Keeping romance alive after you’ve had kids?
What do you think when you hear a parent (usually a woman) say,
"My children come first"
- a) Of course they do
b) I feel sorry for her spouse or partner
c) If her children come first, does that mean everybody and everything else comes second and is that a good thing?
When I ask people this question I almost always get response (a), followed by the comment well they have to, they need me, I'm their mother.
When you ask men that question, they often say the same thing, but it usually has a different meaning for them.
In podcast 6, Podcast Link , father Marcelo Z talks about the differences between how men view time away from their children and how women do.
Woman tend to mean that their children are literally the most important thing in their lives and they will attend to their needs before they attend to the needs of a spouse or a job or themselves.
Men tend to mean that their children's health and welfare is their primary responsibility, but they don't literally thing about attending to their children's needs before their own or before the requirements of their job, which they often view as primary, as it provides them the ability to fulfill their culturally proscribed role of provider.
Men's value around this issues I would suggest, comes from a sense of male privilege, as men are constantly being taught from the moment they come out of the womb to take care of their own needs first and we see this so often reflected negatively in the media and among our celebrity culture (the latest example being that of former Congressman Anthony Wiener)...
But women are positioned by the culture in totally different ways when it comes to attending to their own needs. Now let me say that these ideas I'm expressing are not universally true nor do I believe that they are essential or intrinsic to women. But women too have been historically taught to attend to the needs of everyone else around them before they ever begin to think of themselves.
And if you think this idea sounds antiquated or old world and that in the modern age in which we live things have dramatically changed, just spend an afternoon talking to a group of working moms about who feel and actually still are more responsible for taking care of and attending to the needs of their children.
Media reports to the contrary about more involved dads, and they are, but not to the point that the equation has reached anything approaching equality....
So given these different cultural positionings, how do we come to the idea of maintaining the value around intimacy and romance in a relationship when children, different values, and exhaustion come in to play?
It starts with having the conversation before the conversation.
What do I mean by that?
Well it means instead of the typical conversation about the problem and about scheduling which is an issue of practicality and compromise, we need to have a conversation about value and positioning.
We need to talk to each other about how we have been culturally positioned by our gender roles to believe certain things and to marginalize and diminish other ideas.
We need to talk to each other about what those beliefs have us believing about sex and about romance and about what we really want out of our relationships, about how we value each other and want sex and romance because it makes us feel alive and meaningful and because that is what brought us together in the first place....the sense that the other saw us and loved us and valued us.....
Everybody wants to matter and to matter we must be seen or what I call, Richly Witnessed, by the person in whom we invest our heart.....
It is this conversation before the conversation that really positions us to join together as allies against the problems of complacency, exhaustion, disappointment, and resentment that often build up and have us fighting against each other instead of against these problems.
When we can make that shift, we have the opportunity to have a richer, more meaningful relationship with the one we love...
let me know what you think.....