My husband likes to say, “It’s a new day” every time we wake up after arguing the night before. He means, he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore and we should just try and be nice, like nothing ever happened. Around noon, he’ll text me from work asking how I am, and I will enthusiastically respond, and we will chat a little bit online like we did when we first started dating. Things will seem like they are going good. But because we never actually resolve anything, our problems keep growing and growing, piling and piling so high there is no rug big enough to sweep them under, and by dinner we are usually at each other’s throats, once again.
I tried to believe that this was just a new-parent bump in the road that we would surely get passed. But the first year with our baby girl came and went, and by the time she was 16 months, things between us only continued getting worse. It hit me when I read an article that said, “a relationship cannot last on just the memories of the connection you once had,” that it was actually possible even our relationship might not make it out of this one alive.
I realized I could look at old pictures of us. I could play all the songs from the CD’s we burned each other when we met. I could remember exactly how it felt to be so nervous and enamored by him. I could feel what it was like wanting so badly to be kissed by him and to be held by him the night we first slept together. But it didn’t make me want to be touched by him now.
Too much has happened since the nights we laid on the beach, wrapped in a blanket, counting stars. Too many names have been called since we skinny dipped in Miami Beach. Too much screaming has gone down since we went off-roading in the mountains of Hawaii while blasting 311. So much resentment has built since we rolled down a hill behind a concert, high on magic-mushrooms, laughing so hard our abs hurt. Too many doors have been slammed since we rode our Vespa across the Brooklyn Bridge at 5 AM.
It’s sad because meeting him gave me the most feelings I ever had for a boy. I had no idea that in my twenties, I could still feel like I did when I had my first crush at 12 years old. When I met my husband, that was the closest I would ever be to believing in magic. I used to say, “Regardless of what goes down in the future, I will never regret the years we spent together knowing fairytales existed.”
I used to race home from work and get all dolled up just to go grab ice cream with him.
Now… now there is just the feeling of being too tired to even shower, to even care what I look like after a long day of working from home juggling watching a toddler and taking conference calls during her naps. And as far as intimacy goes, these days I prefer having the bed all to myself. The baby is going to wake up at 5 AM and want to get in too, so it’s just a better rest for everyone if my husband sleeps in the other room.
I’ve tried to trace back to where this all started, when I stopped feeling connected and stopped caring if we ever touched. Was it after we moved across the country for his new job when I was 8 months pregnant? We left everyone we knew behind, all my beloved friends who had been looking forward to helping me with the baby. Newly implanted in California, I felt so isolated, so resentful of him. All our attention went to our beloved daughter and we never spent any time alone, just the two of us.
Then, when our daughter was 14 months, my sister came to stay with us. We finally had the opportunity to get dressed up and go out in San Francisco. It was Halloween, our once favorite holiday to put on elaborate costumes stay out till sunrise. To celebrate getting to go out again, we went shopping for more over-the-top costumes, and we felt just as we had years prior. That night, we actually connected, we actually looked into each other’s eyes and saw each other. We drank and we danced, we found an underground after-hours party and we stayed out until 5 AM. We had sex, in and out of our costumes, on the floor of my closet. And the next morning, I woke up feeling hopeful. But my sister had to go back to Florida and there was no one to watch the baby again, so months would go by without another date night.
In a sense, we’ve become roommates. There is the weekday routine. Dinner by 7. Bath-time at 8. Try not to fight in front of the baby and then sit on opposite sides of the couch staring at screens before I go to sleep in the bedroom and he goes to sleep somewhere else.
I wonder why we can’t talk anymore without getting so mad. I wonder why it’s so hard to just put my pride aside and be the one to reach out and just... just rub his arm out of the blue, maybe hold his hand in the car on the way to the grocery store. Why don’t I ever feel like being the one who initiates sex. My OBGYN said I wouldn’t really have desire until I stopped breastfeeding, but 6 months after I stopped I still feel nothing for my husband. I have no idea how we are going to get through this one. I have no idea if any of our love’s remains will be salvageable by the time we have another night out alone. It’s like I’m watching myself lose everything from the inside of a snow globe but I can barely make out what’s even going on.
Then some days I tell myself “Today, I’m going to try. Today I’m going to insist we get a baby sitter, and go out on that date.” I shave my legs. I put on makeup. I wear something I know he’ll like. Then I go into the kitchen to make this announcement and our daughter will be covered in strawberries on the floor and in dire need of a diaper change. And HE’S just staring at his phone on the couch. I ask him what’s going on and we get into another argument. I hear him mutter, “Fucking bitch,” under his breath as I pick up our daughter and take her to the nursery to change her diaper.
“Why can’t you just help out for once!” I yell over my shoulder.
“You don’t appreciate me at all!” he yells back. To add insult to injury, he'll call me a nag. Well that settles it. I put the baby to bed and put myself back in pajamas. I stretch out in our big empty bed fantasizing about what it would be like to leave him and meet someone new.
I fantasize about an older gentleman who respects me. He likes to wear suits and he casually drives the latest Tesla. He’s divorced too, so we connect over martinis in downtown Palo Alto. He has his own business and he isn’t worried about money, that’s why he has no problem calling a sitter to watch the kids so we can get some quality time alone, every Friday. He’s 10 years older than me and it makes me feel so young. He likes to order me around in bed like he’s paying for it. He looks like George Clooney.
Then I remind myself that I literally know no one in the Bay Area who is not also a mom and who would go out with me to meet new guys like I could with my friends back east. And then I remember that I would have to leave my husband first before I started dating, so it’s not cheating, making ME the evil one that destroyed the family, and that moving out of the house alone with a toddler, while still trying to manage my career, will be a complete nightmare. And then I remember that we only have one car and it’s in his name. And then I remember that all our bank accounts are connected and I would definitely need to get a lawyer. There would be a custody battle for sure and that the whole thing would take months to get finalized. Feeling depleted, I touch the screen to see the time is half past 10. I’m so tired right now I can’t even imagine going out anyway. My phone sends me a photo notification of what I was doing on this date, exactly 3 years ago. It’s a photo from after we got engaged and we flew to Paris, France. There's one of Aaron drinking champagne by the famous Versailles fountain, watching the sunset. The guards had let us stay on the grounds by ourselves after all the tourists left, because everything magical happened to us. I shut off my phone and bury my face in the surplus of pillows from both sides of the bed.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” I tell myself.