Love Without Fireworks
I write this in the rare quiet of my house. It’s the weekend. My son’s father, my partner, and I started this morning with coffee in hand, arguing about an argument we had yesterday, while our almost three year old sat on top of the table and repeatedly asked us to be quiet.
After everyone was showered and dressed, calm but not entirely resolved “discussions” were dismissed. I retired to a separate room to attempt this assignment and my son and his father decided to walk to the park.
Wait a minute. That right there, that’s exactly what this post is about.
This isn’t easy.
I left to get some cold pizza from the fridge, to let the dog out, to check facebook - anything just so that I didn’t have to face what I’m about to write here.
You see, I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m sick of feeling feeling alone. I miss my fireworks. Heck, I’d take a roman candle at this point. A sparkler, even.
I’ll skip the introductions, the attempts at explanations, it doesn’t matter how old we are, what we do during our days, the behaviors of our “spirited” sensory-sensitive child, what we argue about - none of it matters.
We fight. And when we don’t fight, we frequently sleep in separate rooms - not because we’re mad at each other, not because we don’t want to be around each other - no, it’s because we’re TIRED. Because we want to be the best versions of ourselves, we don’t want to be unnecessarily grumpy. Because sometimes sleeping alone means you won’t be kicked in the ribs by your co-sleeping toddler or left in a REM-less sleep due to your partner snoring like a freight train.
But then, there’s the disconnect. Too many nights of attempting self care and not focusing on our relationship placed a divide between us. Luckily, we both were able to acknowledge this.
The thing is - it isn’t the date nights that help. It wasn’t the search for some sort of release in self care that helped. It was acknowledging two things that did:
1- We were disconnected due to physical proximity,
2- We could show our love in the simplest of gestures.
Before becoming parents I’d say we were physically intimate 2-5 times/week. Everyone knows there will be a bit of a slowdown after parenthood in that department; but what they don’t tell you is it’s not necessarily the sex. It’s pheromones, chemistry, body heat - the sensation of sharing your personal space with someone you entrusted it to a long, long time ago. Its physical proximity to your safe person.
I think the impression is that in newer relationships there are fireworks, and that the goal should be to keep fireworks in your relationship after regaining a sense of normalcy as parents.
I’m here to tell you what they don’t - forget about the fireworks.
Sleep in the same bed.
These are the things you’ll need.
Not setting goals of a minimum of sex 2x/week (like I did).
We fought yesterday. We continued to fight this morning. I still feel loved. You know why? Because he took our kid to the park so I could write this in peace. He did something that showed love to our son, while simultaneously showing me care. That’s love.
They just got home, our son a screaming, hysterical mess - I took over when I saw it wearing on my partner. That’s love.
We’re watching a movie together at home the other day, he passes me the popcorn and a blanket. That’s love.
I put up those standing shelves in the basement while doing laundry one day, the shelves that he’s been meaning to put up since we moved into this house 2.5 years ago, but never found the time. Those shelves that he’s mentioned more than few times, as an object lingering in the background telling us that we’re not following through with all that we could be. That’s love.
He slept in my son’s room the other night, because my chronic pain was acting up and I could use a solid night’s sleep in the “good bed”. That’s love.
I tied a note of gratitude around his rear-view mirror after a particularly trying day for him. That’s love.
Compassion, consideration, empathy.
Be on the same team.
Have each other’s backs.
And get an occasional good night’s sleep.
That’s everything we needed on Valentine’s day.
An occasional bar of chocolate traded for a tiny note of appreciation left in his car doesn’t hurt, but frankly, they’re just icing on the cake. Make sure you treasure the spongy center that holds firm under all that sticky sweetness. It’s not fireworks, but typically speaking - fireworks only come but twice a year anyway. Instead, have some cake, even just a tiny slice, as often as you like.
What does love look like in your house, with your partner? Have you struggled with similar things to Kristen's in your own partnership?