I think being in a primary committed relationship and having children are the hardest things we do in this life. Being in these roles triggers the most primitive, infantile feelings of being left and unable to take care of ourselves.

When a child is born to a couple the mother immediately and necessarily becomes the all consuming caregiver to a totally dependent infant. This is a bond with the newborn that can fulfill an old yearning for closeness and dependency. However what happens to the father and the relationship the couple has? The relationship is changed and will never be the same. The intrusion of the child alters the dynamics of the couple in very difficult ways. The father can feel excluded and in ways he is. The infant becomes the priority for the mother and the husband can feel replaced.

This is especially true for fathers who had a difficult time being the intruding child which is often the first born. The baby son bonding with the mother making the father feel replaced can be the beginning of a contentious relationship with the father. This makes the child feel left out of the couple’s relationship which then predisposes the new father to feeling excluded when he has a child.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial to making the kind of choices that can prevent relationship problems. The experience of feeling left out is a current feeling with roots way in the past that can make it feel catastrophic like unsurvivable. This feeling comes from being an infant completely dependent upon others for survival. Therefore the experience of being left makes one fearful of not surviving but, of course, this is not true in current reality. We are quite capable of taking care of ourselves and this is why it is so important to be aware of how we are feeling. It is crucial to be able to distinguish between a current and past reality. If we are unable to do this then our reactions to feeling left will create a resentment which will cause problems in the relationship.

 

With the accumulation of this resentment the father is likely to pull back from his spouse during a time when the wife and new mother especially needs love and support and the father needs to feel included. This is a pivotal time in the relationship when primitive feelings must be understood so that the right choices can be made which will keep the couple close.

Without this awareness the resentment will build and replace the love that was there. The father will withdraw into aloneness with a shame producing isolation and loneliness. He will secretly, even to himself, begin to resent his child and his wife. This is the beginning of trend that is very difficult to recover from and often leads to a split up.

This can be prevented with an understanding of the old, primitive feelings triggered by having a child. This is what I want to elucidate here.