Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and the author of “She Comes First,” sees couples struggle to find a ratio that works. “I work a lot with stay-at-home dads and men who work from home,” he said, “and one thing I hear a lot is that, in theory, they’re really happy balancing flexible work with stay-at-home responsibilities, while their wives are out working full-time in corporate jobs. But, at the same time, a common complaint is that Mom comes home and feels guilty for being away all day, and so much time has to be made up connecting with the children, who take first priority, that these dads feel lost in the mix.” In many couples, Kerner says, the wives start to feel disgruntled because their husbands get to see more of the kids, and the husbands, whose wives are controlling more of the spending, start to feel “financially emasculated.” Sometimes, he says, a vicious cycle begins: The husband feels marginalized and less self-confident, which causes the wife to lose respect for and desexualize him. Under these circumstances, neither is particularly interested in sex with the other.
Lori Gottlieb, “The Egalitarian-Marriage Conundrum”, The New York Times Magazine (9 February 2014), 33.
When I used to hear parents complain that they didn’t have even a few minutes to scan the newspaper, let alone finish a novel or catch all that year’s Oscar nominees, I inwardly scoffed (sometimes outwardly). Clearly, they just didn’t care that much about Syria or Hilary Mantel or Quentin Tarantino. I mean, really, an average newborn sleeps like 16 hours a day; you can’t squeeze in a Lydia Davis short story or a half-hour of “Girls”? Trying to talk to new moms and dads about culture felt to me like trying to talk to prison inmates about their favorite brunch spots.
Forgive me, fellow parents. I am now in that prison.
I now understand that, yes, a baby seems to sleep a lot, but that you’re watching them for many of those hours to make sure they’re still alive. (Newborn breathing, in my experience, can sound uncomfortably like a death rattle.) I’ve learned that, especially in those early months, time means nothing. Days dwindle to fleeting dots, but individual moments — like getting a sobbing kid into a car seat — can feel endless. And I’ve learned that, in the foggy, confusing, often frightening slipstream of a baby’s arrival, the things that vanish, no matter how much you love and think you need them, are the things that are not all that useful or necessary — even if they once seemed essential to your sense of self. Inessential things like antiquing or golf or, yes, going to the movies. I instantly became one of those fathers I mocked.
Jason McBride, “Two (Sucked) Thumbs Up”, The New York Times Magazine (1 September 2013), 44.