Work Life Balance

Sex, Love, & Applesauce: Never Underestimate The Importance Of A ‘Hall Pass’

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marriage and familySex, Love and Applesauce explores the complexities of maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner while the majority of your focus and energy are being devoted to parenthood. So hold on to your matrimony and buckle those car seats.

Remember the liberation you felt in middle school when the teacher handed you a hall pass? Remember the exhilarating moment you stepped out into the empty hallway and realized you were at the beginning of a few moments of alone time in a day cluttered with people, voices and near-constant direction? It was that thrilling combination of freedom and responsibility that let you know you were trustworthy. And even if you typically thought that you hated your teacher, you wanted to kiss her when she placed that official scrap of paper in your hand.

Well, now every day of your life is like a 24-hour school day, but you and your partner have the power to grant that all-important freedom to each other, just like your wise and trusting teacher did. The difference is that the potential benefits to be gained from this little freedom will reach much farther than the junior high bathroom.

First among them is the mutual respect that is implicitly conveyed through the granting of the partner hall pass. The first time this happened in my relationship was more than 18 months into the life of our first child. I was already six months pregnant with our second kid and desperately in need of an overnight reprieve, sleeping in, and passing a day or two without a baby hanging onto my leg. My husband recognized this need, probably even before I did, and suggested that I go away with friends for my birthday.

It was his suggestion and, more importantly, his follow-through that clearly told me he recognized and appreciated the work I was doing every single day. It was a message that said, “I respect the woman you are enough to know that you need a break.” There was no implication that I was messing up in some way and required the kind of sabbatical they give to wayward nuns or some crap – it was just a genuine and sincere “thanks.” In truth, I may have needed that recognition far more than the actual time off.

Hand-in-hand with respect comes good old trust – a cornerstone of all healthy relationships. When you allow your partner to leave for a weekend you’re saying that you trust he or she will stay within the bounds of your relationship while away. That’s sort of the obvious one. But the person who leaves is displaying an equal amount of trust that you will do right by your kids.

This was a big one for me since I was still in my selfish phase of motherhood wherein I was pretty sure my husband didn’t know what the hell was going on when it came to caring for our child. Of course, he did know (in his own way) and everything was fine – even outstanding – while I was gone.

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