We are not okay
Every single couple with young children I know is struggling. Every single couple with young children that I know has or is currently considering separation and/or divorce.
The past 3 years have thrown parents of young children into survival mode.
Surviving a global pandemic.
Surviving working from home with littles under foot.
Surviving home school.
Surviving fear, grief and sadness.
Surviving the unknown.
Surviving children being home for weeks on end with various sicknesses, with exhausted colleagues and managers who got tired of filling the gap at work 2 years ago.
Surviving trying to fit all your work hours in around nap schedules, bedtime routines, or constant snack requests in order to pay for daycare, which continually gets your kids sick but you can't live without it.
You know what's been put on the back burner? The relationship. The marriage. The connection between partners. The romance. Date night. Intimacy.
Marriage with young children is hard enough. But add a global pandemic that massively offset the at-home responsibilities of one of the spouses (usually Mothers, but not always) and you have a recipe for disaster.
If one spouse works out of the home there may be jealousy at play, too. When you're completely touched out, it's hard not to resent it when your partner gets alone time in their vehicle. Listening to anything other than "We don't talk about Bruno" or "Let it go". All by themselves. Twice a day. Every day.
I've heard of partners feeling neglected while their spouse is just trying to keep their own head above water.
Everybody is overstimulated. Mentally exhausted. Completely touched out. And just wants some fricken peace and quiet! The last thing on anyone's mind is romance.
And then this looming recession is coming. Life is expensive. Easily 3-4x more expensive than it was a year ago. Which adds stress onto families trying to get by with one parent having to take time off work every other week with sick littles at home. There are massive layoffs happening, and many mothers feel like they're in the crosshairs.
People are stressed. Beyond stressed. And tired of this shit.
And so we're left with financially, emotionally, physically and mentally drained parents simply surviving side by side.
But now the restrictions have lifted. Life is getting back to normal-ish.
We're emerging from survival-mode and looking at your spouse thinking that the romance is gone. The relationship is dead. There's nothing left because you both let it die while trying to survive. There may be some animosity there because of the division of expectations and power over the past 3 years. Anger. A lack of empathy. Numbness.
And TBH, every other weekend off sounds pretty delightful, too.
I understand why everyone is quietly talking about the "D" word.
We are not okay.
And the more I talk about it, the more I'm hearing the same message over and over - we need to talk about this more. You aren't alone. Other couples are struggling all around you. We're just too afraid to say anything because once you say it out loud, there's no taking it back.
So what do we do? Is it easier just to split, wipe the slate clean and try again? Put in the work to see if you can light that fire again? Neither option feels good or easy.
We are not okay.