Staying Attentive

Psychologist Marion Bilich, PhD, answers the question, How can I make sure my husband doesn't feel neglected?

Question

How can I make sure my husband doesn't feel ignored or slighted after our new baby arrives home?

Answer

Asking the question before the baby arrives is a good start. Having a first baby changes your life and your marriage in ways you may never have anticipated. You are going to be less available, less nurturing, and less romantic toward your husband after the baby arrives. Newborns are demanding, and you have only so much time and energy! New fathers often feel neglected and left out. However, there are things you and your husband can do to lessen his isolation.

First, you and your husband might try learning whatever you can about how a newborn's arrival affects her parents' relationship. Take a trip to the bookstore or library and look through some books on newborns, especially those sections that deal with preparing for their arrival. Talk to family members and friends about their experiences -- what they did right, what they would do differently if they had the chance. Learn from their wisdom -- and from their mistakes!

You and your husband might sit down and discuss what you've each learned. You might express your concern that he not feel left out or slighted, as husbands often do when their wives are engrossed in the life of the new baby. Think of solutions together. Can you structure in "together time" for the two of you? Hire a babysitter once a week, or even once a month? Can you plan activities and chores that involve both of you working together? For instance, my husband and I used to do endless loads of laundry together in the evening, using the folding time to talk.

Finally, be prepared to regularly relinquish the baby's care to her father. As mothers we sometimes feel we are so needed that no one else, not even the father, can care for the baby as well as we can. If you want the father to form a strong bond with his baby, you have to encourage them to spend time together. He will soon become an integral part of his baby's life and less likely to feel left out or slighted.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

American Baby

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