Originally Posted by Jaimee
Argh... this topic makes me so tired. I put so much energy, and really, all of ME into raising my kids, being there for them, taking care of their needs, etc. that I just wish my relationship with dh would float on its own without me having to put work into it! But relationships don't work that way and when you don't put any work into them for a long time they start to deteriorate. So dh and I hit the "seven year slump" two summers ago when ds was about 6 months old. Dh was talking like he was going to leave, that divorce was a real option, and I was hit over the head like this was coming out of the blue. It wasn't that he didn't love me, it wasn't that he didn't want to be in the relationship, he just thought that I no longer loved him. He thought all my love was going to the kids and I just didn't have any left to give him. We hadn't had sex in a long time- in fact not since ds was born, I don't think. Talking with some of my other girl friends it seemed to me like the lack of physical intimacy led dh to believe these things more than anything else. Whereas, I'm thinking I'm up all night with a baby and home all day with two kids. I'm freaking exhausted. Sex is the last thing on my mind when I have 2 minutes of free time. But the problem was, I ended up spending a lot more of my free time crying about the fact that dh felt he needed to go to therapy to work this all out and could not look me in the eye and tell me that leaving had not crossed his mind. It scared the hell out of me.
The story ends well, of course (as we are obviously expecting another child so we got around to the sex eventually ), but the moral is that figuring out how to maintain all the relationships in the family unit is essential. I can't say that I'm an expert by any means, but a lot of it has to do with unspoken expectations. It's really easy to say that you're going to keep the lines of communication open and that you're going to discuss everything at length, but at 3am when you're up again with the baby and you haven't slept in months, and all you desperately want is for your partner to freaking understand just how exhausted you are and that sometimes even kissing is asking too much of you. You might not even be able to articulate these feelings- they may just envelope you and make you feel desperate and crazy. Meanwhile your dh just wants a goodnight kiss. It can be so hard. When it gets to that point we as mothers have to ask for help from others- friends, family, neighbors, mother's helpers, etc. so that we can recharge and fill our cups back up or else there really is nothing left. I'm slowly getting better at this, but it takes practice and it takes forming a community that you can rely on. Every mother needs help sometimes. We are not super human. We have limits.
So this pregnancy has just sort of gone by. Dh does what he does and I do what I do and hopefully we have enough of a routine down that our expectations are well established. But I will have to make much more of a concerted effort to get breaks and meet MY needs so that I have enough energy to meet dh's needs as well. I know it's going to be hard.
I'm sorry that you and DH got to such a breaking point. That must have been really scary, but obviously I'm so glad you worked it out.
You're right though- men need physical touch and don't understand why we, as mothers, aren't ABLE to give it to them. At least not willingly ;-) It's so hard sometimes just to want to kiss my husband. It's not that I don't love him or find him attractive, I've just been giving so much love and affection to my son all day long that I want to be left alone.
It sounds awful doesn't it? I'm sure I would have never thought as a FTM that I would ever, EVER write those words. But it happens. It happens to almost everyone (if not everyone). DH and I had talked about how we were such a great team and we had game plans in place for different scenarios and such, we thought we could definitely avoid all the problems we saw with our (again, happily married but extremely frustrated) friends who had new babies. We could do better than them! We could avoid communication issues and problems with intimacy! We talked about all the ways parenting could change our relationship (ha, how little did we know) and we were READY to take on those challenges.
Yeah, and then at 6 weeks post-partum we were at our wit's end and the hard talks started. They haven't stopped since. We lose our tempers, we don't give enough affection, we get frustrated at not having enough "me" time or enough "couple" time. We want different things at different times (I want intimacy when he is tired, he wants intimacy when I am tired), we have different expectations and standards, we see things differently. Now, we are happily married and we definitely don't fight often, but when it happens it is DEEP issues (mostly we just cannot see the other's point of view, which we are all seeing now as we are pregnant, like the OP mentioned, and our DH's can't understand that experience). Also, my DH and I are as alike as they come, and we love each other deeply and are really great communicators, but at the end of the day we are not the same person. It's just how it is. And having a child to care for, who takes your attention, who is the center of your world REALLY messes things up. Like I said, it's normal. But it's also necessary to communicate in as much as we possibly can, and unfortunately (especially during the first few months) finding time to do that is nearly impossible. Unless you want to try to have a conversation over a screaming child while changing a diaper, or while your partner is nodding off from exhaustion.
All that to say, it's easier said than done.
I know that even as "prepared" as we are by having had a child already, we are still in for it when baby #2 comes. The newborn phase (and teething, and illness, and sleep issues, and....) is just so draining and tiring and tough to handle. I know we won't be able to get through it without becoming frustrated with one another and feeling like we are not meeting each others' needs. But that's okay- I also know we'll get through it. We're committed to each other and we love each other.
So not to say that any FTMs are naive to try to prepare for the post-partum period. I'm certainly not saying that you can't have those talks and try to understand how you each might deal with certain situations. It's certainly helpful to have a baseline to work from and refer back to, but keep in mind that it is going to be completely different than you can EVER imagine :-) It's do-able though. You just have to roll with the punches and try your hardest to be flexible, be kind, and be present with one another. I know it might seem scary but honestly, it's just that change is hard. You'll learn a lot about your partner (good and bad, even) as parents and at the end of the day, that's a really good thing.