I have seen the topic I address below cause more frustration for young people, and I mean people under 40, than any other issue. Not compatibility, wealth, position or location; although location can remove us from family and friends that in most cases can contribute to alleviating the problem discussed below to some degree. So if you are married and under forty, maybe there will be some practical help in this.
I think the most difficult season of life is when we have left single life where we are free to make choices for ourselves; when we have complete freedom to come and go; we report to few and are accountable to none; and no one depends on us. And then we enter into marriage where much of this comes to an abrupt end.
With the advent of children, we are taken further from this time of freedom and for some it comes suddenly, within a few years or less. That is not much time to make such a profound emotional change. We have duties that demand nearly all of our time, we have others that depend on us, our alone time is gone, and financial concerns are often pressing, babies crying, spouses needing, what an adjustment to make! Such a contrast! We leave one world and are ushered into another with memories like this --
“Everyone, probably, will be able to recall hours when, amid the competitive gladness of school or college companions, the impulses of enjoyment seemed to burst all bounds, and ran into the most riotous excitement; and in the reminiscences of such hours there may be the charm as of a long lost pleasure never to be felt again.
Our own natural and healthy instincts for wholesome enjoyment constantly reassert their power, and to deny them is to introduce an element of hurtful perplexity into the life.
It is vain to enter into this struggle with nature; it is cruel and wrong to do it. Nature must have play, and of course, it is to be kept within bounds by its own wise training and responsibilities. But human nature, as a prime condition of health, mental and physical, must have recreation, must have its moments of play, when it throws off the burden of work, and rejoices in the mere sensation of its own free activity. The younger we are the more we need these opportunities; we thirst for them – we are on the alert to catch them; and if denied them, we dwindle from our proper strength, emotionally or physically, and can pursue illegitimate and hurtful gratifications.”
I paraphrased the above from a chapter from Room at the Top, by A. Craig.
The solutions to this dilemma will be up to you to solve, and it is no easy task, but to deny it is to invite “illegitimate and hurtful gratifications.” Finding the time for oneself and one’s spouse, without neglecting our obligations requires continuing investigation and creativity, because circumstances and obligations seem to grow, not lessen, as the years go rapidly by. Some of us stretch to meet these growing duties with far more ease than others. Some feel chafed, caged and cornered while others may make the adjustments with little emotional distress. But all are affected to some degree. So, for those who are struggling I hope this will be of some help.
"Youth must have its healthy recreations. Enjoyment must mingle largely in the life of every healthy young person."
Top photo by Mike Roberts, bottom by Thomas.