Have you had a baby this year and found yourself wishing your partner were a little more involved? It goes without saying that you’re thrilled to have your little cherub, but lately do you find yourself feeling like a solo mom or complaining to your girlfriends and family about “doing it all alone”? Do you breastfeed the baby all night and then start to resent your hubby in the morning when you see him heading off to work shaved, showered, and wearing nice clothes? As you tackle the mounds of dishes piled high in the sink while you’re still wearing your jammies, do you wonder when you’ll ever get a chance to shower in the morning again?
If you fall into this category, don’t feel guilty and hit the Häagen-Dazs—there are ways to change the situation. Plenty of experts out there will tell you to focus not on your partner, but on yourself. I believe that what you do and say and think does affect others, but I can tell you only what I know to be true—and that’s what didn’t work for me. In fact, I’ve put together a list of some of the disastrous things my friends and I have confessed to doing that ended up only making matters worse. I’m convinced that the following actions caused my husband to run to work each morning, stay there later each evening, and travel more—rather than want to come home and help with our two children. If you avoid these pitfalls, I’m convinced that your partner will see the light and start to pitch in more.
1. Criticize the way he changes diapers. In fact, stand over him as he does it and direct him on using the right diaper cream and how hard to wipe the baby’s bottom.
2. Every time Dad puts the baby in a new outfit, tell him it’s the wrong one. Make sure to remind him that it’s winter or summer, as he obviously doesn’t know what season it is.
3. Emphasize how hot or cold the baby will be when wearing what he picked out, and show him what you’d put on the baby.
4. If he ever makes a bottle for the baby, never thank him. Just sigh really loudly as you test the milk on your arm and declare, “It’s too hot—it’s going to burn the baby’s tongue.”
5. Never, ever tell your partner about the good things that happen throughout the day with the baby.
6. If your cherub is crying hysterically when your partner gets home from work, be sure to say, “S/he’s been like this all day!”
7. Hand the baby over to your hubby the minute he walks in the door, and then stomp out saying, “I just need to get some air.”
8. Don’t be gone long, though—five minutes tops—as you know your husband can’t possibly handle the baby on his own.
9. If your partner offers to take care of the little one so you can go out with your friends, always refuse; tell him you know it would be too much for him and that he really doesn’t want to do it anyway. (And if you do go out, hand him a laminated list of what to do and what not to do.)
10. Refuse to hire sitters, since none of them could possibly be qualified to take care of the baby.
12. Be sure to do the dishes and clean the house when the baby sleeps—working out or doing yoga on tape can wait. (Because relieving your stress and feeling better about yourself can’t really help your relationship with your spouse.)
13. When your husband attempts to have sex with you or makes a romantic gesture, be sure to shrug, laugh at him, and say, “As if.”
14. If friends are over to see the baby, don’t forget to criticize your husband in front of them. For instance, if he offers to change the baby’s diaper, speak up. “Well, that’s a first!” or “Don’t put them on backward like you did last time” are both good choices.
As tongue-in-cheek as this list seems, I hope you take it—or, rather, the opposite of it—to heart, because not following these facetious kernels of wisdom can be a lifesaver. While caring for your new baby may feel overwhelming, remember not to neglect your relationship with your spouse—I learned the hard way how these types of stress can complicate a marriage. Best of luck in this wonderful, complicated, stressful, and amazing time!