Completely Overwhelmed and Looking for Advice! Is This Normal?

Updated on November 21, 2017
C.H. asks from Jacksonville, FL
9 answers

Hello! I am a newlywed and also a new mother. Our little girl is about 9 months old now and an absolute blossom.

I've been having a lot of problems with my husband and I can't tell if this is normal or if we should perhaps see a doctor/counselor. I've known him for many years and I do think that his upbringing honestly had a great deal to do with the way he behaves today. He came from an extremely effluent household and was raised with the belief that men belong in the workforce, women should be at home with the children, ect. Later on, his family had a bit of a fall from grace where they lost literally everything and I don't think they ever got over it.

Now, he spent about five years in the Army and went to college afterwards. We met through a function my dad was hosting after separating during high school and started dating after that. He's a brilliant man when it comes to work, and he has a good heart. He loves our daughter but unfortunately, is relatively oblivious to responsibility and good common sense. In the beginning of our relationship it wasn't so much of a big deal since we didn't have a little one depending on both of us and I could handle it.

It was originally things like leaving his clothes everywhere, never closing doors, never cleaning up his messes in the kitchen and expecting me to tidy it up for him, quite literally ALWAYS getting the exact opposite of what I'd ask him to pick up from the store. (For example I'd ask him to grab some cereal and he'd buy five boxes of pop tarts instead because they were on sale.) Then it escalated to catching the stove on fire, three times, not washing dishes that had things like milk residue or meat from a dinner the night before and giving one to me with fresh food in it which resulted in me getting quite sick, or leaving a bill unpaid and being surprised when I found out about it because he assumed I would automatically take care of it even without knowing it hadn't been paid.

After I had our daughter I sat down and talked with him about the fact that having a baby means she depends on us to keep her safe and healthy. I was upset I even had to explain this to him.

It's been nine months of absolute nightmares. We agreed that I would stay at home until she's in kindergarten and take care of our daughter. I anticipated and worked through the sleepless nights, worrying, figuring out that sometimes being a good parent means not knowing what you're doing but pushing through. What I did not anticipate was that my husband, while loving our baby, would still be alarmingly oblivious.

I understand that no one is perfect and all new parents have everything to learn. And my husband honestly means well, but I'm beginning to wonder if he might need medication. Not only do I have to repeat myself an average of four times before he will respond to me, but he also refuses to wash her bottles out unless I tell him to - and then I have to stand next to him and instruct him step by step how to use hot water and soap - but he also leaves things like thumbtacks, plastic ties, dirty shoes, used paper towels, forks, ect, in plain sight on the floor and WILL NOT pick them up unless I beg him to at least twice, lets her play with plastic bags, small candy wrappers, (I've spotted her popping them in her mouth about four times and about broke my ankle jumping over to get them out), and used wipes, and will be so obsessed with whatever football game is on that she'll fall over onto her face in front of him and he doesn't notice until she starts to scream. It's to the point where I've seen her about to fall and assumed he would stop her because she was right in front of him, inches away, but he was completely absorbed in the television. There have been moments when he's holding her and she is crying her poor heart out, but he'll literally stare blankly at her, thinking she'll stop on her own, until I walk into the room and say, "Sweetie, if she's crying, then you need to comfort her. You can't just stare at her while she cries."

I do my best to be a good wife and a good mother. I cook his meals, clean the house, take care of our sweet girl. And I need help - I can't do everything on my own. I put my college education on hold because that's what our family needed at the time. We live states away from all of our friends and family so after I'd given birth via emergency c-section, I was at home completely alone doing everything by myself. After months and months of having to beg him to help me with anything, usually three or four times, raising not only our daughter but him as well, my breaking point occurred three days ago. I found out a dear friend of mine committed suicide and all he wanted to do was sleep while I cried in our living room on the sofa, and he only came out after I once again begged him to be there for me. I was so stressed out that the morning after, I stepped out of my shower after crying again and realized the entire right side of my face had gone numb. My nerves were strained to the point of physically breaking down. When I called him at work, his first response was to say, "What the heck do you want me to do about it?" He isn't doing this out of malice - he is literally so clueless that he didn't realize how insensitive that might sound to me. He's insensitive in our marriage, too. He will come home and ask me what I made for dinner while I'm struggling with changing a diaper, a cat clawing the curtains, the vacuum still running, and the house clearly a mess. Or I'll have scrubbed the entire house clean and made dinner, and he'll come home, not thank me for cleaning everything, and tell me he already ate without picking a single thing up for me because he assumed I already made us both dinner and would just eat that instead. Then complain if I ask him to watch our daughter so I can sit down and eat. All of this has happened more times than I can count. There have been nights when I feel completely overwhelmed and just want him to talk to me, but when I go to him, his eyes will be glued to his phone. I'll ask him to talk to me and he won't even say anything until I say, "Can you please acknowledge the fact that I spoke?" And he'll say, "What am I supposed to say?" It may seem trivial, but it's happened so many times that it hurts less just to go into a room by myself and let all that stress wash over me until I'm worn out with it. It's worse because he truly isn't acting like this to be unkind. He is so devoid of common sense that he doesn't realize how hurtful he is being. I have to be broken down and sobbing for him to understand these things actually DO matter to me, and hold me and discuss it.

He works so hard to provide for our family and make sure we have all we need. But when it comes to our home life, it's like we suddenly cease to exist. Often when we discuss this, he comes back to this argument: he works to provide for us financially and I stay at home, therefore I should be doing everything at home anyway, and I shouldn't need help. I can't vent to my parents about it because they feel the same way and take his side every time. Several times my mother reminded me, "You aren't doing this to get a thank you. You are a good mother and wife, and that's all that matters."

I've tried talking to him countless times. My father and mother just tell me that he's a guy, to be patient, and not give up. When I break down, he either goes out and buys me a gift thinking that will make the problem go away, or he will swear to work on our issues and go back to the same patterns the next day.

I'm utterly exhausted and overwhelmed in every possible way. I feel like I am alone and I just don't know what else to do!

What can I do next?

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answers from Sacramento on

How does he do with other relationships in general? Does he have friends? He doesn't seem to pick up on emotional cues. I'd take him to the doctor to gather more information and possibly an evaluation. At least then you'll have some idea if it's intentional.

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answers from Boston on

Yikes. He sounds like my ex, who had been diagnosed with ADHD but never treated it consistently. One of the hallmarks of untreated ADHD is an inability to anticipate, understand, or react to the needs of other people. It's selfishness in the most literal sense - it takes so much mental energy to get through the day as a functional adult outside the home that there are no mental resources left for the energy and focus it takes to relate to other people. In addition to that, though, my ex never had to do chores growing up so despite having been in the military and having lived on his own a lot of his adult life, he really had no clue what it took to run a household, much less one with helpless babies in it.

What does he do for work? Is he in a job that demand executive functioning skills, or is he able to mask that deficit at work with a good assistant or support staff? A lot of people who are successful at work don't seem like they could have a problem like ADHD, but they've managed to compensate by setting up systems that work for them, using technology, or having good people around them who smooth the road and keep them on track.

Google ADHD and relationships and you might see a lot that sounds like your husband. If it does, then I would broach the subject with him if he would be open to it and ask him to talk to his doctor and get evaluated. If he's so oblivious that he will dismiss this, then see a counselor together. If there is something "off" with him, they'll pick up on it and bring it up. I think you should go to counseling together regardless, but he really could use an evaluation.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yes, there is a problem.
If he managed to make it 5 years in the army, then he is able to keep things neat, clean and managed.
Was he honorably discharged?
His upbringing is NO EXCUSE for his treatment of you and your daughter. Step out of that denial right now.
Neither he nor your parents want to deal with how he mistreats you and endangers his daughter.

You need to get in counseling ASAP. You need to start taking care of yourself. You need to do this for your daughter. While he is manipulating you with his incompetence, be smart and take advantage of this...start managing the money and hiding some for you and your daughter. Start recording his endangerment of your daughter Incase you need for legal reasons later.....Do not tell this of him.

Actually, I think not only could you benefit from counseling, but by also reaching out to a domestic violence shelter and discuss his behavior with a DV counselor.

Stop using your parents for emotional support. They cannot provide any at this time.
There are people who want you to feel good about yourself and feel empowered. I don’t think your husband and parents are those people.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It sounds like he's dangerous for you and your daughter to live with.
Looked at it in the worst possible light - food poisoning is a thing - and it's like it's deliberate with what he's doing.
Leaving tacks out within reach of a 9 month old = child endangerment.
What are you going to do if she chokes to death?
I wouldn't waste anymore time on this.
I am alarmed at what you are living with.
Take your daughter and run for your lives.
Or kick him to the curb.

He's dysfunctional and sees nothing wrong with it.
It's not your job to fix him.
He's got to see he has a problem and want to fix it - and he doesn't.
Talk to a womens shelter, lawyer up and get him out of your home and lives.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Some of this is common - but it's not normal. You'll see lots of posts on Mamapedia about women who are exhausted living with clueless men who just don't get that stay-at-home moms do a lot more than the dads' 40 hours a week. Usually I advise them to take a weekend and let the dad care for the kids and make the meals and develop some damn awareness.

Eyes on the phone, watching too much football, saying, "It's your job" - this is frustrating and common, and the sort of thing that gets addressed in marriage counseling. Communication skills, responding to feelings and stress, negotiating partnerships and parenting (which is done by both people, by the way)...those are all solvable issues.

Buying gifts to appease you, screwing up at the grocery store, or you having parents who don't get it or use the "he's a guy" nonsense excuse - those are annoying.

But the rest of it is alarming beyond belief. First of all, stop saying that he's working hard to make sure you and your daughter have everything you need. He's providing NONE of that. Zero. I'm not so sure that he's this clueless. Tacks and wrappers and used wipes on the floor? Filthy dishes and you're getting food poisoning? These are extremely hazardous conditions, and neither you nor your daughter are safe.

Stop defending him all the time - this is actually something that abused women do a lot. "Oh, he means well and he loves us but he wasn't raised right and he apologizes...."

Please get immediate counseling. I don't know what your expectations were of marriage or what you and he talked about, but clearly neither one of you was prepared for this situation. Maybe you were head over heels in love, maybe you are very young, maybe some things happened to him in the Army that shaped his fundamental character flaws...I don't know. But this is a highly dangerous situation, and your health is suffering in many alarming ways. Find a friend who can trade some babysitting hours with you so you can go to counseling - obviously you cannot leave your child with your husband. If your husband will go to counseling with you, great - but if not, go alone. This is serious on more levels than I can even begin to explain. You will benefit from some serious enlightening by a professional, and you need someone to listen to you and treat you like you matter. You are your daughter's only hope, so if you can't do this for yourself because you think it means you aren't a "good wife" in some way, then do it for your child. She doesn't have a chance if this situation doesn't change.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

1. Couples counseling
2. Assuming you have enough money, get a housekeeper, at least for big cleaning jobs a couple times a month.
3. When I was a SAHM, I did almost everything. I don't feel I should have, necessarily, but I did, and I can tell you that it's possible. My experience is that many, many men are clueless and selfish, and you practically have to beat them into helping out/listening/taking care of the kids/etc.
4. You have to be really, really clear with men what you want. So you will probably have to delegate tasks to him, in order for him to do them. Don't expect that he will do them on his own.

My kids are grown, and I did almost all of the child rearing and house stuff. He made the money, that's about it. I didn't like it, but I was able to do it all, as long as I didn't have to work. It took a long time to forgive him after our kids were grown, but I'm almost there. In hindsight I would have forced us into counseling early on. It might take a while to find a counselor who suits you, if you decide to go that route.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I couldn't live with a person like this. I'd file for divorce and that would be it. I am really afraid your child is going to end up in the ER and CPS is going to take her away from you both.

Get a job. If you don't have a job, he could get custody of her because you aren't able to support her. Having a job gives you options that you won't have otherwise. Put her in daycare even if it's expensive. Use paper plates and plastic cutlery instead of dishes. Hire a maid service to come and clean every week. Cost him money because he does nothing. Don't let him make demands on you. He is not your boss. He cannot tell you what to do. Make it stick.

Stop doing everything. This will never get better.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

All very good advice below.

The two bits that really stick out to me are Rosebud's and JB's - sometimes hearing personal stories from moms who have been there, is very, very helpful.

Like Rosebud - I have a friend who is doing it all. Her husband is responsible for the financial side of things, and that's it. She knew this going into it.

Did my friend think he would change and help out a bit more? I think so. I think she was completely overwhelmed. They had to move of course to suit him so no family or friends there to help her out in the early years. She did eventually get help to clean the house and found a childcare center. You might want to look into that as time goes on. She eventually found friends, a network of women, and they all help each other out.

Personally? I think there could be some condition (ADHD perhaps) there too. Doesn't mean he hasn't figured out how to function at his career. She could not leave her babies with him, nor her young children.

This is who she married. She accepted it.

This is who you married. You need to accept it. You can only change yourself. You sound very stressed. Sounds like you had a migraine (face numb). Mention it to your doctor.

Let things go. Who are you scrubbing the entire house clean for? You or him?

I have been a career mom and a SAHM. I treated both like a job. It helps if it you view it that way and prioritize. I'm very easy going but organized. Let the small stuff go. So long as your baby can't get into stuff, your house does not have to be like it was before baby. If you're thinking that's what hubby expects, and that's my role as a SAHM - that's warped. No 'real' mom keeps that up, and with a 9 month old, that's just not happening. I don't care what Pinterest or TV shows tell you - none of us on here live that way. Our houses have toys and laundry piling up as we type :)

Take care of yourself first. Your husband is a big boy and can take care of himself. I would invest in a playpen or an enclosure type device (gates) like my friend bought, and that's how she kept her baby safe even if she had to have a shower when her husband was home.

Keep us posted.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Having a baby is overwhelming and being a newlywed on top of it is rough. When we had our children, we knew I’d stay home and he would make the money.
There were many a day I thought I’d lose my mind because my husband didn’t have a clue - but he really didn’t. He is the oldest of 6, but wasn’t involved in caring for his siblings.

So - my advice to you is this:
Do what you can do at home. If you feed your daughter, change her, bathe her, and manage to all stay in one piece, it’s a good day. Handle the money. Do not let him do it. Give him an allowance.
Do the shopping. If you know he won’t bring you what you asked for, then just go yourself. It’s easier and in the end, you get what you need.

As for him not paying attention to your daughter, he needs to suck it up, and be a dad. Start small. Give him 10 minutes at a shot to deal. Go take a shower, do laundry or whatever, but make him handle her alone. Once she is a bit older, take an afternoon and head out on your own. Make him deal. If she falls, she falls. If she bumps her head, she bumps her head. She will learn what not to do... (I’m surprised any of us survived time with Dad back in the day!)

If he drops something and doesn’t pick it up, you can either fight with him or you can scoop it up. If my family leaves stuff around, I collect it. If they want it back the have to ask for it and depending on what it is, they may or may not get a lecture...

As she gets older, things will get easier. You just need to live through it.

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