Murphy's Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
DEAR STACY: My wife and I are expecting our second child this summer. I work full time (usually a 12-hour day) and she works from home part- time and also takes care of our five-year-old daughter. This arrangement has worked pretty well so far, but I’m starting to realize that I never have any downtime. I take our daughter to school every morning and as soon as I walk through the door at night, my wife hands her off to me and basically disappears. I realize that she has a lot on her plate and I don’t pretend I have more to deal with than she does, balancing her job requirements and dealing with school volunteer and so on. At the same time, I haven’t had a moment to myself in the last six months – not to work out, not to meet up with friends, nothing. Even on the weekends, I am always in charge of our daughter because my wife uses that time to catch up on work that’s piled up from the week, or we are having “ family time” with all of us together. It’s very hard to talk about this without her getting defensive, and I know how whiny I sound, but I’m really scared about what it’s going to look like when we bring home a new baby. –Drowning Already
DEAR DROWNING, I’m never completely sure, but I do think I can hear the strain in your written voice, as you work very hard not to sound like a stereotypical Pouty Guy who just wants his alone time. Let me assure you at the outset, you are not in the wrong here. Not even one little bit. This situation is horribly unbalanced and that’s only going to get worse when New Baby shows up. Wife probably does need that time with the door closed each night. She sounds completely overwhelmed. That can’t mean you take up all the slack every single day. You both need to carve out some time for exercise (physical, emotional, and spiritual), not to mention finding some time to spend together. I can imagine that her defensiveness has been a good reason to avoid this topic. But please recognize that dodging an important conversation like this only breeds resentment, a.k.a. the most corrosive relationship-killing bacteria around. We all get defensive when we feel we’re being attacked. So keep things calm with a little validation of her position. Follow up with “I-Statements” like “I am feeling overwhelmed,” and “I am hopeful there is a way for both of us to get to feel more rested and fulfilled.” You can always call a professional to help guide this conversation, but holding it inside is not doing you (or Wife or Daughter or New Baby) any favors.★
Stacy Notaras Murphy (www.stacymurphyLPC. com) is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist, practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.