Do you really have to worry about your partner being jealous of the new baby? Probably not, but there are things you can do to keep everyone happy.
It’s a cliché – men get resentful of the way a new baby takes up all their partner’s time, love and attention. And they start to get jealous, and wish the baby would go away and let them have their women back… or do they?
It may happen occasionally, in some relationships. But the majority of men adore their sons and daughters; they love being a father, too. And to them, the idea of being jealous of a little person who quite naturally needs lots of attention and love is at best laughable, and at worst, downright annoying.
What is more likely is that having a baby does change the way you relate to each other as a couple. A man might start to feel trapped, tired and isolated, just as much as a new mother can do. Conversations over the evening meal may be punctuated with the baby’s crying, and anything that needs a bit of time and concentration like a good video, or sex, can’t be planned for.
Accept that both of you may find the early weeks stressful, pressurised and exhausting. You may also find them exhilarating, challenging and joyful… and unbelievably exhausting. Don’t blame each other for not being quite the same person or not having the same time to devote to one another. Watch out for each other – it’s no one’s job to pretend everything’s fine in front of their partner. That’s why you’re close to each other anyway – you’ve learnt you can be honest and upfront without putting on an act.
Letting your feelings, doubts and frustrations show in front of your partner is the emotional equivalent of letting him see you shave your legs, or admitting to her that yes, you have farted in the bed (or vice versa, of course). Be open and truthful, and if either of you needs help (and dads can get post-natal depression, too), make sure he or she gets it.
Talk about the great things your baby does, as well as the sleep-disturbing things. Coo over your baby together and share a sloppy, mushy ‘isn’t he the cutest baby that ever lived?’ session from time to time. Make a date for sex (or a video) and force yourself to laugh if the date gets broken.
Keep talking, keep communicating, and enjoy this great new interest you have in common – your baby.