Since Bean’s conception, or perhaps even before, I have always put her first…husband second, me third. Has that been the right decision, or even a healthy one? Perhaps not, but it’s what the women who came before me did, it is the example set by friends, family, parenting books and the media, and it is all I seem to know how to do.
If I were to be honest with myself, I would have to admit to feeling resentful at times…not resentful of Bean exactly, but resentful of those who get to think about themselves and their husbands first, those whose husbands still think of them first before anyone, and those whose marriages are still young, unencumbered and romantic.
For us, romance is my husband canceling a meeting to come home “early” to help out, when I’m already an exhausted wreck by 11am. Romance is letting the other partner sleep an extra 30 minutes on Saturday morning by volunteering to “keep the baby”. There are still flowers and chocolates on Valentines Day, but the real romance is waking to find my husband has already emptied the dishwasher.
I think we’ve mainly forgotten how to be romantic, either that or we are just too tired and busy. There is always something to do, some list of chores or some work to complete before bedtime.
Date night was supposed to be a priority…we promised each other back before Bean was born…yet it got lost in the tidal wave of parenthood. We realized it was really expensive to have a babysitter AND pay for dinner, AND parking, and I guess it was also hard to coordinate. It was easier, and cheaper to stay at home, and have a date night here. It didn’t occur to us that this would lead to “date night” becoming just like every other night, except with the added stress to somehow make it special regardless of how hard and tiring the day might have been.
When we were dealing with infertility and IVF, we had so many conversations about “US”…the realization quickly dawning that infertility had drained us of everything but an extreme focus on having a baby. We weren’t making time for each other, for the other things in our lives. We weren’t having fun with each other. We were sad, frustrated and socially isolated. The result was we became closer as a couple, and we worked harder on our marriage than ever before. We were working for each others’ happiness, and we felt so in love and so in sync with one another.
Why shouldn’t we make the same commitment to each other now? Why should Bean always be first and our union second? Isn’t our marriage and our happiness together one of the best examples we can set for her? Isn’t giving her all of ourselves, while giving our marriage nothing, just a path to spousal resentment and separation?
Perhaps it is time to start putting our marriage first, or at least alternating priorities on occasion. Our family is only as strong as the marriage that created it, isn’t it? I think it is time we remembered how to be romantic, and started making more time for each other even it that means letting Bean wait for our attention now and again.