Q: My husband works late and has to work a lot of weekends. I don’t sleep at night because I’m on red alert that the baby is going to wake up. I don’t know how much longer I can keep going at this pace – I don’t even have the energy to care about my marriage. Tell me I’m not alone.
A: You are definitely not alone! What you are describing is very common once you bring a baby home! What you need is 8 hours of shut-eye. That’s the only way you can charge your battery. Now’s the time to sit down with your husband, and figure out a plan so you can sleep through the night at least once a week. Can he do the night feedings once a week? Do you have a guest room you can sleep in? Basically you’ve got to work together as a team to survive the newborn stage, or one (or both) of you are going to be hanging from the chandeliers! That’s a sure fire way to enter a vicious cycle in your marriage. And one more thing – the newborn stage is not the time to analyze your relationship. It’s just not the time for Relationship 101. You both are in heavy surf! Just work together to get through it, then when the baby finally sleeps through the night, you can try to focus on your relationship again.
We’ve all been there. Exhausted and not feeling remotely sexy. But it’s been a while so when you’re husband makes a move you say, “OK”. You might even say “OK, if you really want to …” It turns out, though, that as far as our men are concerned this “grin and bear it” approach to sex can actually be worse than saying “no”. A man can feel rejected even if – and amazingly, while- his wife is having sex with him. He wants her to want him, not just show up and treat sex like another chore. Imagine if your husband took you out to dinner and read a book throughout the entire meal? How hurt would you be? Would you sit at your kid’s dance performance and check email, or hang out with a girlfriend and think about updating your wardrobe while she talks about a work dilemma? When we do something for someone we love, we should do it wholeheartedly. We get a whole lot more out of our lives and relationships when we engage. Next time your man lunges for you think about it!
You don’t. Ever. That’s her son’s, that is, your husband’s job. Unless your career experience includes professional hostage negotiator don’t go there with your mother-in-law, no matter how appalling you might think her behavior is. Your husband has to get your back. If his family member is the offending party, that’s his mess to clean up. (And vice versa) You are the wrong person for the job. We can all tell our own families where to stuff something, they will still love and accept us even when we offend and upset them. Not so, with our in-laws. You might mortally offend your mother-in-law and the relationship might never recover. Hold your tongue and send your man into battle.
Q: When my mother-in-law comes to stay with us, my husband becomes a complete lazy ass. He lets her do his entire share of the parenting load. She washes the dishes, picks up the kids, does his laundry. It’s like he’s the lord of the manor. I know he loves having her clucking over him, but it drives me nuts. He’s a Dad now and he needs to let go of being her little boy.
A: You don’t say how often your mother-in-law comes to stay with you. If she visits no more than three times a year for a few days at a time, my advice is to just let it go. Don’t make a big deal out of something that you have to endure for just a couple of weeks. Being happily married means that, on occasion, you have to suck it up and tolerate being a little bit uncomfortable so that the person you love can be a little bit happier. Your husband most likely does the same for you sometimes.
Make things easier for yourself by getting out of the house as much as possible while she’s around so that you don’t have to witness your husband’s regression. Let the two of them enjoy each other. She probably loves getting to be his mom – just like the old days – and, of course, he loves being doted on. Who wouldn’t?! If possible, let your mother-in-law pick up some of your parenting load, too so that her arrival means that you get a break. Pour yourself a cocktail and put your feet up.