**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a client who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
It’s not widely discussed, but it’s not uncommon for fathers to experience a certain degree of jealousy after the arrival of a new baby. That’s how my client felt for the first few months after his son was born.
“For seven years, it was just the two of us,” he told me. “And then this little bundle of joy came along, and suddenly, it felt like I was an outsider in my own house.”
The couple went through two grueling years of fertility treatments before conceiving, so he was thrilled to finally have a baby. But he was unprepared for how drastically their lives would change.
“I thought we had planned for everything,” he said. “We saved money, baby-proofed the house, and took all the necessary precautions. But when he arrived, nothing could have prepared me for how much of my wife’s attention he would take.”
At first, he felt a little lost in the shuffle. He worked full-time while she stayed home with the baby, so it was hard to find quality time as a couple.
“My wife was so wrapped up in her role as mother that she didn’t have much time for me,” he said. “It was like I had become invisible, and the baby had taken my place.”
He admits that he felt left out and envious of the special bond that seemed to be forming between mother and child without him.
“I know it sounds bratty, but even after a year, I still miss having my wife all to myself sometimes.” He continued, “don’t get me wrong, I love my son and his mother with all my heart. I wish I could find a way to maintain our relationship and still be there for the baby.”
Fortunately, we were able to come up with workable solutions that allowed him to feel more included in their little family unit. He now takes part in parenting duties whenever possible and ensures that he gets one-on-one time with his wife when he can.
It’s a balancing act, but it’s working out for them.
“I love my connection with my son,” he said. “It took time to get used to the new dynamic.”
Decreased relationship satisfaction
“Children bring a lot of joy into a relationship, but they can also bring a lot of stress.” — Kristine Goto, PhD
In 2011, American Psychological Association (APA) reported that 67% of couples reported declining relationship satisfaction after the first child arrived. It’s not just the mother who experiences a decrease; fathers, too, report feeling a sense of distance from their partner.
It’s normal for both parents to feel a little apprehensive while adjusting to the changing landscape of parenthood. The key is to make sure that both partners are taking the time to nurture their relationship and prioritize one another.
Relationship discontentment can have long-term adverse effects on children, so it’s essential to recognize and address the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. One beneficial tip: setting aside some time for a weekly date night. Carving out quality time together can preserve your connection, even just a quick dinner or coffee.
“When there is a precipitous decline in relationship satisfaction and an increase in hostility, it transfers to the baby and affects the baby.” — John Gottman, PhD
While it takes time for each person to adjust to their new roles, with the right strategies in place, both parents can stay connected even after the arrival of a newborn.
For my client, getting outside support and learning to communicate better within his relationship made all the difference.
“I’m so grateful for the help I received,” he said. “It was a tough period, but I’m thankful that we were able to make things work.”
The exhaustion of broken sleep, shifting dynamics, and the endless responsibilities of parenting can be overwhelming at first. With patience and understanding, it is possible to make the transition smoother.
You don’t have to struggle alone — many resources are available to help couples adjust to life with a newborn. From therapy and family counseling services to support groups and parenting classes, there are plenty of ways to get the help you need. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it.
Parenting is a team effort. With the right strategies in place, you can ensure that both team members are as connected as ever.
Did you struggle to adjust to life with a newborn? How did you make it work? Share your story in the comments!