I would think it has more to do with your wife being frustrated about other things, too. I can't imagine a parent not loving their child.
Loving and liking are two different things. You can love somebody and not like them a whole hell of a lot, particularly if you are tired and stressed out and the kid is screechy.
There have definitely been phases in my life where I had relatives I loved but didn't want to spend a lot of time with.
I don't think it does any good to make her feel bad or to judge her. I mean, she's not a horrible monster, right? She probably already feels like shit for finding your daughter annoying.
She was probably just having an off day. Cozy Trouble has been loud since birth as well and it is sometimes hard to deal with since neither my partner or I have this type of personality. I am always trying to find a balance between letting Cozy express herself and stopping her from being a little tyrant. Days when we don't find that balance, I feel all-around crappy.
I don't know. This is a hard one to offer advice. Family therapy might be good, or one on one therapy for your wife. Other than that, maybe just give her the time and space for your daughter to outgrow this crap and for your wife to find ways to connect with her. We live up to what is said and/or perceived about us. Kids who are told they are stupid believe they are stupid, annoying believe they are annoying. If you buy into the notion that your wife is always short changing your daughter that's what you'll perceive and the pattern you'll all fall into.
I don't think people talk about it, but it happens. I think this happens more than we think. Offhand, I can think of more than a few people who I know this is true for (and some of them will admit it). I will suggest that sometimes "annoying" in kids can be a sign of other issues: hearing, a need for occupational therapy, etc. Sometimes gender stereotypes are imposed and make "loud and annoying" girls seem louder and more annoying than they would be if they were boys.
But basically, it sounds like you are doing your best to support both. And yes, I think it's time for outside support. Find it.
I agree with mcglory that therapy might be appropriate. I think an outside source that you can both be really open with would be a huge help. because whatever the reason, your wife needs to figure out what's going on so she can temper her reaction and make sure the Girl doesn't sense her mom's disconnect. It CAN be hard to love all our kids the same, but it's important that we do whatever we can do to make sure they don't notice it.
Not knowing your wife beyond that one time we met at an OS gathering, it's impossible to really pin it down with accuracy. But I'll share some thoughts, for what it's worth. Feel free to dismiss any of this if it doesn't feel like a fit.
Since you put yourself out there, I'll go ahead and admit that when The Boy was younger and a hell of a lot more challenging, I also experienced moments of intense dislike for him. I always loved him fiercely, but there were times when I was just done with him, and not just because I was having a bad day. I wouldn't say it out loud, but I would let some pretty angry words run through my head.
Things got a lot better once we had the Aspergers diagnosis and half a clue what to actually do to make things better. And things got immensely better when I finally went on anti-anxiety meds. But years before that, I started seeing a therapist to cope with a number of stresses in my life, including that one. I don't know what I'd do without her.
I'm sure my situation is completely different from your wife's situation. But the one thing we probably have in common is that there's a tapestry of different influences that are making things feel so bad. It's not just her. It's not just your daughter. It's about expectations, anxiety, stress, and plain old baggage. For me, the only way to unwind that mess was through therapy. You can't just "will power" yourself out of a situation like that, and you can't figure it out by talking to your partner or your girlfriends because they can't objectively challenge and inspire the way a good therapist can. (A GOOD therapist, not a shitty one. It might take a while to find a good one.)
As for what you can do, I'd say just listen with sincere empathy. And then see if you can help her figure out some solutions.
Maybe your girl's preschool isn't a good fit. You'd be surprised what an amazing difference the right preschool can make. Maybe she needs to be in a place where she can be as loud and awesome as she needs to be and pour her creative and physical engergy into hands-on projects. Check out Reggio Emilia. Or maybe just a gymnastics class or art or something. Teach her how to take that grrl power and use it for good.
You might also want to look into sensory processing issues. It's not a full-on disability; just a thing some kids have that makes them have extreme reactions to sensory input...either freaking out if lights are too bright, etc., or really seeking intense sensory input with lots of hugging, squeezing, stepping on adults' feet on purpose, constantly moving, etc. The book Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller explains it pretty well.
Hope any of that helps. Hang in there.....
Yes to all of the above - intense dislike for a kid, even ongoing intense dislike, is normal. But a little therapy never hurt anyone either. It's possible your wife has triggers that your daughter is setting off that your wife may not even know she has. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong - it's just a way to get some perspective on what might be going on for her, and since she's the adult, it's a way to get some tools to maintain a positive relationship without just cramming her feelings of dislike down into an even more secret part of herself.
It's also possible something in your daughter's environment, or in the family dynamic, is contributing to the loudness. Sometimes kids come home and are their most inconsiderate and obnoxious selves because they've been holding it together all day and know they can let down their hair a little with family who love them, or maybe there's a different kind of attention your daughter is expressing a need for.
But give your wife a hug for me, and tell her I feel her on this, and that it's going to be okay. She's not a bad person for struggling with these feelings, and frankly, a worse parent wouldn't even acknowledge them, they'd just lash out. I see it all the time. She's a good parent because she's willing to be honest with herself and you about how she feels, and do what she can to keep it from hurting your daughter.
Ah, that is painful. I don't really have much to add except to echo the facts that (a) it's not unusual, (b) it's awesome that your wife is able to recognize and articulate her feelings and that you're there to help figure out how to move forward through it, and (c) therapy. Objective unbraiding of the issues -- wife's, daughter's, or family's -- can only help.
In line with kommish's first paragraph, the book I would recommend is Parenting From the Inside Out. Fantastic book that can help parents figure out what buttons of their own are being pushed by certain behaviors on the part of their children, and work through those issues for everyone's benefit.
But also, therapy.
I feel for you guys. That cannot be an easy situation.
I went through a phase of not liking the Little Miss. For me, she was the source of all the illness and bad health I'd suffered and continue to suffer through. I recognized that this was a distinct feeling of its own, above and beyond the fact that I loved her with all my heart. So it was very confusing for me, and it got to the point where I was starting to have panic attacks. Luckily I realized that I should be in therapy, and after just a few sessions getting all those feelings off my chest I felt So. Much. Better. Haven't had an anxiety attack since then. My feelings for the Little Miss have mellowed in that regard, I still love her and like her now more than ever. I think people here made good suggestions about going to therapy. Beyond being an awesome husband for not being all judgy about her feelings, it's nice that she felt like she could confide in you.
I think with most little kids, a lot of the time, we just have to wade through their various behavioral phases as best we can, and hope the shit doesn't come above the tops of our wellies. It's harder to see the end, when you're still stuck in the middle. But it's coming. Do not doubt that.
After seeing other people's responses it occurs to me that yes, if this is an ongoing thing that may affect the girl and the wife's relationship, outside assistance might really be necessary. But I know that I myself sometimes have responses to my children that seem highly irrational a day or week or month or two later. One day, they are just horrible and I am clearly the worst mother ever. Then, at some point in the not-too-distant future, I can't really remember what the big deal was. (And for the record, the Curmudge has given me that - "How can you say that about your own child?" look and it has made me feel like a monster.)