This Isn’t What I Expected – Overcoming Postpartum Depression (9)

The ninth chapter is titled, “What’s Happening to My Marriage?”:  Helping Your Husband to Help You.”  The title pretty much says it all.  Here are some bullet points:

–  “Many women have been conditioned to avoid direct expression of their needs because until recently it was considered selfish or “unladylike” to draw attention to themselves or their requirements.  They may find it very difficult or embarrassing to ask for support, and many even fear that asking for too much will drive their husbands away.”

–  “Your needs are only human and are nothing to be ashamed of; you are entitled to ask for and receive support from those around you.”

–  “Never assume your husband knows how you are feeling at any time.”
–  “Be very specific about what you need at this time.”
–  “State your needs in terms of what you need and feel, not in terms of what he’s doing or not doing.”
–  “Use “I” statements, rather than “you” statements.”
–  “Try an empathic statement in which you acknowledge his position first, then your desire.”
–  “Test the waters before making a direct statement.”
–  “Don’t be afraid to make a direct request.”

–  Consider some of the practical ways that your husband can provide support.  He can …
     – pick up the dry cleaning
     – answer the phone and say you’re sleeping
     – do the laundry or other housework
     – make dinner, order in, or pick up take-out food on the way home from work
     – ask his mother or sister to come over and be with you during some of the time he’s at work
     – drive you to your doctor’s appointment
     – take responsibility for the baby’s bath or nighttime bottles

–  “While it is perfectly natural to wish for the romantic ideal of a man who instinctively knows what you need, it is not fair (and is often self-defeating) to expect that of your flesh-and-blood husband.  Instead, you must accept that you have to articulate what emotional support you need and how he can provide it for you.  No matter how much your husband may love you or how close your relationship is, your husband cannot read your mind.”

–  “Episiotomy stitches, cesarian-section recovery, breastfeeding (leakage, tenderness, self-consciousness, and hormone changes), exhaustion, vaginal dryness due to temporary hormone changes, and a fear of getting pregnant again all may contribute to postpartum loss of sex drive.  Women with PPD also often suffer from profound fatigue, low self-esteem, poor body image, and biochemical changes in the part of the brain that regulates sexuality.  Many clinicians see loss of sex drive as a hallmark of depression.”

–  “The fact that his sexual drive and your lack of sexual drive are out of synch doesn’t mean that your sexual relationship is gone for good.”

–  “Miscommunication frequently arises because women with PPD and the low sex drive associated with it also often have an increased need for affection and touching.  Some women hesitate to pursue this need because they are afraid that their husbands will interpret a reassuring cuddle as an overture for making love.  They may feel hurt or angry if their husbands do indeed become aroused by touching, leaving the men confused by what seems like a mixed nonverbal message.  Intimacy suffers when couples can’t talk about what they really want.”

–  “We encourage you to maintain or reestablish simple touching.  This kind of nonsexual touching is a vital part of your relationship with your husband.  With all of the changes going on right now, what you need is some consistent, nonthreatening expressions of affection, security, and trust.  Sometimes a touch can do just that – but you need to ask.”

~ by cmb0414 on June 12, 2010.

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