Friday, August 27, 2010

Now HE Needs Something, Too?

As a FT working Mom, my time and energy are limited. And as an introvert, my job as a therapist requires a significant amount of cognitive and interpersonal energy. By the time I get home I'm pretty tired.

What resources I have left are mustered and directed toward my boys. They are my heart and, well, frankly they take a lot of energy. It's a little bit of a self-sustaining energy in that I get a ton from them as well. All the same, I'm exhausted by the time they are both in bed.

So, wait a minute. Who's that guy sitting there on the couch looking at me expectantly? Now that I am totally tapped, what could he possibly want from me? How do I muster enough energy to listen to his day, to nod at appropriate moments, and to ask questions or make follow-up comments when I can barely keep my eyes open?

As parents who are already stretched pretty thin, often our relationships with our partners get short shrift. Sometimes it feels like making time for our husbands is one more of a series of obligations. So the career woman and mother parts of our identities are honored but the wife role often gets left behind.

How do we stay connected? How can we make our relationships priority without resentment or total exhaustion? Having time where we shed the other roles and exist primarily as wives is crucial for our marriages and for ourselves.
  • Have Check-in Time. Set aside a small amount of time each night where the two of you connect, however briefly that may be.
  • Focus on What You Get. Think about what your husband does for you on a daily basis to make your life easier and/or more pleasant. It is easier to find the energy to engage with him when you believe that in general the relationship is a two-way street.
  • Go on Dates. Plan "date" times where it is just the two of you. Decide together how often is feasible and agree not to talk much about the kids. Dates can be romantic living room interludes with wine and dessert after the kids go to bed, but it's even better if you can get out of the house.
  • Reconnect with Former Shared Interests. Don't forget who you were as a couple in the days B.C. (Before Children). Pull out both yoga mats, critique Stephen King's latest novel together, revisit one of the hobbies or interests that filled your lives back then.
  • Ask For a Massage. No strings attached, but the physical closeness and the sensations create intimacy and a sense of being taken care of.
  • Go All the Way. Sometimes you are in the mood and have the energy to follow up. Attend to your own and your partner's sexual needs and ask for what you like.
  • Just Say No. When it's been a really long, really rough day and you just have nothing left to give, it's okay to say "I'm totally pooped and having a hard time focusing on you. I'll be a much better listener once I've gotten some rest. Can you hold those thoughts until tomorrow?"
Sometimes it feels like you're stretched to the limit and that one more thing may cause you to break. But, engaging in an emotionally, personally, and sexually satsifying relationship is fulfilling. Your marriage should be a resource that produces as much as it demands. The garden of your marriage can yield sustaining, nurturing fruit if tended with care. In this way, nurturing our relationships is nurturing ourselves.

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