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The Intruder Complex: Who is This Tiny Creature and Why is He Taking Over My Life?

By drpaulpeebles, Nov 9 2017 04:11PM

Once fertilization is accomplished, we fathers can often feel a sense of displacement and even a bit of jealousy. Pregnancy can begin to threaten our identity as a husband and as the person who was previously the primary thought of our wives. This displacement may cause us to back off and avoid being proud as potential fathers. As one father put it after attending various birthing classes, parties and baby showers, “The talk is forever about only this baby! Nobody knows even who I am or what I do!”

At childbirth classes, prospective parents are taught breathing techniques, breastfeeding is discussed and books are introduced that describe everything about childbirth except for the father’s role. Although the father is involved and excited with anticipation, he may also experience a foreboding sense of exclusion.

Fathers resent these exclusions and may envy the attention their wives are receiving. The pregnancy thus intrudes into their previously well-established life and relationship with their wives. This is the beginning of the Intruder Complex.

The anticipation of this intrusion may make some of us fathers reticent to even conceiving in the first place. As a father feels this, he may begin to harbor secret doubts and wonder if the pregnancy wasn’t a mistake, even though outwardly he may declare he is ready and eager for fatherhood. He may become decidedly unexcited about this impending child. This is particularly true if the father himself grew up emotionally needy.

A father may then feel guilty and selfish for these negative, egocentric thoughts, and begin wondering what is wrong with him. Arguments may result between expecting parents. Doubts may arise about the desirability of this pregnancy and becoming parents…or… even about the marriage.

What’s important to realize is that these feelings are perfectly normal and even common. While it isn’t an easy topic to discuss, the good news is that solutions exist and these feelings almost always recede. The first book in The Psychological Survival Guide for Parents: OMG! We’re Pregnant, delves much deeper into this issue as well as providing the solutions for dealing with it and coming through the other side.

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