By Guest Blogger Sophia Jackson*
Do you remember the beginnings with your spouse; the early years of your marriage? I felt like all was right with the world and no matter what the obstacle, I could do anything as long as we were together. And then the obstacles began to come, fast and furious. Yet I still did conquer the world – using every ounce of strength and fortitude and tenacity - we had twins! And at last we were rewarded with the euphoria of having newborns: 3am feedings, sleeping babies on my chest, gazing in amazement of what we did together. We were lucky and our babies were healthy; but if they hadn't been, I would have survived it because we would have handled it together.
After we brought the babies home my hormones were raging and I didn’t even feel like my body was mine. I had body issues before babies, and they were amplified after babies. I felt the baby blues and thought I could power through it; because I power through everything. Then slowly, without noticing it, things began to shift. My spouse didn’t take time off work and there I was, overwhelmed with a feeling of complete incompetence and absolute ignorance of what being a mother is all about. Instead of reaching out to my partner and asking for support, I decided I was going to be “Supermom” and do everything the books said I was supposed to do. I became the self designated CEP – Chief Executive Parent -- where all decisions relating to the children were mine, and I told my hard working spouse what to do and how to do it right, because I read all the books and talked to “experts". And why couldn’t she just do what she was told, like all the dads we knew? I forgot the fact that I became a parent at the exact same time as she did; instead, I acted like I just received my doctorate in child development. More importantly, I forgot that we had conquered the world as a team, and not alone.
She seemed okay with me taking charge and perhaps she objected, but it didn’t seem that urgent since I had two babies crying, spitting up, in desperate need of a diaper change or a combination of all three. I was overwhelmed, but didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know what the f@#k I was doing because that would intimate that I was weak. Reaching out and connecting with her was not even on the list of what needed to be done, because at that point I wasn’t even getting sleep. She continued to object and I didn’t hear her still. And she didn’t hear me when I didn’t say how much anxiety I was carrying while I was awake every night from 2a–5a, even while the babies were sleeping,…like babies.
And then the babies turn one and I thought: “phew…we made it”! And I heard all these other couples talking about date night and I thought to myself, “oh we’re good, we don’t need a date night every week; that seems silly and overrated.” Then slowly, without noticing, we didn’t hold hands or really kiss anymore, or stay up late just talking about how we see the world.
The terrible twos showed up at eighteen months, giving me more reason to feel frustrated and unappreciated for all that I did. But instead of reaching out and asking her to help, I figured out the best solution for how to deal with little baby A’s temper tantrums that seem to be getting worse, not better, was that I’d rather just bitch my partner out because she didn’t understand what I was dealing with. I shouldn’t have to actually communicate, she should just know. And then the communication becomes abrupt and cold, little by little. And without notice, she stopped objecting.
I dealt with all of the preschool panic and who the f@#k wants to potty train at 2 1/2? And instead of letting her know that I didn’t know how to do it, or that I didn’t even want to deal with it, I just resisted any suggestion she may have had to help the situation. After all, I am the CEP, and I make all decisions and do EVERYTHING related to the kids and what does she know and she doesn’t even care. I can’t remember the last nice thoughtful thing she did for me or when she even said she appreciated me. And if I stopped long enough to think about it, I can’t remember when I did a nice thoughtful thing for her either. I can’t remember the last time we had a kiss longer than a second, held each other, or had sex, because I can’t remember why I even like this stranger that lives with me. Because I’m numb.
And now the kids are three and half and it’s easier in a lot of ways. But now I realize my marriage is a mess, because for over three years no one heard what wasn’t being said. What if I quit hearing what she wasn’t saying anymore? She gave up silently and I was too busy, overwhelmed and anxious to notice. I shut her out because I was afraid she wouldn’t be there.
At what point do I give up if I really love her and I’ve built a family and a home with her and I believe in her? What if it’s too late? What if the bond is irreparably broken because it died by a thousand cuts to the heart? How do I begin to repair what feels shattered? What am I willing to do?
*Sophia Jackson is not the guest blogger's real name. She is also not a writer by trade. She is a mom of twins, just like me and perhaps like you. She has offered to share her experiences and insight into how the arrival of children can change a marriage. I hope you come back to hear more of her story.
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