A big anxiety of mine surrounding parenthood is losing the spark between my husband and me. I don’t want “the two of us” time to get lost in “the three of us” time, or to become “the two of us talking about the baby” time. I’m very much looking forward to family time, and I think watching my husband be a father will be a truly special and exciting experience, but what we have right now is great. I’m wildly in love with him. I don’t want the baby to take over that love. I don’t want our lives to become centered around our child. And I think this is important, for our own well-being and for the child’s. Children need to feel that their parents’ relationship is safe and secure. They also need to know that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
In her inspiring article, Truly, Madly, Guiltily, appearing in The New York Times back in 2005, Ayelet Waldman expressed similar sentiments (much more eloquently). But apparently, most Americans don’t agree with us. The backlash Waldman received after publishing her article is insane. People threatened to report her to Child Protective Services! I, however, felt relief as I read it. Keeping the spark alive is possible. Loving your spouse as much, if not more than, your child is okay. You are partners in life, before, during, and after raising children. You are not partners with your children.
As Danielle Teller writes in her recent article How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage, “We choose partners who we hope will be our soulmates for life. When children come along, we believe that we can press pause on the soulmate narrative because parenthood has become our new priority and religion.” I am lucky to have found my soulmate who, after eight years together, still sends flutters across my stomach, still turns me on, still makes me feel sexy and loved. Obviously, pressing pause isn’t the way to sustain this wonderful, healthy connection between us. And in my opinion, parenthood shouldn’t become an all-powerful thing that takes over every other aspect of our lives. Yes, I realize that recovering from labor, learning to breast feed, sleeping in two hour increments, changing 10+ diapers a day, not showering and barely eating is not romantic. I understand that children are demanding during all phases of their lives, and that parenting is exhausting. I also understand that no matter how much I’ve babysat, read about parenting, or studied about child development, I have no real concept of what my life is going to be like in six months. But Waldman and Teller give me hope that while it’s not easy, and while many people may not agree with it, it is possible and good to prioritize my relationship with and love for my husband. Doing this will not make me a bad mother.
Image taken from Truly, Madly, Guiltily, published in The New York Times on March 27, 2005.