Q: I'm going through a spell where I can't get it together enough to be nicer to my husband. I always apologize, but pretty soon an apology isn't going to be enough.
We have a toddler and a 4-month-old, both work full time, and I haven't slept more than three hours in a row for four months. I know I am stressed and overtired, but that's not an excuse for sniping at him like I do.
I never yell at him or say things that hit below the belt, but he sees my annoyance at every little thing he does, which is so unfair because most of the time he's not doing anything "wrong." I'm nursing, so can't get away long enough to get some sleep/get my head together. Any advice?
Mean to Husband
A: I've said before that solutions are often embedded in the one thing we're ruling out.
You have to step away to regroup. Have to.
Pump or supplement so your husband can do some night feedings (instant spouse-appreciation right there); hire sitters so you can get out or be home alone for the first time probably in months; set up a weekly date night, no excuses. Get screened for postpartum depression, too.
It can be tough to justify a break when you feel like you're not doing a good enough job at anything, but your biggest performance-killer now is your failure to rest. Period.
Again, you have to do this. Picking at everything your husband does isn't just "unfair," it's emotional abuse. You're right that hectic times don't excuse meanness, but go further and recognize hectic times don't excuse a choice to do nothing about your meanness. Call in whatever reinforcements you need to get.your.rest.
Picking at everything he does can put a young co-parent off the whole idea of shared child-rearing. It tends to be something women impose on men — an, "I've got this, you do it wrong," impulse of breastfeeding moms who start off as primary parent but then never hand over the reins, refusing to tolerate the very learning curve they themselves were on only months before.