days were spent with me sleeping on the sofa.

This went on past our second kid. In our culture, divorce is not an easy option, so it didn’t happen.

In nearly 12 years, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of occasions when she took any step to initiate sex.

Till our baby was born, she was usually the one to propose, and I almost never ever said no. Now, the boot was on the other foot. I needed to beg, cajole and at times, even fight, for sex!

(Lest you think I’m sex hungry, let me add that I’m satisfied with a simple ‘diet’, and have never been physically unfaithful in all these years… except for being very severely tempted in an online way for some time.)

It was only recently that I read about the impact a lack of sex can have on the husband. See
It actually hits one’s sense of self-exteem.

I would request women in a marriage to take a close look and try to understand things from another perspective. The less sex we got, the more tense things got! I can see myself in the picture described above!

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