I just didn't know that it was going to be so much of a challenge for us to get back in the saddle of marriage and togetherness.
Now don't get me wrong. Nobody's complaining here. Adam and I are as happy as two fleas on a dog's tail when we think of our Lily. Adam is the most natural father that I've ever seen. Lily is so completely enamored with him. She is just more precious than either of us ever imagined. And, regularly, I find myself in amazement at how my love for her continually grows and changes.
But what about us? What about our marriage? The glue that will hold it all together.
That question was always at my heart's door. With every completed project at work, every smile I delivered at home, every joy in my walk of life - there was that steady beating question. What about me and Adam?
So - I tried asking people who I knew had been in my shoes. Mostly - I got nothing more than a half-hearted, commisery of some sort. Sympathy - but no answers. Alas - I turned to books. And, well - there were answers - but not real live examples that I could touch and feel. And then, when I was feeling quite alone in my maternal and matrimonial dilemma - I got an E-Mail.
Yes. My salvation came by way of Yahoo!
I had forgotten that, weeks ago, in a desperate moment, I had sent off a plea for help to a very close friend across the country. We'll call her Agnes*. Agnes is (by far) one of the most peaceable and tenderhearted women that I've ever had the benefit of knowing. She and her husband have two, little, well-mannered girls, two dogs and one bunny. Agnes is a strikingly beautiful, tall, blond, hardworking, stay-at-home-mom, who has also managed to obtain a college degree, while successfully homeschooling her girls, keeping a clutter-free home and handling all of the family finances. She is active in her community and she always seems to make time to bless others. Here is a snippet of our correspondence. Agnes has agreed to let me share it.
Plea (from me to her): so - i really wish i were living near you again so that we could do a rerun of that wifestudy. i was a pretty good wife before we had lily - and i'm trying to remember how to do it again, but it seems i didn't pay close enough attention when the book covered things on marriage with children! i feel like a fish out of water right now. not only has it taken me nearly 6 months to grow into the concept of being a mother - but i don't even know what to do with my husband these days. i know he has needs and all - but, at the end of the day i am all finished being touched. and - lately - i've been working nights while he works days, so we are both just tired when we see eachother (or passing the baby and delegating chores to eachother). at any rate - i'm going to buy a copy of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. i have read it two times - but those were both pre-baby. and, if you have any words of wisdom, PLEASE feel very free to advise me.Wisdom (from her to me): What you and Adam are going through right now is very normal. I don't know a woman who hasn't experienced that. Whereas before the baby it was just you two and being spontaneous with each other was easy. Now it might take a little more planning. The best advise I can give you is to PLAN ahead. Pick a date night, get a babysitter (if only for a couple of hours), anticipate the romance all week, and FLIRT with your husband. Physically not much has changed for Adam since the baby's birth, but for you everything has. We women can't just change roles that quickly. That is why it is important to think about it, and anticipate it. And although you may not feel like it most of the time, do it anyway. The getting started part is a little more difficult, but it is what you both need.
I truly believe there is no mid-life crisis for men. They simply leave their wives after playing second fiddle to the children for 20 years and not getting what they need (respect, love, and sex) from their wives. The golden rule for marriage is to put your spouse first. Wake up each day asking what you can do for them to make the day better. If you both do that, life is so much sweeter. This is just a transitional phase in your marriage. You both will learn from this, grow, and be stronger together.
That advice was and is just what I needed. Frankness and encouragement - mixed with some hard truths about the risks associated with ignoring the needs of our husbands. I know, all too well, how purely selfish and hedonistic my "inner-princess" can be. I am (often) too busy, too tired, too self-absorbed to give a thought to the needs of my husband. Princess Amanda can almost always be found sitting up atop her velvety cushion - waiting for someone to come polish her nails. And when just one bit of polish is the wrong shade - watch out! There just might be tears involved. After all the diapers the princess has to change. The dishes the princess has to wash. And the food the princess must prepare.
After reading and re-reading the advice from my friend, I'm resolve to bringing back the old girlfriend my husband used to have - and retiring my princess gowns. I'm ready to be the wife and mother that Adam always hoped I'd be. I'm starting 2009 with no expectations of perfection from him and no illusions of entitlement for myself. I will vow to love, honor and obey him forever. Again. With my eyes open wide, my heart beating strong and baby Lily on my hip.
*Name has been changed to protect anonymity - and to respect the humble manner in which this advice was administered.