My husband is having issues with what is best described as "I have lost sight of who i am & I need to gain my own identity". We have been married a year... we have a year old baby girl we both love and two older children (mine from previous marriage). He is a stay at home dad... and 6 years younger than I am....
I want to help, but I am being told I am pushing him away further. Making him wanting to not be around. That I am smothering him...
I am at a loss. I am so hurt and so confused and totally torn apart.... Anyone else out there deal with this?
It's very easy for a stay-at-home parent to lose sight of their own identity - they spend all day dealing with the needs of very needy kids (particularly babies), in the evening they are too tired to do much except watch TV and eat supper, when babies are young there tends to be no social life, and not even much in the way of "couple time" between the two of you. If he's not working, I guess most of the time the only other adult he ever has a conversation with is you, and maybe the checkout staff at the supermarket. Does this sound anything like your situation?
He probably needs some break time - some break time with you, but also some break time away from you. He needs to get out of the house, without any kids in tow. You could get a babysitter and go out for a meal, a movie or a play. What interests did he have before - did he play any sports? Go fishing? Did he have male friends he went to watch sports with? He needs to be given the time, and a little encouragement, to get into these things again. He needs evenings out, maybe the odd weekend away, doing the stuff he used to be into.
If he has time away from the home, the kids, and, yes, you, he will be more appreciative of all of this when he is home. He will be better able to enjoy being with you. If he doesn't get this opportunity, he may eventually get so fed up he just leaves completely.
One thing, though - don't try and push him into going out. No man likes to feel coerced or manipulated or controlled, even into doing something they enjoy, and as a stay-at-home dad he may already be feeling like this, particularly if he is already complaining that you are smothering him. This needs to be done delicately. Make the suggestion, just once, but don't badger him into doing anything. If he's not up for whatever you suggest, leave it a week before you say anything else, and then ideally make a different suggestion.
Going to couple counselling together may help get it out of him exactly what he needs to be happy in this relationship, before he gets so fed up he leaves it completely. Again, however, it won't help to badger him into it if he's not immediately up for it. In that case, it might help if you portray the counselling as a problem you have, that you want to fix, but you need him there to help explain your situation to the cousellor. If you are asking him for a favour, he may be more likely to go, and that will at least get him through the counsellors door. I now wish I'd gone to counselling with my wife when she first suggested it, years ago, we might not be in the mess that we're in now...
I agree with Jo, totally. Not many men are happy very long staying home with children. They have none of the support that women who stay at home do - lots of moms groups, neighbors who are also at home, preschool groups, etc. A man who is at home is alone. And I'll just say it. Men who stay at home with children don't tend to be respected as much by other men - men's identity is their work, and so he is left out there with no real identity, no friends he can involve himself with.
Not many men feel good being supported by their wives. Some do.
Is there some reason he's at home and you're working instead of the more typical arrangements or both working or the man working?
I don't think "helping" him get an identity will work at all - his perspective is he's already being "helped" too much.
I have tried to give him forums or communities for being a Stay At Home. He never follows up with it (he just informed me that he has). The whole reason behind him staying at home was simply that babysitters were too expensive and not trustworthy. It only made logical sense for him to stop working and for me to continue, as his job didn't pay 1/3 of what mine does. Its hard to explore the job aspect when these concerns arise.
Why doesn't he start taking classes at night to advance his possibilities of being able to get out and work? That way, he'd have a sense of purpose, meet other adults, have something to look forward to during the day. In the meantime, a schedule in the day would likely help--plan story time, outdoor play (sandbox, bubbles, chalk drawing, etc.), go for regular walks, plan indoor play time (water play (I used to put my son in the tub just to play), stack blocks, etc.), and find some programs for the child(ren) (like Gymboree or Story Time at the library), etc. Search for or post a "Meet-up" on a local gathering site (like meetup.com or maybe craigslist--I recently saw a group that walks their babies in stollers together). I think doing these things will help. The more he gets out, the more likely he'll be to meet people to do other things with, too. I think he'll feel more productive if he does these things.
Can you both work part time with opposing shifts or something like that?
My brother took care of his infant son for almost two years because back then he was not fully done with university but his wife had a secure job. He enjoyed bonding with his son but he did feel like a loser for many years to come, despite the job he eventually started. Only after his career really took off, he felt better about himself AND was very happy about the strong connection his son had with him. So in the long run he created the best of both worlds. But it did start with him finding a job first.
Your husband is probably at the same stage as many of us mothers are at some point when our individualism seems to be soaked up by infant environment. True challenges outside of the home can make a huge difference, whether it is a job or a serious hobby.. Maybe you guys feel better about a part-time babysitter by now. Anyway, it sounds like it is time to re-evaluate the arrangements you made to date. Good luck!
Well at this point, he is getting a job. A fact I have to come to terms with my "Paranoia" about someone with the baby. Other than that, I have about given up. Being pushed out and not spending time together really at all isn't healthy for a marriage and is ignored. *Shrug* I am coming to terms with what I believe is the end of my marriage, sadly. But perhaps it wasn't meant to be... Not just the ID crisis, but how he wants his "time" and a lot of other things. *sigh*
I can understand his point of view from a guys perspective we are taught to be aggressive, winners, to take care of things is our nature. Being a stay at home dad starts to run counter to our cultural makeup. Sure there are plenty of guys that can do it, but there are as many that can't. I think as he finds his way in the working world again he will "get better" and find himself. The other thing that may be going on is that he may be blaming you (subconsciencely of course) for what he feels is his failure.
Talk it out a bit (on a date without kids).
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