I just read this adorable post from Suburban Snapshots: Good Husbands Deserve Enthusiastic BJs and Other Things My Mom Shouldn't Read. I though it was just wonderful and, despite the title, not really about BJs. (If you were here for that, I apologize. The S.E.X. doesn't feature too heavily on this blog.) However, I think we can all relate to how hard it can be to have an adult (in every sense of the word) relationship with your partner when you live in world populated with tiny tyrants. The really important point that Brenna makes here is that all relationship intimacy, be it physical or emotional, is way easier to obtain when no one feels pushed to the brink of physical or mental exhaustion by the monotony of life with kids.
I know we all know this, even as I type I feel like I am making a big deal out of old news, but every now and then you read something that reminds you how important the mutual support and gratitude can be.
Ayelet Waldman writes extensively about this idea in her amazing book Bad Mother. While she writes from the perspective of mothers in modern day motherhood, her main point is a universal rule: relationships work best (both in and out of the bedroom) when no one is feeling resentful. This is not quid pro quo of sex for dish duty, but when the WOH-partner, still actively participates in the childcare and housework aspects that often consume the SAH/WAH-partner's life, it shows an appreciation for the SAH/WAH partner's efforts and gives that person just a bit of much needed calm. This will hold true even if both partners WOH, or WAH or whatever. Women "just happen" to shoulder more of these domestic duties, so her focus was on the dynamic of SAH/WAH vs WOH as it pertains to division of household labor and hostility therein.
Likewise, those of us who are at home in whatever format suits our families should respect and appreciate that being out of the house doing traditional paid-jobs is no walk in the park either. Gratitude and admiration for what your partner does all day to keep the family going goes a long way towards making a pleasant and rewarding relationship. While I really appreciate all that Chris does for us at home (being a great Dad, sharing in home-related responsibilities), I also know that none of this would be possible if he did not leave the house and deal with often awful adult world for 50-60 hours a week. While I realize that my contributions to this household are hard to measure, and therefore value, Chris always treats what I do as a serious endeavor that benefits us all.
Here is the deal. Intimacy in all its forms can only happen when no one is seething about the lawn not being done, or being asked to do the lawn after a day full of back-to-back meetings. **Yard-work is a major trigger for us. I feel very strongly that it needs to be done as part of responsible home-ownership, but have a hard time adding it to my rotation when you know, the kids expect me to like, care for them and stuff. Chris is only vaguely aware that we have a yard. Just sharing in case you all were getting jealous about how awesome my marriage looks on paper. No worries, we are normal people. People who love a good BJ joke.** So thanks to Brenna at Suburban Snapshots and Ms. Walden for reminding us all that the mutual admiration society is actually a good basis for a relationship.