Home Health For nervous couples, a baby may be competition for attention

For nervous couples, a baby may be competition for attention


A new kid can trigger feelings of jealousy in an individual who already fears being deserted by his or her partner, research study recommends.

A brand-new research study discovered that couples who revealed indications of relationship stress and anxiety prior to the birth of their first child were more likely to be jealous of the kid after it was born.

“You might think, who could be jealous of a baby? But if you already have fears of rejection, it may be scary to see how much attention your partner showers on your new child,” said Anna Olsavsky, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in human sciences at The Ohio State University.

This jealousy can make a currently challenging situation for couples’ relationships a lot more demanding.

The research study discovered that when either partner was jealous of the baby, couples experienced a decline in their satisfaction with their relationship after becoming parents.

“This jealousy can erode a couple’s relationship,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, study co-author and professor of psychology at Ohio State.

“There has been a lot of research that shows couples’ satisfaction with their relationship goes down after the birth of a baby, and this could be part of the reason for some people,” said Schoppe-Sullivan, who is a senior research associate on the board of the Council on Contemporary Families.

The research study was published online recently (March 3, 2020) in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

The scientists utilized information from the New Parents Project, a long-term research study co-led by Schoppe-Sullivan that is investigating how dual-earner couples adjust to ending up being moms and dads for the first time. In all, 182 couples, most of whom were wed, participated in this study.

During the third trimester of pregnancy, mothers and daddies completed a range of surveys, including one that took a look at “attachment stress and anxiety.” They were asked just how much they agreed with declarations like “I hesitate that I will lose my partner’s love” and “I stress over being abandoned.”

3 months after their child was born, the couples finished a procedure of jealousy of the partner-infant relationship. They reported just how much they agreed with declarations like “I resent it when my spouse/partner is more caring with our baby than s/he is with me.”

As they predicted, the researchers found that individuals with relationship anxiety prior to the kid’s birth were more envious of the kid three months after arrival.

But it wasn’t simply the anxious partner who felt jealous of the baby– even their partners felt higher levels of jealousy.

The factor might be that spouses of distressed couples are used to receiving a great deal of attention from their partner, which responsiveness may lessen when the baby shows up.

“There may be two things happening to the spouses of people with relationship anxiety,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

“It is not just that you aren’t receiving all the attention that you used to receive, but also that the child is receiving that extra devotion that once was given to you.”

The researchers entered into the study thinking that anxious fathers might be most susceptible to feeling jealousy of the brand-new kid, because dads tend to spend less time with babies than mothers do, Olsavsky stated.

But that’s not what they found. Anxious mother and fathers were similarly likely to be jealous of the time their partners spent with the new infant.

The results suggest that expectant moms and dads must understand their relationship model before their first child is born.

“There are a lot of programs for expectant parents, and attachment anxiety might be a good thing to assess beforehand,” Olsavsky said.

“If you make people aware of their relationship patterns, it may help them deal with the feelings more constructively.”

Other co-authors of the study were Meghna Mahambrey and Miranda Berrigan, both doctoral students in human sciences at Ohio State.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Drew Simms
Drew has always been known as a media jockey, founded a professional business, and a news blog covering the Apple ecosystem. He has served as News Editor and Managing Editor at The Next Web and is now Editor-In-Chief at Drew Reports News. He has made a name for himself in the media world as a writer and editor, relentlessly covering various topics. Contact Drew at drew@drewreportsnews.com.
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