Are we just co-existing?

Are we just co-existing?

Dear husband,

Last night, you asked me: Are we just co-existing? And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

At first, I was angry you’d even asked. Is that all you think of us now? After almost ten years of life together, our relationship has reduced down to just being two people that happen to live together? Gee, thanks. Immediately, I was on the defensive. Immediately, I felt hurt. Because that’s our default at the moment: we’re so easily offended by each other. I’m tired of having to suffix everything I say with ‘that’s not a dig at you, by the way’ just in case you’ve taken my innocent comment as a passive aggressive insult. It’s exhausting.

Then I was just sad. Sad in the knowledge that we haven’t spent as much quality time with each other as perhaps we should. Sad that I can count on one hand the amount of dates we’ve had since becoming parents. Sad that I often think about organising a night out for us, but then feel like arranging a babysitter, worrying about money and putting pressure on myself to look nice are too big of obstacles to overcome. It’s just easier to have a lazy night in instead. For us to sit on separate sofas (when did that become our norm?), passively watching the latest craze on Netflix, with our phones in hand, fearing to get too comfortable knowing that as soon as we do, Pickle will wake up and require settling back down again.

And then I felt guilty. Because, co-existing is a euphemism for our lack of sex, isn’t it? And I know I’ve not been very forthcoming in that department. I don’t have to justify my reasons why but I feel I have to. It’s not, contrary to your paranoia, that I don’t fancy you anymore. It’s not that I’ve gone off you or find the idea repulsive. I love you. I think you’re beautiful, and gorgeous and you’re always the handsomest man in the room. It’s just… my body isn’t the same as it once was. My hormones are all weird thanks to twenty months of breastfeeding, and I can’t forget how uncomfortable things felt down there those first few months. Don’t you remember how much I wondered if they’d made some kind of mistake during my c-section? How much I worried I’d never be able to enjoy sexy times again? And the relief when I found out all of this was normal because of my decision to breastfeed? Slowly, slowly, I think my hormones are starting to level back out, but I still get anxious. It’s still not the same. And I’m still learning to feel confident about my new post-baby body.

I’m not rejecting you. It’s really nothing to do with you… but it’s like I said last night: if you spend months feeling pain from the prick of a needle, even if one day it’s suddenly not as painful – you’re still going to be scared of the needle. Perhaps my choice of analogy is a little unfortunate (I’m not calling you a prick, or a needle by the way), but the metaphor still stands.

And let’s not even get started on my chronic lack of sleep. You may feel your nights are unsettled, but it’s nothing compared to the hours and hours I’ve spent awake at night nursing. Something I still don’t really feel you’ve shown enough appreciation for.

Shit. I’m not painting a very pretty picture, am I? It’s all starting to sound quite bad. Strained. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we are just coexisting. Do all new parents feel this way? Is this what a marriage with children is like? Are we normal? Or are we failing? I don’t know. No one really talks about this, do they?

This morning, unable to think about anything else, I looked up co-exist in the dictionary:

A screenshot of the definition of Coexist

Look at that second definition: to exist in harmony, despite different ideologies or interests. Hang on a minute. I don’t know about you, but that actually sounds quite positive. Doesn’t it? It also sounds like something that takes a lot of work, a lot of consideration, patience and compromise. It sounds like the kind of state married people should be living in.

And we are different. Our parenting ideologies aren’t the same. Our roles as parents have been poles apart. Until this week, you were the breadwinner and I was the stay at home Mom, and as much as I know the value of being at home with your child – we live in a society that means our contributions to the household are inevitably measured differently. There are things you’ve even said yourself, comments and quips that despite you saying otherwise, betray you, and prove that you see Pickle as my responsibility by default, even when you’re present too.

If, through all of this change to our lives, our views and our priorities, we can still manage to co-exist, and live in unity… I actually think that’s something to celebrate. Because, you see… despite our increased petty arguments and our passive aggressive tendencies, there really is no one else I’d want to do this with. There’s no one else I could find peace with in such a time of turmoil, change and uncertainty. You are still my best friend. You are still my rock. You are still the person I want to comfort me the most after a day of self-doubt, tantrums and overwhelm. Your opinion is the still the one I value above all others. You’re my everything.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I still want us to live in the same place. At the same time. I want to exist in harmony with you, despite a mountain of differences between us. I still want to co-exist with you. For many more years to come.

So, ask me again: are we just co-existing?

Yes. But really, that’s a good thing.

With all of my love,

Your ever-faithful sweetpea.

xxx

LPD and I, looking happy.

32 Comments

  1. February 12, 2018 / 10:25 am

    Great post this with some really interesting points. I think to exist in harmony would be the ultimate goal!

  2. February 12, 2018 / 11:31 am

    Oh darling, the pressures of life can get in between, but after he has read this letter, I am sure it will mend everything. x

  3. February 12, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I feel so the same as you ! I’m sure this letter will do good !

  4. February 12, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I feel so the same as you ! I’m sure this letter will do good !

  5. February 12, 2018 / 11:46 am

    I love this Holly and completely relate. With four children I feel Gaz and I reached a point last year where we really were just co-existing, and in truth, it almost ended our marriage. After a lot of soul searching we realised that we too wanted to co-exist forever, but also promised to spend more time as a couple and working on remembering the reasons why we fell in love all of those years ago. Marriage is tough, and when children come along its even tougher, but it does get easier I promise!

    • February 13, 2018 / 10:24 am

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment, Laura. It’s so reassuring to know we aren’t alone in feeling like this, and I KNOW we’ll come out of it stronger. There’s just so much change to get used to, isn’t there? And now I’m working again, I hope we can spend more time on much needed dating again.

  6. February 12, 2018 / 12:19 pm

    Such a raw and personal post Holly. And you are not alone in feeling this way. We went through something similar not so long ago, and as with all things it too shall pass and your marriage will be stronger than ever xx all the hugs lovely

    • February 13, 2018 / 11:52 am

      Thank you Sophie. Felt like I may have made the biggest mistake ever publishing this, but the outpouring of acknowledgment from lots of people is so reassuring. I’m not worried about LPD and I – he’s 100% my soul mate and I know we’ll weather all kinds of storms over the course of our lives, but it’s good to take the time to reflect and realise we do need to make more of an effort to reconnect.

  7. Jessica
    February 12, 2018 / 6:18 pm

    I feel for you, you and your husband sound very similar to me & mine, after our first child things weren’t “normal” between us for a while. It took time, sometimes hurtful things were said but we made it through and I think things are better between us then they were before kids. I’m writing just to let you know you’re not alone, I think this is one of those things far too many of us never talk about, but we probably should.

    • February 14, 2018 / 10:32 am

      Thank you, Jessica. Your comment means a great deal to me – I’m so glad you’ve come out of the other side – that gives us a lot of hope. I think we all should talk about this side of parenting more… but it’s VERY hard to, isn’t it? I still can’t quite believe I wrote this so openly.

  8. February 12, 2018 / 7:00 pm

    I think lots of people feel this way when the balance of a marriage is altered by an addition to the family. It takes time to work out a new balance with the extra work and all the broken nights that make you both feel terrible. It’s great that you’ve found a positive way to look at ‘co-existing’.

    • February 14, 2018 / 10:35 am

      Thank you, Kate. Your support on this has meant a great deal.

  9. February 12, 2018 / 8:34 pm

    Oh my gosh I relate to this so so much. And I almost think things got worse when I fell pregnant again because extra hormones and no sleep are a winning combination.
    This is such a great post though, and I’m definitely getting my husband to read this!
    Thank you for making me feel less like I’m alone!

    • February 14, 2018 / 10:38 am

      Oh Rachel, I can’t even imagine how this must feel with pregnancy hormones thrown in the mix! I’ve been so reassured that lots of couples feel this way, and I hope you are too! Let’s hope once these baby years are behind us and sleep is easier to come by, things will settle down again. It’s all about finding the new normal, isn’t it?

  10. February 12, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    What a brilliantly honest post lovely. We went through a phase of this and we’ve come out the other side so there is hope. Hugs for you both xx

  11. February 13, 2018 / 8:43 am

    I love this, very well written and thought provoking. It’s so hard when you become parents because your focus has to shift, and there is no denying that parenting is hard work! I can relate to all of what you have written, after four children in less than 6 years, we finish housework at past 9pm and only have a few hours together alone, and usually both have our own ideas of how we want to spend the precious hour or so left before we fall exhausted into bed, ready to start again in the morning. I think what helps me feel more positive is that we talk about the future a lot, our plans, dreams and focuses, what life will be like and how life is hard now. I think that helps me get past the sometimes relationship-empty days. Not that they are relationship-empty, just more child-full! Just knowing that the future looks very different, with much more sleep, energy and time, with those three important things we just don’t get with young children! I just wanted to say, it does and will get easier, sending hugs xx

  12. February 13, 2018 / 9:20 am

    THIS Is such a great post, I know that so many of us feel you on so many levels with all of this! x

  13. February 13, 2018 / 10:08 am

    I really wish I had the courage to share a post like this. My husband and I have been together for almost 21 years (I was 16 when we met). We have 3 kids, a dog, 4 cats. I have 2 jobs and my blog. I adore him, but by the time he’s got home from work all I want to do is sit and watch TV. We haven’t been on a date in 6 years. A couple of days ago we argued and he said when was the last time you held my hand or kissed me passionatly? I felt awful. I’ve grown comfortable with how things are but he wants the old me back. So I feel this so much. xx

  14. February 13, 2018 / 10:18 am

    Great honest post.. Sometimes it is hard with children to find time for each other especially when they are young. It does get a lot easier as they get older 🙂

  15. February 13, 2018 / 11:24 am

    What an honest post. We all get to this stage at a point in a relationship/marriage, especially when kids are involved.

  16. February 13, 2018 / 11:59 am

    Such a fantastically honest post.x

  17. February 13, 2018 / 6:09 pm

    I know exactly where you are coming from and I felt like this for a while. The strain of a new baby, lack of sleep and the dreaded hormones don’t help. It does take work to get back to normal but it will hqppen

  18. February 14, 2018 / 5:38 pm

    We’ve all been there you know. I sometimes think we women need to be a little tougher with men and if you are feeling wrung out it’s time to ask for more help from him, rather than take all the blame on your shoulders. Raising a child is a partnership after all. If he thinks you’re co-existing, then what is HE doing to help?

  19. February 14, 2018 / 7:20 pm

    This is a very honest post and it is important to remember that many of us have been there. It can be so difficult to feel ourselves when kids are involved too.

  20. February 15, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I completely agree and we’ve been in a very similar situation coupled with me freaking out that I didn’t know who I was apart from ‘mummy’ which all came to a head at the same time – everything built up (there are quite a few posts over on my blog about it). I think it’s all quite common as parents. We are now having monthly dates – either lunches or even just an hour on our own. Putting down our phones in the evening has helped – games night, going to bed early even if it’s just to watch videos, and breaking those old ‘routines’ has helped. Yes I’ve blogged less, but blogging isn’t everything x

  21. February 17, 2018 / 8:25 am

    We have been feeling like this of late .Especially with our new addition , things do get better if you both work at it x

  22. February 17, 2018 / 9:12 am

    What a brilliant post! You are definitely not alone and I think it’s completely normal what has been happening. We have been similar. Even when becoming pregnant everything changed for me. Suddenly, I became uber-sensible because I had to be the responsible one… I often question if our relationship should be more than what it is but this post has helped me see another dimension. It is positive that everything is working in harmony and maybe we just have to let go of this false romantic view on love. Maybe, it just shows up now and then instead of being constant….

  23. February 23, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    I can definitely relate to this one! Sometimes my husband and I also feel like we’re just coexisting. But like you said, it’s not supposed to be a bad thing right? I love this book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh called “Gift from the Sea”, if you haven’t read it, do read it please. In the book she says “When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.” So yes, there’s nothing wrong with just coexisting at the moment, as long as communication is open I guess between husband and wife and know that this just a phase in your marriage 🙂 Sorry for the long comment 🙂 x

    • February 23, 2018 / 1:49 pm

      What a beautiful comment, and that quote rings so true. Will definitely be remembering that one. There is so much ebb and flow with all manner of things in our lives – and our marriage is included!

  24. February 24, 2018 / 2:54 am

    Well done for writing such a brave and honest post. This is very much how it is for us too and we discuss it regularly. We are both of the mind that while we have little kids and are this busy and sleep deprived it’s a necessity to survive. I’m sure we’ll all get a bit more romance back as our kids grow older.

    • February 24, 2018 / 8:03 am

      Such a good way of thinking about it! As with everything in parenting – it’s only a phase.

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