I don’t think what Ed and I are experiencing is uncommon for new parents: we’re not fighting, but we’re not focusing on our relationship. We’ve been married over six years and we had a lot of time to ourselves before Joshua came along. Ed was used to coming home to a nice home-cooked meal and being greeted with a kiss. I was used to being taken out on weekends. All that changed since we became parents. Now Ed typically comes home to me sitting on the couch breastfeeding Joshua, but sometimes Joshua is napping and he gets strict hand gestures that mean “don’t make a peep!” And sometimes? We each take out our stress and frustration on each other.
For example, today when Ed got home I was fuming. After not pumping enough milk during the day and then learning that daycare had heated up the “extra” bottle only to have Joshua refuse it and pour it down the drain, I was panicking about what I was going to send tomorrow. I had checked the freezer stash and it was all older than six months. How had that happened? I didn’t have a huge quantity of milk in my freezer and I hadn’t been rotating it. I had just been using fresh milk for Joshua each day. I decided I’d just have to pump after Joshua went to sleep and hope to get enough for tomorrow. All of this was running through my mind when Ed walked through the door.
He looked at me and could tell something was wrong but instead of asking what was on my mind, he asked:
“What’s cooking tonight?”
Supper! I had totally forgotten about supper! Somehow with all the milk drama, I had forgotten that my husband and I need to eat, too. Ed doesn’t understand how I could forget that I need to make supper after I’ve been cooking almost every night for the last nine or so years, but I did. Consequently, Ed picked up some take-out and all was fine. Now I sit here, typing up this post as I try to pump enough milk for tomorrow.
It’s easy to forget to nurture my relationship with my husband when I’m so focused on caring for my child. I know that Ed has told me in the past that he feels neglected, and I’ve told him this is just something that is temporary. Joshua needs the majority of my attention right now, but as he grows up I’ll have more time to share with Ed and more attention for him as well. At least I hope I’ll learn to give my husband some attention while also having my child be the center of my world.
I don’t blame breastfeeding for the strain on our relationship. I think all new parents experience some kind of changes in their relationships. Let’s face it, it’s hard to keep the romance alive when you’re covered in spit-up, drool, baby poop or haven’t showered in a few days. Life is just not the same.
However, I do know that one of the best gifts I can give to Joshua is to have two parents that love each other and stay together. Ed and I both grew up in two-parent households and our parents share similar stories: high school sweethearts, now married over 30 years. I want to give that same sense of love and security to Joshua, so I’m going to try to focus more on keeping the romance alive in our marriage.
Do you have any suggestions for how to be romantic when you have young children?