Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Recommendation

Matt and I have entered the "pre-mester." Translation: In less than three months, we will probably start trying to have a baby. (Keep in mind, we fully understand that having a baby can take years. The only thing we can decide on is when we want to start trying.) Editor's Note: Don't worry, this is not turning into a baby blog. That's what Feeding the Soil is for (well, kind of).

Anyway, this post is not about pregnancy or babies. It's about a book you should consider reading in order to strengthen your relationship with your significant other.

The book is called And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives. I'm more than half way through the book, and I find that it's honestly not very focused on the baby part at all. It's about how to strengthen your relationship during times of stress (which may be a baby or may be something else--like planning a wedding).

The book shares lots of good strategies like how to "cool down your conflicts," "soften how you bring up a problem," "calm down by self-soothing," "compromise," and "the importance of repair." I've been practicing a lot of these strategies for the past year and a half, but it's a good review to hear them again.

I'm definitely in the Marriage-Takes-Conscious-Work club.


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10 comments:

Allyson @ RealHoneymoons said...

Such an exciting step! Congrats on the big next move!

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

i've read gottman's book about the Five Principles of Marriage or whatever it's called - have you also read that? Do you think this has a lot of diff content? I'm not having a baby soon but my relationship has cracked under all the stress of the past year (like getting a puppy, almost as stressful as having kids in my opinion) and i'd love to get tips on how to handle relationships in stress.

Amanda said...

Hi! So I just want to share a little of my experience (and the reason I'm going to go pick up this book!) I am one of those 'silent readers' most of the time, though I'm ALWAYS forwarding your posts onto my fiancé (in fact I forwarded this one!). I just want to mention quickly that I love your blog and found it because we're currently battling through our own wedding planning right now - it's amazing how many perfectly normal, sane and loving people suddenly get completely loony over this wedding business!
Anyhow, we found out last January that I was pregnant and though we had been dating for a couple of years and had talked about marriage at different times we had also broken up a couple of times (though being apart never seemed to work) but when we found out that we were pregnant there was a lot of thinking to do.
It was a really emotional time and we both had to be very honest with each other about what we wanted out of life for ourselves as individuals and what we wanted out of our relationship. It was hard to wrap our minds around 'the plan' and the fact that this definitely wasn't the plan! But we ended up deciding that this is what life is - there is no plan - you just make your choices and show up!
We talked a lot about the fact that we loved each other and were moving in this direction anyway and that whether we felt 'ready' for parenthood or had a house or the perfect job or had gotten married yet didn't really matter - it's not one of those things you're ever really ready for until you just do it! So we decided that we wanted each other and we wanted our baby and that was worth altering any plan for. Of course after mastering the imagined reality we had to master the real reality and that was even more daunting!
We moved in together in April and that was really hard. I had lived by myself for four years and didn't realize how used to having everything 'my way' I was. All of this talk about 'the plan' and 'my way' is making me sound like a crazy lady control freak but that's the thing - I'm not! I'm flexible and easy-going so that's why discovering these things about myself and dealing with them was so hard.
My fiancé also had his routines (which living with me definitely altered), we were working full time, pregnancy was taking it's toll on my energy, our house was strewn with boxes and a half unpacked mess - it was hard to find the time to finish unpacking and the landlord hadn't cleaned the floors like promised so we were also waiting around for that before settling... Anyhow, it was crazy stressful and less than a month after moving in together we had a near-apocalyptic fight and started seeing a couple’s counselor.
It all just felt like so much change and so much stress all mashed up into a thorny ball and covered in a terribly dense fog of the anxious unknown. It took a huge toll on our intimacy.

We didn't sleep together for a long time because we were freaked out about the fact that we'd gotten prego (while using birth control) in the first place and then we were just so stressed out that we didn't have the desire to. Then my body was big and strange and uncomfortable and my fiancé was a little weirded out by the person living in my belly and taking up an extra space in our bed. And then we had a baby. Although our baby was born just over 5 months ago the intimacy has not returned. Honestly I can count the number of times we've had sex since we found out we were pregnant on just over one hand. And we had a great sex life together.

Amanda said...

We're both still working full-time and my fiancé started a new job a month and a half ago and was taking an evening class that just ended and we're planning a September wedding - meaning there's still a lot on our plate. Though we love each other and never stopped being attracted to each other, life and stress has definitely gotten in the way.
We have come a long way in learning how to communicate better with one another and to understand the difference in the ways that we communicate, plus learning when to give in and when to keep our mouths shut and give the other one a break. We've learned a lot in a year, we've really grown and honestly, I think all of that has made our love grow deeper, but it's really hard to make enough time for romance. I leave my fiancé little notes and cards from time to time and we get an occasional evening together where we talk and talk late into the night and it's so wonderful to get to enjoy one another but it doesn't all boil down to romance.
It's so important to keep the lines of communication open. It's easy in such a situation to feel insecure about your new post prego body - a body which is disconcerting in itself - the body you were comfortable with for 27 years suddenly isn't the same. Even when pre-prego weight is just a salad lunch away that pesky new Belly Pouch brought his good friends Muffin Top and the whole Stretch Mark family along and they are having a grand old party on what used to be your cute [flat] physique.
SO - the 'no sex life' can feel really personal and do a number on ye old self esteem but the most important thing you can do is TALK to one another. It's hard to be forthcoming with these insecurities, especially when you're both over-tired [read: super cranky] from new parenthood, but neither of you is a mind reader!
Maybe he's seeing you as 'the mom' now and doesn't know how to reconcile the feisty sex kitten that used to await him in bed with the woman wearing a nursing bra who gets up every three hours to sooth their baby and sometimes doesn't have time to shave her legs for several days... (sorry babe!) Or maybe he's afraid that you aren't ready. Or he is uncomfortable having intimate relations while your baby is sleeping in the same room ...
Anyhow, my point is to talk. And then listen. And then make a plan that will make of you feel loved and desired.

I'm going on this little tangent because it is hard and you should know that. New parenthood and the little cocoon of your little family is amazing and special and magical; I wouldn't trade our little threesome's Saturday mornings playing and napping in bed together for anything on the face of the planet, but it is hard on your relationship, that's just a fact. So don't judge your relationship or yourself too harshly - this is the time you have to treat each other a little more gently.
We're still working through it but it is do-able and the important thing is not to find yourself feeling isolated or resentful - just try to recognize that your partner is going through a lot too. Sometimes you just need to give them a little time and space (as long as you're okay with that) but don't keep it all bottled up inside.
Last night I had a very involved dream that my fiancé didn't want to sleep with me because he was sleeping with one of my good friends. Which is completely ridiculous. But still deeply hurt my asleep-self's feelings and I woke up feeling weird. It also make me realize that it's been too long since we've been intimate and I'm starting to internalize it - so this post was perfect timing and I plan to go home and lightheartedly discuss my feminine needs with soon-to-be-hubby as well as check my neighborhood library for the book you recommended!
Sorry for the novel and I hope it's not TMI for you or your readers!

Amanda said...

p.s. I'm terribly mortified at the fact that my comment had to be split in two... and now here's a third... oh the shame! Also... my formatting was apparently not agreeable to blogger so I'm sorry if that's all hard to read!

If my fiance approves rattling on about sex to all of our family and freinds I'm going to post about this on my blog - http://mommyinthemaking.tumblr.com

lovelymorning said...

I don't know how you can actually wait once you have a plan to start trying to get pregnant!

And to answer your quesiton, I can't think of any pregnancy/conception blogs... there are lots of good mommy blogs of course and they sometimes discuss pregnancy and such. But yeah, can't think of any that just focus on the pregnancy part. Sorry I can't be more helpful!

Very excited for you guys to start down the parenthood road. It's pretty darn amazing.

Anonymous said...

http://www.babymakingmachine.blogspot.com/

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Julia: No, I haven't read the book you mention. I bet it's very similar. I imagine they recycle a lot of the same principles throughout their books.

@ Amanda: Thank you so much for sharing! The kind of stress you detail is the kind of stress we all go through. It's comforting to know we're not alone!

Lady Dimensions said...

As a woman with 3 kids, let me tell you. Try to let it happen organically, the more you stress over trying to have one, the harder it will be. Just talk to each other about weather your both ready to have one, and if you agree that you are, focus on spending loving time with each other.(not to say that you don't already) Making sure you have date nights and intimate moments. The more you love each other and don't stress, the easier it will be for you.

Anonymous said...

wahoo!!!
can't wait to hear how you commit your highly-informed mind to the world of childbearing and birth!!!

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