How to Keep Romance Alive When Your News Feed Feels Like the 2017 Libido Ice Bucket Challenge

Good luck, friends! It’s time to ring in 2018 like we didn’t just spend 12 months wading through a stinking pile of poop.

It’s the time of year for toasts, and I would like to make one.
First, I want to take a moment to commend those of you who have chosen not to disconnect from society and/or move to Canada this year…
To those of you who take a deep, steadying breath before reading the headlines and then read them anyway, understanding the risk…
To those of you who are doing everything you can to be upstanding citizens and model parents and thoughtful neighbors, even when those roles are starting to feel like quaint, old-timey Norman Rockwell sorts of things to be…
And especially to those of you who still have it in you to be tender and loving, even flirtatious, with your partners despite the withering assault of aggravated sexual misconduct allegations at all levels of society…
Hats off to you! You people are amazing. Because nothing douses the nuptial fire like stress and fatigue, and nothing is more stressful and fatiguing than a news feed that feels like the 2017 Libido Ice Bucket Challenge.
Despite the sobering fact that your health care, your taxes, your state’s educational funding, your sense of right and wrong, the stability of your job and, by extension, your life with your family as you know it, are in total flux, you prevail.
Even your private nostalgia for old TV shows and movies (“Annie Hall,” “The Cosby Show,” SNL, every picture Harvey Weinstein ever made) is seriously threatened or perhaps already demolished, and yet there you are, humming along to “Here Comes Santa Claus” while buying something tasteful for your mother-in-law.
How do you do it? Your kids will be all set in the resilience department because all they’ll need to do is watch you in action, being hopeful in the face of so much ruinous bullshit. In an effort to model such resilience myself, I’m taking inspiration from people like you who seem to have it together.
After an informal yet extensive poll of friends, family, work associates, yoga students and instructors, health care providers, clerks, baristas, postal workers, neighboring Wi-Fi freeloaders, buskers, kindergartners, acupuncturists, and pets – plus the odd amiable-looking stranger on the street – I have come to the following conclusion about resilience in the face of ruinous bullshit:
People prevail because they have to. It’s what they were taught. They keep on doing what they know how to do because it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative: giving up.
Why do you think (brace yourself for super sexy literary analogy) the Old Man from Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” held onto that fishing line until his hands blistered and bled and delirium set in? Because it felt good? No. Because he was hungry? No. Because he wanted to bring home the biggest fish that little Cuban fishing village had ever seen? No.
He did it because he was a fisherman. My brother keeps teaching music theory to high school students because he is a music teacher. My neighbor keeps delivering babies because she is a doula. I keep writing because I’m a writer.
If we expect to find it within ourselves to keep loving, we need to be lovers. And respectable ones at that.
Writing about sex and love is an odd thing to do when you’re someone who’s been considerably inelegant at both. But it’s like with yoga – you don’t practice because you are the picture of health and calm. You practice because you need to, because it heals your hurt in some way. The Buddha, after all, didn’t sit in mediation under a Ficus religiosa tree without moving for seven days because he was already enlightened.
So: How do we recover from the Great Libido Ice Bucket Challenge that has been the Year 2017? My theories are still being tested, so don’t get your holiday knickers in a twist if they don’t work for you.
That said, if you haven’t had sex since your kids started arguing over whose turn it was to open the advent calendar, I suggest you take notes.

Tell your news feed to take a holiday

Fairly obvious, but hard to do when a) you’re a news junky, b) you can’t resist the siren song bleeps and dings of your iPhone, or c) you feel some moral obligation to be up on current events so you can pitch in an insightful-slash-searing comment or two at your neighborhood Solstice party.
Forget it. Plan to smile knowingly, play the I’ve-chosen-to-reserve-comment card, and block your RSS feed pronto. Salvage what remnants of joie de vivre and joies du sexe that still remain post-hellish-year-of-indiscriminate-soul-crippling-social-degradation by checking the fuck out for a while.

Take a holiday yourself

Also fairly obvious, but how often do parents actually do this? Be honest. Not so much. Holidays are defined as days “of festivity or recreation when no work is done,” which, I think, should include opportunities for actual intimacy with the person you sleep next to every night.
Figure out what “holiday” means to you and your partner (weekend without the kids, sleeping in until after 7 a.m. for more than two consecutive mornings, S&M, glacier camping, whatever) and find a way to take it. 

Avoid family drama

Tough around the holidays, I know. But take a moment to consider the importance of your marriage….
Good job!
Now take a moment to weigh that importance against how second-cousin Shirley may or may not feel should you skip the spiked eggnog tradition over at her place.

Never underestimate experiential giving

Ask yourself how you feel inside when opening a box containing a pair of quality socks reinforced at the toe and heel. Now, ask yourself how you feel inside after an orgasm.
Pick one.

Quick, put your kids to bed early before the days start getting longer again

This might be the darkest time of the year, but it’s also the time when you can fool your kids into thinking it’s waaaaaay past their bedtime even though it’s only 6:45 p.m. Sleeping children plus well-rested adults multiplied by time for some bona fide foreplay equals more action in the sack.
(Don’t make the rookie mistake of forgetting to disable all legible clocks, especially digital alarm clocks right next to your kids’ beds.)

Take advantage of the cold weather

Think back to those 85-degree nights in July and how yucky it felt to lie within two feet of another hot-blooded creature. These refreshing zero-degree nights make it close to impossible not to wedge your freezing fingers into your partner’s toasty armpits.
Hint: Other fun human puzzle arrangements are only a few under-the-cover adjustments away.

Imbibe a little

Know that hazy, rosy, glow effect you can add to your Tiny Prints holiday card? You can also do that in real life with my baller recipe for Hot Buttered Rum. Your spouse will look 15 years younger in 15 minutes or less, I swear.
PM me for details.

Believe

The kids get to believe in Santa. Why can’t parents believe in something, too? Like 20-something abs or a bottomless sex drive? Mind over matter, people. It comes in handy.
Also, if you took my advice from earlier, the world is at least digitally silenced for a while, which helps achieve allusions of all kinds.
Holiday time is known for its warmth, richness, complexity, and excess. Don’t spoil it for yourself by caring at all about what happens in the eleventh hour of the legislative session. There are more important things to attend to! There are spouses who need your full attention! And if your full attention is required in the closet where you both happen to be naked because you haven’t figured out what to wear yet, l’chaim!
Like Santiago, the old man who spent three days and three nights in a 16-foot skiff trying to catch an 18-foot marlin with a single hook and a line, we need to be married like it’s our job. Sure, there was nothing left of the fish by the time he got to shore thanks to a bunch of ravenous sharks, but Santiago had restored his faith in himself, and he had earned the respect he deserved.
Good luck, friends! It’s time to ring in 2018 like we didn’t just spend 12 months wading through a stinking pile of poop. Against all the odds and in spite of the sharks, let’s love as if our lives depended on it.
Because they do, actually.

When Marriage is as Beautiful as it Difficult

This isn’t an excuse for not working on myself or my marriage but a recognition of the challenges of this stage in life.

I have a beautiful marriage and two little kids. My husband and I have close to a 50/50 split with almost everything that needs to get done in our lives. My husband is an incredibly committed dad and is my biggest cheerleader when I want to go have dinner with a friend, exercise, or travel for work. I never worry about my kids being alone with Dad. I trust that he does an incredible job and I fully recognize that I am very fortunate to have what I do. I am nothing but grateful for this.

Yet, as with any relationship, there are a lot of tough times, even more so in the last few years as we navigate our rich and complicated lives with two little children. I say complicated because I wish some parts of my husband and myself were different. I wish he’d value the children’s routines and schedules more. I wish he’d care for me a little more, not just as the mother of our children but as a wife who wants to be loved. I wish he’d take better care of himself, be more intentional, and prioritize his own needs. I wish I was less impulsive and more kind with my words. I wish I would blame less and appreciate more than I do.

The beautiful part is that we both recognize and are aligned that this is what needs to change. We are committed to meeting each other’s needs more effectively. We know making these changes is what will take me from feeling 8/10 to 10/10, a metric I often use to gauge the health of my marriage. It means choosing kindness over resentment. It means communicating and checking in and following through on what we have committed to. It means listening to audio books on marriage. It means date nights and hikes together. It also means seeking help outside the marriage to ensure things are moving smoothly.

Sometimes I wonder how and why it’s so hard to not be able to resolve such trivial issues, but perhaps that’s why they say marriage takes work. I have learned that I can have strong feelings, but I need to choose kind words and develop more wisdom to manage my big emotions. I meditate, hoping I’ll stay calm the next time schedules go off the tracks. If I lose my cool and make a not-so-nice comment, I feel terrible and guilty. Then I start over with compassion for myself, my husband, and a commitment to our marriage.

It’s hard to thrive in all parts of my life at the same time, and I know on days when extreme sadness takes over, I need to hold on to perspective of all the abundance in my life and also in my marriage. I need to tell myself that we are in this together, in this for life – even though there have been moments when I question the value of my marriage. Thankfully, those are short, fleeting moments.

I also have realized that every time I’ve opened up and shared my story and my tears, most friends agree, saying, “Me too.” And yet this is a conversation we don’t have enough – not in the real world nor in the online world. It’s scary to be raw, to be vulnerable, to open up our hearts in this way. But sometimes, knowing that this is natural and often normal in a life with two little kids, two full-time jobs, very few nights of good sleep, and many, many nights of sleep deprivation makes this process a little easier. This isn’t an excuse for not working on myself or my marriage but a recognition of the challenges of this stage in life, acceptance of my situation, and a reminder to myself to try again tomorrow.

I know that there will be a night in a few years when both the boys will be gone for sleepovers and my husband and I will perhaps sit next to each other with some cheese, crackers, and some wine as we watch a movie. I know we’ll miss the kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if tears rolled down my cheeks because, even though I am often exhausted and depleted, I still miss them a lot when I’m without them.

I cuddle up with the kids in my bed, sandwiched between the one wanting my breast to sleep on and the other wanting my arm around him. I often fall asleep this way while my husband is doing dishes or writing code in the other room. In those moments I wish it wasn’t so hard to have a few minutes of quiet time together each night.

My eyes are wet as I write this post, both from the struggle and the joy of this season in my life, but I’ll end it with gratitude. It’s my rock and anchor to find beauty and purpose in my life. I am grateful for the abundant love I receive from my husband in his own unique ways and the reminder that I’m accepted with all my quirks and imperfections.

The Inconvenience of Girls Who Want

We give girls permission to be anything they want, but we still don’t want to talk to them about sexual desires and where that fits into their lives.

The #MeToo campaign placed a necessary spotlight on sexual abuse and rape. The #MeAt14 campaign followed on its heels after politician Roy Moore was accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old when he was 32 and district attorney. The point of the latter campaign was to show what 14 looked like, reminding everyone that a 14-year-old cannot legally consent in any state.

However, there were problems with the #MeAt14 campaign that I sensed but couldn’t identify for days. Women posting pictures of themselves at 14 and telling what they were interested in during that time in life was powerful. It drew attention to how serious the allegations against Moore were, an important accomplishment since he somehow still has defenders.

Why, then, did this campaign leave me with a sinking feeling?

I stumbled across an article in the Washington Post and immediately saw part of the problem. While most girls were posting pictures of themselves with phrases about being carefree and waiting to get their braces off, a slew of already-abused girls were underrepresented. The pictures of innocence and carefree living weren’t real for girls who had already been preyed upon by the age of 14. They couldn’t put up a picture of their young virginal selves because that reality had already been taken from them.

Purity culture, an unfortunate sub-culture within religious establishments that I am all too familiar with, leaves these women on the sidelines, much like the #MeAt14 campaign unintentionally did. As a woman who survived multiple rapes during her teen years, Elizabeth Smart said her upbringing in the purity culture made being repeatedly raped even harder to endure. “After that first rape, I felt crushed. Who could want me now?” she said,  pointing out the dangers of equating a woman’s worth with her status as a virgin.

The other problem with the campaign hit me the day after reading the Washington Post article. It wasn’t only problematic for those who had already been sexually assaulted or raped by the age of 14. It was also problematic for girls who weren’t innocent, as many described themselves in the #MeAt14 campaign, by choice.

I knew girls who fit the image of the nerd who was listening to New Kids on the Block and trying to record songs from the radio onto cassette without getting any of the commercials. Some version of that saccharin-sweet image appeared constantly as the #MeAt14 campaign rolled out.

I also knew girls at 14 who were giving blow jobs after school. These girls didn’t seem to be represented at all in the campaign, even though they also shouldn’t have been preyed on by a 32-year-old district attorney. The sexual desires and perceived innocence of girls aren’t factors when we’re talking about rape.

This campaign, though well-intentioned, played into the idea that “good women don’t get raped,” a belief that Yolanda Moses, anthropologist and consultant for preventing sexual assault, says is prevalent in our society. It’s a major reason that women adopt the approach of looking innocent, don’t talk about masturbation, and don’t express their desires. Exploring those issues is normal and expected for boys, but they aren’t largely welcome topics coming from girls.

This is especially true of women who have been raped or sexually assaulted. There’s an instinctive need to appear like sex doesn’t cross our minds, that we didn’t do anything to “deserve” what happened to us. Moses says “society tends to blame victims,” and it’s easy to look across the landscape today and see how true that statement is.

The world has a problem with girls who want: they don’t fit into the desired view of female innocence that is still seemingly necessary in order to cultivate sympathy when a woman is harmed. When a woman accuses a man of sexual assault or rape, people try to cast her as a girl who just might have sexual desires and who just might have had consensual sex at some point before being forced to do it against her will, as if these are horrendous acts comparable to her attacker’s decision to rape her.   

What would be the reaction if women actually stepped forward and said they want and that they figured out how to want at a young age? Those women know instinctively that they will not be listened to when sex is forced on them because, in the eyes of many, to express sexual desire means giving up the right to say no.

What do we do for our girls?

Girls need support, and psychoanalyst and author Joyce McFadden says that moms not talking about sex with their daughters can be life-changing in all the wrong ways. She’s found that grown daughters “felt resentful that, without support, their sexuality couldn’t be assimilated into their sense of self like other facets of living could, like their intellect, creativity, kindness or athleticism.”

We give our girls permission to be anything they want in most cases, but we still don’t want to talk to them about sexual desires and where that fits into their lives. McFadden confirms that the consequences are many, because daughters will not likely turn to their mothers for support after sexual abuse or rape if the conversations about bodies and desires aren’t taking place under normal conditions. McFadden said that the daughters “reasoned, if my mother couldn’t even talk to me about normal sexual stuff she certainly won’t be able to handle being there for me around sexual complications or traumas.”

What can we say and do to help our girls express desire and give them permission to come to us when they are harmed? Here are some ideas.

Talk about sex like it’s a good thing

Every parent is going to come at sex talks from a different place based on their values and religious beliefs. It’s still universal that sex can, in fact, be awesome.

No matter what we are telling our girls about sex, we don’t need to forget to let them know that it’s okay to have desires, to be excited about sex when it’s the right time, and to feel free to ask every question on the planet.

We also need to eliminate the idea of what Shulamit Almog and Karin-Carmit Yefet call the “humiliation scale.” This scale rewards girls who engage in sex that is considered acceptable for their gender and seeks to humiliate those who step out of line. It’s a way to keep girls who want to talk about sexual desires in line and, unfortunately, silent.

Don’t make girls the gatekeepers

The words that seeped into my brain when I was younger stuck, and they’ve resurfaced lately. They aren’t pretty. As a child and teen, I heard:

  • Women might not get raped if they dressed modestly.
  • That guy has three kids by three different women. When will these girls stop spreading their legs?
  • Boys can’t stop. They get turned on, and if a girl lets them go too far, they can’t stop themselves.
  • Normal girls don’t want sex. Boys are the horny ones.

That’s a lot of responsibility for girls. Females aren’t supposed to want, plus they are supposed to keep men’s desires in check at all times. That leaves very little room for girls to talk about and understand their own desires. It also paints men as uncontrolled animals with a testosterone overdose, an unfair depiction and a cop-out.

Don’t make girls the gatekeepers for boys or men. Don’t ever make them feel like if something happens and they come for help, they are going to be questioned about their roles in their own rapes or abuse.

Don’t give permission for others’ bad behavior

There are always going to be people who believe women constantly lie about being raped, that they somehow ask for it, or that what they wear or how they act means they deserve their fates. Speak truth boldly in the face of these lies.

There are times to let people agree to disagree, but this isn’t one of them. Speak up and speak out to help others understand the absurdity of their words and the thought processes behind them. Whether or not minds are changed, it’s important to put the truth out in the open so people who choose to be willfully blind won’t have any excuses. We need our girls to see us stand up for what is right so they will know we take no part in a mindset that says they deserve to be harmed.

The #MeAt14 campaign wasn’t bad, but like many things we try to do to prove we shouldn’t be victims of sexual assault, it put the pressure back on women to provide innocent pictures with innocuous anecdotes to safeguard them from judgment. Moore should have been the one on the defense, not women, even those who were thinking about more than Caboodles and getting perms at the age of 14. When we’re living in a world where a woman is comfortable saying she loves sex and people still understand this in no way gives someone the right to force her into sex, we’ll be making real progress.

How to Share the Mental Responsibilities of Parenthood 

The cognitive burdens my husband had been shouldering had been largely invisible to me, and the same had been true for him.

Like all new parents, my husband and I experienced profound shifts in our relationship after the birth of our first child. For the first few months we were trapped in a haze of sleepless nights and exhausting days and simply struggled to survive. After we finally emerged from the newborn phase and established a new routine, however, I felt a deep dissatisfaction roll in. When searching for a solution to my newfound irritation, my husband and I mistakenly began by focusing on my resentment towards the new chores in our life. However, I finally realized that my anger instead stemmed from the new mental load I had to carry. I simply didn’t want to accept that my new normal involved a complicated tangle of logistics and a long list of things to keep on my constant mental radar.
I had already known that adulthood was composed of a long list of areas of responsibility: finances, food, house maintenance, laundry, and so on. However, what I had failed to fully appreciate was that each of these areas of responsibility required planning, scheduling, management, maintenance, and occasional troubleshooting. When we became parents some of these areas simply increased in intensity (laundry, groceries, cleaning), while some entirely new areas appeared (our daughter’s childcare, health, feeding, etc.). This quickly maxed out my available brain space because I was not just dealing with an increase in specific chores. Instead, each area involved performing multiple tasks and juggling many pieces of information. For example, managing my daughter’s health meant scheduling regular pediatrician visits, recording her vaccinations, locating the nearest hospitals and emergency rooms, keeping lists of questions to ask her doctor, and knowing the days and times of the walk-in health clinic.
Finally recognizing this fact helped my husband and me chart our way back to a more satisfying life together. As we explicitly acknowledged and discussed the division of our various areas of responsibility I began to appreciate all of the things my husband had on his own radar. The cognitive burdens he had been shouldering had been largely invisible to me, and the same had been true for him. For example, he noticed when a bill needed to be paid, a car’s oil should be changed, hail damage to the roof needed to be repaired, the lawn had to be mowed, or the computer needed new anti-virus software. What’s more, he took the initiative after noticing these things. Like me, he did the research, scheduled the appointments, and completed the tasks in his areas seamlessly. Once we discovered the existence of these areas in our partner’s life, we realized some important things about how they function best:

1 | Areas of responsibility don’t need to be equally distributed, but they need to feel equal to both parties

Keeping score is never healthy in a marriage, and the number of areas will never completely match up on both sides. We found that it’s more important that both partners feel satisfied with how things are divided. For example, I take on more areas because I work half-time and my husband works full-time. If that were to change, we would need a renegotiation and more outsourcing and delegation of tasks.

2 | You should both play to your strengths

My husband is an engineer who grew up in the country. He is excellent at calculating, building, repairing, and making things grow. This is why he takes on the maintenance of the cars, house, yard, and garden. I’m an organized planner who likes to cook so I take on the management of our family’s health, the planning of meals, and the juggling of our social calendar. As a feminist and a product of a woman’s college, I’m not thrilled with how our areas of responsibility line up neatly with traditional gender roles. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have the time or energy to hone new skills and change this. (I hope to later.) For now, my husband and I plan to teach both our skills sets to our children.

3 | It’s okay to delegate

Just because you manage a particular area of responsibility doesn’t mean that you can’t hand off related tasks now and then. My husband is more than happy to pick up groceries for us if I give him a list. I can take the car in for a repair if he tells me what I need to relay to the mechanic.

4 | Divide the areas of responsibility if you need to

Occasionally, we are unable or unwilling to take on an area fully. If it’s possible, it can work well to simply divide it. I quickly became overwhelmed by the increase in laundry (baby clothes, burp rags, cloth diapers, etc.) so I told my husband to do his own. I now only manage my own and my daughter’s laundry.

5 | Have explicit conversations about your areas of responsibility

These need to be made visible and to be discussed. It can be tough for the other partner to understand the heavy mental burden created by an area of responsibility or even to realize that one exists. Open discussions about these areas and their related tasks can help reveal sources of resentment and the need for understanding and gratitude.

6 | Set up a system that works for you

If it’s your area of responsibility, you get to decide how you manage it. I work well with paper lists set out on the kitchen countertop. My husband prefers his customized, color-coded Excel spreadsheets. Both systems function efficiently. We just make sure the other has access to the system and understands how it works.

7 | Don’t get too distracted by simplifying, streamlining, or dividing the tasks themselves

Focusing exclusively on individual chores can make it easy to lose sight of the fact that it is almost always one partner who is ultimately responsible for an entire area of responsibility. It’s great to use a crockpot to shorten meal prep, but someone is still in charge of food in the household. That person must research crockpots, buy one, find recipes, make lists of ingredients, and chop the ingredients the night before. Still exhausting, right?

8 | Take the time to appreciate your partner’s areas and say thank you often

It’s a heavy burden to be in charge of an entire area of responsibility, and this burden is even more oppressive if it goes unnoticed and unappreciated. It might sound silly, but I thank my husband every time he checks the weather and mows the lawn before it rains because I am genuinely relieved I don’t even have to think about this. He does the same for me when I manage other areas of our life. I like both receiving gratitude for the burdens I shoulder and giving thanks for the ones I dodge.
It’s important to realize that the areas of responsibilities we experience as parents are far from static. They constantly alter as our families’ lives change and our children grow. For example, the areas in our own household are about to undergo another profound shift as our second daughter arrives in the spring. I know a bit more now about what we’re in for: a heavy newborn fog and then an intense period of adjustment to the new arrangement of responsibilities. Very possibly there will be resentments and tensions for a while as we settle in.
However, I’m hopeful that, as before, my husband and I will come out the other side stronger and wiser for the experience. We need to keep in mind what we’ve already learned about our areas of responsibility and how to manage them. If we can do this, we have a shot at both shouldering our new burdens side by side and at sharing the new joys of our expanding family together.

Former Museum of Sex Curator Dishes on Getting Back to Gettin' Down Post Baby

It’s no wonder the day you get medical clearance to have sex again just a short six weeks after having a baby, it seems as daunting as climbing Kilimanjaro.

When I was heavily pregnant, oscillating between luxuriating in my new-found curves and feeling like a beetle perpetually stuck on its back, post-pregnancy sex was officially the last thing on my mind. Instead, my laser focus was on evicting this little person who stomped on my lungs, intestines, and bladder. Not to mention the equal parts fear and unbelievable happiness of impending motherhood. Sex got me into this situation, but it certainly wasn’t the forefront of my thoughts as D-Day approached.

As a first-time mom-to-be, I simply couldn’t understand post-pregnancy sex as a different proposition. Was it really going to be a thing? Wasn’t all this “daddy stitch” trash talk just language of women’s bodies once again being made about male pleasure? Could the natural act of having a baby really change my vagina and my relationship to sex that much? I was walking into the game, dubious, believing all the urban legends were simply the residue of anti-feminist, bad sitcom, sophomoric writing. My vagina was not going to be a punch line about throwing a hot dog down a hallway!

But at the same time, I also couldn’t say what it really would be like. Lumped in with an infinite list of things I was about to discover, my relationship to post-natal sexuality would be an evolving proposition, if not part smack in the face and part a reinvention of self.

While every page of “What to Expect When You are Expecting” was dog-eared, I don’t think I fully processed what the after-having-a-baby would imply, at least physically. My hospital bag was filled with menstrual pads, but while pregnant, I certainly didn’t absorb the full implications of that need. I was prepared for child birth to be painful, but I never gave much thought to what happens next. Wasn’t getting the baby out the totality of the physiological heavy lifting?

Certainly not. As nurses and doctors tossed around discussions of degrees of tearing in as blase a manner as conversations of the weather or what to eat for breakfast, I can tell you emphatically, for the vulvas being described, these are not everyday conversations. Not one little painful bit.

After my first child was born, every single muscle in my body hurt like I’d been hit by a truck. Not just one truck, more like an entire fleet. As I tried to move, ever so slowly, to my hospital bathroom, I experienced the incomparably humbling expedition of post-labor vaginal aftercare. The less-than-glamorous world of sitz baths, squirt bottles, and witch hazel hemorrhoid wipes. Some so delicately describe this elixir, sure to make you feel the height of sexy, as “crotch care.”

Immediately after that first birth, I couldn’t even contemplate having sex after what had just happened to my body – a body that in many ways I would need to reclaim, relearn, reteach, and have patience with in its healing.

Other than the mamas I met along the way, there was no practitioner walking me through how all of this messy knot of physical and emotional experiences was going to impact my sexuality. Six weeks post-baby, sitting in those stirrups, so few doctors are talking to us about post-baby sex – the perfectly normal and not normal alike.

One friend, after the birth of her second baby, bravely approached her doctor about a lack of sensation and was told: What did she expect? She was a mother of two. Never is this an acceptable response, nor an accurate one. A healed vagina or incision and a chat about contraceptive decisions is simply not enough to address a topic that is dangerously taboo. Too many women believe silently suffering is the new normal, and is in fact normal.

Woman pulling her shirt down to cover herself

When it’s a conversation that needs to be sought out, a conversation that’s sometimes awkward to have, it can feel like just another burden to prioritize ourselves, our intimate parts of the body, our sex lives, and our sexual sense of self. Especially when new mothers are already drowning in the emotionally-charged laundry list of having a newborn: exhaustion, figuring out this whole nursing thing (if that’s your chosen method), and a realization that your body doesn’t magically revert back to its pre-pregnancy self.

Combine this with wrestling with a new sense of self, a new way of relating to your partner, returning back to work or not (both are emotional), and the oppressive societal pressure of what motherhood perfection looks like, it’s no wonder that the day you get medical clearance to have sex again just a short six weeks after having a baby, it seems as daunting as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Some of us will experience quite serious physical complications from birth, and will need to undergo physical therapy post-childbirth and even vaginal rehabilitation. A few friends’ vaginas tightened post-birth to such a degree that nothing was getting in there, making a good set of vaginal dilators and a competent physical therapist a sexual lifesaver.

Some of us will also be negotiating the psychological implications of what can be a traumatic event. For example, when my second child, a gigantic baby whose shoulders got stuck during her fast-and-furious two hour labor, her face turning every shade of purple and blue unimaginable in babies, there was so much more for me (and my partner) to emotionally unpack then when my first child had arrived without complication. While my body didn’t ache the way it did with my first, our collective emotions needed a little longer to heal for sexuality to reenter our union.

The sex we all have post-baby is a tapestry of all of those nuanced and personal experiences, and like a ice cream shop full of choices, each person has their own approach to having sex again after baby, whenever that may end up happening.

Of course, there are people who just want to get back at it, right away. Maybe they explored non-penetrative forms of sexuality up until this point, eager to get the green light for more, or maybe it’s the first go of their erotic selves meeting post-baby, making that first sexual encounter a wonderful act of reconnection.

For others, that green light is, in actuality, a lightening rod of anxiety.

Is it going to hurt? Am I going to enjoy it? It my partner going to enjoy it? Do I feel attractive in my post-baby body? Do I feel self conscious about my post-child vulva? (Even jokingly referring to your vagina as a “car wreck” probably isn’t going to internally make you feel sexy and confident.) As a mom, do I still feel sexy? Do I want to have sex for me or do I feel pressure because my partner wants to? Am I afraid he will stray if I don’t?

One friend, a mother of twins, was told by her post-natal nurse, “fathers of twins tend to cheat,” so she better jump back into bed. I simply can’t think of more aggressive “advice” to smack on a new mother. And with hormones doing crazy things to your sex drive, the desire simply may not be surfacing in the same way you were previously used to.

While it would be easy to divide the world into the “let’s jump back on the horse” mamas and the “stay the fuck away from me” mamas, many of us will philosophically float in between for that first time having sex after baby, as well as for the subsequent adventures. A reality of motherhood and sexuality (one I wished someone shared with me) is that sometimes I might experience intense chapters of each. A new tapestry is forming from the constant touching of little hands, evolving feelings about oneself, evolving feelings about your partner, and the fact the weight of motherhood doesn’t dust off just because the kids are asleep (though it would be so nice).

My six years of motherhood has given me a new perspective on my professional world, the anthropological study of sex, in a way I never could have predicted. Whether it is the first sex after baby or six years after baby, be open to the evolution of your sexuality.

Maybe your mind needs more time to wind down and relax, or maybe your body needs more time to get excited. Lubricant may become your new best friend. Maybe new things will become a turn on, maybe new fantasies can be incorporated, maybe it’s the catalyst to reinvent old rhythms, or maybe you and your partner can use this time to positively and proactively reset and sexually meet again.

Instead of the fear of so many unknowns, maybe that first sex after baby is the key to a whole new sex life.

I'm a Statistic, and That's Okay

There were warning signs that we were headed for the end, but I held onto a lifeless marriage so our son would grow up with both of his parents in the home.

I was on at least my 85th self-help book. I was also meditating on releasing resentment and sending positive vibes to my ex-husband as a daily ritual. I’d convinced myself that I used the power of visualization to see the two of us involved in a healthy, post-divorce, co-parenting relationship. But still, I felt empty and resentful. I couldn’t accept that I’d failed. I was a divorced, single mom, an undesirable statistic.

My ex-husband is a free-spirit. He wakes up every morning with no plan, no worries, and no sense of urgency. My type-A personality needed that at first. I was driven by to-do lists, planning for the next 20 years in great detail, orchestrating the symphony of our lives. While he’d wake up and live for the day with no concrete agenda, I’d be knee deep in conference calls and meetings, frantically pushing toward the ideal life. The ideal life was one in which we were both professionals, we followed schedules, we met deadlines, and we stuck to the plan.

The problem was the plan was mine. I chose not to see my husband for who he was and who he would always be. His free-spirt and “Don’t worry ’bout a thing” mentality was the very thing that attracted me to him. It would also ultimately be the very thing that caused a divide that no amount of prayer, marriage counseling, or positive thinking could heal.

There were blaring warning signs that we were headed for the end, but I held onto a lifeless marriage because I wanted our son to grow up with both of his parents in the home. My parents have been together for 45 years; they’ve weathered storms and survived; they are happy. I was determined to have the same fate. I could not fail.

Eventually, life does what it always will: it reveals the truth. Whether we choose to see and accept it is a whole different thing. I finally decided to see what my inner voice had been whispering to me for years.

Post-divorce life has not been smooth. I’ve had to grieve the loss of the person who was my confidante, friend, and companion for the last 20 years. I’ve suffered the disappointment of a less-than-ideal co-parenting situation. My ex-husband and his free-spirit lifestyle has relegated him to the role of “Uncle-Daddy.” He’s a dad because he was biologically involved in the creation of our son. I insert “Uncle” because he gives money when he can, he visits with him when he can, he doesn’t check homework, he doesn’t meet with teachers, he doesn’t get migraine headaches when our son practices his saxophone, and he doesn’t know when his next orthodontist appointment is and yet, he gets all the glory of being the fun, cool guy. He gets all the fun stuff any uncle would, without any of the messiness that parenting a ‘tween entails.

I’m a work in progress. I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. I’ve accepted that I’m flawed, complicated, moody, and driven. I’ve also accepted that my marriage was meant to be. It was a beautiful dance between two souls who needed one another for the time we were together. Out of our marriage was born wonderful memories and a child that has transformed both of our lives for the better. We created our best work as a loving unit and no amount of bitterness could ever cloud that beautiful truth.

Co-parenting with dignity and respect is not for the faint of heart. It requires digging deep within to keep my child’s best interests at heart, especially on days where I want to stoop to low points of my character. There are days where I want to call my ex-husband and recite a dissertation on all the ways he’s disappointed me. When I feel those negative emotions, I exhale. I pause. I gather my composure and I make the decision to let the emotions come in and not stay too long. It takes a lot of introspection to be able to say, I’m sure he could write a book on all the ways I’ve disappointed him too. I understand that managing life post-divorce while also co-parenting is not easy on anybody involved.

It’s been a journey and I’m still evolving, but I’ve finally been able to let go of self-imposed judgmental and belittling feelings. Once I decided that I was not a failure and did not fail because my marriage ended, my life changed. I began to see myself as brave and strong to end a marriage that was not serving either of us in a positive manner. I took all of the negative language that danced in my head and reshaped my perspective on why I was allowing those thoughts to invade my peace of mind.

The feelings of isolation, embarrassment, and emptiness were beginning to take up permanent residency until I decided they were unwarranted. I certainly had nothing to be embarrassed about, and thankfully I am surrounded by a village of strong women to call upon when I need encouragement and to feel connected. Somewhere along the way, I succumbed to societal standards about how failure is defined and what it means to dissolve a marriage. I’m finally in a place where I’m empowered to define my life (all parts of it) without the input from anyone. And it feels really, really, good.

Yes, I am a single mom. Yes, I am divorced. Yes, I am a statistic, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I’m just another woman whose had to redefine what her ideal life looks like. I’m experiencing and embracing life on my terms. My type-A personality is a lot more fluid now. I no longer plan for the next 20 years. Life has shown me that plans are an illusion. The only thing I plan now is to wake up each day, count my blessings, and live in a state of gratitude and compassion. That gratitude and compassion must encompass my relationship with my ex-husband. Before we were parents, we were the best of friends. So, in honor of that friendship and for the sake of our son, I’ve managed to accept my ex-husband for who he is and who he has always been. Something I was not able to do in marriage, I’m finally able to do in divorce. I know it will serve me well in my quest for co-parenting peace.

Why Time Apart Might Be the Perfect Marriage Elixir

Though it seems counter-intuitive, one of the best things you can do for your marriage is to step away from it, regularly and intentionally.

I was pregnant with our first child when my husband and I attended a friend’s 40th birthday party. Over thumping music and margaritas (a Shirley Temple for me), we wished the guest of honor another happy journey around the sun.
“How does 40 feel?” My husband asked.
“It’s good,” he said. “But I’m tired.” He and his wife had two young kids at the time. “I don’t remember the last time I slept through the night.”
Our friend turned his gaze to his wife. Beaming in her direction, he told us how excited he was to spend the night at the swanky hotel down the street that night.
“So fun!” I exclaimed. “The kids are with their grandparents overnight?”
Our friend and his wife laughed, shaking their heads. “No,” she explained. “I’m staying with the kids so my husband can have the entire night to himself and wake up whenever he wants, in silence, totally alone.”
“Too bad you couldn’t find a sitter so you could stay at the hotel together,” I replied.
“No, this is actually the perfect birthday treat,” our friend insisted.
I sipped my Shirley Temple and tried to make my face look as if I understood.
Six years, two kids of my own, and countless sleepless nights later, I understand. As I’ve come to learn, taking time for yourself once you become a parent is not a luxury but a necessity. Though it seems counter-intuitive, one of the best things you can do for your marriage is to step away from it, regularly and intentionally.
I talked to experts to find out why couples – particularly those with kids – are so much better together when they spend time apart.

Because…kids

Our kids absorb an incredible amount of our time and energy. Ironically, this is exactly why parents need to take time for themselves.
Alex Hedger, therapist and clinical director of Dynamic You Therapy Clinics, encourages parents to take breaks from the demands of both their children and their partner in order to “prevent cracks appearing in either partner’s well-being – or the relationship.”
Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, a certified life and relationship coach, describes those potential cracks as “regret and resentment toward your partner…. You’ll find yourself giving your partner the angry side-eye, and it’s all because you didn’t make time for you.”
While experts agree that down time is crucial for both parents, David Ezell, therapist and clinical director of Darien Wellness, argues it’s particularly important for women. He describes a client who mistakenly believes she should never be apart from her kids, a mindset that tends to be unique to mothers:
“Not only is it horrible for the children – they need to learn mom can leave and come back – but it’s also likely to turn this highly educated, accomplished woman’s brain into mush. Children are wonderful, but we all need a break from being asked why the sky is blue (for the 400th time).”

You’re still fascinating, even if you answer to “Mom” or “Dad”

Before you were someone’s mom, dad, husband, wife, or partner, you were just you. Peel off all the labels and you’re still there, even if you’re buried under laundry and dinner prep and birthday party invitations. And you still matter.
Vikki Ziegler, the author and divorce attorney best known for her starring role in Bravo TV’s “Untying the Knot”, calls prioritizing your own interests a chance to “nourish your soul.” Dating coach Corrine Dobbas calls it a time to “rejuvenate and foster [your] sense of self.”
Whatever you call it, it is vital to stay in touch with what makes you uniquely you – the person your partner fell in love with in the first place.
Alex Hedger uses the analogy of a sports team to illustrate the importance of each half of a couple bringing their best self to the relationship. Just as a team functions optimally when each player brings his or her unique strengths to the game, “having time apart allows you to be true to yourself in a way that allows you to uniquely contribute when being part of the Relationship Team.”
Dobbas agrees. Only when you stay in touch with yourself “can [you] show up in the relationship more present, confident, and less stressed.” Not only do you bring greater energy to the relationship when you’ve had time to recharge, you also become a more interesting person to your partner.
Marriage counselor and author Patricia Bubash says when each partner carves out time for their own interests, not only does it give them something to talk about, but it also gives partners a chance to see each other “as interesting individuals, not just a wife [or] husband.”

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Whether you take an hour for a kickboxing class, an evening with friends, or a weekend to go on a yoga retreat, taking time apart give you and your partner a chance to miss one another. Amy Bailey, a Colorado mom of three who has been married 16 years, says that, while date nights are key, so is time apart.
“There’s nothing that makes me miss home and my husband like not having him around,” says Baily, “and we take that time to send each other texts we wouldn’t want our kids to read, and by the time we see each other again – well…we’re ready to see each other again.”
While it’s not always possible to get away for long stretches of time, Jenni Skyler, certified sex therapist and director of The Intimacy Institute, encourages couples to get creative with the limited time they have. She says it is especially important for new moms to have what she calls “restorative, regenerative time” in order to show up to the relationship sexually.
“For a lot of women, the ability to be aroused comes from having space for arousal to emerge.” She says because most women can’t just switch from Mom to lover in the blink of an eye, having time alone is essential, even if it’s just 20 minutes to soak in the tub.
Cunningham-Sumter says that even carving out a few minutes for chores, like folding laundry or doing dishes by yourself, “can be your time to turn on your music and just be with yourself.”
While any time away from your partner can be helpful, research suggests time spent in solitude may be especially valuable. Relationship expert David Bennett points to a recent study in which alone time was found to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
My husband gives me time to work out because he knows the more I sweat, the more pleasant I am to be around. Though he doesn’t necessarily care to hear about the way my leggings chafed or how my GPS lost its signal during my run, he does care that I’m still the athlete I was when we met.
Likewise, I rarely deny his occasional request to take himself and his fantasy novel out for a beer and a burger. He always returns in a better mood than when he left. Because sometimes time alone is exactly what we need to come together.

Why Date Nights Matter When You're Married

It’s as if once you say “I do,” date nights instantly become “We don’t,” and occur with the frequency of a Big Foot sighting.

Date night is a ritual that’s become an institution in the Briggs household. It was established years before my wife Rhonda and I became parents, consistently observed before we married and eagerly anticipated when we were dating.

When I tell people that every other Thursday is reserved for date night with my partner-in-crime, I sometimes get a look of amazement. It’s as if once you say “I do,” date nights instantly become “We don’t,” and occur with the frequency of a Big Foot sighting, a coast-to-coast total eclipse, or a Cubs World Series championship.

But ever since we married in 2009, Rhonda and I have made time to date. Halloween 2017 triggered a flashback to Halloween 2015 when we observed date night by dancing the night away at a wickedly delightful fundraiser in Chicago known as the Big Orange Ball.

That year, we saved the date with our babysitter and stopped at Party City to buy the ingredients for our costumes: a tiara, a Day of the Dead hand fan, a cape, and a top hat. Rhonda got all dolled up as a flamenco dancer; I transformed into a ghoulishly undead gentleman. It was one of the few occasions where it took me longer to get ready than Rhonda because of my makeup, not hers. (It’s hard to look undead.)

After eight years of date nights, from Halloween and beyond, here are three reasons why date nights rule:

1 | Date nights help solve the puzzle of dinner

Sometimes it feels like the purpose of marriage is to have someone in your life committed to helping you answer (’til death do you part) the most challenging question of our time: “What’s for dinner?”

Somehow we aren’t terribly indecisive about breakfast or lunch, but when it comes to dinner, we need IBM’s Watson to calculate the possibilities.

I thought I was alone in the struggle until I heard about a recipe book by Zach Golden titled “What the F*@# Should I Make For Dinner?” which seeks to be “your go-to guide to save you from headache, hunger, and your own wishy-washy self.” On date nights, this problem is easy to solve for. Thank you, Restaurants of America.

2 | Date nights carve out quality time

Like most families with a young child (or children), our day-to-day schedules are hectic. Weekdays start at 4:30 a.m. in the Briggs family and are filled with daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, commutes by train, deadlines at work, and calendars filled with meetings. In between the hustle and flow, Rhonda and I catch up and connect, but date nights allow us to shut out the demands and distractions of the world and focus on one another for a few hours. I get to talk to the woman I met B.W.W.P. (Before We Were Parents), seeing who she is now and how her inner world is shifting. Quality time keeps our bond strong.

3 | Date nights strengthen marriage

Trust me, research has the receipts on this. Harry Benson from the Marriage Foundation and Steve McKay from the University of Lincoln analyzed data for a group of nearly 10,000 couples with a young child to identify what effect, if any, date nights have on the odds of staying together or splitting up.

The frequency of date nights across the couples broke down as follows:

  • once a week or more: 11 percent
  • once a month: 30 percent
  • less often than once a month: 23 percent
  • hardly ever: 36 percent

Over a 10-year period, the married couples who observed date night once a month had the highest odds of staying together compared to the other groups.

Surprisingly, the study’s finding only held true for married couples, not cohabiting couples (more on that later).

“Compared to couples who ‘hardly ever’ went out, couples who went out weekly or more often were no more likely to stay together,” Benson and McKay noted in their 2016 report. “In other words, the relationship between how often couples go out and their likelihood of staying together is not linear. Going out more often does not help couples stay together.”

Once-a-month date nights may be the sweet spot because, as noted by The Knot, going out too often may be a buzzkill (e.g., the stress of planning, increased babysitter expenses, loss of personal downtime). Less may indeed be more, but twice a month works just fine for me and Rhonda.

So there you have it. If you’re married, get out and do something new with your boo (dinner, movie, comedy club, concert, etc.). Once a month is all it takes.

Oh, and for that bit about couples who cohabitate? Benson and McKay put it this way: “By going out every so often, married couples reinforce the importance of their relationship. Because their relationship is founded on a clear public act of commitment, a night out together makes a statement about the nature of the relationship. Among cohabiting couples, where there is some element of ambiguity about the future of the relationship, a night out of any kind is simply a night out.”

Definitely something to talk about…on your next night out.

Thanks for Choosing Me

This is a submission in our monthly contest. November’s theme is Gratitude. Enter your own here!
When I married the love of my life four years ago, he got a package deal. He knew he was signing up to be a parent, day one, because I already had a six-year-old daughter.
Don’t get me wrong: when I think about how giving and gracious this man is, I still get butterflies in my stomach. When I think about how he loved my little girl like his own, it makes my heart smile. And now, four years into marriage, we have our own little girl and he still makes them both feel like the most important girl in the world.
But, I’m not talking about all that sappy stuff when I say how grateful I am for that man. I’m talking about how he handled what he gave up. We didn’t have a big fancy wedding or a honeymoon. We didn’t jet-set around the world, or even take sporadic romantic weekends away. We couldn’t even make last-minute movie plans on a Friday night but we always had to book a babysitter a week in advance. Instead of weekends filled with tailgating, bar-hopping, and the most amazing concerts, we spent them at the park and watching Disney movies.
Don’t get me wrong: of course, I love the time I spend with my kids. But, I missed the spontaneity that comes with a new relationship. I missed not knowing where the weekend, or even the night, might lead with my new love. And, I constantly worried, he missed his freedom.
But, that giving and gracious man never made me feel that way. He never complained or asked for nights off or gave me shoulda-woulda-couldas. In fact, he actually loves the time we spend at the park, and the Zoo, and reading kids’ books, and fixing puzzles. And, he always makes it obvious how much he loves me. His love is fierce and unwavering and always makes me feel like, no matter what, he would choose me first in a million other lifetimes.
So, as we are approaching our four-year anniversary, I have penned a note of gratitude to the love of my life. Thanks for being you.
Thank you for giving me a love I couldn’t live without.
A love where you never say hello or goodbye without a kiss.
A love where in five years I haven’t gone one single day without a “Good morning beautiful” text.
A love where you will go and get me a snack at 9 p.m. because we’re out of popcorn and then stop on the way home to fill my car up with gas when you notice my tank is low.
A love where you eat tofu for dinner because I tell you it’s better for you and then say nothing when I eat ten Starbursts later that night.
A love where you say nothing as you restart a load of laundry that smells because I forgot it in the machine for two days.
A love where you are never the first to let go in a hug because I read some article once that said 30-second hugs build comfort and trust.
A love where you gently tell me to stop reading so many articles when I text you during the day to tell you that I’m definitely dying.
A love where after almost four years of marriage I can’t tell if it’s gone by in the blink of an eye or I feel like I’ve known you a lifetime because somehow you’re both my comforting soulmate and the man who makes my heart race, all wrapped up in one.
Sure, this isn’t a love that will spark an epic novel. It won’t go down in history as one of the world’s greatest romances. However, this is a love that will definitely be one the girls will always smile thinking about. It’s a love that will force them to set the highest standards for their own love. And it’s a love that’s shown me more happiness than I ever thought I could know.
I love you. Thanks for choosing me.

I Failed the Marital Rating Scale

I recently came across “The Marital Rating Scale” created by Dr. George Crane, a psychologist from the 1930s. It’s exactly what you’d expect.

I recently came across something called “The Marital Rating Scale” created by Dr. George Crane, a psychologist from the 1930s. Dr. Crane interviewed 600 husbands on their wives’ positive and negative qualities and then assigned points for merits and demerits. Here is sample of the chart:

I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the more interesting “demerits” for wives on Dr. Crane’s scale and see how I score.

Demerits for Wives

#3  Fails to sew on buttons or darn socks regularly

True confessions here: I had to google “darn socks.” I mean, I’ve heard the term before, but I didn’t actually know what it meant. Clearly, I have failed in this department.
Also, I have never sewn a button in my life. Ever. Probably because I somehow have never been alone in a button emergency. I mean, I have a mom that can sew a button, my friends can sew buttons, and I married a guy that can sew a button. My nine-year-old can sew a button. I just sort of discreetly leave the room when I suspect a potential button situation.
It’s been 47 years. Why break my streak now?

#25  Wears pajamas while cooking

Hmm…this one is a bit baffling. Does anyone really care what anyone who is cooking for them is wearing?
You want to come to my house and cook for me? You can wear your ratty pajamas, you can wear a ballgown, you can wear a bathing suit. Hell, you can wear your birthday suit, I really don’t care. I would just be forever grateful for one less meal to cook.

#18  Tells family affairs to casual acquaintances, too talkative

I suppose writing a blog about your family affairs for complete strangers to read and then posting it on social media would qualify me for a solid demerit on this one.

#7  Seams in hose often crooked/ripped

Finally, one I agree with! In fact, my hose is ripped right now and it’s super annoying because every time I go to water my hydrangeas, I end up soaking wet. You are right, Dr. Crane, a woman’s hose should not rip.

#35  Wears pajamas instead of nightgown

Wow…huge fail here. Here is a photo of the last nightgown I wore. Holly Hobbie from 1975. That nightgown was legit. I think it even came with a bonnet.

Now I don’t even wear matching pajamas. I wear flannel pajama pants, even in summer, and either my green “Breakfast Club” t-shirt or my gray t-shirt that says, “I like to party. And by party I mean read books.” I probably get extra demerits for having all that goin’ on.

#13  Uses slang or profanity (5)

Shit. He gives FIVE demerits for this one. Screw it, I’ll take the goddamn demerits because sometimes you have to call an asshole an asshole and there’s just no polite way around it.

#27  Is more than 15 pounds overweight

You are seriously starting to piss me off, Dr. Crane. I saw a photo of you, and you’re not so hot.  Shall I take five more demerits for calling you an asshole?
Enough with the demerits. Let’s see where I can rack up some favorable wifely points.

Merits for Wives

#25  Has pleasant voice – not strident

Well, according to Merriam-Webster, strident means loud and harsh. I’m 100 percent Italian, so I guess no points here. Damn.

#36  Keeps husband’s clothes clean and pressed

I get a point! Well, half a point. I do wash his clothes. But pressed? Unfortunately, that would fall under the same category as darning socks and sewing buttons.

#28  Writes often and lovingly when away from husband

Does this post count? Love you, B.

#41  Has minor children to care for (5)

Jackpot! I do have minor children, three of them at five points each, so 15 points for me! Shoot, I just realized my oldest is 18 so she doesn’t count. (But she’s still a tax deduction, right?)

#23  Reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress (10)

Does “marital congress” mean what I think it means? Sex is worth only 10 points? I’m in a bit of a pickle with this one. My children read my blog. If I award myself the points, they might die of mortification. If I don’t award myself the points, it’s possible my husband will. Pleading the 5th on this one.

#34  Good seamstress – can make her own clothes or the children’s clothes

I think we can safely assume from my button confession that this one doesn’t apply to me.

#7  Personally puts children to bed

Umm…yes. I mean, is there another way to do it? Is there, like, a service you can call? What am I missing here?

#33  Often comments on husband’s strength and masculinity

Not really, but I often ask him to reach things that I can’t, which is kinda the same thing.

#21  Keeps snacks in refrigerator for late eating

I do, in fact, keep (well, hide) snacks, particularly my friends Ben & Jerry, buried underneath the frozen vegetables for my late night eating. Does that count?

#20  Has a pleasant disposition in the morning – not crabby.

That depends. Did someone find and eat my Ben & Jerry’s?

#22  Likes educational and cultural things

Ugh. Honestly? I really don’t. I mean, I’ll watch “Jeopardy” every once and awhile, but that’s about it. I don’t like NOVA, I don’t like documentaries, I don’t like concerts, I don’t much like theater, and I pretty much go to museums out of obligation to raise culturally aware children.
Good thing I’m not writing a dating profile. I sound awful.
So I’m not sure exactly how many points I’ve scored, but it ain’t looking good. It has become painfully obvious that I would make a pretty crappy 1930s housewife, at least according to Dr. Crane. But since being a 1930s housewife seems like a worse job than being an armpit sniffer (it exists), I’m not too devastated.
This post was originally published on the author’s blog.