Sometimes in Marriage, You Need to Take One for the Team

Sometimes in Marriage, You Need to Take One for the Team

It’s not that I don’t love my husband, because I do. And it’s not like I don’t find him attractive, because I mean … that beard and that bod? I dig it. But the thought of having sex six weeks postpartum? Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling it. NOTE: This is the part where you may want to stop reading if you know me (parents and in-laws, I’m looking at you). I never really realized how much hormones could effect a person until I experienced pregnancy and postpartum. My moods (and shall we say sexual prowess?) definitely changed during each time. With my first pregnancy, I was into it. But postpartum? Not so much. With the second, I wasn’t into it during pregnancy but postpartum I was a fan. The third time around though I was just not into it AT ALL. Let’s just say that a good chunk of my pregnancy was a test of patience for my husband — bless him. Having experienced these pregnancy hormone shifts before, though, neither of us were overly concerned. We assumed that things would fall back into a good groove once our baby arrived and everything leveled out. Finally, after nine 10 long months, our baby girl made her debut into this world and we were thrilled. Now things would settle back into place hormonally and sex would surely be good again — and most definitely far less awkward and uncomfortable. So we waited. But as my six-week postpartum check-up approached, I still wasn’t feeling overly enthusiastic about the prospect of a roll in the hay. My husband — ever the gentleman — didn’t push the subject (but he did make a...
What The Pressure Of Parenting Really Looks Like On A Marriage

What The Pressure Of Parenting Really Looks Like On A Marriage

I got home from work at 6, and I was exhausted. I didn’t really want to do anything but soak in the tub for a while, and take a moment to clear my head. I walked through the front door, and Mel, my wife, unloaded. She told me about how Tristan, our 7-year-old, hadn’t cleared the table for dinner or started his homework. She told me how Aspen, our 4-month-old, had blown out her diaper twice that day and refused to take a nap, and how Norah, our 5-year-old, had done little but throw one fit after another. This was about two years ago, and at the time Mel was a stay-at-home mom and a part-time student. She was in blue jeans and a striped T-shirt, her brown hair pulled back. She was stirring something on the stove, and on her hip was Aspen, who was crying and wearing nothing but a diaper. The house was a storm of toys and unfolded laundry. The bags under her eyes, her makeup-less face, her sagging right hip, her slumped sounders, everything about Mel said weary. She’d had a long day. But so had I. At the time, I worked at a university as an academic counselor in a program that served under-represented students. A friend once described my job as the “social work of higher education,” and I think that was a good assessment. One of my students had been arrested the night before. He was facing felony charges, so I’d spent a good amount of time chatting with university legal services trying to help make sense of the situation. Trying...
Sex Starts in the Morning

Sex Starts in the Morning

“Sex Starts in the Morning” originally appeared on Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, and was reprinted with permission. As I’ve taken inventory of my marriage over the years, I’ve discovered something: marriage is hard work. Often, we find ourselves on different pages altogether. It happens to both husbands and wives alike. But if we want to build a healthy and successful marriage, we must make a change in the way we think and interact with one another! I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It was the summer of 2004 and my wife Kristin and I were at odds. We argued all the time, over the smallest things. It was becoming ridiculous. At that point, we’d only been married for five years. Our misunderstanding of one another was growing exponentially. I determined that we were on different pages, plain and simple! Or were we? When I finally took the time to listen to my wife’s heart, and not jump to conclusions, I discovered something profound. I had a personal problem. That’s right … me! I failed to see the most important ingredient of a successful marriage: servanthood. I was a little dense (heck I was in my 20s), and kind of lousy at putting her needs above my own! But I knew better. Sex starts in the morning. Don’t ever forget that! It starts by you choosing to serve her at the beginning of every day. Share Quote FacebookPinterest A few years earlier, right before I got married in fact, an older, wiser husband and father gave me some peculiar, but great advice. He said, “Sex starts in the...
10 Ways Arguing Has Helped Strengthen Our Marriage

10 Ways Arguing Has Helped Strengthen Our Marriage

I once read that finances and division of housework were the biggest things couples argue over. These are lower on our list. Our top two arguments are: who is more tired and what the definition of a bath is. In case you’re having the same problem in your house, starting the water for the kids is not “bathing” them, it’s starting the water. And, I’m more tired than he is. The first few years of marriage were tough. Everyone says they’re supposed to be the best years, but they were our most clumsy and unfamiliar. It wasn’t until a few years in that things started to smooth out. What I hadn’t realized was that those first years were all about establishing our role as a single, married unit — as well as preserving our roles as individuals. Then we had kids and are now constantly sorting out our parental roles. We are really four people: ourselves, a spouse, part of a parenting team, and a parent. That’s eight people between the two of us. That’s a lot of people to accommodate in one relationship without ever bumping into a disagreement. In my experiences, despite picking and choosing battles, arguments happen. And it’s good they happen. They keep us all fighting the good fight for the sake of self-preservation. Barring any verbal or physical abuse — arguing is healthy in a relationship, at least it has been for us. From my own perspective, here’s how arguing can strengthen marriage: 1. Strengthened Our Communication Whether you are both yelling, hissing, snarling, or simply bickering, you are still communicating. Every angry argument has...
17 Lessons I’ve Learned from 17 Years of Marriage

17 Lessons I’ve Learned from 17 Years of Marriage

Next month my wife and I will celebrate 17 years of marriage. It seems like yesterday we were starting out, moving into our tiny one bedroom apartment on the westside of Cincinnati, and learning how to dance with one another through this crazy thing we call life. Here we are … all those years later, still learning the moves to this dance. We’re older now. Maybe a tad bit wiser, too. We have both learned so much about life, marriage, love, and how to walk through the toughest battles imaginable. Personally, I have learned so many valuable lessons. I could literally write a book. But, it would be a billion words in length and you would inevitably zone out a few chapters in. So, I’ll simply share the 17 biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past 17 years. 1. Marriage is a long-term investment, not a one-time deposit. If you base everything on the wedding day, you’ll be disappointed. You plan a wedding, you invest in a marriage. And it’s an ongoing investment, not a one-time deposit. That doesn’t work. 2. Servanthood wins! I learned a long time ago that if I put my wife’s needs above my own and choose to serve her everyday, our marriage grows in health and well-being exponentially. 3. Intimacy is so much more than sex. In fact, sex makes up a very small percentage of intimacy. Intimacy in its truest form embodies the conversations we have, the moments we share together, and the life-long commitment we make. 4. Communication is the golden ticket. Over-communicate everything in marriage. You’ll never find your spouse or...
What No One Tells You About Marriage

What No One Tells You About Marriage

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? They told you marriage would change over time, that there would be hard times, but they never said it would be like this. You might be exhausted and lonely, or feeling a little neglected lately. Maybe you had a fight last night and the night before that and the night before that. Maybe you’re feeling a little PMS-y and angry about the dishes that never get put in the dishwasher, and for the love of all things holy, would it be that hard to change the toilet paper roll. Maybe you’re in a little rough patch, snapping at each other about leaving the fridge door open and forgetting to change the burned-out lightbulb in the bathroom. Or maybe you’re dealing with some really brutal stuff. Whatever the case, your marriage feels hard and heavy right now. And you find yourself singing Coldplay lyrics on repeat. No one ever said it would be easy, but—dammit—no one ever said it would be this freaking hard either. Everywhere you look, you see hap-hap-happy couples. You see the smiling picture perfect family photos on Facebook and think to yourself, I bet they don’t fight about what kind of cereal to buy. You see other parents and wonder if they were up until 2 a.m. bickering about whose turn it was to get up with the baby. You see cute couples at the park on the weekend, pushing their toddlers in the swings, and doubt they have ever gone through the low-grade suckiness that you’re in right now. Well, I can assure you that they have. We all have. Sure,...