Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friend Ain't Getting Any

Mrs. P, one of my two IRL BFF's, and I had a long phone conversation today, covering a lot of territory, mainly marriage and kids. I told her about my recent marital trubs, dramatic hotel stay, and how therapy was certainly helping. And then she went and dropped what I felt was a total bomb - that she hasn't had sex with her DH for almost a year!

Wait, what???!!!

I now realize we often have no idea what is going on in other people's marriages. Hell, I'm sure mine looks great from the outside... little do they know.

Mrs. P is mama to an adorable 21-mos-old, who she Attachment Parents (her term) to an extreme. As in she and her DH have not been on a date since before the kid was born. Like, whoa. As in full-boat AP: co-sleeping, BF'ing, cloth diapering, no babysitters ever - all the hard core shit. I'm a bit of an APer-light, but I think I'd jump out of a window if I never had any time away from my kids.

My sense is that Mrs. P has trouble finding balance. She tends to go to extremes with things. And her DH is kind of a pushover - he just does whatever she says, and doesn't feel confident enough to ever initiate sex, or plan a date, or do anything. It would be nice if he knew how to balance her out. I think she has contributed to it by not acting like intimacy is any sort of priority for her.

Your thoughts?


Jac said...

Hmm... well since DH and I didn't have sex during the last 5 months of my first pregnancy, and until 7 months after baby, I guess I've gone the year before. No judgement there. Took me a long time to heal up from baby. We seem to have started a similar streak with this one (but not worried, cuz when we did start knocking boots again, it was better than ever).

But, agree with you about needing a break from kids, and intimacy doesn't necessarily mean sex. It's hard for me to say because I'm not really an AP'er (I mean, I breastfed, but nowhere near a year, I hate co-sleeping, but did it on a handful of occasions, and I have a half dozen babysitters on speed dial). Probably more useful if an AP'er chimed in. I'd be willing to bet that there are many AP'ers who manage to maintain intimacy with their spouse without compromising their child-rearing philosophy. I COMPLETELY buy in to the idea that it is important for kids to see their parents loving each other and spending time together, even if that means excluding the kids sometimes.

One more thought: when we did get our groove back, it wasn't cuz I was feeling all sexy. In fact, I my heart wasn't really in it at all but I knew that it was important so went through the motions hoping it would pay off (it did). Sometimes, you have to make the effort even when you don't really want to.

Cloud said...

I don't think your friend would have to change any of her AP approach to have more intimacy with her husband- I mean, at a minimum, she'd just need to sneak out of bed after the kid is asleep, right?

But I agree with @Jac- intimacy is more than sex, and maybe the bigger problem is that she hasn't figured out how to carve out space for her, and for her + husband in the new family life.

Kids will consume every last mental resource you have, if you let them. But it doesn't do anyone any good to have the parents fall to bits (either individually or as a couple) because they needed some of those mental resources for themselves. Everyone's boundaries are going to be different, but I think everyone needs some sort of boundary!

Maybe she could start small- get a daytime sitter and go for a lunch date. Then work up to a night out, or even a night away!

Melba said...

I had a similar experience as @Jac, but maybe not as long... about the last 3-4 months of both my miserable pregnancies and with Rosie where I had class 4 tearing it was 3-4 months postpartum. With Annie it was only about 6-8 weeks postpartum. But still that was a long dry spell, particulary for my hubby.

Its gotta suck for them, hey? During late pregnancy and post-partum, I was like "get real buddy" at the mere mention of sex... it was so not on my mind and seemed like a ridiculous thing to even think of doing. But the guys? They don't have these changes and issues with their bodies or hormones, yet they're suddenly not gettin' any. Sucks for them.

And I guess it depends on the guy but it seems strange that your friend's DH isn't making an issue of this... is he just giving up? Giving in? Sounds like it could turn out to be the beginning of the end, you know? It's how people find themselves falling out of love. I think they need to get back under the sheets and just start doing it. Sex begets sex. Intimacy will come back.

And for the record I'm not doing AP... can't co-sleep, didn't breastfeed Rosie and am now weaning Annie, prefer the stroller to the sling/wrap, etc. So like @Jac I can't really comment on how to put baby in the other room to have some couple time. But it's got to be done and there has to be some kind of compromise, especially since baby is 21 months (old enough to sleep alone once in a while).

hush said...

I didn't mean to sound like I was judging long-term celibate married people. Sorry! I think a health concern like lacerations from a difficult vaginal delivery is certainly a legit reason for a long break... We used to co-sleep until after DS's 2nd birthday and still made time for sex despite many other problems.

There is nothing medical going on with them. Apparently she wants to get pregnant again soon and he is terrified of that because of how shitty things are now and because of how quickly it happened last time. And further complicating matters is the fact that they are from an Asian cultural background that finds affection shameful, and he didn't have much experience before they married, etc so there is a lot going on. I guess my question is how to support her.

@Jac - Going through the motions hoping it would pay off is one of the best pieces of advice I ever got.

@Cloud -I think you nailed it "maybe the bigger problem is that she hasn't figured out how to carve out space for her, and for her + husband in the new family life." Absolutely.

@Melba - I agree completely "it seems strange that your friend's DH isn't making an issue of this... is he just giving up? Giving in?" I think she has too much decision-making power in the relationship and he reacts to this by being a total follower/pushover.

Claudia said...

My take is a bit different. I don't ascribe my parenting style as anything dogmatic. I breastfed til 19 months, and only stopped because the doctor asked me to in order to get a mammogram. I couldn't/can't stand co-sleeping, and Boo boo can't fall or stay asleep with me anyway. I didn't have anyone watch her (aside from daycare, that is) at all until she was maybe 13 or 14 months old. Just didn't want to.

My point, however, is I'm a particular kind of person -- I don't easily spread myself among very many intimate relationships. After having DD, I suddenly had this relationship that consumed me. Even as it got easier, I really couldn't bring myself to care much about DH. It's still a problem, and Boo boo is 4 1/4. The funny thing is, our sex life has never been frequent, but before DD, it was him who was low-needs. Now we're infrequent because I can't be bothered most of the time. I want to change it, but I just don't seem to. I half-jokingly also say that I suffer from post-traumatic sleep-deprivation disorder. I'm still very protective of my sleep.

So that's my 2 coppers.

caramama said...

Well, I consider myself an AP mom, and heaven knows we've had very few nights where it was just me and the hubby in bed together all night. But we actually have a pretty fantastic sex life. So AP does not preclude great sex life. (Okay, probably not needed, but I really want to tell someone about my totally awesome sex life! I'm still trying to figure out how to blog about it on my own blog without embarrassing hubby or being too racy...)

As for your friend, hmmm. That is a tough situation. I would have suggested that you point out to her that her child should see a good role model for a healthy, affectionate relationship, but if her culture is not affectionate, that might not work.

Does she WANT to have more sex? A year without sex well after having a baby and for no health reasons is a long time for a married couple. I know it happens and some people are fine with it, but it just doesn't sound healthy to me. And let me now mention that I also was completely not have any sex the last 3-4 months pregnant and 3-4 post-partum with both kids. I think that time period is pretty normal to go without sex. If her kid is 21 months and they haven't had sex for the last year, then the kid was 9 months old last time they had sex (someone, check my math!). I just feel like that's not the norm.

I'm totally rambling. I have no real good advice. Oh, one thing though. If she does want to have more sex but is having trouble getting in the mood, I did write a post with tips for that. Maybe you can tell her some of those?

Did I mention that I've been having incredible sex lately? My libido is in overdrive, and hubby is keeping up very well! hehe.

Jac said...

@caramama, I have no shame, I'll say it - I want to hear about your totally awesome sex life!

hush said...

@Claudia - I get that completely: "I suffer from post-traumatic sleep-deprivation disorder. I'm still very protective of my sleep." LOL!

@Caramama - "Does she WANT to have more sex?" is definitely the pertinent question, to which the answer is yes, that's why she said she brought it up, and also to see if they are normal. I agree, it doesn't seem healthy. I shared your awesome tips with her, thank you!!

@Jac - Amen to that!!! Caramama could post the racy stuff "anon" but in such a way that we'd all really know who it is....

Anonymous said...

@hush - you say your friend is keen to get pregnant now... An issue I've had that is very much related is contraception getting in the way! For a variety of reasons, I haven't been able to face using hormonal contraception for a few years now. After 10 years, going back to using condoms is just a passion killer...

hush said...

@zenmoo - I'm sorry to hear condoms are a passion killer for you. I've actually never been on hormonal birth control. Right now we use diaphragm with spermicide plus fertility awareness, soon to be replaced by vasectomy! We'd also considered Paraguard IUD, but now that we know we're done it's time for DH to go get the ol' snip snip. ;)