At this point in my adulthood, I find that life is filled with ironies. You go through your teens dreaming of a far-off future, and spend your 20s wondering which man would end your wandering days. A great deal of time was devoted to heart-to-heart talks with your friends regarding this and that person who made your heart flutter and/or crash and burn at odd times, and some of us--myself included--have gone on the wildest chases after people who didn't deserve the mileage.
I say this now because I find it ironic that I have worked so hard at relationships pre-marriage and kids, yet now that I have found my 'happily ever after and then some', I catch myself slipping away at times, as if I have never pictured myself here at all.
I am not ashamed to admit that I have gone through literal battles with my loving husband over this topic. Am I a mom first now, and a wife second? Or should it be vice-versa?
Here's a quick story: there was a time when I, at the throes of full-on mothering, refused to get intimate with my husband. Why? Because it just was NOT a priority. I rush out to go to work in the morning, work all day, rush home to hopefully kiss the kids goodnight, lie down, and Facebook myself to sleep. For a large part of a year (or perhaps even more), that was all that I wanted to do. And since we started co-sleeping with Una at six months, there were times that I'd forget that there was a Man in the bed co-sleeping with us, too. The poor guy wanted intimacy. He wanted to be treated as a man, whereas I just wanted to sleep.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why this problem came about. Let's dive into that for a bit and cite these points, according to BellyBelly:
- Wife's super tired. It's just been a killer day.
- She already had someone all over her all day long, and the least she wants at the end of the day is yet another koala bear.
- She might actually be depressed.
- She's afraid that sex might be painful, at times due to a clinical after-effect of birth called "Dyspareunia".Dyspareunia - See more at: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/men/why-doesnt-she-want-to-have-sex-with-me-after-the-baby/Dys
- She's breastfeeding, and the hormones that make that work sadly kill the libido vibe.
- Low self-esteem. Taking her clothes off are at the bottom of her to-do list.
- She needs more attention, more romance...something that a tired dad can't always switch on either
- She needs to feel a connection first, not just a drive-thru order
It was utterly frustrating during those times when I could not reason out. It's true that a lot of marriages crash and burn with neglect, because as soon as someone in there feels that he/she is taken for granted, ignored, and essentially unimportant, you tend to go astray.
I would often tell him that I feel that I have been reborn as a different version of me, and I see my life as a pie chart. A big heaping slice goes to the kids, of course, because when you bring a human being into this world, all the clichès become truth and they are all that seem to matter. A big slice also goes to work, in my case, because work provides the balance that our lives need. The thing about husbands though, is they also need a big slice for themselves too. This leaves the mother--in this case, myself--with hardly any crumbs left for herself.
So to go back to the question...
Should you be a wife first, and a mother, second?
There will come a time when the kids will eventually leave, and all that's left in the house is a wife and a husband relearning how it is to just be "them". But, for argument's sake, if you treat yourself as a wife first and prioritize the heck out of your man, you won't really have to re-learn much, do you?
If you're a mother first and a wife second, you would really need the most understanding, the most self-effacing, and the most submissive man by your side. He would have to accept that he has moved from the driver's seat to the backseat (at least, for now) and be truly content with getting what he can, when he can.
That's easier said than done! My husband is a great man and is as understanding as he can be, but I cannot fault him for wishing that I could achieve better balance.
After much communication (the key, as all the clichés also say), I would say we are in a better spot than we were a year into parenting. We are more understanding of each others needs and wants, and I have somehow been able to rewire my brain into remembering that I have a husband--the one I have always wanted and searched for relentlessly. He held my hand through everything, and he is half the reason why I have kids to look after anyway. For that, and so much more, gratitude is at the top of the list. So aside from cooking the occasional meal, or the back rubs that come few and far in between these days, intimacy has ultimately become a very important way of saying 'thank you'. Thank you, for treating me like the woman I have always been, and for actually still finding me sexy despite the milk stains on my shirt or the disheveled look that has become the epitome of my personal style these days. And of course, aside from that, let's be honest and mature--it can also be pretty great.
When you have that locked down, every time you hold hands, it's more real. And the kids will see that, and they will feel the love emanating from that connection. You were man and woman first, who became man and wife together, and with that solidarity, you can work on being the most kick-ass parents together as well.
How about you? Are you a wife first, and a mom second? Or vice-versa?