Q. My husband says I don't spend enough time with him, but honestly, taking care of my 14-month-old is all-consuming right now. Why can't he be patient and know that we'll find more "us" time in a few years? Sometimes I feel like he's being a whiny kid himself!
A. Hmmm, is it contradictory to say that we empathize with you but think he's probably the righteous party? As mothers ourselves, we know that we can fill 30 hours a day in the pursuit of our kids' well-being, happiness, and future success. And it's so seductive to believe that you're on the moral high ground by giving precedence to proper parenting over date night (and oh so easy when your husband puts himself into competition with the kids for your attention).
But we don't believe that husband-and-wife relationships can or should be put on hold for a year or more. Look, you and your spouse had the relationship first, and you need to give that fact due weight. Plus, you'll really be better parents if you continue to value each other as individuals, not just as co-parents, and your kids will benefit from seeing that they're not the only people who matter in your world.
So give your relationship with your husband a jump-start: Set up a weekly date that fits your budget and schedule. If you can dine out once a week, fantastic. Otherwise, commit yourselves to a quiet dinner at home when the kids are in bed. And don't stop there; steal free minutes when the kids are otherwise engaged to take a walk or grab a cup of coffee with the original love of your life.
Kathy Bishop and Julia Whitehead are the authors of The City Parent Handbook: The Complete Guide to the Ups and Downs and Ins and Outs of Raising Young Kids in the City (Rodale, 2004).
Originally published in American Baby magazine, March 2006.
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