I think of the birth of my two sons as hurricanes -- gale-force winds and lashing rain that buffeted the "house" of my marriage. Three years into parenting, I can now say that our home was built strong enough to withstand our two little whirling dervishes, Hurricane Daniel and Hurricane James.
I have the best kind of husband -- faithful, funny, sensitive, a natural father, kind to a fault, and totally even-tempered. He makes me laugh, and he never makes me cry. I never worry about our relationship. Which is good, because I have a list as long as my arm of other things to worry about.
And yet shouldn't my marriage be better than good? While it's not bothersome right now that we routinely forgo sex in favor of sleep, or a babysitter and a movie in favor of saving money, might these wait-for-later routines trip us up down the line? Could all the times my husband graciously takes the boys to help me out, or I take them to help him out, also render us relative strangers in the one-on-one department? Are we spending enough time together? Are we really, really talking?
Surely, I'm not alone in wondering whether my hurricane-proof marriage might have a couple of shutters in danger of falling off, or a leak I've been steadfastly ignoring. But when I start to go down this path in my head, a couple of other thoughts leap in. First, my husband is just as child-focused as I am right now -- no one's complaining or sitting in petulant judgment. And, for heaven's sake, our boys are just helpless babies we are totally in love with. If we're neglecting our marriage a bit for their sakes, isn't that exactly what we're supposed to do?
"Of course," says Aline Zoldbrod, Ph.D., a psychologist and sex therapist in Lexington, Massachusetts. "Babies require an intense physical and emotional connection in order to survive and thrive. It's hardwired into us to give them that attention." But the trap many parents fall into, she and other experts say, is that they devote so much love to -- and get so much love from -- their children that they detach themselves from each other.