Posted by Peggy Kaufman
When Julie’s husband, Juan, asked her what she wanted for Valentine’s Day she responded that she’d love a cup of tea. He looked at her confused, imagining that she might like a dinner date with him or a movie night. He asked her to clarify.
After the birth of their son eight months ago, Julie and Juan’s life together has become a “chore” household. Their conversations entail, by necessity, who will buy groceries after work, who walks the dog, whose turn it is to give the baby his bath, and on and on. By the time the dishes are cleaned up and food is packed for Julie’s lunch and the baby’s daycare, Julie feels done in. She has been longing for ten minutes to sit with Juan after the baby’s bedtime to sip tea, share thoughts, catch up on family news, or sit in silence together. Her Valentine’s Day wish is to make this time once a week. In addition, Julie would like to make their tea time a “screen off” time with less possibility of interruption.
While joined by the love for their baby, he has taken all their emotional space. Julie is missing Juan and the experiences they shared before becoming parents. A cup of tea doesn’t feel like much, yet it also feels enormous. She is aware that they have lost the ease of communication that she used to experience. Julie also knows that they can retrieve it but it comes with attention and practice. Now that baby Oliver is sleeping longer stretches, Julie feels a need to nurture their couple. As her mind wanders back to candlelit dinners where they had the time to explore, wonder, and create together, she finds herself longing for the company of her husband, not just Oliver’s dad and the crib assembler.
Julie’s message to us for Valentine’s Day is that a weekly cup of tea to talk, share, and be together can beat a box of chocolate or even the reddest rose.
Peggy H. Kaufman, MEd, LICSW is the founding director of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support. With a background in perinatal emotional health and the growth and development of parents, her interests include the earliest relationships. Ms. Kaufman is the recipient of multiple awards for her groundbreaking programs and her commitment to increase awareness of postpartum depression and maternal and infant mental health.