My husband has become a different person since we had a child

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 40s. I’ve been married for 13 years and I can’t understand my husband’s personality anymore.

We used to be a good couple who never quarreled. But after our child was born, my husband bluntly said he wouldn’t change diapers. He also scolds our child loudly. When I was struggling to raise my child, I cried and asked him for advice on childrearing. But he just said: “There’s nothing I can do. That’s a mother’s job.”

Recently, my husband has been getting more and more irritated at work, and he constantly loses his temper at home. When I finally took our child to my parents’ house for a night, my husband reflected on his behavior and apologized to me. My feelings about him are still uncertain, but I try to smile and live a normal life.

If I keep living like this, one day I may explode at him. To prevent that from happening, I’m trying to get a new job. If I work hard at what I do and we can support each other, will everything be all right?

— R, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. R:

Couples’ relationships often deteriorate after marriage or childbirth. I’ve interviewed dozens of people who’ve been divorced, both men and women, and in most cases, they said, “I didn’t think they were like that.”

Your husband may have brought to the surface parts of his personality that he hid from you while you were dating. Or he may be showing his reliance on you in the form of attacks when he’s frustrated. I don’t know what his behavior really means. But I can tell from your letter that you are now questioning his character.

I think it was a good decision for you to go back to your parents’ house. The problem is what happened after that. Has he changed his behavior? Did he just apologize in that moment, or did he sincerely regret his actions? How do you feel?

If you think he only apologized in that moment, one way to handle the situation is to deal with everything in a businesslike manner, by thinking of your husband as a “business associate” and roommate with whom you raise your child. Eventually, as your work gets going and your child grows, the option of separation or divorce will open up.

On the other hand, if you feel that he is truly sorry, you can forgive him for what he’s done. You can just tell yourself silently, “I forgive you,” but you don’t need to say it to him that out loud. Repeating the phrase can have an effect on your feelings. As time goes by, your relationship will change for the better.

I think whichever route you take depends on how you feel.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor