As members of the church, we know that motherhood is a very important role we women have in the world. Giving life is an incredible thing. Caring for that little life is a huge responsibility and also can give us great joy. Of course, fatherhood is just as important, and we are taught that mothers and fathers work together as equal partners to raise children in the gospel. Is it possible that our Mormon culture ( culture, not doctrine or scripture) has taken this gospel doctrine to an extreme that has the potential to hurt marriages? It would be pretty easy to immerse ourselves into our roles as mothers to the detriment of our roles as wives. Let’s not forget that if we do what’s right, we can have our husband with us for eternity. And as much as we want our children with us for eternity, too, well, that just might not happen. As it is, even if it does happen, those children will be sealed to their own spouses and be their own unit. So it really does come down to your husband. I’m not suggesting we swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, of course, and neglect our children. But it is certainly possible to nurture your marriage and your children. In fact, one of the best things we can do for our children is have a good marriage. I just wish Conan and I had been better an nurturing our marriage back when our kids were little!
I recently had my two beautiful granddaughters for the weekend. One is under two and one is in Kindergarten. They are so sweet and wonderful! Being a grandma is one of the best things in the world! I just have to say that in Grandmaland there is no “Step” or “Blood” grandma or grandchild. There is only grandma and grandchild. It is a beautiful, wonderful thing. Especially since I can say with assuredness that I look NOTHING like a grandma. 😉
Anyway, this brought many memories and feelings rushing back to me from when my own kids were babies (my youngest is 10), as it usually does when we get to keep the little girls for awhile. So I’ve been thinking a lot these last few days about our sex life when the kids were little and how the kids affected that and what we could have done differently.
When the kids were little, it really was extremely difficult for me to want to be sexual. I’d pretty much had my fill of physical touch by the end of the day, what with hugging, holding, carrying, nursing, feeding, clothing, and bathing children. And sleep was hard to come by when the baby didn’t sleep through the night until he was 14 months old and the toddler got up at 5:30 a.m. like our own little rooster. Then they didn’t nap at the same time, and the oldest was involved in extracurricular activities so we were running around going to T-ball, etc. Not to mention working and taking care of the house and fulfilling my calling! I’m exhausted just WRITING about it! So yes, it was very hard to even think about sex, much less actually DO sex!
I remember how tired I was all the time. Lack of sleep makes me irritable and short tempered, for starters. My sleep is important! I need my sleep. Back then I would not give up my sleep for sex. I just could not do it. Sleep or sex? Hmmmmm, no contest. Sleep. Conan, on the other hand, would give up sleep at the drop of the hat for any type of sex.
With sex last on my list, it was the first thing to get set aside for another time. ANY other time. I distinctly remember telling my girlfriend that if someone told me I’d never have sex again in my whole life I’d say, “Oh? Please pass the salt.” Can any of you relate???
So what’s the solution? Sadly, we never did figure it out. I can think of a lot of things we could have done and should have done, but we didn’t. Our unspoken solution was to tough it out until the kids got older. This did not help our marriage, though, I can tell you that! Especially since we never really agreed to do that, it just kind of happened that way. I suffered through a lack of support. He suffered through a lack of intimacy and sex. It simply got easier when the kids got older. After that I could forget about those few years of craziness and fatigue.
I think things would have been much better had I felt supported and been helped more. I might have been more willing to give up a little sleep twice a week if Conan had taken over for me on Saturday mornings and let me catch up on sleep for a few hours. Maybe he could have been in charge of dinner one night a week. It could have been any little thing to help me.
On my side of things, I think I could have placed more importance on my marriage relationship and made time to reconnect with my husband sexually and emotionally. I should have set aside a half hour once in a while for Conan. I could have and should have done it. I should have sacrificed my favorite TV show or the chapter of that book I just had to read. I should have prayed about it. I should have asked the Lord for help. I might not have ever received all the support and help I needed from Conan, but at least there would be one less source of contention in our lives, and I firmly believe that without that source of contention, other things would have come along, as well. I couldn’t change Conan, I should have been working on changing myself. I should have said to myself, “Self, if you are committed to this marriage you need to do what it takes to make it good, regardless of what he is or isn’t doing.” It’s just so much easier to point to what your spouse needs to do instead of what you need to do. However, marriage is hard work and both people should love and serve each other as much as possible.
Anyway, we were lucky to recover from having small children in the house. I find it extremely ironic that we want to do this thing that creates children, but then the children come and all that comes with them can actually get in the way of us doing what creates children!
What are some ways that you try to keep sex and intimacy in your marriage with small children?