Baby Wars: James and Valentina

Baby Wars: James and Valentina

"I want my bedroom back. I want the diapers and the toys removed immediately," says James, who has been married to Valentina for five years. The couple has a 2-year-old son and a 3-month-old daughter, who spend the night in their bed. "Our intimacy is being damaged because the children are in the bedroom."

 

Valentina says that it's common for babies to stay with their mothers. "There's no negotiation," she declares.

 

James, who has gone on strike and has been sleeping in a tent on the roof for 14 days, says, "I am speaking on behalf of all the husbands throughout this nation who suffer in silence."

 

Dr. Phil checks in with James and Valentina via satellite. "Valentina, what do you think about all this?" he asks.

 

"I think it's all crazy. I think he needs to come off the roof," she says.

 

"It seems to me, if what you're wanting is more time and attention and intimacy, you're going the wrong way. You moved onto the roof. Isn't it even more lonely up on the roof?" Dr. Phil asks James.


"My point for going on the roof was simply, at first, to get my wife's attention, to show her that I was serious," James explains. "I just decided to go to the roof so maybe she'd have pity on me, or understand that, 'My husband's serious.'"

"Uh, you're kind of screwed now. You moved up there and it didn't work, so now you either have to stay, or you have to come down," Dr. Phil jokes.

"Let's not say it didn't work. We're still going at this thing. I may have to be here all summer, but I plan to win. The game's not over," James says. 

 

Dr. Phil asks Valentina, "What are you going to do?"

 

"I'm sticking to my guns, Dr. Phil. My baby's not going anywhere," she says.

 

"Why?" Dr. Phil presses.

 

"Because I want her bonding with me every night," she explains.

 

"Do you think that you are kind of giving him the short end of the stick?"

"No, it's just for a short period of time. In a lifetime of a marriage, this is just a blink," she says. "Just a couple months — six, seven, eight months. In a lifetime of a marriage, maybe 50 years or so, this is nothing."

 

"I think that you have to have balance," Dr. Phil tells her, noting that bonding with children is 

important. "Can you guys get creative and find a way to meet the needs of the couple and the intimacy — staying close to each other and bonding with each other — other than just those few hours during the night?" Dr. Phil asks.

 

"That's why I started husbandonstrike.com, because I wanted to make this not only a debate between my wife and I, but a public issue. Because I feel this issue has been in the closet way too long with men. Husbands suffering in silence dealing with the children in the bedroom. I think it's just unfair that after a hard day's work, I want to enjoy my life alone, away from the children, and I don't see anything wrong with that," James explains. "Eighty percent of the people that come to the Web site and sign that petition I have there, they agree with me."

"I really think that one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children is to actively manage the relationship between that child's mother and father," Dr. Phil tells the couple. He points out that Valentina is not wrong for wanting to bond with her child. "But can you be creative, and say to him, instead of 'Get over it, and climb on up there,' which is kind of your attitude, can you say, 'He does have a need.

He's feeling rejected here. He's feeling alone here. He's feeling deprived here. Can I do some things to create some balance and some feelings of acceptance on his part?' And then ask him in return to support this aspect of 'what 'I'm doing for the next several months.'" 

"Yes, I think I can look into doing those kinds of things, during daytime hours," she agrees.

"That's my problem," James says. "She wants to do it early evening, but I'm saying late evening when it's time for just her and me, I want the kids out of the room."

 

Pointing out that only three months have passed since Valentina had the baby, Dr. Phil says, "That's a very short period of time. At this point, her maternal instincts are running 100mph. You might not be cutting her enough slack."

"There are ways you can work through this instead of giving each other ultimatums. Will you just consider that?"

"I sure will, Dr. Phil. I'll consider what we can do," Valentina says.