I just read a great article in Pyschology today written by Karen Kleinman MSW, LCSW entitled "This Isn't What I Expected". It's about that phenomenon I keep bring up in sessions about expectations and new dads developing postpartum depression. Ten percent in the United States at last count. It is really about postpartum family depression and I do believe a lot has to do with everyone's expectations. Maybe that's why I might dwell on the realities a little more than clients sometimes like. Having a baby come to live at your house is a complete reversal in role and often fortune.
Those pre-family days were fun. You were accountable to you, your partner and the law. Now your life is dictated by a little baby. No more spontaneous night or weekends off. No more spontaneous anything. And when that big event is planned and the sitter is good to go; the baby has a high fever.
So it's not what you expected. If your wife has PPD, you are certainly at risk for being depressed also. Living with a depressed person kind of takes its toll on the rest of the family too. When you are depressed, you can't sleep, have less energy and of course the demands of your depressed spouse increase your responsibilities. The best thing you can do for a depressed partner is to take care of yourself, so one of you is carrying- on carrying on.
Make sure you eat well, exercise and get as much sleep as you can. Don't put undue demands on yourself. Just do the best that you can do. Don't put yourself last and take the best piece of meat for yourself. Don't blame yourself and don't blame your partner. It is what it is and this is only temporary. If you have addictive tendencies, GET SUPPORT. And get couples support if you are taking it out on each other.
It is stressful to bring home a new member of the family. And remember that even good things are by definition causes for stress. Change is stressful. You may have to rearrange your exercise or golf times. You may feel as though you went from being the first to the last. There may not be any clean socks in the underwear drawer. And dinner might not be by candlelight anymore. Those after work out-with-the-guys beers might not come so often. But not forever. Make sure that your expectations are reasonable and then maybe you won't be quite so disappointed, some of the time.
Share what's going on with your friends and you might find out that your new life is a lot like theirs.