In the wake of Anne Marie Slaughter’s historic article in last summer’s Atlantic magazine, “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” comes a response claiming that Slaughter left out one crucial point in her articulate descriptions of a woman’s work-life balance: sex and intimacy in marriage.
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Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Herminia Ibarra describes the real life situation I and most of my friends experience. Two working partners. Long days. Evenings spent on email, putting snacks into a backpack, and coordinating schedules. Romance? That’s too much, it appears, for many women to take on given everything else on their plates.
It happens to every married couple I know with kids. Long gone are the spontaneous outings and late nights out pre-baby. Plus, if you do get out, as Michelle Obama described in her speech at Wednesday night’s Democratic Convention, it’s dinner OR a movie, because you’re too tired for both. So the getting there is hard and the being there is even harder. Keeping the romance alive is just plain tiring as parents.
And there’s more to say. The little tigers ask so much of you, physically and emotionally, that sometimes you feel like there’s nothing left, even when you adore your spouse. And if you’re not answering to them, you’re responding to some baseball league, volunteer committee or work colleague or emailing a close friend to apologize for not having called back. Come the end of the day you’re fried, irritated and desperate for some time alone, when no one pulls at you or asks for something. Getting into bed in your over-sized pajamas with some Twizzlers might be more temping than the Victoria’s Secret negligee you bought for your honeymoon that’s sitting at the back of the drawer. And don’t even get me started on what you think you look like in it.
But as I get ready for my own 10th wedding anniversary this summer, I can safely say that I know why my husband and I have made it this far. First of all, he’s the sweetest, most generous and most adorable person in the world and my best friend. But the other reason is that, as a self-professed control freak and planner, I’ve learned to forget the spontaneity of my 20’s and plan for us. I’ve learned to accept the notion of planned romance.
This is sort of a counter-intuitive notion. Planning in my view is sort of the antithesis of romance. Planning conveys thinking through steps to reach a goal. Romance indicates adventure, passion and wild and crazy feelings — being lost in the moment.
But I’ve learned that for our marriage to get some time too, we have to make a plan for being together, otherwise it doesn’t happen. I won’t get into how often or how much, because that’s not the point. What is the point and what keeps us going is that I do think we try. We say to each other “when are we going to have some special time.” We beg my parents to take the kids for the day. We have a parents date night. We try to go to our local Italian, where I order the same entrée and he gets the same pasta (and I get the white and he the red). We are already an old married couple, but we are trying to still be a “couple” and not just “co-parents.” We get in stupid fights when we’re tired, say the wrong thing, fight over vacations, and debate who oversaw the last piano practicing session, but still, somehow, we manage to make-up and plan for the next special time. And when we’re there, I don’t think either of us would want to be anywhere else (0r at least I hope not!).
Next summer my husband and I are taking off somewhere for our 10th anniversary. I don’t know who is going to plan the trip, and believe me I fear it will be yours truly. But I am looking forward to some planned un-planned romance during that trip. That aside, good old planned romance will be good enough for me.
What about you? Do you make time for romance with your partner? Comment below!
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