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Can anyone give practical advice on how to bring back the closeness?

(22 Posts)
Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 20:32:50

DH and I are soulmates. We have been together for almost 20 years, having been lucky enough to meet when we were pretty young, so we had the privilege of growing into adulthood together. We have been through a lot, I have suffered anxiety and depression in the past and he helped me through all of that. We have always been best friends. Sex (given how long we've been together) was usually either good or great, albeit we probably fell into a pattern of not having it often enough when we did actually have the time!

Now we do NOT have the time. We barely have time for each other at all.

We have a 20mo DD (the main source of the change in our relationship) and because of the way my job works, I am home with her all day, I work while she naps and I work in the evenings. Also quite a lot at weekends. We do have some family support and a very small amount of paid childcare but we can't afford more at the moment.

I love my job, fortunately, so this arrangement is basically a great one - I get to do what I love, from hoe, so that I can spend plenty of time with our wonderful DD, admittedly I am KNACKERED but I wouldn't change it for the world - BUT of course it means that DH and I have very very little time together anymore.

I miss him. We used to spend so much time in each other's company and loved it (not saying our relationship was without its bumps and niggles but we always worked through them). Nowadays we bicker a lot over silly things and it's crazy as bickering takes valuable time we don't have!! We spent a long time (almost a year) not even sleeping in the same bed sad as DD was such a godawful sleeper until about 14 months that I co-slept with her almost all night every night.

I feel we are in danger of losing our bond and I am not sure how to go about getting it back.

I know it's very minor stuff compared to some of the deep, deep problems and sad situations I see on here and in RL but one of the main reasons we had DD was because we were so happy together that we wanted to bring a child into it. Now I feel like we are ships in the night, just parents and no longer DH and DW.

Does anyone have any suggestions for small but steady things we could both do to win back the marriage we have had for so long?

Thanks hugely in advance, I feel like I can't mention this to anyone in RL as I'm not good at admitting when things are tough.

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 20:33:42

From HOME, that should say, not from HOE - I am neither a gardener nor a pimp smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 02-Nov-14 20:46:16

You're going to have to make the time to be with each other and make it count. If your work schedules have turned you into ships that pass in the night, then you will have to make a special effort to make the most of weekends, days off, and any spare time you can grab in between.

It's the little conections that bring you closer. Cuddles, kisses, chatting in bed before you go to sleep, thoughtful gestures, 'I'm thinking of you' texts when you're apart. If you both want it badly enough you'll do it. God luck

Hughfearnley Sun 02-Nov-14 20:52:32

Firstly, it's great that you have recognised this - so many people's relationships drift after children and by the time they realise it's almost too late.
I'm no expert by any means but I would start with really little things.
Compliments, little notes in lunch boxes, spontaneous texts in the middle of the day "can't wait for you to get home". Etc etc
I try and do one spontaneous thing for DH each day to make his day better/easier -eg iron a shirt/send him to work with a piece of flapjack/go out and defrost the car for him/buy his fav beer etc etc
Sit down for a meal without the TV so that you properly talk.
Sex just after kids in bed (so not at end of day when completely knackered or in morning when time is a pressure)
Any chance of a regular baby sitter?
For us, intimacy comes and goes but is best when we are a team and no matter how difficult things are, we know we will always try and make life better/easier for eachother.
Good luck!

Hughfearnley Sun 02-Nov-14 20:53:47

Ha! Cogito got there much more succinctly whilst I was too busy typing!

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 20:54:06

Thanks Cogito, that's v good advice about the little things, I tend to get a bit overwhelmed with anxiety about these things and assume we have to do Big Important Things together whereas I'm quite sure you're right, little things here and there throughout the course of a day would help a lot.

Chatting in bed is also good advice, I for one am definitely guilty of getting into bed and using it as a starting point to start talking about work stress, about how I wish I had done X and Y and z... making an effort just to have a nice chat would probably at least lead to us both going to sleep having a cuddle and feeling relaxed in each others company.

Doesn't help I guess that I am feeling crap about my post-baby body (sorry didn't mean to drip feed but it has just occurred to me that this is probably one big reason for us not being physically close, I am embarrassed about undressing in front of him these days, even in a non-sexual way) so I think maybe the time has come for me to (somehow, with no time to do so!!) prioritise that.

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 20:59:16

Hugh - thank you - yes I think that's a big fear of mine, I never wanted our relationship to drift after kids... DH's parents got divorced in their 60s as something like this happened with their marriage and that is NOT something either of us would ever want to happen.

We always used to feel like a team too and though we still do some of the time it all too often feels like we are either bickering about something that we probably in essence both agree on or that we just don't have time to be as involved as we'd like in each other's lives/needs/wants any more.

DD is a very very high-maintenance little thing, the absolute light of our lives but NOT an easy toddler, no sooner had we cracked the dire sleep issues than the (early) 'terrible 2s' kicked in and it can be emotionally as welll as physically draining. Hence why I feel like I don't have the emotional time for DH as well as struggling to find the actual time IYSWIM.

Embarrassing to admit it hadn't occurred to me to do something nice for him each day, I'm sure the same is true for him though in fairness he is on the extremely considerate side and so for example will always clear up the kitchen at the end of the day as he knows I love to come down to a tidy kitchen in the mornings and because I am working late I don't have the time to do it myself.

I would feel good about myself, I think, if I tried to do something similar for him as often as possible too.

Thank you v much again x

Hughfearnley Sun 02-Nov-14 21:06:08

In my experience decent men don't give a monkeys about post baby body! smilegrin

AlfAlf Sun 02-Nov-14 21:07:11

My friend uses the term 'marriage maintenance'.

My DH and I have been together 12 years, have 3 dc, but are still very much a loving couple. We've had the occasional blip and fallen into the usual traps, but these are the things that have worked for us:

Make sure to hug and kiss when saying hello and goodbye, perhaps even if he's just popping out to the shop. It really is the little things. General physical affection leads to emotional closeness, and also leads to more sex.
Try not to call each other mummy or daddy, unless you are talking to dd, ie "here dd, pass daddy his phone". Lots of couples fall into the habit not me, no never that and it's very de-sexifying (not a real word, but you know what I mean grin) so don't go down that road. Also avoid any infantilising nicknames for the same reason.
Phone each other at least once a day for a little chat. Even just to say hello.
Say I love you daily, put xx's at the end of texts.
Make sure you have date nights occasionally. If money's tight, it can be A lovely dinner at home and a DVD.
A child free weekend or night away once in a while if possible.

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:07:43

Hugh thank you smile
No, he doesn't give a monkeys, he still thinks I'm gorgeous and tells me so which is nice but unfortunately I feel rubbish about it myself.

pippinleaf Sun 02-Nov-14 21:10:00

It is SO refreshing to read a post from someone with a functional relationship. You sound like a great couple going through what I presume is ordinary after a baby is born and it's great that you're being proactive about it. My husband is a wonderful man and we are expecting our first now. We are a great team and I simply love being with him and I hope we can get through this hurdle too. My parents have also just split in their 60s and my relationship is incredibly important to me. I want to be a happy team now, with a baby, with a toddler, with a teenager and when it's just us again.

Thank you for being a breath of fresh air in this often upsetting forum thanks

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:11:27

AlfAlf oh dear that IS v good advice and we are absolutely guilty of the 'Daddy' and 'Mummy' thing... blush

We MUST, we really must, make the effort to be more physically affectionate, the really sad thing (for me) is that when we do hug or kiss these days it feels like I'm hugging a stranger sad what I mean is that I'm not used to his body any more IYSWIM.

Gosh typing that has just made me feel really sad sad

We used to say 'I love you' ALL the time and now we forget.

Date night is a very good practical idea, we've only managed 3 nights out since DD was born and probably only about another 2 nights where we just watched a DVD and cooked/ate together.

Pretty rubbish record, really!!

Feel like we must make small steps each day now to get this reversed.

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:16:11

Oh thank you pippin that's very very nice of you to post.
We have always been (well until 20 months ago!!) a very strong couple, we just really appreciate each others company and used to laugh and talk so much and I am frightened at the thought of losing that. It seems to ALL be about DD these days and while I know there is a degree to which that is normal and even healthy I think we have taken it too far. Perhaps my working from home is an issue as I don't get 'out' into the world on a day to day basis and interact with other adults - it's not a problem for me at all on a basic level as, like I say, I love my job and I have a great time with DD albeit the terrible twos and the sleep deprivateion wink. But I think I maybe lose a sense of the 'adult' world and it is hard for me to detach from only being mummy.
Does that make sense???!!
fwiw I do worry that I am a bit overly attached to my DD (is it possible to be such a thing when she is so tiny?? I don't know!!) and that this is what makes it hard for me to go back to being 'me' and not 'mummy' when I even HAVE a rare moment of time with DH.

Dowser Sun 02-Nov-14 21:18:30

Everyone is right, you just need to make some ' us ' time. I hope from your exhausting schedules that will be possible.

You sound like you have a lovely, solid marriage so please don't let it slip.

All you have to do is to think back to the time when you first met. What attracted you to one another. The nice things you did for one another and then make it time to fit those things back into daily/ every other day/ well at least weekly routine.

It's all too easy when you are together to let those little things slip....she says making a few mental notes ;-)

If you are feeling overwhELMed then Bach flower remedy ELM is the one for you !

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 02-Nov-14 21:18:48

Do make sure that it's both of you buying into this rather than thinking it's only you that needs to make changes. Kitchen cleaning sounds great but fixing these things requires a little creativity on all sides.

heyday Sun 02-Nov-14 21:22:20

Perhaps sit and have a little chat about how you are feeling and say that because you still love and value him you really want to reconnect (and not just in the bedroom). See what little ideas and suggestions he can come up with too as you are both going to have to put in the effort. You sound like a great couple and your relationship is really worth the extra attention that hopefully you will both now to start to put back into it.

Dowser Sun 02-Nov-14 21:27:54

Yes it is nice to have some people come along with Lovely relationships.
In fact I nearly started a thread on it.

It's also made me look at my lovely relationship. When did we stop kissing each other hello and goodbye.
We used to lie in bed with candles burning.
Light candles when we had our meals.

Hmmmm! I think we could do with giving it a few tweaks too.

Thanks for the heads up.

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:37:43

Based on the very wise advice, I've just gone and sat on sofa with DH while he watches something sporty on the TV and we had a nice little chat for a few minutes while I finished off his pizza. Well, it's a start!!
Thanks again for the advice and tips, helps to see the wood for the trees smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 02-Nov-14 21:41:21

You let him carry on watching sport...... blimey, it must be love.

Emeraldgirl2 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:43:48

Cogito - he turned the sound off wink
In all seriousness, he stroked my hair while I finished off his pizza and we had a conversation about a mutual friend rather than a conversation about DD, or how stressed I am with my deadline, so it was a bit like the old days

heyday Sun 02-Nov-14 21:45:39

It all sounds positive, keep it up.

Benzalkonium Sun 02-Nov-14 21:59:24

Perhaps my working from home is an issue as I don't get 'out' into the world on a day to day basis and interact with other adults

I would say this is quite an important insight. So the conversations you have with him are dominated by your dd, and your work. I think I would be looking into childcare options again, as it could help you hugely. You say you can't afford it, but if you're both on a low income you can get help through tax credit for childcare costs. If you're not eligible, I would suggest it is a priority to spend some money on childcare; if you can find some which suits you, of course.

It'll not be long before she's eligible for a free nursery place, so it's just a short term cost too.

Best if luck

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