"We Became Parents...and Stopped Having Sex"
Her Turn, continued
"At 26 I met Rick, then 25, through a singles Bible-study group at church. I was instantly drawn to him -- he's tall and muscular, with sandy hair and brown eyes. We struck up a conversation one night after class, and I invited him for coffee at a nearby diner. We had a lot in common besides our faith: We were both raised by difficult mothers; we'd both married too young and divorced early; we both liked music, sailing, and gardening. We realized within weeks that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. But given our past experience, we didn't want to rush, so we dated for 18 months.
"Our early marriage was peaceful and fun-filled. We both liked our jobs and earned enough to buy a house. During the summer we sailed Chesapeake Bay and hosted cookouts. We had some arguments about sex, but they never escalated the way they do now.
"We were ecstatic when Alex was born and I figured that raising a baby with Rick would strengthen our bond. But we slipped into our Mommy and Daddy roles almost immediately, focusing our attention exclusively on Alex and forgetting that we were a couple. Then we started fighting about Alex's care. Rick still questions my judgment, despite the fact that I'm with Alex all day long and I know what works best in terms of naps, feeding, and discipline. For example, Alex is most comfortable in a somewhat loose diaper. I've shown Rick how to put it on, but he usually fastens it too tight, sometimes leaving red marks on Alex's legs. When I check to see whether he's done it correctly, Rick screams at me for second-guessing him. Recently, Alex has started biting if he doesn't get his way. I give him a warning, and if he doesn't stop, I give him a time-out. Rick thinks a gentle spanking is the answer. He hasn't hit Alex yet, but I fear he will someday, because his mother spanked him often when he was a child.
"My friends don't have kids and can't relate to what I'm going through. My mom is no help, either, even though she calls every day and often drops by unannounced. She criticizes my parenting skills, which upsets me, so Rick has been badgering me to limit our contact. But I feel I need to keep her in the loop.
"Last week a fight about dinner escalated into a bigger one about sex. Rick called me a 'moron,' punched a wall, and threw a book. Fearing for our safety, I took Alex and spent the night at my brother's. When I returned home the next day, I told Rick I still loved him but was miserably unhappy. 'I miss the closeness we had before Alex was born,' I said, sobbing, 'and I want it back.'"
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