When resentment is high, self-care is usually low.
Resentment is a toxic emotion that can take over before you have even realised it.
You are exhausted and depleted so you start to resent your partner who you think has it easier.
The negative thoughts spiral and soon you are in the trap of feeling completely isolated and alone in your journey.
Tension starts between the relationship.
You distance yourself and use passive communication in the hope that your partner will ask if you are okay.
He has emotionally shut down. He feels that no matter what he does, it won’t ever be good enough so he does nothing.
You are seething. Why can't he see how much I am struggling right now? Isn't it obvious that I need help?
More fuel has been added to the fire and now your resentment is even higher.
This is a common scenario that relationships go through in the postnatal period.
Helpful? No. Common? Yes.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Here are three really important tools (among many others) that can help improve this situation.
How are you both communicating? Are you expecting your partner to read your mind? Are you expressing your needs without blame and resentment? Are you being respectful and calm? Are you using “I” feel language rather than blame (ie., I feel overwhelmed and I would really appreciate if you could help me with this vs YOU never help me). Express clearly what it is that you want the other person to do. Show appreciation. Drop the comparison trap. It is not a competition between you and your partner as to who has it harder. You are both in this together. Working as a team and the father being involved in the parenting has significant positive impact on the relationship and the whole family.
Be aware of your own triggers and reactions. What emotions are brewing inside of you? Can you identify your early warning signs and soothe yourself before reacting out of anger/resentment? If you start a discussion out of anger, more times than not, that is also how it will end. Be mindful of the role you play. Turn inwards. You can’t change the other person’s behaviour but you can control your reaction to it. Taking responsibility for the role you play is important.
Resentment is high when self-care is low. Are you prioritising your own needs? Asking for help? Saying no when you need to. Taking time out just for you? Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission to take care of you. Your self-care is up to you. You need to give yourself permission. Taking care of you will benefit the whole family. A depleted, exhausted mother with an empty cup can only give so much. Refuel your cup. You deserve this and you are worthy.
All relationships take work. Relationships do change once you have babies. Remember to turn towards your partner and not away. This stage will pass. Hold hope.