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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Extensive experience fostering family relationships through consultation / counseling.
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My girlfriend I have a 5 moth old son together. Since my son

Customer Question

My girlfriend and I have a 5 moth old son together. Since my son has been born my girlfriend has gone out to the club a total of 6 times since he was 2 months old. She hangs out with friends at least every week and asks me to go on solo trips out of town so she can party more. I told her I want her to calm down and she responds by dumping me and calling me controlling. What do you think I should do? Am I really being irrational? All I want is her to give it a rest until he is older.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

I'd recommend you sit down with your girlfriend to talk with her about what it is she gets out of this. People only do behaviors that meet their needs -- Something about going out the clubs is really appealing to her and (sadly) outweighs wanting to spend time with her new son. Be careful when you broach the subject -- You don't want to lay blame or imply that she's being a bad mother (defenses will go up and she'll immediately tune you out). Open the conversation by talking about how she IS a good mom. Ask her questions about how she thinks everything is going and whether she needs anything from you (respecting her needs will make her more likely to respect yours). Then explain that it's really important to you that she spend time with your son -- particularly when he's still so young.

An infant's attachment to their caregivers is a crucial stage for a baby. If you want more fuel for the discussion, do a simple search online to learn more about attachment theory. Babies without a strong attachment have been shown to have relationship problems later in life (this is the extreme, of course, but worth of mentioning).

During the course of your conversation, explain what it is you need and ask if there's a way to compromise that might meet both of your needs. Successful relationships are based upon open, honest communication. It sounds like your girlfriend wants to be able to be young while she can and you're wanting her to be more involved as a mom. You're both right. So, now you need to find a way to make you both happy. I wish you the best of luck!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I understand everything you are saying but I think there might be deeper issues. I am starting to get negative thoughts because the fact that she wants to go on solo trips, and go clubbing with friends so much. I am younger than she is and I have given up that lifestyle. I don't know what I can do to get it through to her. I'm not trying to cut off everything social, I just think now is really not the time in life to be a party animal. She is with our son a lot and I understand it is a lot of work, but to me it's not enough of an excuse to continue this behavior.
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
I understand your concern. How would she respond if you told her this?

The issues could run deeper or it could simply be her opportunity to take a break since she's with home with her son a lot. The newborn stage can be pretty overwhelming. It's possible her needs will change once his sleeping patterns are more established and she feels more competent as a mom.

Her suggestions that you should take trips away are a little concerning. I'd definitely want to address that matter when you speak with her. Is she wanting you to go because she wants you to enjoy your time with friends as well? Or is she wanting you to go because she doesn't want you questioning where she is and what she's doing?

If the matter can't be resolved through this discussion, you could suggest couples counseling. I normally wouldn't jump to this for a dating relationship, but in this case you share a child (and always will!) It's important for you to be able to communicate with one another. Counseling would provide a safe environment to share feelings and the guidance of a professional to help you meet your goals as a couple. Present this idea as a way for you to be better parents and make your relationship as a couple stronger as well.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
She has not suggested that I take trips. She tries to get away every chance she gets. I've denied her two out of town trips that she's asked me about going on. I would be fine with her having a day with her friends on an occasional basis, but it is so frequent that I am getting upset. She does work part time (in a night club) so I would think she has had her fill.
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
I'm glad to hear she's not suggesting you go away.

Perhaps you could present the idea of a day with her friends as part of the compromise. Or maybe she'd be comfortable with going out just 1-2x/month AFTER your son goes to bed so she's not missing out on important family time. The point is that you need to come up with a plan where you're meeting halfway.

I'm sure she'd tell you that working in a night club is very different than being a patron. The fact that she works there tells me she must enjoy that kind of environment. It sounds like she's trying to figure out a balance between that side of her and being a new mom. I wonder what her feelings are on all of this... Does she enjoy being a mother? If she's going out at night to burn off stress, is there anything that can be done to make her days easier?

I can absolutely understand why this is upsetting to you. You assumed she'd slow down after the baby was born and obviously that's not the case. I'm hoping the two of you can find a middle ground here.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The thing is I don't even want her to be going out once or twice a month. I think she has been out to the night club enough. Our son is not even one year old yet, but she continues to live this life. She does not want to meet me half way, she says that she is not going to give up living for me.

I am not perfect, but I have given up everything that I used to do. I don't hang out with friends as much, don't go out to clubs, and don't take trips anywhere, all I do is work. I really do love this girl, I just don't know how to get through to her that this is not okay. She has had a hard life but I want to get her to understand that I am not calling her a bad mother, I just want change.
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
I'll be honest with you -- My first reaction to what you're requesting from her is that I think it's a tall order... You may be asking her to give up entirely something that is really important to her. While she may do it because she loves you, it could result in her feeling some resentment toward you for not being willing to compromise in some way.

I'd ask her what it is about going out at night that she enjoys. Is it spending time with friends? Perhaps there are other times / activities she could find to hang out with them. If it's the music, maybe a concert of some kind. Spending time with friends is a healthy thing for her to do (and for you to do, too!) That kind of balance can actually make her a better girlfriend, friend, and mother because she'll feel more whole as a person as opposed to being JUST a girlfriend, friend, or mother. Does that make sense? I'm sorry if I'm being brutally honest here...
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I appreciate your honesty, I just think that now is not the time. I know we are still young but our son needs us around. I feel terrible when I leave him just to go out to a night club. I guess thats just me though
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
I can understand where you're coming from. Realize that your girlfriend doesn't feel that way when she goes out (as awful as that may sound). Perhaps she feels like it's a necessary break and when she returns she's refreshed and ready to be a better mom and girlfriend. Tell her your feelings surrounding this issue... Perhaps your compromise isn't that she slow down, but that she stop completely -- for a specified time. That may be a way to meet both of your needs. No matter what your age, having some time away is a very healthy way to achieve that balance I spoke of earlier. Even if it's just a quick coffee with a friend, it's a great way (particularly for a new mom) to re-charge and feel like herself again. Being new parents can be exhausting. It's important now more than ever to try to be a team, though. Often the stress of a new baby can strain a relationship. You can strive to avoid that by continuing to maintain open, honest communication about what you need and respecting her needs as well.