I (Nathaniel) recently read a hilarious blog post listing many honest thoughts on parenting. All negative, but brutally honest and funny because the thoughts are so true. The thoughts focused on the honest fact that once I became a parent my life is never, ever, ever going to be mine alone again, so I’d better be sure I want to be a parent before having kids. I do not find that kind of honesty in the baby books I read. The negative side of the parenting picture gets glossed right over.
Since I never read the negative side to parenting beforehand it feels, to me, as if negativity only exists in my parenting and marriage and never exists in the life of other’s who write their blogs. It’s like reading Facebook and getting more and more depressed because everyone has it better than me. I’m comparing my “behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel” and it’s freaking depressing. This gives me a huge case of the “why not me” thoughts, the jealousy that someone else has what I want.
Why doesn’t so and so ever argue or fight with their wife? Why doesn’t so and so ever seem like they want to get rid of their children too? Why does it seem some days or weeks it’s only my lovely wife and I that desire to give up this parenting thing and send our kids to boarding school?
In the beginning we heard a few people say things about parenting being tough or what not, but not with hilarity and brashness in the way I feel speaks most honestly to so many of us, but it is often avoided. Some parents spoke in jest towards me as if they were in on a joke that I wasn’t in on and they couldn’t wait to see it blow up in my face once I had kids, while others spoke of parenting with a tone of voice that said, “if you’re so anxious to be a parent you can have my kids”.
This far into raising our 8 and 5 year old together I can relate and appreciate those initial apprehensions more than ever before.
How does this relate to a blog about sex, intimacy and our streak? When I got started on this married journey I gave no forethought to the negative side of sex, it all appeared positive when I looked forward to it. However, for starters there isn’t always a whole lot of sexy sex after kids. Spontaneity almost disappears, while feeling worn or tired rears its’ ugly head on a nightly basis. Sex once a month begins to feel like a chore (to one or the other). Before kids came along sex was at the top of the “To Do list. We desired each other, we pursued each other and I felt she really wanted me. After kids it starts to feel like a chore for her to prioritize my desires and then I returned that negative sentiment. Sometimes I am sure I did it because I was bitter and selfish, but some of the time I also simply un-prioritized our relationship because I was worn out too. I don’t always feel like a great parent and I often don’t always feel like a great husband either.
Why after having children did I begin to see my wife as my opponent instead of partner? Why couldn’t I see her as my lover and best friend and why couldn’t I change the negativity from taking over my life?
There is no such thing as a one, two and three step to success. Everyone is different and requires different services from their spouse and life changes and I have to make adjustments. What worked for my parents or friends may never work in a million years with my wife or her for me. What was in that latest book I read may get that look from my wife of “really?” My wife is not some robot that can be manipulated by me following certain steps to get her to change to make me happier. I’ve had to make changes first and pray she’ll follow or have the willingness to change herself. I can only control whether or not I am a big fat jerk to her and our wonderful boys, and control it I’ve needed to do in order to be a loving and respectful leader in my home.
I’ve been told that it’s easy for me to have more self-control because of the streak. That is similar to saying a person with a big beautiful house and lots of money probably has more self-control with money than those without the big house and money. Having a positive in life that is good is not tantamount to having self-control behind closed doors. I am better than I ever have been in my life for sure, but I’m still far from perfect. I’ve finally, these past 3 years, been living out the biblical teaching of trying to humble myself and to be content with and care for what I have. Another aspect of someone around me telling me that it’s “easy for me to say” any advice or share something is that it’s highly negative towards me. When someone says that phrase to me I’ve realized how much it hurts and I am now able to verbalize that to them. What that tells me is one of two things, first the other person is likely jealous of the good thing I may have going right now and so they belittle the good thing in my life, second thing is this makes me feel unsafe with even my closest friends. I quickly feel it’s easier to be alone and distance myself from so called friends who are resentful and partially unsupportive of positives in my life. I don’t want to share good things in my life with others if I’m going to get backlash for it and that makes me feel lonely, because if I cannot talk out blessings in my life with friends to encourage them then it’s an entirely one way relationship for them and I am left being allowed only to talk about negatives when in their company. If someone in my life feels that the exact blessing I have is what they should be receiving then I unsafe to share or talk openly with that person and to be honest it hurts.
I have learned being jealous or resentful of the blessings others have only gets me negative sentiment towards my own life and those people I am directing it at.
When someone around me anymore gets a raise at work or moves on to another purpose I am genuinely excited for them and encourage them on that path and congratulate them and I mean it. I’m no longer 50% jealous and 50% happy for them which was how I used to live. I may have an initial old feeling of asking why not me, but it only lasts a split second now instead of taking a hold of me like it used to and now I am genuinely excited for them and share that with them so I can share in their joy rather than mire in my own misery. I am living out the efforts of trying to be content and humble, instead of simply paying lip service to the words.
Upon thinking deeper about this streak that is officially at 727 days I am thankful, but not in the way you first presume. Yes, sex every day is awesome; however this is really the superficial side of the streak. The portion that doesn’t equal depth, the side that can float above the surface or just at the surface if necessary, the side that doesn’t mean I had to try harder in life or for my wife. The part of the streak I am most thankful for is the depth it’s required of me. To be better than I was before, it became necessary for me to work faster through resentments (of self and my wife), anger and self-centered behaviors in order to have enough of a connection to my wife for her to want to touch me or be touched by me. I am thankful this streak was useful for making me a better husband and friend to my wife.