Tackle new-parent marital issues calmly, without anger
Q: My husband and I have been best friends throughout our relationship. But we now have a high-maintenance 6-month-old son, so although we have weekly date nights, we don't have much "couple time" day-to-day.
Since our son was born, my husband has befriended a female co-worker, with whom he talks for an hour or more almost daily. The twist is that our sex life is very good, but I'm starting to feel like the "other woman." I don't know whether to do something (if so, what?) or just wait it out. Things have to get easier as the baby gets older, right? I want to be his best friend again.
A: Things don't "have to" do anything, except respond to the passage of time — and one possible response in this case is for you to emerge from the baby years with a lovely child and no husband.
That's among the worst-case scenarios, obviously, but it's bad enough — and with solid enough precedent courtesy of others who have traveled this path — to warrant scratching "do nothing" from your list of options.
Your husband is taking most of his emotional intimacy outside the marriage. You need to explain that to him, calmly, without anger; you need to say that you feel hurt and that you miss his friendship; and you need to reality-check his likely response if you spent hours on the phone talking to your new male friend.
Should he offer a bunch of defenses, remind him that you aren't accusing him of anything, you're merely pointing out a fact — again, that he's talking more and more intimately with a colleague than he is with you lately — and letting him know how you feel about this fact.
Please also anticipate those defenses by scanning your own behavior, to see how you may have helped to create a vacuum that he's filling elsewhere. Whether it's happening here, I can't say, but it's not unusual for a new parent (typically Mom) to put all of her intimacy into the child. That's especially common when one parent gets the hang of a fussy baby before the other ... and then takes over. It may start as a matter of expediency, but that can quickly grow into an ego war — "I'm the only one who can soothe him" — and end in martyrdom: "Just give him to me, I'll stay home, you go without me."
A marriage of friendship between peers needs the even flow of responsibility — and investment in the family — to carry over into parenthood, and you both need to feel like full partners in the baby's care.
Even if this isn't a problem in your marriage, and you aren't shutting your husband out emotionally, there's still the reality that babies wreck sleep and change marriages.
Difficult babies (colicky, allergic, special needs, sleep-averse, there are all kinds) present the duress of delayed gratification as little else will.
And when an easy pleasure makes itself available at such times, then all but the strongest people will at least entertain the idea of other options — or just lie to themselves that ditching one's wife and baby to chat up a new female pal for an hour a day is no big deal.
So, forgive him this when you tell him to cut the (bleep).