When Your Husband Feels Neglected After Child Birth
Pre-baby, those hooded eyes and pouting lips would have turned you on. Now, you want to respond by squirting breast milk in his eyes.
Jennifer Landa, M.D., and author of the book The Sex Drive Solution for Women: Dr. Jen’s Power Plan to Fire Up Your Libido, says many husbands feel neglected after the baby’s arrival. For a long time, he received all of your affection and attention at the end of a long day. Then your baby arrived and suddenly you don’t remember you have a husband until you accidentally trip over him on your rush to the crib for a midnight feeding.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time, says Landa, to spread the love around a little. “A lot of women lose sight of (their husbands),” at this time, she says. “Relationships suffer for it.”
Don’t get us wrong: we understand. New babies + no sleep does not = feelings of amore. Sleep deprivation has been used as a method for torture, after all, and new parents not only get too little shut eye, but they are then required to clean the house, fix dinner, pay the bills, and take care of a tiny human who relies on them for everything. You’re exhausted, and you just want to sleep. But if your spouse is feeling neglected and you don’t address it now, you’ll have bigger problems as the chaos of the first year subsides.
What can you do to show your man you still love him when you barely have enough energy to brush your hair once a day?
- Be realistic, and ask him to be too. If your husband says he’s feeling neglected, but the baby just arrived a month or two ago, cut yourself some slack. Says Landa, “All kinds of hormone changes are going on with your body,” during the first six weeks or so after delivery, including, for nursing mothers, a decrease in progesterone, which can cause a decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and post-partum blues. Explain this to your hubby, and let him know that he is not the problem. If you’re eight months or so out, though, and you can’t remember the color of your husband’s eyes, chances are you need to plan for a little one-on-one time.
- Take stock of the situation. After your baby turns a few months old, you should begin to rise from post-delivery frenzy. If, however, your husband insists he feels neglected, ignored, and unloved, listen. Consider the last time you spent quality time with your man, even if that time found you propped up against one another, fighting sleep as you watched a bad movie. If those tender feelings have evaporated like boiling water, ask yourself why.
- Ask for help when it’s needed. The answer to why you aren’t feeling “it” right now could be due to pure exhaustion. “One of the biggest complaints women have (after child birth) is they are too tired,” says Landa. Some husbands aren’t sure how best to assist around the house, so explain your needs, such as one full night of sleep each week, where he gets up with the baby, or helps with folding and putting laundry away at the end of the day. Rely on relatives and good friends to take your baby for an hour or two here and there, so you can get some much needed extra sleep, and give up the idea that you have to keep it all up, all of the time.
- Make time together to unwind. Too many moms refuse to accept down time, but here’s the truth: You can have a new baby and a life outside of being a mom. If your husband wants to send the baby to grandma’s house for a while, do it. If he wants to take you out to dinner without the kids in tow, let him. These quiet times spent together will allow you to reconnect, and they will help you remember the sexy side that’s been hiding beneath your maternity bra the past few months.
- Have sex. As says the famous slogan: Just do it. You may not feel like it at the time, but once you get started, it’s likely your anxiety will fall away and you’ll find you enjoy yourself. After all, says Landa, after children arrive you often need to put in a bit of effort when it comes to getting it on. But, she adds, set realistic expectations. Getting physical may not be the marathon it once was; at this point, you’ll probably be lucky to complete a 5K. That’s okay. A quickie in the closet may be all it takes (and all you’ll have time for) over the next few months, so embrace it.
What do you think? When Your Husband Feels Neglected After Child Birth