Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Just north of The South
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This is a topic that has been on my mind for the past few days and I would love to hear what all of you experienced mamas have to say.
My DH and I have a very strong and close relationship, physically and emotionally. We have (I think) above-average communication skills, and we make our marriage our priority. But it seems like lately, I've been hearing from all over the place (media, friends, etc.) about how drastically marriage changes after the birth of your child to the point that closeness and intimacy are a thing of the past. And, that the mothers don't miss it at all!
I was talking to a very good friend of mine who has a 13-month old, and she said that she recently went to her OB for her 1-year follow-up appointment, and her doctor asked about her sex life. She said it's non-existent, and the doctor said that is totally normal. She went on to say that when her DH comes home from work, she doesn't want to be touched or hugged or kissed. She said, "I tell him, don't even look at me!" She then hands the baby over to him and goes to read in another room. Now I must qualify this by saying I'm not sure they had the strongest marriage before their daughter came, and I also want to clarify that I am not judging her and that I totally think both parents need time alone too. But the whole conversation just left me feeling kind of...sad. I don't *want* to get to the point where I don't want to share affection with my husband! Even going through this first trimester was kind of emotionally difficult for me because I did find myself wanting MUCH less intimacy, and at the same time missing our usual closeness.
I also watched a recent show on Oprah about marriage after kids, and it seemed that the resounding feeling of most of the moms was that they were just so exhausted all the time that they didn't have anything left to give their husbands and they basically resented their husbands for having needs at all.
Well, after thinking about this and kind of putting it all together, I have come up with a hypothesis, and I wanted to see what y'all think. (And admittedly, I am now pregnant with our first, so I am TOTALLY naive about all of this.) My feeling about the whole thing is that what keeps women from wanting intimacy is *not necessarily* the exhaustion of being a mom - but more the resentment about how much parenting they have to do and how much is demanded of them. A lot of the women on the Oprah show and even my girlfriend say that their husbands don't understand that after a full day of nurturing and having a baby (or multiple children) attached to them, the last thing they want is another person making physical demands of them. This makes sense to me.
What I'm wondering is whether these women, and moms in general, would be more open to intimacy and closeness if they felt that their husbands were helping them parent more AND - probably more importantly - if they felt that there husbands were interested in "giving" instead of "taking" from a physical intimacy point of view. For example, would intimacy be facilitated by the husband offering a foot or shoulder massage, or offering to take a bath/shower together, or making dinner....or something else nurturing to the mother? It just seems to me that what is missing in most of these cases is the husband taking an active role in replenishing the mother's physical and emotional needs. As partners, I think that is one of our most important roles to each other!
I had a long talk with DH about this yesterday, and we are both committed to trying to avoid this cliche of marriage. What I am hoping is that some of you mamas who have been through this will be able to help me come up with ideas, strategies, and inspiration! What helps you feel close to your husbands? What makes you welcome physical contact and intimacy?
(PS: Of course I mean after a few months, not like immediately after birth!)
Ever-evolving mama to my beautiful Brynn, and my little dimple-face Noah .