You haven’t touched me—I mean, really touched me—in weeks.” He said the words quietly.
My husband’s statement came on the heels of our most disastrous date ever. Four weeks after our daughter’s birth, we had attempted to go out for a romantic dinner. We left the house 30 minutes later than planned, I felt frumpy in the outfit I’d had to settle for (the only thing that fit), and he seemed less than thrilled to be leaving a perfectly good house on a Friday night. So things were already not going as planned from my perspective.
When I asked him to choose a restaurant and he said, “I’m not really hungry,” I heard, “I don’t really care,” and let him have it. Well, first I cried silently all the way to the restaurant (my husband finds this very unnerving). Then, I let him have it. In a fit of hormonal fury, I let him know everything he was doing wrong. He wasn’t lightening my load enough. He wasn’t showing me enough tenderness. He wasn’t rearranging his schedule and priorities to revolve around me.
That’s when he walloped me with his own grievance. I paused. It was true; we hadn’t had a lot of meaningful touch in the weeks since my daughter had been born. I was preoccupied with her needs, and I felt overwhelmed and on edge with everything expected of me. Cuddles and kisses had been replaced with harsh words and a businesslike partnership.
Suddenly I realized something: I hadn’t been loving my husband well, but I sure was expecting him to love me well. In fact, I felt downright entitled to his unconditional love and care. As we discussed how we could love each other better (and apologized for the ways we had hurt one another), I realized a few ways we could have avoided a relational blowout.1