Wow. I feel positively buoyed by all of this support. Between the private emails and the comments here, I am beginning to see just how common al of this is, and while that doesn’t solve our problems, it does help put them into perspective.
There are a few things at play with our marital difficulties:
1. We are sleep-deprived, and despite our early bragging that the sleep deprivation during grad school was worse, we were wrong. Sleep deprivation does nothing for rational thought (that’s why it’s such a good brain washing tool), nor does it do much for coherent or productive communication. Therefore, we have more misunderstandings, and because we’re both so tired, our reactions are more emotional than they should be.
2. Neither of us has much time to ourselves. We work from home, so between regular household tasks and caring for the baby, we suck at finding personal time. But honestly, we have always sucked at this, and we have always suffered for it.
3. We have almost no couple time. We try to spend time together when the baby goes to sleep at night, but we’re usually so exhausted that we’re just ready to eat dinner, curl up on the sofa, and watch some mindless television before passing out. We haven’t gone out anywhere without the baby since he was just a couple of weeks old. We need that again, even if it’s just once a month.
4. Our physical intimacy–everything from goodnight kisses to good old fashioned rolls in the hay–has declined dramatically. There are so many obvious reasons for this, but we also just seem to forget that a hug or some snuggling can go a really long way toward helping us feel closer. But we need to find our sex life again; honestly, I think it would make a dramatic impact in helping us stay connected on other levels.
And there are other issues too, from expecting our marriage to take the place of too many things (friends, community, self-worth, and so many other things) to realizing that there are some elements of each other that we wish were different. It’s all of this that we’ve been sussing out week after week, and we’re trying like hell to get to the bottom of it on our own (believe me, we’d be in therapy had we any expendable income or insurance coverage for ourselves).
Today, things feel better, but the big problems are still there, and neither of us can become complacent just because we aren’t bickering or crying or imagining life apart from one another. J and I have learned from our nearly twelve years together that it’s when we put this relationship on auto-pilot that it starts to decline rapidly.
I can tell you this: we’re committed to weathering this storm and making life for our family happy and healthy. And I think I’ll keep writing about it. I’m not typically one to air my dirty laundry, but it seems to me that if so many of us go through problems like these when our babies are born, then it’s important that we talk about it in our community.
Anyway, I want to thank all of you for the incredible support, for the kind words, for the positive thoughts. Even if you all can’t solve our problems, you can certainly keep us from feeling less isolated as we work through these difficult times.
I love you guys.