"We Became Parents...and Stopped Having Sex"
Her Turn"We've Become Adversaries"
"Rick and I knew our lives would change when we had a baby," said Beth, 37, who lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband of nine years and their 2-year-old son, Alex, "but we had no idea how much. We're so preoccupied with Alex's care that we have no time for each other. By the time Alex goes to sleep -- around 9:30 -- we're too exhausted to do anything except watch TV.
"We also argue constantly. Rick and I have different ideas about childcare, but instead of compromising, we've become adversaries. Sex and money are other sore spots. We've always been a little out of sync in bed -- I prefer sex about once a week, while Rick wants it more often. But these days I'm almost never up for it. If I tell Rick that I'm exhausted or not in the mood, he complains that I'm not 'meeting his needs.' This attitude infuriates me: Is it any wonder we haven't made love in months?
"As for money, we live on Rick's salary as an information technology specialist because I quit my job to stay home with Alex. Rick thinks I spend too much and goes ballistic when the bills arrive. He's especially angry that I order takeout a lot, but at the end of a long day I don't have the energy to cook.
"Unfortunately, our differences escalate into big blowups, with Rick swearing at me, belittling me, and calling me 'stupid.' He stomps off to his computer to calm down, while I sob in our bedroom. I'm constantly tense, never knowing what will set him off. And I feel guilty at the terrible example we're setting for Alex.
"I was the third child of a fire chief and a secretary. I was close to my late father, an easygoing man, but I fought with Mom, a control freak who ruled with the phrase 'because I said so.' I've longed for Mom's approval my whole life, but she never believed in me as she did my brothers. When I wanted to study music at a four-year college, in order to become an elementary school music teacher, Mom said I wasn't smart enough. So I went to community college and became a secretary.
"When I was 20 my best friend set me up on a blind date with her 22-year-old cousin, a handsome police officer. It was love at first sight and within six months we were married. Two years later it was over. We drifted apart before we even really connected."