I will start by saying that this may not be the definitive experience, everyone’s relationships are different but I hope that sharing my feelings on the subject can help people better come to terms with the situation they may be in.
Having children is hard. Really really hard. It decimates your finances, social life, sleep and puts real strain on your relationships.
There is a lot written about the things a man should and shouldn’t do DURING pregnancy but post natal it really does rather dry up.
My OH has recently expressed how she feels concern at not really knowing what is going on in my life. but honestly i’m not surprised. When my daughter was born, the OH was quite poorly for a long while and I had to pretty much accept that I was almost an aside to the family for a while (that is not to say I didn’t have anything to do with my daughter, just that she was breastfed exclusively so being a provider was not one of the functions I could perform, mainly I tended to keep the house running). During this time the OH pretty much had nothing to do with me, she was distant, had little desire for physical contact, had little desire to discuss things about how I felt and I found this difficult to come to terms with. I have seen some things on the subject where the man almost ends up feeling jealous of their offspring and the bond that they have with their mother, compared to the broken bond that can form between the parents. General consensus seems to be that the guy should “suck it up” and deal with it. When the daughter was born, and because the OH was so poorly I didn’t really have a lot of time for these things to manifest, this probably made it slightly easier to handle as I was at least “needed” in another function.
So onto the birth of the 2nd. He is far less hard work and the OH has had a really un-complicated time of birth and post natal issues. As I came to expect, the OH has become a little distant to me, lacks much desire for contact and states that she has little left to give after the attention on both children and the abject tiredness that comes from night feeding. I’ve been through this once and I don’t feel it is as bad this time as it was the last. Thing is, the Mrs was so poorly and for want of a better way to put it – Self absorbed (please let me qualify that this isn’t a criticism, she was ill and I think it is natural to become a bit like this at those times). that I don’t think she realised how difficult it became for me at times (some readers may think “well think how difficult it was for her”. I’m not disputing that, but people don’t have exclusive rights on being challenged by a situation. It isn’t a competition to be the worst. Both sides have valid opinions). The fact that she is more aware of these things is a positive in my mind as I know it means she is coping well enough to even consider it. It doesn’t stop it from being hard.
One of the points of contention is sex. I want it, she doesn’t. I guess this section is more for the female readers than the male. Ladies, don’t tell us “if you want it that bad, go get it somewhere else!”. You are missing the point. We don’t want sex, we want sex with YOU! In light of the obvious differences in libido, don’t withhold all contact, be open and honest about what you do or don’t find acceptable. A cuddle is often better than nothing. Don’t assume if we become obviously “excited” during points of contact that we’re assuming anything or trying it on. Its likely a physiological thing due to long periods without it! We’d still rather have a cuddle and a kiss and go to sleep frustrated than be given the cold shoulder.
For any first time dads, you will be pissed off and frustrated, and it may feel like it will never end. But it will (please note, this advice is bugger all consolation if you are going through it). Hang in there.
The above post was written in response to this.