Then I asked my partner if he felt like I wasn’t giving him enough attention. He ignored me because he was immersed in a video game that he plays once a week or therebouts. (After the kids are in bed) So I decided to write about how our relationship works. Spoiler: We have sex. Lots of it. Enthusiastically. It’s not a chore for me.
And the solution is ridiculously simple. At least for us. Maybe it is for you, too.
Mom has a certain amount of energy. She starts pouring that energy into the kids as soon as she wakes up (and her alarm clock is usually one of those children.) She continues to pour her energy into the kids across the day. At some point you come home. What you do impacts mom’s energy. Either you come home and start taking care of yourself while mom continues to pour all of her energy into the kids… Or you come home and need her attention in which case she’s pouring into the kids AND into you.. Or you come home and you let the children tackle you and gesture wildly for her to disappear quickly into the shower so that she can enjoy fifteen minutes of blessed alone time where NO ONE IS TOUCHING HER and NO ONE IS TALKING TO HER and she’s alone with hot water that is making her human again.
My partner is the third type.
Fifteen minutes a day. Then we split bedtime down the middle. If I’m still stuck with bedtime duties when he’s done with his, he goes and puts together some food for both of us to eat. If I’m done first then I do the putting-together.
And whatever energy he helped me save gets VERY ENTHUSIASTICALLY poured into being with him.
Females LIKE being with their partners. We LOVE spending time with you. We love wrapping ourselves around you in every way possible until you nudge us over to our own side of the bed. (Sometimes several times in a row before we stay there.)
So where does that desire get killed? Okay. Here’s the secret… We like being with adults. Adults don’t compete with infants. Adults don’t tell us “don’t give everything you have to the baby, save some for me!” Listening to your child scream its head off because your partner wants sex? Not a turn-on. Not a turn on at all. Adults try to help, and if the baby won’t let them help then they try to figure out other ways to help mom not lose her ever-loving mind. Any solution that involves us taking care of the kids less? Doesn’t work.Unless you magically conjure someone else who does take care of the kids. Preferably you. (Those fun enriching activities? They just keep the children from destroying the house out of complete and utter boredom. So if we’re not out helping Junior pat the llamas without getting his hand bitten we’d be home sweeping up dumped out pasta off the floor. Fun stuff for the kids isn’t just for the kids. It’s also self defense.)
It’s not about sex being a chore that we put after taking care of the kids. It’s that OUR DAY IS FULL OF CHORES AND WE HAVE NO ROOM FOR ANYTHING INCLUDING BRUSHING OUR HAIR OR OUR TEETH. And if you help us with some of those chores then we can brush our hair, brush our teeth. And then once we have taken care of OURSELVES then we can also think about you.
I’ve sat in front of a marriage counselor and had the exact same exchange that was described on the “Good Men Project”. “If you want more sex, help more with the baby” isn’t “sex is a chore”. That whole line of thought made me FURIOUS because I wanted sex. I wanted sex very much. I just wanted sleep more. And teeth that didn’t smell. And the chance to shave my legs. Both of them. Without having to sector it off to complete a part of in each one minute shower. It’s not that I was trying to trade for chores. It’s not that I was saying sex was a chore. If you told me that you wanted me to go to the spa I’d have said the exact same thing. “I can only do that if YOU HELP WITH THE BABY.” So if you’re all stuck on that line of thought that sex is some sort of a chore.. Maybe it’s not.
If you’re equally involved and pouring yourself into the kids the way we are then you’ll understand that we can’t simply “save” some energy for you instead of giving it to the kids. It doesn’t work that way. If you try then the kids scream and cry then you want to scream and cry. And not in the sexy-time type of way.
If mom has 75 energy units and she spends 60 0f them by the time you get home, and you order her off to take a break while you take care of the kids, then she’ll have fifteen whole energy units for you. And she’ll like spending time with you SO much that she might become a bit annoying. Especially when she tries to interrupt your video game to ask a silly question about some men that she read about on the internet. If you’re helping care for the kids after work so that she can take that shower or sweep that floor then she’s not fantasizing about when the kids are asleep and she can take a shower or sweep the floor.. So she might… Just might… turn her thoughts to other more carnal fantasies. If she needs to wait until the kids are asleep to shower, eat, brush her teeth and use the bathroom in peace while you do all of those things on a regular basis? Personally? If someone interrupt that shower or expects me to not eat? Not a turn-on. If you’re watching football or playing a game while she’s trying to get dinner ready while the baby is screaming in a wrap on her back and the two year old is wrapped around her leg? You’re not getting laid tonight. In fact you might like to invest in a more comfortable couch.
Give her the space to care for herself. It’s simple economics.
After a while she’ll start letting you sleep in some of those mornings. She’ll have dinner ready more often. She’ll get her feet under her again and sort out how to do all those things that SEEM IMPOSSIBLE WHEN YOU ARE DOING THEM ALL BY YOURSELF AND NO ONE HELPS EVER. Because guess what? When we’re able to have a relationship with you… We are happier. Much happier. And that gives us energy during the day to do all the things that seem impossible.
My partner has no issue with the amount of time that I have for him. He wishes WE had more time for EACHOTHER and that we had more time for ourselves. He wishes I had more time to read books and he had more time to play video games. He wishes we could go out to eat more often. Go on vacation more often. That WE could do things. Not that I would give him more attention.
We’re in this together. We’re both pouring everything into the kids and spending what we have left on each other. This balance means that we both have enough left for each other as opposed to one of us being SO burned out that we retreat. When I want more attention from him I give him more of a break from the kids. When he wants more attention from me he gives me more of a break from the kids.
We’re in this for the long haul so we understand that our children are small for a short time. We plan dates for the future when they’re more grown. We hold hands when we follow them around at the playground (before he dashes off to catch one child and I dash off to catch another). We cling to each other at night for the moments that we have and we giggle like a couple of teenagers when we plan for a future when we can spend some time just the two of us. Not “the future when I will be able to give him attention” but the future when we BOTH have fewer child-related responsibilities and when we BOTH have more energy.
WE made the kids. Not me. WE. They are OUR responsibility. Not mine. Ours. We both take responsibility for taking care of them. Together. You have to be a good parent in order to be a good spouse (at least if you have kids). If only one parent is raising the children that’s not fair. When you’re BOTH in it together then it’s a whole different ball game.
Both is sexy. Together is sexy. Very sexy.
So is folding laundry.
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