Mothers Have Needs Too!

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Santa Cruz Counselor Lic: MFC 24087

How To Stay Married

Wouldn't it be great to have to the time to focus on your marriage?  Maybe you'd like to see a marriage counselor but your husband won't.  Maybe you've seen one and it didn't help and your husband won't change.  Maybe you've tried holding in your feelings until you explode or harping on him until he does what you want. 

It's Understandable to Want Out
It can be difficult to hang in there and stay where you are with loads of laundry, piles of stinky, dirty dishes and toys for every age group strewn around right after you just picked them all up.  Then your husband wants some attention or parents the kids wrong (in your perspective) and you end up feeling like, "Hey, I don't have it in me to take care of an adult-child too!"  Seems like everyone else is divorcing these days...what's the point of staying together when it's going to be like this?...where's the support to stay married?  I wish there were a support group in Santa Cruz for moms who want to stay married.

Major Blocks to Staying Married
I think the first problem is we don't think there should be struggles in marriage.  Movies teach us an idealized, Utopian view of marriage and romantic relationships.  It can sometimes feel like you're the only one who doesn't have that beautiful relationship you think you see everywhere else.  You may start questioning your choice in a partner and miss that incredible feeling of falling in love.  Maybe you remember falling in love with your husband...everything was so great about him - even the stuff you can't stand anymore...falling in love, though wonderful, is often a fantasy that never comes true.

Depression can make you want to run from the guy. 
  Postpartum depression can hit you anytime after the baby comes.  Some moms don't experience it until a child is two years old or when they have a second child.  The organ called your brain can become completely depleted from nursing, wakeful nights, stress and worry.  It's no wonder the brain can only see everything in the world from a negative perspective.  When you're depressed, everything seems overwhelming and everyone seems horrible, including yourself & including your husband. 

"During the postpartum period, up to 85% of women experience some type of mood disturbance. For most women, symptoms are transient and relatively mild (ie, postpartum blues); however, 10-15% of women experience a more disabling and persistent form of depression and 0.1-0.2% of women experience postpartum psychosis. ...appropriate screening, prompt recognition, and treatment of depression are essential for both maternal and infant well-being and can improve outcomes."
Saju Joy, MD.

Five Tips for Staying Married:

1. Know this is a very hard time in your lives and you're stressed beyond your limits and so you both will be on edge.  It's very normal to have marriage problems during this time and you are not the only couple with these problems.
  Working through these problems, rather than running away from them, will strengthen your marriage.

2. Get an
assessment for depression.  Do whatever's necessary to take good care of yourself, including a psych evaluation for meds, exercising, getting enough sunlight.  Your husband may be depressed too but you only have control of your own psyche.  If he's not willing to get help, (most men aren't), your own improvement can help him tremendously.  If you're doing better, then you have the energy and emotional fortitude to support him or at least not be so angry with him.  For sure you won't be needing as much from him when you're doing better yourself.

3. Set up at least one day each week for sex.  Pick a time...maybe it's Saturday morning when the kids are busy watching Barney or whatever.  Don't leave this physical bonding experience for the end of the day when you're too tired.  If you have a set time every week, you'll feel less pressure and have the focus to help get yourself in the mood.  Also set up one day each week when you both get together outside the home, without the kids, if possible.

4. Each of you needs to schedule a few hours away from the kids on the weekends.  This can be done while the other parent watches the children.  Time alone blesses any relationship.  You need to be a separate, whole human being in order to relate to anyone, including your kids.

5. Every night write down 3 things you appreciate about your will force you to focus on gratitude rather than on what he's not doing right.

I know that staying married can be a challenge, especially when you have very young children.  But when you can close all your exits, address the major blocks and apply some of the tips above, you can take your mind off of leaving and put it back where it belongs: on yourself.  Getting counseling can be a great help - even if it's not marriage counseling.  I've worked with many mothers in counseling in Santa Cruz, without their husbands present, and have found that when you work on yourself, the world around you changes too. 

2011 Allison Gilbert, M.A., L.M.F.T; Free Tips