I came across the article when I was perusing Pinterest only a couple weeks post-partum. It was from a popular female Christian website and it was about marriage post-baby. I read it with sleep in my eyes and with the fog that comes from being a completely overwhelmed and exhausted new mother.
The article contained “tips” about keeping your marriage “strong”. This particular article chose to focus on the six week period post-baby, the time period where women are instructed to abstain from sex for various reasons, including but not limited to preventing infections, allowing for healing, and preventing pregnancy. This article contained a list of how to keep things “hot” for your husband during this time period. THIS SIX. WEEK. TIME PERIOD. This specific medically imposed time-period that, apparently, threatens to ruin your marriage. In it they emphasized the importance of not “letting yourself go” and still looking sexy for your husband. They cautioned wives not to pay too much attention to themselves or the baby and forget all about their husband’s “needs.” And yes, they even emphasized the importance of doing “other” activities rather than the “deed”.
Blow jobs, people. We are talking about lots of blow jobs.
At the time I read it, I was too tired to be upset. I just thought to myself how grateful I was that I didn’t have a husband who emphasized his “needs” to me when only days prior I had pushed a nine pound baby, unmedicated, out of my body.
But I have emerged from the post-baby haze, and I have some thoughts on the issue.
If your relationship can’t survive a couple weeks without sex, after a transition so life-altering and exhausting and overwhelming and terrifying, if you are scared you don’t look “sexy” enough for your husband and afraid that you don’t provide HIM with enough sexual pleasure during these SIX WEEKS, if these things are real concerns and not just a figment of your hormonally saturated baby brain, I am genuinely concerned for the state of your relationship.
The thought of spending the day sending “naughty texts”, busting out pre-pregnancy lingerie, and surprising your husband with a “sexy massage” and oral sex when I can’t even make it past sunset without collapsing into a ball of tears, when I spend every other hour with a baby attached to my breast, when my body is in BY FAR the most uncomfortable and unattractive state of its entire being, when I go eight hours before I realize I haven’t had a bite to eat, F.U.C.K. T.H.A.T.
Because lo and behold, people of the internet, life actually continue to exist after those six weeks.
I am only 14 months in to being a mom, but I am 8 and a half years into a relationship, and maybe what seems obvious to me isn’t obvious to others.
Relationships change. They have seasons, phases, cycles. There were months where Will and I had little contact with the outside world because we spent every spare waking moment together, alone. There were months we spent the better part of each week hanging out with our friends together. There were months we spent more time on our individual interests than with eachother. Things change, people change, the relationships changes.
Why do we as a culture hang on to “what used to be” with white-knuckled desperation? Why do we listen with panic to those who preach that any change in your relationship post-baby means something is about to go terribly wrong? That if we aren’t having sex the same number of times per month/week/day with the same amount of creativity and excitement that we did before we became parents that our relationship is in a dangerous downward spiral that will end in cheating or divorce?
Yes, things are different now. Our hours of alone time every day have turned into a couple hours each week alone. Our monthly romantic out of town over-nights are no more. Now, “vacation” out of town is more like a lesson in torture. Now, “romantic” is pretty darn close to the very last word I would use to describe a night away with Gia. Many years ago I remember Will telling me I was the most beautiful in sweats with a ponytail and without make-up, a state in which he rarely saw me. I bet he is learning the meaning of “be careful what you wish for” because that is his new normal, the “look” he comes home to each night. Right now we only rarely see our friends. I am lucky if I look “sexy” [dressed and showered] once each week. And he told me last week that he has never been more attracted to me than he is at this point in our lives. That, my friends, is love. Or really, really, good lying. I’m happy either way.
Yes, I could make it my number one goal in life to keep things exactly as they were before Gia was born. I could spend all my time and energy keeping up with our quota: x number of hours alone, x number of vacations per month, only x times seen in sweats. I could do that. But to me this seems a little desperate. A little untrusting of my husband, of my marriage. Do I have so little faith in our relationship that I am unwilling to allow for the way things naturally change? To accept and embrace that some things leave, but better things take their place?
That is our life right now. As a parent, sometimes I have to say – “I really, really want to paint my toenails” but, my daughter has a dirty diaper and needs lunch. Sorry, you’re a parent now. Something has got to give. Carefully pedicured toes are a far off, distant dream.
But its not as if these things are dead and gone. I am confident our lives will cycle around again to spending more time with friends, me spending more time in “real people” clothes than in sweats, and I’m sure there will be more pedicured toes and time for romantic vacations.
That’s life, my friends. You roll with the punches. You bend so you don’t break. You learn to let go of what you had planned to have what is waiting for you, and all those other song lyrics and inspirational quotes.
I believe we are all just doing our best. I hope everyone is lucky enough to be with someone who understands and appreciates that.
Seasons change. There are wonderful/beautiful/exciting things you wish would never go away and annoying/frustrating/ugly things you can’t wait to leave. The bad and good news is: they do. And then they come back again. And leave again. And come back again.
Some years are full of sex and excitement and passion that also may bring jealousy and fights and pain. Some years are full of monotony and fatigue and hard work that also may bring comfort and appreciation and trust. The sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour.
One of my greatest gifts in life has been finding Will. I recognize that our relationship comes much more easily to us than relationships go for some others. But I also know that the best part, the sweetest part, is that we ride these waves and watch these seasons come and go together. We will never again get to watch this season of our very first year as parents together. That one has come and gone. It was a year that filled our story with so many new chapters to laugh about and be thankful for having and be thankful for passing. Our lives, our relationship, our story, is that much richer because of it.
We will likely watch another season with a newborn come and go at some point. We will watch our season as young parents come and go and will re-welcome the season of more quality time with friends or for vacations or for alone time together. We are in a season of cutting cable and eating out less and no “fun” shopping because we are sacrificing our money so I can raise our daughter at home. That season will end and we will say “welcome back” to the spare money we said “goodbye” to a year ago.
I believe if I am with the right person, if it is real, true love, if we both are in it for the long haul, and not just the fun, easy, sexy parts, we will -without a doubt – survive this season. I don’t believe in trying to force my relationship to look like it did in the beginning.
So, on the subject of being “sexy” during the six week post-partum period, I think, I rest my case.