By Nicole Wolfrath
It’s the middle of the night and my daughter lies next to me in my bed. Her little body feels like a fire. This is her normal, father-influenced, base temperature which turns her snuggle into an uncomfortable, sweaty mess.
Like many nights, I go to sleep before my husband. After catching up on work, he joins me and our evening begins alone in our bed. Then I wake up hours later—warm, confused and lovingly caressing a foot significantly smaller than the one I intended. My first reaction is anger, which I direct at the sleeping male one person over from me. I conclude that my husband must have known she was here and could have moved her. I can’t pick her up due to my bad back, so I try to get comfortable with this mass in between us. I’m forced further and further away from my comfort zone in order to make room for her. My night becomes wrought with restless sleep, wondering with each turn if my husband is still on the other side.
This night is just one example of the many things that pull my husband and I apart as we try to survive this phase of parenthood. The separation increased by things like our schedule. Me, coming home from work to relieve him to do his work-from-home job. Or, me, working late and coming home in time to put the kids to bed and clean up. Our days are full of constant motion. Moments together are colored with fatigue. After baths and bedtime routines, we struggle to stay awake and watch backed up DVR shows. To be able to feel and say we spent some kind of time together. But it’s not the same. The interrupted conversations, the unexpected tantrum, the distracted task that the other finishes. These are all the usual red cones in our path.
“The interrupted conversations, the unexpected tantrum, the distracted task that the other finishes. These are all the usual red cones in our path.”
I’ve noticed other things we do that create this gap. It’s the dishwasher that could’ve been emptied. The wet towel on the bed. The disagreements, about disciplining the children. It’s frustration at the other when something isn’t done or properly handled. There are the arguments we have no time finish, so the emotions get pushed down. They swirl in our centers like a storm. We’ll talk about it later, but then we don’t. We get distracted. We go to bed, angry, tired and indifferent. The gap grows.
This is the impasse when I hear marriages can reach the end of the road. When I’ve noticed people making decisions if they want to carry on. When it becomes easy to contemplate the thought that this family picture isn’t what we imagined when walking down the aisle. When the promise of a happily ever… can seem empty.
I wonder at times what happened to our love. Not that it’s gone. It just doesn’t look or feel the same. There is this new form of love that can feel dark and lonely at times, but also has a slight glimmer that somehow, in rare and fleeting moments, reminds us we belong.
When I think of this divide I have no answer, no solution.
I’m certain I will always (at times) anger my husband in ways that have existed since we have been a couple and in new ways too. And likely, he will do the same to me. We may need to forgive each other more in order to stay afloat, to find our way back to each other amidst these choppy waters when we drift.
I kick the covers off and stand up, squaring myself next to the bed. I brace myself, lean over and lift my daughter up, breathing through lower back pain as I side step through the room, into the hallway and put her back into her bed. My husband is still asleep, his back towards my side of the bed. I find my place again under the sheets, almost 20 degrees cooler than before. I turn on my side and settle on the edge of the mattress, feeling the empty space on my back. I assume one day my body will naturally gravitate towards the middle again.
Leave a Comment: Has the struggles and successes of motherhood changed your relationship with your partner / spouse? How do you work at keeping communication open through the daily stresses and changes of life we all face?
Nicole Wolfrath is mom to two feisty girls ages five and one and has worked full time in university career services for the past 14 years. She and her husband share a unique family dynamic where he works full time from home while also being their girls’ primary caretaker. Nicole has taken leadership roles in her children’s schools and loves to create art when she can find the time. She has recently joined the board of Mom-Mentum and feels passionate about helping other mothers and parents. Nicole enjoys having random dance parties with her girls and creating family traditions such as movie night (where you can often find all three of the Wolfrath girls on the couch with a giant bowl of popcorn mixed with M & M’s!)Pin It