My relationship with my husband was smoking hot before kids, but parenting our twin toddlers has taken all the sex out of the marriage. (I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband works.) I thought it would get better when they were sleeping through the night, but they’re no less needy now, and they often insist on sharing our bed. I feel much less sexual and my husband and I both feel that we’re missing out. How can we re-light the match?-—Julie
I really can’t conceive of how horror movie–level exhausted you must be, and congratulate you for having the wherewithal to still be thinking about how to get laid. But, you write that your kids “insist” on sleeping with you—I’m pretty sure when I was little, I regularly insisted on sleeping on an inflatable raft in the pool, but I wasn’t allowed. Don’t be the kind of mom who makes her children her equal or alpha. They’re not. You can be loving, encouraging, involved, and empathetic without acquiescing to what you shouldn’t, even if you weren’t trying to have sex again. Pepper Schwartz, co-author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship, says, “Kids should respect privacy—their own, and their parents’s.” Consider making your entire room off-limits to both your kids and you during the day while you are busy mom-ing, relieving your bed and its environs of collapsing piles of tiny clothes, board books, and other anti-sex elements. A room of one’s own isn’t just for writing and thinking—it is for self-care, REM sleep, and sexual intercourse.
Anyway. You obviously have limited attention and energy right now, and with twins, “the drain is exponentially greater,” according to both Schwartz and my own twin-niece-and-nephew babysitting memories. Schwartz says, “In order to have a personal life, a woman with two young children running around, screaming in play or in frustration, needs help, pure and simple. She needs time to clear her mind and relax at least a few hours each day. If she doesn’t get that respite, she is just going to collapse.” This is simple, but not easy. You need to create and schedule time to be alone, even just to take a bath. Maybe your husband could do the after-dinner hour by himself. You also need to spend time just with him. Schwartz says, “If it all turns into parenting, it will put the relationship at risk somewhere along the road.” Enlist someone for weekly care—trade with a friend, ask your parents—and spend a few hours together in bed or on a pre-bed date, not washing socks. Once you reclaim that time and space as yours, you’ll know what to do.
Many of my friends have more money than I do, and as an under-employed guy with a ton of student debt, it makes me feel lesser-than. How can I handle it?—Martin
Because all of this is too gnarly and weird to talk about with your friends, it gets in the way even though it doesn’t have to. Money has power, energy, and influence, and most people tend to socialize within their economic class (there’s a reason that socioeconomics is the most interesting indicator of life). It’s likely that you feel like you can’t keep up with the weekend trips, fresh kicks, split restaurant bills, and whatever else your friends spend cash on. But money also drives perception—like yours—in ways that are unfair and unreal to everyone. (Do you really know how your richer friends feel about their money, and about how it affects their relationships?) Be upfront about what you can’t afford—and set up free fun like a weekly pickup game or movie night—but don’t assume that they’re not into you because of it.
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