Instead of writing long-ass replies to your comments on my last post, I decided to devote a whole post to addressing 2 separate lines of thought. Oh, and for an update, I think things are starting to sink in for him---the past few days have shown a real change for the better in our relationship and I am even more hopeful!
First, I'm sure reading these posts, some of you were wondering why the hell I would marry a guy who I couldn't communicate with and didn't seem to respect my needs. I actually asked myself the same question last week, which led to a little trip down memory lane. And thankfully I realized that I didn't just make a desperate decision to avoid being alone for the rest of my life. We actually had a really great relationship! We had tons of fun together, lots of laughing, working together, trying new things. And the one memory that stood out---the time I realized that this was a guy I could imagine being with for the long haul---related to how supportive, sweet, and steady he was when I was having a tough time with something. Instead of getting defensive and angry at me for crying, or trying to "fix" the problem and getting annoyed when I didn't respond to that and me having to ASK HIM to hug me...he gently brushed my tears, hugged me, and was just THERE for a while before reiterating how he knew I'd figure it out because I was awesome (paraphrasing, obviously, but the gist of it) and to let him know if he could help but if not he was here for me.
SO YEAH. Things have changed. As to why, I don't really know, probably a combination of things that he did and I did and that just HAPPENED to us. Its the age old "growing apart" story, the "ugly relationship creep" that sneaks in when you are dealing with growing your career and running a home and creating and nurturing new life all the while dealing with family issues, trying to make and keep friendships, and work on your own mental & physical health.
Scooby-doo had a great comment on my last post: "he actually sounds like he may be
going on through whatever I am going through. Basically, what I want
from my husband is to not need anything from me right now because I am
stretched so thin that I have nothing to give, and any needs he has are
really a burden. I know this sounds awful, but essentially all I want to
be is left alone. I will do my share of the kid duty and chores, and I
sure as hell work a lot, so if he really wanted to know what I needed
the answer would be to do me a favor and not ask anything of me right
now; I don't want romance, I don't want sex, I don't want to take care
of him emotionally, I just want him to leave me alone and not be yet
another person who needs stuff from me. The thing is I feel depleted and
as if everyone and everything just keep taking things from me,
demanding, expecting. Like vampires. I can't communicate any of this
explicitly, because it would be hurtful to him, but if I could, this is
what I would say that I need from him -- to not be yet another person
who needs taking care of."
And YES. I know this feeling. I've HAD this feeling. This was basically the entirety of my pregnancy with L and his newborn period. We had a toddler and I was exhausted and sick during the pregnancy, trying to transition into a faculty position, working on major grants and my masters, and all sorts of shit and then we had a toddler and a newborn and we were really really stretched thin for a long time. Sleep deprivation was a HUGE culprit here---honestly all I wanted was sleep. Anything between me and sleep was a hated burden. I didn't even think about G or his feelings or our relationship other than making sure he were splitting things as equitably as possible (with the caveat that my gestating and feeding a human made up for about 50% of chores and toddler childcare). The pregnancy/pumping times I really did feel exhausted, and if he had asked for ANYTHING from me, I'm not sure I would've had it to give.
I'm sure he was feeling this way as well. But things have changed a LOT in the past 2-3 years. The gestating/nursing days are over, as are diapers and night wakings (FINALLY!). Our jobs are full-time but both are flexible, we rarely work more than 40-45 hours a week. He drops off and picks up L from daycare that is 2 blocks from his work. I take B to school and pick him up and walk the dog. If one of us has an evening activity we get a dog walker. We have a house cleaner come every other week. The only kid activity is swimming---both back to back on Saturday morning, 10 minute walk from our house. He doesn't travel for work, I travel 2-3 times, 2 nights max each time. We don't entertain much, or plan elaborate kid parties or holiday traditions. We are home most evenings, eat dinner, take turns either cleaning kitchen or getting kids to bed and by 8:30 we are "free". Most weekends are free-form, too. We don't schedule tons of things, we spend loads of time at the park or playing Legos.
If he still feels "stretched too thin", honestly, its of his own making. He does choose to do things the hard way. He wants to DYI things, initially saying he'd enjoy it, but then complaining because its tiring and he's "working all the time". He makes the kids homemade pancakes every weekend, and home cooked breakfasts for himself and kids even on weekdays (they like their eggs & oatmeal) which involves dishes/mess. I eat cheese sticks and nuts, usually at my desk. He has very high standards for chores---much higher than mine, and things take a LOT longer for him to do. When I fold the kids' clothes, I turn them right side out and then put them (unfolded) in piles for them to shove into the correct bins. He FOLDS THEM. He is always sweeping up leaves and the backyard and vacuuming dog hair from the rugs---I don't notice those things. He picks up the kids toys at the end of the day---something I realized early on was futile and a terrible use of my energy. I gave him over 3 hours on his own Saturday and he spent it doing chores.
The other part is attitude. I also had 3 hours on Sunday and spent it doing chores, but I realized that it was my choice to get things done so the rest of the week would be easier (and there would be less for HIM to do in the evening when he'd be tired from a solo adventure with the boys). I couldn't complain that "all I did was work" because I didn't HAVE TO do those things. I try really hard to not get down about chores---to recognize that a lot of "have tos" are actually "choose tos" and we need to own those choices (and also re-examine them from time to time to figure out if we want to change them). We choose to have home cooked food for most meals for health & financial reasons. We chose to have a dog and so we have to walk her and feed her (and keep up with the dog hair). Etc...
Of the two of us, he's also the one more prone to "throwing money at things" to make day to day life easier, and I'm trying to be OK with that. If he needs to get a cab home from work (its a 2 mile walk/bus ride) or get take out from time to time, to keep his sanity, then its worth it to save a little less during this "season" of our lives.
Also he doesn't get enough sleep---and that is definitely a choice. No one is forcing him to mess around on the internet or watch movies after the kids go to bed.
Bottom line, I think this is a phase in our lives when things are as easy as they are ever going to be for the forseeable future. Nothing bad is happening (and bad things can and will happen, such is life) nor are there any major upheavals (moves, new jobs, babies, etc...). We have pretty limited obligations and what I consider a relatively simple life. If we are going to have a strong marriage THIS is the time to work on it, because things can change in an instant, which is why I'm bringing this up and pushing for it. I want a strong foundation so that when things do shake up our lives, we are ready for it.