I feel a little silly writing about this, because it seems like such a general topic...but it's a big one right now in our house. I became a mother 18 months ago, and it was something I'd wanted for soooooo long, and I jumped in with all my clothes on, happy as could be. Now, I'm starting to see some patterns in our house that suggest the relationship between my partner and me hasn't been as healthy as it could be, and I really want to take care of us the way I have been taking care of my daughter, and figure out how to integrate it all.
I have taken on much of the responsibilities for care of our daughter, something we talk about sometimes. My partner expressed early on that he felt like he had no idea what he was doing -- I felt that way, too, sometimes, but felt more confident about my instinct, so I kind of just became the "director." So I make a conscious and regular effort to delegate responsibilities to him, so they can continue to have a good bond. He said recently that he's not as fascinated with fatherhood as he thought he'd be, which I guess is apparent, but still he loves her, and they have fun together.
I've noticed recently that when we're all together, she and I interact a lot more than they do, or than I do with him. He's noticed this, too, and has referred to it as the "Lucy and Eva show," which makes me really uncomfortable. They seem to do better when I'm not around (maybe this is normal, developmentally? We bf and co-sleep and I'm home with her way more.). But I have this instinct that if he and I were more connected, then the whole family might do better overall, including his relationship with her.
So finally I come to my question, which is -- what do you all do to keep the healthy and loving spirit of your relationship with your partners? He works full-time, often leaving the house at 7:45 and coming home after 5. I work part-time. He is usually out of the house a few evenings a week, too, whether for sports or visiting with friends. We have one full weekend day together, due to overlapping work schedules. He likes to go to bed late and sleep in as late as possible, I like to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. It seems like there's so little time for us together! I know we need a date (we haven't had one since she was born...yikes...), and we're working on that. I'm thinking of trying to suggest playing more games together (we like cribbage and backgammon)...but what else, what else? Also, I want someone to tell me this is normal, that it's one of the challenges of parenting, that it'll get better. But for now, I miss him...
Thanks for any thoughts.
- make sure that the house is clean so he doesnt feel like he comes home to toddlerworld every day. Stepping on legos is cute a couple of times, but no dude wants to come home to the floor covered in toddler crap every night.
- put your big girl pants on, literally. Yoga pants are for doing yoga in and sleeping in. And for wearing while your DH is at work I often "get dressed" about 30 minutes before DH comes home. Skirts and jeans are more attractive than exercise clothing (which I LOVE and is SO comfortable!). Oh, and wear a bra.
- I dont know how your kid sleeps, but I try hard to get DD to sleep early at least one night a week so that we can have dinner together, a couple of beers (when Im not pg), or cuddle and watch a movie. Without interruption.
- Have sex. Sex keeps relationships healthy and alive. After I became a mother, it took DH a while to realize that all of our sex didnt have to be pure and wholesome just because we had once created a life with it. It helps to go back to some things you might have done pre-child.
- Go away. Make sure they get some time together every week while you are gone. He will appreciate what you do more, and feel closer to the kiddo. Also, it sometimes helps if she does one thing with Daddy, to make sure you dont do that thing with her, so it can be "their thing". DH likes to anticipate what DD will say (especially when she is repeating herself) and talk at the same time has her. She loves it, and giggles so much. I want to do it sometimes when he isnt home, but I dont, because I want to leave somethings to just be between the two of them.
-I make a google calander, because I found that after we had a kid I was the "director" as well and he always felt like he had to check with me before doing anything, like he was reverting back to living with is mom as a teenager or something. The google calendar allows me to put every single thing we do on a calendar and he can look at it from his phone at any time. That way, when his friend asks if he can come to a birthday party he can look at his phone and say "no, we are going to the museum all day that day and Holly will be exhausted that night and will need my help." Or "sure we arent doing anything." without calling to check with me or saying "Ill have to check with the wife."
-PDA. Just because youre a mom doesnt mean you can't give him a peck while you are handing DD to him to put her in the carseat and say "Thanks babe."Little things like that have gotten us through some really tough times. Holding hands in the car, saying you love each other every day, and little signs of affection really help us.
- wake up when he goes to work. You get to see him, DD gets to see him, and he goes to work feeling like he's not the only one in the family awake. (you may do lots of these things since you work PT)
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
Yes, seriously. Every man wants to feel wanted by his spouse. Go to bed late with him a couple of nights a week... even if you have to slip away from your girl. Have a regular date. Plan a romantic getaway for when your girl is old enough to be without you for three or four days.
I agree with the picking up yourself and the house minutes before the hubs comes in. And put on some nice music and start the dinner.... pour him a drink so he can chat with you while you cook. I know, it sounds so fifties housewife but it really sets the tone of the whole evening if they come home to calm.
Also, find the two of them a class on a Saturday or Sunday so they get some time alone ,too. It's high time he had his own relationship with his daughter. Mine did a swim class and a storytime.... she came home tired enough to nap and we got back to the "quickie" idea mentioned before.
We haven't/don't do regular dates, special cleaning, or getting dressed up for time at home at our place. Sure we'd like more 'date-y' times, and the other stuff just wouldn't really be as meaningful to my dh. Dh here also has a very irregular working schedule too, so that impacts what we're even able to do sometimes.
I do think some of what you're feeling is pretty normal, and really will be pretty different as soon as the next 1-2 years. Certain things get a lot easier to fit in or do at 3/4 y/o that are harder before then.
Stuff that's helped us that might address some of your concerns:
I pick up/make special snacks or meals for at home that mainly dh & I like. For awhile when we just had dd1, I'd make tea for the 2 of us to share with some fruit or homemade cookies before dh left for work (you could do that after dinner too instead).
I make a point to stay up with dh way late somewhere around 1x/week. We watch kid-inappropriate stuff, or do kid-inappropriate stuff .
We try to do outings for just dh & the kids - they go hiking, or to the library, or out for ice cream without me (yes - we've also found dh & the kids do better together without me).
We make a big fuss (all of us) when he leaves and comes home - hugs & kisses at the door all together as much as possible.
I make a point of telling dh about 3-4 highlights of new stuff the kids can do, or stuff to ask them about - so he interacts with them (and not just through me). Sometimes I make a point to listen to NPR or really read the paper, or something similar, so I have more things than just our life with kids to talk about together. Even at 18mo, you might be able to prompt kiddo to have a few things to tell daddy about (in her own 18 mo language).
Thanks all...reading all the responses reminded me that this is just one phase in our lives together as a family and, overall, I am very grateful and happy. I liked a lot of your suggestions and in fact do a lot of them already --
They do have a few things that are special to them: dh helps her brush her teeth, and usually gets her up and dressed in the weekday mornings. Also, I go to a yoga class Tues evenings, so they spend that special time together. Some mornings, I leave with dd to take her to school (p/t daycare) earlier than he leaves for work, sometimes vice versa, but either way, we make a big deal of dh and dd saying bye and giving a kiss and a hug -- also always greeting him when he comes home. I always make the meals, and really try hard to keep the kitchen tidied (but we are not neat freaks). He grew up with a dad who was not so responsive and caring (lots of self-hatred there), so I think dh is doing amazing considering his lack of a role model.
I have to say I'm working on trying to be more affectionate -- some days, I just feel beat -- I work, and then come home and have to care for dd, and care for dh, and it's a lot. I do realize that our physical connection means a lot and needs nurturing. I just got done with my second yeast infection in two months though (finally went to see my naturopath), so I think that dampened my libido greatly, too.
Anyway, thank you again...onward!