Thursday, February 23, 2006

Making Your Marriage Work

Marriage is the reason a lot of us have kids in the first place--or so we think. Why when the kids come along do we suddenly--and without thinking--toss our relationship with our spouse onto the back burner?

On Tuesday night I went to a neighborhood Mom's group that has been in existence for decades called the Clifton Child Study. I went as a guest (I am not a member due to fact that it meets on the night my husband plays soccer) and was pleasantly surprised by the topic of discussion. The guest speaker was a marriage counselor and sex therapist.

Here are a few take-aways that motivated me to focus a bit on my marriage:

The numbers equation: in my own words, since I can't remember them exactly.
  • Spend 2 minutes saying good-bye in the morning
  • 5 minutes connecting when we see each other in the evening "how was your day...."
  • 20 minutes at night or evening actually catching up with what went on in the day and your plans for the following day
  • 2 hours a week on a date--no kids. This can be a walk, dinner, coffee, anything where your time is 100% devoted to each other, again, no kids around at all.
Sure, this may sound like a lot of time, but add it up for yourself, it really isn't. Some of my friends gave the two hour a week date a lot of opposition, but really, why can't we schedule one night a week to be without the kids? Trade with a neighbor that has kids, hire a sitter or drop them off at a relative's home. Anything works, just be alone with your husband for a change.

Men need to be respected, women cherished: Again in my own words. Both men and women think differently, so of course they have different needs. Men like to know their opinion counts, and you respect what they do. Women like to be touched, and feel like they are beautiful, and needed. Women also think it's sexy when a man does housework, and plays with the kids. Sure, this topic needs a lot more attention since there are hundreds of books written on the subject, but it's a start.

Marriage changes over time: The man that we married used to turn us on just by walking into the room--now we have to work to get in the mood for sex. This apparently is the norm. As mom's we spend so much time taking care of little children, that we really don't have the energy at the end of the day to give our spouse attention. As a group, we spent a lot of time on this topic--I guess we were surprised that this was so common.

The woman speaking suggested taking
on the responsibility yourself to get into the mood after the kids are in bed. Whether it was taking a bath, lighting a candle, having a glass of wine--anything to take you out of the "Mommy" role. Don't make it your husband's job to relax you enough to say, "sex sounds like fun tonight." You owe it to yourself, your husband and your marriage to find the time and energy to have sex often. (Often defined as you wish.)

Stuntmom is a little out of sorts even using the "sex" word, so I hope this is enough of a recap for everyone. Sorry you missed the meeting, it was fun.


Anonymous said...

What is this? 2 days and not one comment on the sex column?? I thought that this would generate a lot of buzz. I think that it's great that a marriage counselor could draw out a lot of issues and questions that moms have about sex. It would seem that we all tend to be a little more reluctant to share in this area than we are about our anger, our messes, our dinners, our inner voices and our schedules... :)

StuntBec said...

Okay, you're right. The relationship issue does need some atttention. That's for sure. But it's not such an easy fix. I love the idea of having two hours a week with my husband together, without the kids. Ultimately, that costs money (babysitter), and money we do not have right now.

But, you've got me thinking. Why not schedule (gotta use that word!) a date once a month, and drive the kids down to my parents, so that my husband and I can have some alone time? I know we need it, something fierce. It's a start. We have a standing date every summer, when we go visit my husband's parents. They watch the kids for the entire day and evening, and we go into Detroit and see a movie, go to John King Books (the coolest used bookstore I've been to, besides Powell Books in Portland, OR), and then have dinner, just the two of us. But once a year is not enough. I bet my parents would watch the kids once a month...

As to setting the mood, and having sex often, this is a tough one. For the past 5 years, I've either been pregnant or nursing a child. This really puts a damper on my sex drive. I know (I hope!) it comes back once my son is weaned (and he's started the process of self weaning, anyway, so his days are numbered). I think having my sex drive back will also clear up some of the nasty frustrations I've been dealing with these days. Who knows.

Has anyone else found the connection between sex drive and exercise? For me, the two are strongly linked. And guess what I've had no time for? Exercise. So, the problem seems overwhelming. I can make a healthy dinner in a pinch, and keep my house relatively clean. But this intimacy issue is no easy fix, on so many levels. But after writing this post, I have some new ideas of where to start.

And I do not think it is sexy when my husband does housework. I thought that was really funny.