My wife and I always had an unbelievably rock-solid relationship. We did everything together. Literally everything. And we loved it that way. Even as far as if she had a doctor's appointment, I'd be happy to come wait and then we can get lunch together afterwards instead of her going alone.
Now with two young kids, we've grown so far apart it hurts my soul. Both of us are WFH FTE and essentially SAHP with minimal help so that has made us crazy tbh. Our oldest is now in daycare and my MIL comes twice a week to help with the kids.
My wife focuses only on making the kids happy and thinking about them and their needs (buying clothes for each season, rotating toys to play with, thinking of costumes, holiday gifts, fun activities to make the holidays fun for them, etc) while forgetting about us. I try to keep the spark alive.
Ice cream outings as a family, going out to dinner, trying to touch and hold her, wanting to book a night away and leaving the kids with my in-laws. She used to say those types of things would help her with feeling more intimate with me. But when I do them or initiate the idea, she acts like it's normal parenting things to do and nothing special. Same thing with tasks around the house.
She admittedly was the one initiating cleaning up after dinner (for example) and then I would jump in to help out. Ever since she mentioned she doesn't want it to be that way, I've made a huge effort to proactively think of and cook dinners, clean dishes, clean the counters, clean baby bottles, let her sleep in a bit and I'll be with the kids, run/remove dishes from dishwasher but she doesn't seem to view me as a "special dad" or partner.
I'm just "doing what a parent should do." And that really hurts to hear because I admire everything about her and view her as a goddess in all facets. Always have. I know I'm lucky and I always thought she felt the same before we became parents.
My love language is touch. Hers is acts of service. I've tried hard to do more acts of service to show her how much I care about us. I do A LOT in our house. She has absolutely no desire to do the same for me. I constantly try to hold her, touch her, lay with her and she pushes me away for a million and one reasons. It really hurts. She never initiates touching with me (anymore) now with kids.
Admittedly, I had a really hard time transitioning from our lives as a couple to parents. I have always been short-fused (but rarely tested so it didn't come up often) and impatient. Then the kids came and I became very angry at times (example, when I wanted to eat dinner and they'd be pulling on my shirt, trying to eat my food, throwing food everywhere, etc).
I wasn't used to that. Same with changing diapers. I'd be carrying a child who's kicking, screaming, hitting and testing my patience -- of which I had none at the time. Even though I've absolutely changed so much for the better, she can't forget about how I used to be in those situations no matter how hard I try to show how much I've changed.
Not to mention, now an overbearing MIL who I didn't appreciate constantly coming in and always trying to be the focus and making me feel almost like an uncle instead of a father. I'm more than happy letting others have fun with my kids.
But I didn't/don't like when she comes and completely takes over doing everything (talking over me when I'm trying to talk with my daughter, jumping in to take the attention when I'm trying to play with her, holding her hands out when I can't see her so my daughter will want to go to her instead of staying with me, etc). This has caused MAJOR blowup arguments with my wife when I mention how I don't like that she does those things.
I started seeing a therapist and that helped a lot with my patience and anger issues. I've tried so hard and worked so hard on those areas and I know I've had major improvements. My wife essentially doesn't care.
Because I've ruined everything already by not having as seamless of a transition to parenthood as she has and for ruining her relationship (making it awkward, I guess) with her parents because she's uncomfortable to ask them to come over because of how my MIL can make me feel. I can admit my MIL is a great person who's just excited to see her granddaughter, but it feels like it's always at my expense. I've been trying to not let it bother me though now.
Unfortunately I think it's too far gone at this point. My wife and I are in another argument about something I mentioned her mom did that basically pushed me out of the way in front of my daughter and I didn't like, because I wouldn't do these things to anyone else.
Anyways, sorry for the rant. AITAH for feeling this way and letting this bother me so much to the point that it causes blowups with my wife and I whenever I mention them, and is now ruining our marriage?
Sorry dude, but YTA. You became a parent before you were properly an adult and now you’re having to do both- become an adult and a father at the same time. Cooking dinner, cleaning dishes, cleaning counters, doing the dishwasher- none of this is special. At all. It’s just adult chores. It’s boring, daily stuff that needs to happen. Part of being an adult is doing it automatically without needing to be told.
When they tested your patience, you got angry. Now you’re addressing that in therapy. You should have addressed that before the kids came. Of course your wife can’t forget you shouting at the kids- who can forget someone yelling at a baby?
Right now, your wife isn’t putting in the effort because you’ve failed. Badly. You’ve failed to act as an adult and then as a father. You’ve started to work on your issues with a therapist, which is good, but you’re expecting praise and attention from your wife for going from failure to normal behavior.
This is the critical point. You’re not going from normal behaviour to great or exceptional. You’re going from bad behaviour to normal. As an adult, that doesn’t get praise or extra attention. Think of it this way- if you screwed up at work and got put on probation, but then fixed the issue and got back to normal, you wouldn’t get a big pay rise straight away.
The way you might rescue this situation is to stop expecting a big positive reaction from your wife. Don’t expect any positive feedback from her at all for now. All your actions have to be focused in on yourself- how can you make sure the household runs well?
How can you make sure your kids are happy and healthy? Are you up to date with their healthcare/ growth/ development/ social diary? Is their mother well? Has everyone got clean clothes in good condition? Etc.
OMG buying children clothing appropriate for seasonal weather? How dare she. You poor man.
For someone so hyperfocused on their love language, you sure as fuck have put no effort in understanding your wife's. Acts of service is someone taking away labor from that person's plate out of care for them. Not doing the basic labor they should have been doing all along for the health and care of their family.
An act of service would be drawing up a bath, going and getting your wife's favorite coffee when she's too busy to do so, things that are outside of regular home and family care and chores. The little things that say, I notice, and I care about you.
Of course your wife has no interest in fulfilling your love language, you've never come close to touching fulfilling hers and actively showed how little you cared about her and your family for years as long as she didn't bother to remind you that as an adult, you should be doing chores like the rest of the family.
Sorry, I know you're a human and you're struggling right now, but you might want to talk to your therapist about all the ways in which you center yourself and your happiness over that of others in your family.
It's good that you're working on your anger, it really is, but these things don't course-correct overnight nor do other people's opinions of you. That takes time. You clearly know what behaviours are causing the problems but do them anyway. You're parents now. Get a grip, dude. YTA.
Cleaning up and doing things with your kids IS a normal part of parenting. You’re not special. You’re not going to get an award for being an adequate dad. The award is that your kids get reasonable parenting and you hopefully get to have a solid relationship with them.
You’re acting like your wife is a vending machine that you put adequate parenting into and she is supposed to dispense approval. Of course she can’t forget that you were “short-fused” and “angry at times.” As a mom, it was her job to keep her kids safe and she had to keep them safe from you.
That’s abusive to little kids. You want her to forget that? She isn’t going to forget that. You shouldn’t forget it either. You’re going to need to keep working with your therapist around some of these things. Including wanting a reward for being halfway decent. YTA.
YTA what does a special dad even mean? It does sound like you just being a parent. You say you do a lot but list normal everyday chores and childcare.