My husband and I have been complaining for weeks (okay, maybe more like months or years) that we have no time for ourselves. I don’t mean time for us individually, which is a whole separate problem that I’ve documented fairly extensively; I mean time together, as a couple.
Part of the reason we’ve been thinking about this more recently is that we’re celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary today. Our anniversaries aren’t milestones that have received a whole lot of attention. We usually mark the day with a special dinner date and a few drinks—no diamond jewelry or trips to the Bahamas (not that I would mind these things…).
But this year, as our anniversary approached, we hardly had a chance to give it a thought. Somewhere in the middle of conversations about home repairs, potty training, furniture deliveries, out-of-town guests, our own travel, trips to the doctor, and birthday-party planning, we made several comments to the effect of, “Oh my gosh, it’s almost our anniversary. Are we doing anything?” But the conversation usually fizzled out right there as we got swept up in the realities of day-to-day life.
For a split second, we were really on the ball and arranged for someone to stay with our daughter tonight, so we could sneak away to dinner or a movie for a few hours…but that plan fell through. Plan B? Yeah, right. We hardly came up with a Plan A!
So here’s the problem with our relationship, and the relationships of all the other couples who’ll speak candidly about life after children: we have so little time for each other.
And in my case, I sometimes feel that I have so little of myself left to give. Being a SAHM means that I have the pleasure of caring for our beautiful daughter all day, but this also means that once our little angel is finally asleep, I’m all used up.
The only comfort is that I know I’m not alone in feeling this sense of neglect for my marriage, especially since I occasionally come across articles like “4 Ways to Rev Up Your Post-Baby Sex Life,” written by a sexuality counselor and New York Times Best-Selling Author Ian Kerner (read: this guy’s supposed to know what he’s talking about).
But why do I feel so irritated when I read his suggestions for “revving up” our relationship? Here they are:
- Make sure you use your bedroom exclusively for sleep and sex
- Maintain physical touch
- Make time for date nights
- Maintain intimacy even if you don’t really have the time or the energy
Seriously? These are the sex expert and best-selling author’s best tips??? Isn’t this advice so, so obvious? Of course these are the keys to a healthy relationship, with or without kids, but what we’re really missing is time and energy.
I remember those glorious, early days of our relationship, when I’d spend an hour or two getting ready for our date night, picking out the perfect outfit, doing my hair, matching my purse and shoes, painting my finger nails, applying bright red lipstick in the five-step process you sometimes see in fashion magazines (Exhibit A on right)… J, my boyfriend (now husband), would show up with a big bouquet, smelling ridiculously good, and spend the night holding my hand, opening doors, and generally fawning over a younger, more energetic me. How couldn’t we enjoy our time together under these circumstances??
But what about our relationship without all those niceties? Where does that leave us? I’ll tell you where: at our seventh anniversary without a plan to celebrate the years we’ve spent together.
I’m not especially happy about this, and as I write this post, it occurs to me that if I put a fraction as much effort into planning our anniversary as I did into planning our daughter’s birthday party, we’d have a very happy celebration. Maybe I should spend more time working on being a B+ wife and less time worrying about being an A++ mom. I still have a few hours to plan something spectacular…better get to work!
Do you ever feel like you’ve put your relationship on the back-burner (kids or not)?