August, 1997 column
The only thing my husband and I ever seem to talk about is our
nine-month-old son and details like who'll call the sitter.
We tried going out on a date with the stipulation that the baby was
discussion, but we just ended up with huge chunks of silence. Does
this mean something's wrong with our marriage?
Your marriage may not be suffering from anything more than fatigue. Often new parents simply don't have
the energy to be interesting and entertaining. Still, going out on a date and not talking is a problem
worth fixing. Even if you're both dead tired, put some effort into finding ways
to have fun together again.
Start dating again --but don't just settle for dinner out every time. That gets expensive and doesn't
really give you anything new to talk about. It may even put more pressure
on you: you might think, "okay, we have two
special hours-- we'd better make them memorable." You both may get too tensed up about making the evening "count,"
and you'll set yourselves up for disappointment if things don't meet
Instead, try activities that will give you new topics of conversation that have nothing
to do with the baby. Go to a movie, join a book group, or get involved in a project at your church
or temple. The post-hoc analysis of movies, books, or organizational activities
will give you more than enough to talk about.
Staying home also offers plenty of possibilities. You could rent a movie and discuss
it afterwards, perhaps even inviting some friends over to watch
with you. Cooking together can be intimate and fulfulling; try out different recipes,
and have innovative dinners right at home. Or build something you would both enjoy: plant a
vegetable garden, renovate a garage, or convert and unused space into desk area or
whatever else you need. It's exciting to create something real and useful together.
Above all, share some meaningful time doing anything. Remember how easy it was
to chat and chat and chat some more when you were falling in love? That was partly due to
the thrill of discovery --but also because you probably had more common
experiences to talk about
that didn't revolve around the logistics of life.
Children are so absorbing that it's easy to have them become the focus of your marriage, but
you risk falling into the role of parents rather than lovers. Reinvesting in your relationship should
be a priority. Taking care of your emotional intimacy isn't a luxury but a necessity.
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