How did you recharge your marriage?
April 10, 2017 3:03 AM   Subscribe

I feel like my partner and I are not connecting that much these days. Between young kids (toddler + early elementary), full time corporate jobs etc we are just not spending much time together, and what we do spend is very "admin" focused. How did you keep a feeling of intimacy in your relationship at this stage?

There's more of course. We sleep in separate beds (something I fought intensely against in our early relationship but received pushback in equal measure. I grudgingly admit it improved our respective sleep greatly). We also haven't slept together in - I don't know I'm not really counting but it's probably been close to a year, and then maybe nine months before that (youngest is three and a half). We're not the most highly sexed couple, but I find myself really missing the intimacy. I can't remember the last time we kissed outside a birthday.

Neither of us really initiate. I did a couple times but not persistently, and the reality is that it's one thing to want the abstract, but in the concrete I'm often very tired at night, I don't feel sexual at all. Partner I'm sure feels the same.

Weeknights are a rush to get kids before daycare closes at six, get maybe an hours exercise at home, then feed them, bathe them, do some school work and reading and then get them into bed. I usually follow about an hour behind. My partner is a night owl and often has late calls. I'm out the door before anyone woken up in the morning.

Weekends are even worse in some respects. I'm up early to take the eldest to swimming whilst partner and youngest sleep. then I come back and take both kids grocery shopping and to the library. Once home I try to get some exercise, do the washing, change litter trays etc. Sundays my partner often takes kids to see their cousins for three or four hours while I cook all the meals for the week, and fold the clothes.

Chores wise, I feel like I'm doing most though partner does much as well, probably a sixty forty split I would say.

But I feel all we do is chores! And often separately. Meal times are spent cajoling the kids to eat their vegetables in less than forty minutes.

I dunno. I feel alone sometimes. I feel like my partner doesn't really value me or my contributions (she may feel the same, I don't know). I question whether they are attracted to me, not just physically but emotionally. And I feel like the think I am weak, not resilient, and another burden on them.

There is a wrinkle: I was having a particularly tough time last year and went to my doctor and was diagnosed with moderate to mild anxiety and depression. I did counselling for about eight months and it really made a difference. I am... Cognisant that many of these feelings may be due to my mental state, which is why I've given so much detail above. Partner was broadly supportive but kind of disinterested whilst I was going through this, I think they didn't know what to do/say and feel uncomfortable with displays of emotion.

These feelings I have certainly track my own mood states, but the concerns are broadly the same which is why, even if it's just in my head, I would like to take some steps to address.

But I'm not sure what. I find these conversations very hard, opening up and being vulnerable like this to my partner often doesn't give me an outcome I'm happy with. They are not the type to talk about their feelings and often perceive voicing of dissatisfaction as an attack, which is responded to with ferocity! Also it makes me feel even less attractive in their eyes which primarily drives my hesitation.

How do you foster an atmosphere of love and support in your time poor and stressful marriage?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
If you both have corporate jobs, can you start paying someone to do the chores? Or maybe someone picks up the kids once or twice a week and helps them through the evening routine, and you and your spouse have a date night.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:39 AM on April 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

Yeah, this time sucks. Been there, and it was hell on our marriage. For a while we did a weekly date night. Outsourcing chores helped too. Marriage counseling helped. Kids getting older helped.

Not to say that there aren't major stressors (job loss! Death! Kid problems!) but I'm glad we invested in deliberately shoring things up when we first had the opportunity.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:04 AM on April 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

The hardest thing seems to be that you find it difficult to be vulnerable with your partner, and that they "respond with ferocity" to you voicing dissatisfaction. You also say you don't feel valued, and that you don't know if they feel whether you value them.
That sounds horribly lonely and very far away from being close, intimate, and supported. No wonder sex is not there - you barely even sound like friends right now.

But you want to make it better, and possibly your partner does too.

You have to try marriage counselling, I reckon.

A few logistical/pragmatic things also worth trying - but they won't necessarily foster closeness:

- chill out about kids eating vegetables. Seriously, not worth it.
- get a cleaner, regular babysitter, au pair. If you can at all afford it, do it!
- chill about the cooking. Just have really, really simple kids' meals.

[Our weekly menu looks like this: rice and tuna and peas; cheese on toast & carrot sticks; takeaway sushi; defrost some bolognese sauce w/ hidden vegies from the freezer; fried haloumi and sweetcorn and rice; maybe a mild chicken curry if we feel energetic enough to actually cut up onions and all that crap. I used to LOVE cooking to relax after work before kids, but after the 2nd kid I realised lowering my dinner standards was much easier than giving up sleep, sanity, etc.]
posted by 8k at 4:25 AM on April 10, 2017 [14 favorites]

If you have any extra money, utilize babysitters, a cleaning service, and takeout food.

If those aren't viable, how about having "date nights" home in bed once the kids are asleep? No sex expected, just cuddling in bed, talking and reconnecting.

Is it reasonable to do some of the chores you currently do separately, together? It often wasn't in my family because my kids usually needed to be separated from each other so we each got one. But while it can be more efficient to have one person do child care while the other does chores, there are family benefits to doing them all together.
posted by metasarah at 4:53 AM on April 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Regarding intimacy (sexual and otherwise), I agree with metasarah that cuddling gets you a long way. When you don't feel like sex but miss the connection, just spending an hour together touching--no screens, no chores, no distractions and no expectations--can build up that intimacy, especially over time. And having it scheduled, while it seems unromantic, is often the only way to do anything in a busy schedule like yours.

Seconding hiring as much help as you can and lowering expectations around things like meals. Maybe try a week where you eat takeout or prepared meals every day and spend your Sunday afternoon doing something as a family instead.

Honestly, at this busy time, you're not looking to have a lot of intimacy, just to maintain the health of your connection so that you can gravitate back together in a couple of years when things are easier.

Regarding your partner's defensiveness: I think it can be very easy to hear "I'm not happy" as "you're not doing what I need." Start by making those moves yourself, reaching out not for what you think you should have (sex) but for what you actually want in the moment--lying in bed together, maybe, or sitting on the couch with a glass of wine talking about non-chore things. When you have a little good stuff going on, you can then talk about growing that, rather than about the things that make you unhappy.

I agree that therapy would also be good for your communication, but it sounds like you are in a time crunch, and trying to fit something like therapy in when you're in that mental place can be too big a hurdle. If you start small, maybe you can get closer to being on the same page.

Good luck. The crunch time DOES pass. When I had a toddler, I definitely said to my husband "I don't have it in me to participate in the marriage I want to be in right now, so let's just hold on as tight as we can." And now that we have an elementary schooler, I am in exactly the marriage I want to be in.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:16 AM on April 10, 2017 [14 favorites]

1. You need to invest in your marriage financially.
- The number one thing I think you need to do is get a babysitter at least once a month and go out on a date together. Maybe take turns planning "Date Night" for each other. You guys hardly know each other anymore, so start dating again, get to know each other again.
- Get a cleaning service. Doesn't need to be every day. Just once a week (or even once every two week) hire someone to come give the house a proper scrub down.
- You spending every sunday cooking meals for the week is intense. Your kids aren't going to die if they have takeout pizza for supper sometimes. Convenience foods aren't a sin.
- Offload the kids on a relative overnight and go on an overnight hotel stay datenight. Repay the favour in kind.

2. You need to introduce more physical intimacy/closeness (and I don't mean sex)
- Have a nightly cuddle together on the bed and do "What did you like today". Do it every night before you go to bed, and then they can go do their night owl stuff.
- Hug, hold hands, and just TOUCH each other more. Hugs I think are particularly powerful. They are soothing and comforting, you get to really feel the other person, breathe in their scent, feel their warmth.
- Kiss more. Kiss each time you greet each other, and kiss each time you part ways, even if it is just a peck.
- Find small ways to introduce more romance. It takes so little time to send your partner a text reading "I love you" or "I think you're sexy" or whatever, but it can have a big impact. Small things. Big payoff.
- Consider once a week sleeping in the same bed.

3. You need to invest more time in your marriage and less into being "perfect parents".
- Default to some convenience foods/take out/delivery sometimes. Let your kids refuse to eat their veggies sometimes. It won't kill them.
- Skip going to the library sometimes to free up time for other chores so that you can liberate an evening for the two of you to spend together.
- Skip folding clothes, that is so unnecessary, especially for kids clothes. Just get hampers/bins for different types of clothes and sort them that way. Literally the only thing I fold is towels, and that is for space reasons. I put away my clothes in piles sorted by types (tshirts, jammies, jeans, underpants, gym clothes, etc) and hang up what needs to be hung up, which is pretty much only dresses and blouses for me. My husband (who is very well dressed and really cares about looking put together) does the same, and only hangs up his button up shirts and slacks. Everything else is just in big bins.
- I guess I don't get why "bathing" your kids is something that takes you time, especially your older kid. My son graduated to showers when he was maybe 5 years old and it really was just a matter of telling him it was time for a shower. For the past 2 years he just knows that the first thing he does every morning (even on weekends) is have a shower.
- Decide where your kid time investment is best spent. There are SO MANY THINGS I could spend time on trying to get my kid to do, but I pick my battles. Right now my kid prefers to sleep in the clothes he was wearing that day, which at first I wasn't happy about. But I just let him because seriously, who cares, and hey, less laundry because he isn't wearing jammies. Sometimes he chooses to wear jammies, sometimes he sleeps in just his underpants. That battle just isn't worth it. The showering every morning though? That I am strict on. I also long felt that baths were more important and a "better clean" than the shower, but at a very young age he really just wanted to have showers. Fine. Showers it is. Occasionally I do say that a bath is required because he is particularly dirty, but in general the "bath is better" battle wasn't worth it. I'm betting there are things you spend a lot of time working to get your kids to do that maybe you could let go of. Pick your battles.

4. Realize that this is a shitty time for a lot of parents and oh my god, it is so stressful, and a lot of people go through this, but it IS survivable. As the kids get older the more they can help out with the chores (easing the burden on you), the less effort they take, and the less of a stressor they become.

Also, I'd like to say that I do have depression and anxiety (and ADHD so I sort of suck at efficiently doing chores) AND I have a "must be a super parent!!!!" complex, so I totally hear you. It is a stressful time. But part of parenting is also modeling healthy adult relationships. Show your kids that you value yourself and each other by investing in your marriage as well as them.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:44 AM on April 10, 2017 [23 favorites]

Get the book How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids. Really. This is exactly what it is about.
posted by k8t at 7:08 AM on April 10, 2017

In terms of outsourcing, do you have any options for getting groceries delivered? I don't mean meal-prep services, which in my experience take much more effort than they advertise. Rather, is there a grocery store close to you that will allow you to order online and then (ideally) deliver it to your home or (still a timesaver) let you pick it up instore? I get 90% of my groceries delivered--I still have to make a midweek trip to pick up a few things--and it saves so much time & energy.

What kind of commute do you have? Is there any way you can work exercise into it via bike commuting sometimes? This would free up some evening time and also might help you feel refreshed during the day.

As others have pointed out, you definitely definitely do not need to cook all your meals in advance, and takeout is fine on occasion. For home cooking, I would recommend investing a little in a couple of kitchen gadgets -- an Instant Pot (a pressure cooker that cooks rice and can be used for slow cooking/sauteing) and a really good, large steamer. I am very lazy when it comes to cooking, and with these gadgets, I barely spend an hour per week on actual cooking -- and I always have a home-cooked lunch/dinner.
posted by littlegreen at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I posted almost exactly this question a year or so ago. I got some helpful advice and anecdotes, many of which will be similar to what you're seeing here.

In part based on that question, I went to individual therapy for a while. It was a big help both in terms of having a place to vent my frustrations away from my husband (instead of at him), and in terms of recognizing some things that I could do to help myself. Also, it was something I was doing emphatically for ME.

Other than that, it's basically:
- hire help with as many things as possible
- do nice things for your partner even though you're annoyed and you feel they don't deserve it. This can be hard to do, but it helps melt some of the ice in your veins and can help you connect. This article is a little cheesy, but it's not wrong: somebody has to pour the first glass of wine.
- Know that you do get more breathing room as the kids get bigger and more self-sufficient, and hang on a little longer.
posted by telepanda at 7:29 AM on April 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I’m going to gently suggest that your partner should not be expected to be your therapist and this is actually a good thing and doesn’t mean they aren’t a good partner or don’t care about you. You seem especially hurt that your partner does not want to talk to you about your depression. All of my life experience has led me to believe that at the first sign of depression I would absolutely run in the other direction away from burdening a romantic partner. Talking to literally anyone else would be better – a therapist is best but your mom or a good friend is still infinitely preferable to bringing that burden into a romantic relationship. It more often than not in my experience leads to codependency and the death of romance (and if romance is already on its last legs, even more important to avoid.) I know this goes against a lot of (wrong, misinformed IMO) cultural narrative where your romantic partner should JUST GET you and be your everything and take away all your pain, etc. I just don’t believe that. I believe depression kills relationships and expecting the non-depressed partner to act as a therapist (even minimally) is a huge mistake.

When you first start dating someone, they are in that space of “someone I really want to impress and only show my good side to.” Your parents or your friends are generally in that space of “someone who has seen me at my best and worse, been through ups and downs, and knows all my secrets and failings.” I honestly believe “romance” IE “spark or excitement” is based largely on that time when people are relatively unknown to one another. It’s wonderful to have a long term relationship with someone where they begin to occupy the friend space or the mom space in your life and it naturally happens in the vast majority of long-term relationships and marriages IME. However, it does not really work towards maintain the “romance” and often works against it.

Another thing to note is that in the “romance” phase, things are actually typically harder for the pursuing partner. The pursuing partner is putting in significantly more effort than after the mate is “caught” so to speak.

TL:DR I’m hearing in your question a yearning and craving for deep emotional support from your partner, with them in that capacity of the “friend space” and the “mom space.” I’m honestly not hearing a lot of willingness for you to go back to the “pursuer romantic want to impress her” space. I just want to suggest that may be precisely what is needed.
posted by stockpuppet at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

My standard response to trying to reconnect is the Fantasy Box. See info here. I'm also happy to discuss in more detail through private messages.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:54 AM on April 10, 2017

Two more things.

My husband and I play 20 Questions. We just lay on the bed, sometimes snuggling sometimes holding hands, whatever works in the moment, and we play 20 questions. Personally, we limit it to people because trying to guess things in 20 questions was getting to be too hard and resulted in to many frustrated moments. Our goal is to have it be challenging but not to TOTALLY stump the other person. Usually around question 12 if the person is way off track we'll answer with more than just yes or no to give them a bit of a hint. (ie. "Is the person in movies?" "Yes, and we watched one recently.")

20 questions is great for us because:
1. we can snuggle while we play. Touching is good!
2. games don't last long, so it isn't a huge time investment.
3. it is pretty low pressure, low competitiveness (my husband and I are both very competitive and has caused problems with games in the past...), and takes no prep and requires no clean up. We've also played it during long car trips.

Maybe 20 questions isn't for you, but a quick, simple little game or activity like that can be good as a sort of mini-date or mini-activity.


I didn't mention it in my first post, but there is zero shame in scheduling relationship time, and that includes sex. But baby steps first. First, why don't you literally schedule marriage time? It doesn't need to be heavy handed and super high pressure. Just schedule re-occurring time for you two to do something together once a week for at LEAST an hour. For example, a couple years ago my husband and I watched every single James Bond movie (in order, of course) and we did it every sunday night. Every sunday night we watched the next one. It was scheduled. We even wrote it on the calendar. It took about 6 months of sundays to get through them but we did it! And as much as I personally didn't like a lot of the Bond movies, especially the early ones, I always looked forwards to Bondathon night, so much so that we started up a new movie-a-thon to fill the void once Bondathon was done.

Activity suggestions for scheduled grown-up time:
- choose a movie series and watch through them
- watch through an entire tv show. Something like Seinfeld has a LOT of episodes, but they are short, so you could even watch two each time.
- play cards together (cribbage, rummy, crazy 8s, whatever)
- play through a video game, preferably something where you play cooperatively. I'm thinking Raymond Legends or Yoshi's Wooly World or Portal 2 or any of the bazillion Lego games. Something easy to pick up, play a bit, and then save and play again later.

Now here's the thing: You need to treat your scheduled grown-up time as sacred and with as much importance as any of the children's activities. You wouldn't skip your kid's swimming lessons to do laundry, and the same goes for marriage time. You NEED to make it a priority, and frankly it needs to come above meal prep and laundry and all that stuff.

You need to keep a clear perspective on things.
It isn't a big deal having slightly wrinkled clothes, having to order take-out from time to time, or going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.
It IS a big deal if your marriage is neglected so much that you have to divorce.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

I think you should shower together once a week.

Not in the morning, but in the evening once the kids are in bed. My husband and I do this (not once a week, but occasionally), and it is so intimate and warm and comforting. Sure, sometimes it leads to sex, but definitely not all the time. Sometimes it is just about the intimacy and touching and tending to each other. It is 15 minutes (or however long) of warm watery soapy lovey doveyness where we explore each other's body and appreciate each other's body. And the warm water can help relieve some stress and tension (which it sounds like you guys have a lot of), so you will leave the shower together both feeling less tense, happier, warmer, feeling appreciated and tended to. Its all just so positive. And it doesn't take long.

Showering together can be a really REALLY powerful quick hit of intimacy, caring, closeness, and affection.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:16 AM on April 10, 2017 [11 favorites]

One thing that stood out to me is that there doesn't seem to be any time your family spends together doing something fun. It seems your partner and kids are spending time playing with their cousins each week, but not with you.
Could you all go to swimming class together occasionally? Maybe stop for smoothies or a park visit afterwards. Go to the zoo or a beach or a movie together instead of the weekly cousin play dates. And I agree with the above that spending every Sunday afternoon prepping meals seems like a lot to me. If you enjoy that routine, then that's cool. But if not, that seems like a place you could find some couple time or relaxation time. Would your partner's sister consider watching your kids so that you and partner could go for a walk together or even run errands together?
I think this is a really hard time for a young family and your feelings are so valid. It will take dedication and energy from both of you to plan fun time together and as a family. A monthly or bi-weekly date night, planned intimacy and family fun time can help so much.
posted by areaperson at 10:48 AM on April 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

You are obviously such a devoted parent (I can tell from this post!) I wonder if you helped frame your relationship as something else that's important to being a parent. My parents were awesome at a lot of parenting stuff, but their marriage was obviously a disaster, and honestly, I would have MUCH rather had chips for dinner, more TV, and parents who genuinely loved being together. No contest. I think I make an extra effort with my spouse because I don't want our kids to feel the same way.

Also, I think date night is great, but it's also good to get out of your usual rhythm (and you have a clear rhythm to your week, which is a good thing in general, but not all the time.) I would see if there's anything different at all you could do with your spouse once a week, even if it's going to dinner in a place you don't usually go to, or seeing an old movie, or going to a wine tasting. Or meet for lunch instead of dinner, etc.

Also cousins nearby also sound like sibling babysitters! Lean on that if you can!
posted by caoimhe at 12:21 PM on April 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

An hour of exercise every day seems...excessive.
posted by pecanpies at 12:29 PM on April 10, 2017 [12 favorites]

I find these conversations very hard, opening up and being vulnerable like this to my partner often doesn't give me an outcome I'm happy with. They are not the type to talk about their feelings and often perceive voicing of dissatisfaction as an attack, which is responded to with ferocity!

Run, do not walk, to marriage counseling.

You are supposed to be a team. Being a team requires that both people work together, and sometimes that means shoring the other person up when they are struggling. If you make that gambit and he attacks in response, you are not a team. Note that if he doesn't like to talk about his feelings either, that virtually guarantees that he's not reaching out to you to work on stuff that is bugging him. Bet there's a lot of resentment from unresolved stuff that's fueling his ferocity.

All the other stuff you write about can be solved with logistics, logistical support. This dynamic is going to decay your marriage from the inside out.
posted by Sublimity at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Agreed on couples counseling. I talked to my husband about us attending counseling together when we were going through a similarly disconnected patch, and although we didn't end up going for various reasons, even the suggestion made him REALLY sit up straight and pay attention and thus start putting more effort into our marriage.

Monthly overnights sans kiddo is a lifesaver for us. Any chance the cousins could take the kiddos overnight every now and again (or another grandparent or relative)? Cousin sleepovers are the best!

Just no to "cajoling the kids to eat their vegetables in less than forty minutes." This book is meant to cut parental stress about mealtimes to zero.

I agree with another poster upthread that there's no mention of fun anywhere, just chores. Brunch out on weekends? Walks to the park? Family walks/hikes/bike rides? Zoo? The beach? Movie night? Anything at all? If you schedule in the fun stuff first on weekends, the chores must compress to fill their now-smaller allotted spaces, and you'll naturally find ways to cut corners that you can live with.
posted by anderjen at 3:04 PM on April 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

This sounds so hard! Of course you're lonely and craving intimacy. I feel for you. You guys sounds like you're both living in your own corners of the house/the world, but trying to just keep going like an operation.

I know that "works" for some marriages, but it sounds like it's not working for you. Usually these kind of feelings/longing don't just "go away" and resolve itself on it's own - though it may get better with the kids getting more independent, for sure. But hmm, if you can't say to your partner "I miss you. Can we find some time just for us?" that makes me worried. There's a lot of tenderness in that. If your partner can't feel that/hear that, and rejects that kid of bid for attention/affection, to me that is a Big Deal. I'm not sure you've tried, but telling them gently you miss them, you would like try to make a bit of time/space, that is a real, valid thing you deserve.

yes, it's most likely time for counseling or something so you guys can re-attach.

Some things to try if you don't want to do that just yet...

I know a lot of people in a similar life phase - maybe not 2 people that hold full-time corporate jobs- but people working plus children. You seem like you're being very hard on yourself, also.. doing all the things. Where do you get support, if not from your spouse? Where are ya'll getting support as a couple/family? Having "good jobs" in my opinion, is not always enough.

Ya'll also need some kind of community, or tribe, or somewhere/something you do have fun and feel nourished.

some thoughts...

What did ya'll do for fun before you were married/had serious jobs/ had kids? Can you add some of that back in? That to me is way more worth it that swimming every Saturday, or doing all the chores.

Do ya'll go on vacations? Can you? Something where everyone gets to have fun, reconnect, but also not have to watch the kids all the time (like maybe a family vacation where there's kid programs/babysitters on site- other people have recommened some very cool palces through mefi and if I had the money, that's what I would do --sounds amazing!! Otherwise, maybe bring a nanny or just leave the kids somewhere for long weekend.)

Are there other families you can connect with? Can you go to the cousins sometimes, with your partner and the kids? And just hang out? Order some pizza? Like others have said, outsource the house/work cooking, or just do a meal service like Blue Apron. I feel like it's so important to be "with our tribe" when we have young kids. Can the cousins just babysit on some Sunday afternoon, so you guys can go out to eat, take a walk, etc?

Sex. Sex! Ease back into it, like others have said, just through showers/touch/cuddling. But ... sex is usually the first thing to go when people stop communicating, but I argue it's really important for the health of the marriage. Plus, it's just healthy for as as humans. I do understand being tired as all hell with a toddler and other young child, so no reason to have it be a lot of pressure, but yeah, can they spend the night away every.. .month or 2?

Sex has actually become more important for me now that I have a young child. It's something that I've had to initiate, but ohhh boy, if we didn't do it on the regular, and didn't that glue holding us together, I don't know what else would. I honestly don't care if we don't eat dinner- sometimes I feed my kid some mac and cheese with (maybe) some broccoli mixed in... and put them to bed at 7:30, and we have sex then.

Work/children are not enough for me. I want to feel sexyish, excited, and connected at least once a week - or sometimes once every 2 weeks if things are busy- to with my partner. That's for me a baseline. So that may be a lot for you, but yeah, sometimes you just have to say, even though we're tired, we're going to drink wine in bed together, or watch a movie, or talk, or something. Hold hands. Brush each other's hair. Seriously, something to feel loved/touched/nourished.

Yes, a lot people forgo sex/intimacy and let that fall to the side during this phase. This seems like.. ultimately not a great idea. There has to be something to come back to.

I think you're right to be concerned, and I think it's very normal and healthy to want intimacy, pleasure, and connection. You're on the right track by reaching out.
posted by Rocket26 at 5:36 PM on April 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Man, I almost felt like I wrote this question. We are right there with virtually the same aged kids, dual income, etc.

Forget about date nights, you're too exhausted anyway. Try a day date instead. Send the kids to school / daycare and both of you take a sick day. Just stay home. Play bed island where you snooze a little, watch tv a little, snack a little, and hopefully have some intimate time, but without the expectation of such. It might be just too much to expect right now when all of (both of) your expectations and frustrations are piled up.

What will probably end up happening is you'll spend about 3 hours playing bed island and then at least one of you will get up and start doing chores, but 3 hours is a good amount of one-on-one time.

See if you can schedule a day date once every couple of months. I'm sure like everyone else you have to save your benefit time for school vacation days and kiddo sick days, but between sick time and vacation time, once every couple of months should be doable.

Can either of you switch your schedule? We are both fortunate to work a 4/40 week, so we each do a few chores on our days off (different days) and try to reserve weekends for more family time. And extra day off each week is unbelievably good for each of our mental health, even if we do a lot of chores on that day, at least we have some alone time without the constant "mom! mom!" or "dad! dad!"

We take advantage of all of the delivery services (groceries, Amazon or Target for household goods, etc) and when our baby was younger we had someone come in to cook for us once a week (the way you are doing now). We found her on CL. It was money well spent.

Teach your older kiddo to do some chores. My 5yo does his own laundry. He knows how to use the machines and I've let go the folding, I'm cool as long as it gets into the right drawers, which it does. Let your kiddo do vacuuming, pick up toys, etc. Rearrange your kitchen and put your dishes on lower shelves so that your kiddo can reach them and put clean dishes away. Depending on how active or messy your kids are, maybe you can do baths every other night rather than every night. And then... let the rest go. I know it's easier said than done, but give it a try for a week and see what works and what you can realistically shift.

In my experience, the worst thing for our marriage is my partner's untreated anxiety disorder. It's a daily battle and requires way way way more emotional labor than I think is reasonable, when I'm already dealing with all the chores and with trying to create a healthy emotional environment for my littles. It puts a huge strain on our marriage, and is causing resentment in both of us. So my two cents - keep up with your therapy and for the sake of your marriage go gets meds and use them. You might find the rest of this stuff rolls off your back a little bit better when you've taken the edge off.
posted by vignettist at 9:38 AM on April 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

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