A few months before I met Ash, I had an acquaintance confide in me that they didn’t love their partner as much as they loved their newborn.
The love, they said, for their partner was replaced with a deeper love for the baby.
They felt guilty by this shift in the relationship, but knew that this was necessary to being a good parent.
I wasn’t sure how to respond because I wasn’t a parent and I wasn’t in a relationship, so I did what any awkward single person would do: I nodded and affirmed that they had nothing to feel guilty about. It made perfect sense to me: love for a partner could easily be replaced with love for a child. Biologically, we are geared towards wanting to care for our offspring more in order to ensure its survival into adulthood.
They were talking about simple biology and I had no reason to disagree. I asked if they told their partner about this shift in relationship dynamics. They hadn’t at the time, but that was a very difficult conversation, so I didn’t blame them.
Now that I am nearly a year-and-a-half into parenthood, I remembered our conversation: the aquaintance wasn’t wrong about the shifting love. The love I have for Jai is deeper than the love I have for Ash, but it is a different type of love.
I still love Ash deeply, more so every day because of all that he does for his family, but the love I have for Ash is completely different from the love I have for Jai.
Different Types of Love
Psychologically speaking, there are 7 different types of love. For Ash, my love is more nuanced and a combination of eros, ludus, and pragma. Whereas my love for Jai is storge and therefore completely platonic in nature.
So it isn’t that I love Ash or Jai more/equally I just cannot compare or measure the love for either because the love is so different.
The fact that my acquaintance was concerned about this conundrum is not unusual: there are plenty of forum posts and articles out there where mothers admit to loving their children more than their partners.
Unfortunately, what does not seem to be addressed is that the love between partners and the love between parent/child has to be different. I feel like this is obvious, but there shouldn’t be the same sort of sexual feelings for the child that would happen with a partner.
When it Might be a Problem
If Ash or I developed any feelings of resentment towards each other because our attention was divided towards Jai, then there would be cause for concern. If that happened (or happens down the road), the best thing we could do is sit down and address those feelings together.
It may be on our own, or with a neutral third-party, but those feelings would need to be addressed to mitigate any jealousy or resentment for Jai.
Preemptively dealing with any issues will help Ash or myself feel understood in a moment of frustration and perceived neglect. Chances are Ash isn’t neglecting me intentionally when he spends more time with Jai on the weekend, but he is loving his role as father and wants to spend time with his son.
If I feel neglected or resentful because of his divided attention, I should address it and we work out a schedule so he can give me the undivided attention I desire.
There would be nothing wrong with my feelings of frustration – they would be completely normal and understandable. How I address them and how Ash helps me arrive at a solution is what matters most.
It’s Going to be Okay
I did have a moment at the very beginning, when my postpartum hormones were still leaving my system where I felt like I loved Jai more than Ash.
I decided to have a conversation with Ash about it.
Surprisingly, he wasn’t hurt and sort of relieved because he had been having similar feelings too. He was shocked at how much Jai had permeated our lives so quickly once he was born, but relieved to know that he wasn’t alone in feeling this way and that I was equally unconcerned over the matter.
Talking it out was the best thing we could have done in that moment.
It alleviated any feelings of concern and doubt, but it also put the whole situation into proper perspective: we were able to see that the love we shared for our son was different from the love we shared with each other. For us, this moment of honesty brought us closer together.
It was okay that we felt something more for our son, biologically we were supposed to, but it wasn’t the same feelings we had towards each other. Our feelings for each other had deepened because he saw what I went through during my pregnancy and labor, and I see how much his son means to him.
Jai became a physical manifestation of the love we have for each other and we are raising him with that love being poured into him.
That isn’t to say there won’t be days where I feel like it’s easier to love Jai more than Ash or Ash feels the same towards me: that’s okay as long as both of us move past those moments and reaffirm our love.
It won’t be easy, but love never is.
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