Q: I used to be the center of my wife's universe.
Now that we've had a baby, I'm jealous of all the
time they spend together and I feel left out. Is
this normal and how can I overcome my feelings?
First of all, it's completely normal to be
jealous of your wife's relationship with your new
baby--especially if she's breastfeeding. But who's
really making you jealous? Your wife because of her
close relationship with the baby and all that extra
time they spend with each other? Or is it really
the baby for coming between you and your wife, for
taking up more than his "fair share" of her
attention, and for having full access to her
breasts when they may be too tender for you to
touch? Probably both.
If you're going to get over your feelings of
jealousy, you need to start by coming clean to your
wife. Whether you're feeling that you need more
attention and emotional support from her or more
private time without the baby, tell your wife about
it as clearly and honestly as possible.
This may not be easy: You may not want to bother
her with your problems right now. After all, she's
just had a baby and you, as a man, are supposed to
be supportive, right? You may be afraid that she'll
think you're wimpy, or you may already be thinking
that yourself. Whatever it is holding you back,
it's essential that you get over it. Soon.
The worst--and most dangerous--thing you can do
with your feeling of jealousy is to bury it. Left
unsaid, it'll make you resentful of both your wife
and your baby and could ultimately damage your
whole experience of fatherhood.
But important as talking is, it isn't enough.
You'll also need to get some extra time with your
baby--especially doing things that involve
skin-to-skin contact such bathing, cuddling,
playing, putting him to bed, and changing diapers.
You can also do some bottle feeding if your wife is
willing to express breast milk or if she's using
formula. These activities and others, such as
taking the baby along when you go grocery shopping,
or even dropping him into a frontpack and heading
out for a walk, will help you bond and build your
own solid relationship with your child, independent
of your wife. And once you've done that, there
won't be anything left to be jealous of.
©2010, Armin Brott
* * *
It's clear that most American children suffer
too much mother and too little father. - Gloria
nationally recognized parenting expert, Armin Brott
is the author of Blueprint
for Men's Health: A guide to a health
Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for
New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First
Dad's Guide to the Toddler
Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting without a
Partner and Father for
Life. He has written on parenting and fatherhood
for the New York Times Magazine, The
Washington Post, Newsweek and dozens of
other periodicals. He also hosts Positive
Parenting, a nationally distributed, weekly
talk show, and lives with his family in Oakland,
California. Visit Armin at www.mrdad.com
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