Thursday, October 21, 2010

30 Day Intimacy Challenge – Update – Day 4

Somehow I managed to NOT post this yesterday when I wrote it...not sure what happened.  So it's a day behind - sorry!

I thought that if I gave you an update on how we’re doing about twice a week that would be enough – don’t you think? I mean, I don’t want to make you sick or anything with all that lovey dovey stuff! Everyone knows that marriage isn’t all a bowl of cherries, but it also shouldn’t all be the cherry pits either. There should be a balance, and in my opinion, it should lean towards the cherry more often than the pits! But maybe that’s just me…

I’ve gotten some questions and comments about doing a challenge like this so soon after having a baby. To be truthful, I can’t think of a better time to do it! “Aren’t you tired?” is the most common statement/question that I’ve gotten, and to answer that – YES! Of course I’m tired. My child doesn’t believe in sleeping through the night yet…my daughter was late to catch onto this concept too (as was I my Mom will tell you)…so of course I’m tired. There are days that I’m beyond tired – when I passed tired two miles back down the road by that gas station and now I’m halfway to exhaustion! But being tired isn’t a good excuse/reason to me for not working on my marriage or for not letting my partner in all of this know how much his help is appreciated.

The other statement is closer to the “Are you crazy?!?” side of things. I don’t think so. I honestly feel that right after you have a baby might be the best time to re-connect with your partner. Maybe not right after, like immediately or anything…everyone needs recovery time obviously. We’re both working full-time, on little to no sleep, we’re both chipping in with the household chores like cleaning and laundry, and we both help out keeping tabs on the two older kids. To sum it up, we’ve both got a lot on our plates right now…and it would be easier to just let “us” stay on the back burner. But that’s not what I want. My kids are the most important thing in my life in a lot of ways…but my husband? He’s my rock. He’s the shoulder that I lean on and cry on. He’s my cheerleader and my therapist. He’s my sounding board for figuring out problems. He’s my best friend.

These are all things that I know in my head…but sometimes I need to be reminded of them. Especially right now when I’m trying to keep up with when the next feeding is, how long I slept (or didn’t sleep) last night, and whether or not I have any diapers left at day care. There’s a lot to juggle as a new mom…but I don’t have to do it alone. Husbands are called partners for many reasons, and I know that I’m lucky to have one that actively looks for ways to help me.

To my way of thinking, right now is when I don’t want to drop the ball on showing him how much I appreciate the help and support. Right now is when I want to show him how much the little things like washing/sterilizing the next batch of bottles mean to me. Right now is when I need a tag-team for dirty diapers. Seriously. Two is better than one, right?

That’s why I feel that this is the absolute best time in our relationship to take on this challenge. I don’t know the specifics about why Brent was so on-board with doing this, other than because I wanted to and he’s a good husband that does what is important to me to do. He understood upfront that there is a difference between sex and intimacy. He completely understood that this was NOT a 30 Days of Sex Challenge…although I know that’s how it all started. As a new Mom, I need to work my way back to regular sex. Yes, I want it. Do I have the energy for it? Not on most days. And to be even more honest, I don’t know that I desire it most days. Some days I just desire my bed. Or wine, either one works. What I do know is that I want to desire it again. And to do that I need the intimacy that, as a woman, I equate to sex. I need to feel the connection with my husband again, despite our crazy life/schedules and lack of sleep right now. Because if I have that, then maybe I’ll desire that glass of wine in my bed WITH my husband…that’s my goal.

So far, it’s going amazingly well. Like others who have done this challenge have said, just talking about what the challenge involves and why it’s important to me to do this challenge re-connected us on some level. MOST importantly was making him understand that I didn’t want to do this because I felt like something was lacking in our relationship. KEY FACTOR, ladies! Baring my soul, all of my insecurities, and really laying it all out there about why I thought this challenge would be good for me, and us, was such an intimate moment between the two of us, despite the fact that I was cooking dinner while we talked it all over! Being open and honest with each other and saying the words “I want to re-commit my focus to you and our marriage” aloud was moving. It brought us both closer together and struck a chord deep down inside.

The first night? We talked it all over, and decided to do it. We brainstormed some things that we thought would help build intimacy and I was able to explain that to me this whole idea was like wooing each other all over again. Committing to keep the other person “in love” with you, as we all know that there is a difference between loving and being in love. So we talked. And talked some more. And that night when we got in bed? It made a difference. Instead of each of us going to our “sides” of the bed and dropping into an exhausted sleep, we met in the middle and cuddled for a while. We had each had some time to process what this challenge would mean for us and how we could each individually help meet the challenge and we came back together to talk it all through. Snuggling there in bed was great. Yes, we still do that at night…we usually fall asleep touching each other’s feet at the very least, but actually just lying there holding each other, not expecting anything more than just that…it was liberating. Just the right foot to start the challenge off on!

The next morning, I woke up to find a love note “hidden” in my car. And you know what? It’s day 4 and so far, I have found one each morning. I’ve even managed to hide one or two in his wallet or truck myself! You’d be surprised at what a little thing like a note can do to lift your mood and make you smile all day long…it reminded us that we used to do things like that for each other. Back in the wooing days, early in our relationship. When had we stopped doing that? Why had we stopped? How come we only got notes from each other now when the other one was mad about something? I don’t know about you, but that’s not why I’d like to get a note…I’d like to get a note just because.

On day 2 we had a lunch date. Yes, we talked about the kids and other household matters, which isn’t terribly romantic, but we also held hands across the table. We shared our food. And maybe we made out a little in the parking lot…I’m not telling!

Day 3 brought us busy work schedules and diminishing allowances for lunch, so we each ate at our desks…but we called each other on the phone and had a “virtual” lunch date. We laughed and joked and took some time out of the craziness of our day to connect. Even though we might have both rather eaten really fast and then taken a 30-minute cat nap at our desks.

Each day we’ve made a concentrated effort to touch more. To give hugs and kisses. And not just quick ships-passing-in-the-night-sort of kisses…good kisses. Just because. It’s as if this challenge puts our relationship in the lime light and focuses our attention on the other person. It helps keep the focus off of what all “I’m” doing for the baby and the rest of the household, and reminds me that it’s not just “me” doing everything…there’s a “we” to this whole thing. That’s he’s working just as hard as I am…even on days when I feel the weight more. A surprising side benefit? It seems like me showing my appreciation for the stuff that he does to help out with the baby causes him to want to do more to help.

Last night? I got a back-rub. Did I ask for it? I mentioned that my back hurt…that’s all that it took. Was he tired? Yes, he was already in bed and lying down, as a matter of fact. But he got up and rubbed my back anyway…all without complaint just to do something nice for me. It definitely put me in a good mood…and was the perfect ending to day 3.

So today is day 4. And you know what? I’m not as tired today. Did I get more sleep last night? A little bit, but not that much. Maybe I just don’t feel so alone in all of this newborn stuff anymore because I know that my husband is right there in the trenches with me. He’s got my back and I’ve got his. Maybe there will be days where we’re so tired that we’re going to have to lean against each other to sleep while we’re down here in the trenches…but I tell you, I’d prefer to battle the trenches of infancy with my partner at my back rather than all alone, that’s for sure!

I can’t wait to see what the next few days bring us with this challenge. Our first weekend together focusing on us will be nice…even if Jax doesn’t let us sleep in and really enjoy it!

Are you doing the 30 Day Intimacy Challenge? How is it going so far? Want to join in? We’d love to have you! Just have some questions about the whole process? I’ll answer as honestly as I can…just email me!


Pamela said...

I love it! Y'all are soo sweet. To me, this is what is all about. It's about putting the relationship first (we before "I"), and seeing where that takes you ... to people who help more, not less. To backrubs you don't have to ask for. To love notes. And these things make life (and lack of sleep) easier/better...more joyful!
Y'all rock!

LBDDiaries said...

This was SUCH a GREAT post - truly you explained it just right when you said, "It’s as if this challenge puts our relationship in the lime light and focuses our attention on the other person." It truly did change something inside us, too, almost right away. It created an excitement, an anticipation, and jump started the creative intimacy gene in us. I absolutely loved your post. I am going to go link it on my site, too. GREAT job!

Dari said...

Thank you for opening up about your experience and results of participating in this challenge. I expressed interest at first and then let it drop - life got in the way. But, after reading this and Nan's and Pamela's posts, that isn't a good enough excuse.

I'm in!

Thank you again.

Mommas Soapbox said...

Love it! It is so easy to go to our own sides of the bed and fall asleep..... and a back rub makes me smile always! Great post. Great job keeping that connection going. It's the best thing we can ever do for our kids.