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In Good Times...and in Bad

Several months ago, Husband started to subtly comment that I didn't spend as much time with him as I used to. I explained it away as life with two kids, one of whom was an infant, as well as life as a working mom — in particular, one who has to commute 52 miles each way to work.

Gradually, the subtly began to wear off and Husband's comments became more overt: "I am now third in line for your attention," "I am so low on your priorities that I never see you anymore," "It seems like you don't even enjoy it when we do spend time together," etc.

So I tried to reason with him: Lucas and Justin cannot care for themselves, I explained, so they needed my attention. And what about the fact that in the past year I'd given birth and had two surgeries? I reminded him that my commute was an hour and a half each way and I barely had enough energy to care for the boys when I got home.

But my husband had made his position perfectly clear: Make some significant life adjustments...or else. While he didn't specify what the "or else" would be, I got the point.

I have learned over the past couple of years that I am able to live with many more sacrifices than my husband. His assessment of our situation — little social life; minimal intimacy; a wife who doesn't get home from work until almost 7 and is in bed by 10; two young children who occupy time, attention, space and lots of money — is ghastly and dire. My assessment of the same situation is that it's a temporary sacrifice, and one we excitedly brought on ourselves.

Nonetheless, Husband was obviously miserable and that does not bode well for a happy marriage.

So, I performed a manipulation, if you will, on the way I approached my time with him. I could not possibly add more hours to the day, so I decided that each second I spent with him would be meaningful, not to be confused with intimate, or sexy or even exciting — just meaningful. When I speak with my husband now, instead of thinking about the kids, or work, or anything else, I give him my undivided attention. Simple, sure, but something I had forgotten to do.

We've also set aside time each week to genuinely be together as a couple — and not how we used to do it, at the end of the workday, me sacrificing sleep to be with him and trying to keep my eyes from rolling back in my head! We even arranged for a weekend all alone in NYC, where we ate quiet leisurely meals, slept in a cat-free bed and shopped without kids or strollers in tow.

The boys are still admittedly my number-one priority, but I am now more conscious of my husband's needs, needs that I admittedly let fall by the wayside. And I am happy to report that after some professional tweaks (I now work from home at least three days a week) and weekly date nights, we seem to have worked through the "in bad times" and are headed for more of the "in good" ones.