Home > Health > Mind > You > “I Resented My Partner After Having Kids”

Written by TMC Editor, Lydia House

“After multiple arguments, I had started to wonder if I’d made the right choice about having a baby with my husband.”

We Couldn’t Stop Arguing After Our Second Baby

“It was 2021, and we’d just had baby number two, and our eldest was 17 months old. The days and weeks of broken sleep had started to take its toll on both of us. The divide between me carrying the heaviest weight of parental duties and him working in a highly pressurised job had become apparent. The arguing and bickering had reached full peak.”

“At its worst, we’d both threatened divorce and had reached what felt like the breaking point of our marriage.”

“I started to resent him daily. I felt like I was stuck at home with two kids while he went on business trips or after work drinks. He also seemed to have more energy for fitness and hobbies, while I was tired and frustrated.”

The Conversation and Quote That Helped Me

“While confiding in my mum about how I was feeling, she assured me that most couples go through this stage when their children are small. She even recalled a statement that Michelle Obama had said where she revealed she couldn’t stand Barack for the ten years their kids were little.
While I was shocked at the ten-year bit (hopefully it won’t be for that long). Knowing it was likely to be a phase really helped me.”

Barack Reacts to Michelle’s Claim of Not Liking Him for 10 Years of Their Marriage

Things Started to Get Better

“As our children have got older, things have improved. Of course, some days he drives me mad and we still argue. But (as bad as it sounds) recently we’ve started to like each other again.
Fighting is never pleasant, but often, the big rows have unearthed feelings we’ve been building or hiding and inevitably improved things. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advising you to argue to benefit your relationship, and of course, the sensible thing would be to try to talk first.
However, tiredness can overrule rationale when you’re in the ‘Baby Trenches’. So, if you’re feeling a bit down and you’re bickering with your partner. Know that you’re not alone, and it should improve with time.”

A Relationship Expert Explains Why It’s Normal to Resent Your Partner After Kids

Relationship and Psychosexual Therapist Elinor Harvey says, “Moving from being a two to a three is hard. Really hard! I see a lot of parents with young children who are struggling in their relationship. They usually tell me different but similar narratives about their situation: “We’re bickering constantly.” “We’re hardly having sex anymore.” And the big one: “I just resent him so much!” We don’t talk enough about how resentment and stress can easily build up in a relationship between two otherwise loving individuals. However, it is totally and utterly normal, especially when you understand how much mums go through from the moment they fall pregnant. Bodily changes, hormonal rollercoasters, birth trauma, career uncertainty, sleep deprivation, prolapses, swollen breasts, the mental load, school WhatsApp groups… the impact on mums can feel overwhelming. If we have good coping resources, such as good sleep, opportunities for rest, a supportive social life, exercise, etc., we can often manage these feelings. However, when we don’t have our usual coping resources to hand, then it can build up, and it’s natural for that stress to be directed at the person closest to us: our partner.

What Can You Do to Stop Resenting Your Partner

Elinor says, “Luckily, there is a lot you can do to navigate these hurdles. I’m passionate about empowering couples to make the changes that mean they can start to enjoy and appreciate each other again and get their spark back.”

  1. Leave the House
    Granted, this isn’t always possible if you don’t have family or a reliable babysitter nearby. But spending time together as a couple is so important. You can’t see each other as individuals when you’re both in Parent Mode the whole time, but taking that Parent hat off, even just for an hour or two, allows you to step back and see each other as adults again. If you can’t leave the house, could you spend time together in the garden one evening, or in a different part of your home? The endless sofa ‘n’ boxset evenings can quickly leave a relationship feeling stale.
  2. Reminisce together
    Sometimes, it can feel like you’ve been parenting for 1000 years and forget what life was like before. Taking the time to talk together can be important to show each other that, no matter how much you love your kids, you are both missing parts of your old life together too. Can you remember your first date or what attracted you to the other person? Why do you think you chose each other? What was it about them that felt special? Talking together helps your brain remember that your partner is not the enemy and allows you to reconnect with the many positive attributes you’ve overlooked amidst the parenting juggle.
  3. Express your needs
    In long-term relationships, we can sometimes expect our partner to be a mind reader. However, if we don’t tell our partner how we’re feeling and what we need, it’s not fair to expect them to just know. Expressing our needs can be challenging if you grew up being encouraged to suppress your feelings or if you highly value your independence. I try to encourage my clients that having needs isn’t ‘needy’: it’s a normal part of being human. When our needs aren’t met, it’s easy for difficulties and resentments to arise, so it’s vital to talk to our partners and give them the opportunity to help us meet those needs.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    Sometimes, we just can’t figure out where to start resolving relationship issues ourselves and need a professional to help us work things out. As a Relationship Therapist, I’m experienced in helping clients make sense of the triggers and maintaining factors for their relationship issues. I can provide expert guidance and clinical exercises that really do help. However, many people put off seeking help for a long time, and difficulties can then become more entrenched and patterns of behaviour more problematic. Seeking professional support early can be an empowering first step to help you both start to address and overcome issues before they get worse. Most clients express relief after their first session: “I wish we’d come years before!”.

Ultimately, there’s no shame in struggling with your relationship, especially in the early years of parenting when you’re exhausted and have zero time to yourself. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to improve the situation. So being positive, open with your communication, and trying to share your feelings with your partner – is a great way to start.

Want More Support?

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Elinor is available for further professional support via her website www.elinorharvey.com You can also sign up to her mailing list for relationship tips and advice. 

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