I once saw a marriage psychologist named Joshua Coleman (bless his heart, he wrote a book called The Lazy Husband) give a talk about the difference between men’s and women’s expectations of marriage. Women want companionship, a life partner, security, et al. But what do men want? Two simple things (one easier than another to come by):
1. Sex (of course)
2. The absence of criticism (ouch)
A brilliant distillation of marriage. And men.
Coleman, once divorced himself, spoke at length about how marital satisfaction plunges after the birth of the first child. He urged the audience to acknowledge that they are going through a universally tough time, to be kind to their spouses and stick out the cycle.
I thought about Coleman’s speech recently when I saw the Pioneer Woman making pot roast on Good Morning America (love her blog – and the yummy picture here is hers). For those of you who don’t make it, pot roast is a big hunk of beef cooked at a low temperature in the oven for hours. She said that people often complained that their pot roasts were tough, and her message to those people is You Haven’t Cooked it Long Enough. Cooked long – and at a steady, low temperature – the tough connective tissues eventually break down, and you finally have a tender roast.
Adjusting to life as new parents is like that too. When things get tough, the solution is more care, more patience, and not-too-high temperatures. Both sides have an increased workload, increased stress and decreased sleep. Tired new moms need understanding and engagement from dads. Tired new dads need sex (eventually) and the absence of criticism. In time it all comes together.
In case you got hungry, check out the Pioneer Woman’s pot roast recipe here.