My husband of 10 years and I both have demanding professional jobs.
At the end of the day, when we’re with our school-age children at home, we’re equally tired but supposedly equally involved in getting them to activities, overseeing homework, music education, etc.
The difference is that he’s harsher, I’m more forgiving. He lashes out verbally (never physically) while I have gentler reactions.
Also, he gets fed-up when a parent-child problem isn’t immediately resolved, so will stalk off or immerse himself in something else, leaving me to clean up the mess.
We love each other, but we fight a lot. We’re both often tired and sex is the first thing to go.
We re-capture it when we have the odd few hours alone, if grandparents take the kids out and we don’t have other demands in the house or for work.
We end up having sex about once a month.
Our friends with jobs and kids joke about having similar pressures, and no time for sex.
But are we slowly coming apart as a couple? What should we do?
You’ve just made a start at confronting the possibilities ahead.
By recognizing what binds you two – love, children, ambition – and what divides you – different reactions, overwork, fatigue – you can plan towards improvements.
First, examine whether you’re over-scheduling the kids and thus yourselves, too.
Not every exposure – sports, music, art, dance – has to be done in every segment of each year.
Then, re-think anything in your own work schedule that you can adjust. For example, have you added on too many extra projects, presentations, etc?
Seize opportunities for relaxed family-time.... a hike, picnic, movie outing, where fun for all is the main goal.
Besides those grandparent moments for time alone, create some house rules toward planned privacy after the kids go to bed.
Use the stand-by tricks of all busy couples – shower sex, mutual “massages” with the bedroom door closed, a sleepover at grandparents’ house.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman whose husband’s coping with serious health issues (Sept. 30):
“Twenty years ago, I developed a progressively worse chronic pain condition.
“I ended up leaving a great job at age 53. With the advice of a wonderfully compassionate pain specialist, I determined that not only one person has a serious health issue. The family does.
“For the sufferer, it’s essential that the physical and emotional health of the partner is equally as important.
“At 71 now, my condition is still chronic and deepens as I age. It becomes more important that my partner has a life of her own. She benefits and I gain.
“She accompanied our eldest daughter and family to the United Kingdom last year. A future trip overseas is planned.
“She twice-weekly pursues her musical passion. (We were both musicians when we married, 48 years ago). A bedroom has been converted into a costume design and sewing studio.
“I created an art studio to paint landscapes.
“My partner became my producer and some of my art income feeds her travel fund.
“We’re partners, both for the good and not so good. Her quality of life helps me forge a new direction.
“The best thing for a strained marriage is to become a strengthened partnership.
“It’s a renewal of why the partnership began, and the freedom that open and frank dialogue can provide.
“A partner needs to know that someone experiencing chronic pain including sleep loss, is occupied daily with surviving and fighting potential depression associated with persistent pain.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman fed up with her toxic in-laws (October 2):
Reader – “The problem goes to the core of the family dynamics and how insecure the daughter-in-law feels, both in her marriage and her place within the family.
“With worries about not "wrecking her marriage," speaking privately to her mother-in-law may come across as an attack on the family (since she’s the outsider).
“She needs to tell her husband her feelings, as he may not even be aware of them.
“He should address these concerns with his mother and family to make his wife feel comfortable within his family.
“To try and address this problem without him is pointless.
"Been there, done that."
Ellie – After 13 years, it seems her husband’s tone-deaf to her feelings.
Your personal experience is instructive. But this woman’s so frustrated she needs to find her voice, not accept toxicity. If her husband won’t help, their marriage is already at risk.
Tip of the day:
Busy working parents can find ways to make time for sex through creativity and mutual planning.