My wife is still mad because I didn’t help out after our child was born

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company employee in my 40s. One night, when my high school-aged son was away from home, I wanted to be intimate with my wife, but she yelled “Gross!” and had a terrible expression on her face.

When I asked her why, she said, “Postpartum resentment can last a lifetime.” After my wife gave birth, I never helped take care of our child and I went out almost every night. She says she still can’t forgive me.

However, I’m sure any mother can get over being exhausted and sleep-deprived for only a few years. Does she have no respect for her husband, who was the breadwinner and allowed her to focus on child-rearing and taking care of the home?

My wife is apparently considering divorcing me once our son moves out. I lack communication skills, so I don’t think I’ll be able to find someone to marry me if she leaves. If I had known this was going to happen, I would have at least taken out the garbage after our child was born.

What can I do to regain my dignity?

—I, Tokyo

Dear Mr. I:

Looking at the situation from your wife’s perspective, you don’t seem to regret your actions at all. Your letter is filled with expressions like, “only a few years,” “I was the breadwinner” and “at least taken out the garbage.” These phrases suggest you only view your wife as a housekeeper and sex partner.

First, you need to realize the fact that you have not taken your wife’s feelings into consideration or treated her well since she gave birth. If the situation is right, she could divorce you at any time and you wouldn’t be able to complain.

However, I think it’s a blessing in disguise that you realize how your wife feels before she actually asks for a divorce. There’s no magic spell that can make your wife love you again, but now you can work on improving your communication skills. What I’m saying is that you should work on developing your skills for your future. It’s never too late.

If you love your wife and want to stay married to her, you shouldn’t be focusing on trying to regain your dignity. How about getting rid of your pride and working on prioritizing your wife? Make eye contact when you’re speaking to her, listen to what she has to say, and think about what she wants to do and act accordingly.

Even if things don’t work out between you and your wife, I’m sure it will be helpful to you in the future.

—Masahiro Yamada, university professor