Meet our newest Local Voices contributor, Allison Task. A career and life coach in Montclair who hosts the WMTR radio show “Find My Thrive,” Task will write a regular advice column for us. Her website is allisontask.com. Need advice? Send questions of no more than 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to us at email@example.com.
I just don’t want to have sex with my husband any more. There I’ve said it. I like him, I love him, he’s a great father and partner. I’m just not into sex. I’m still nursing (our fourth child), and I get enough physical stimulation. I know he’s disappointed about it, but I just can’t bring myself to have sex.
— Sexless in the Suburbs
Thanks for going there. I can assure you you’re not alone. And I’m going to guess that your husband would like more sex, and the sex drive gap is what’s bothering you. Let’s start big: have you considered an open marriage? Many have and do (yep, right here in Montclair), while others are completely opposed. Just putting that out there.
Marital sex can be a natural extension of love and connection. Do you have ample opportunity to connect with your husband? Other than the logistics of running a household with four (!) kids, are you able to connect in a couple bubble just the two of you? Are your needs being met? How’s everybody’s grooming, yours included? Do you get dressed and use the bathroom privately or is everything just hanging out a little too much?
Many, many Montclairites swear by the Five Love Languages (5lovelanguages.com). They offer a quick, free test that you and your partner can both take to see which type of love you like to receive.
You’ve been sharing your body with four tenants (and one is still nursing!) . Before you can get back to partner intimacy, you may just need some time to reclaim yourself.
Please write again in a couple months and let us know what of this you put to use and how it’s turned out.
My neighbor is a nightmare. Loud, rude, curses at her kids all the time, screaming at all hours of the night. She’s a SAHM [stay at home mom], husband is always at work, kids are 5, 7 and 10. They paid more than a million for a crumbling house. Late bonfires, smoke wafts into my house. Loud dogs who bark constantly, and seem to be let out starting at 6 a.m. until midnight. I’ve lived here for five years, she’s lived here for one. I’ve tried talking with her, I even brought her a goddamn casserole when she moved in. Nothing but bad vibes.
What can I do? I’m out of ideas.
— Mad in Montclair
Ooof. This is a hard one. You found the house, and all was well until…bad neighbors.
Good fences DO make good neighbors: do you have a fence? Is it thick, high? Does it deaden the barking from the dogs and the mom? That’s a place to start.
It’s hard to be home alone without your partner, as the primary caretaker for the kids. Does she have friends that come by? Does she have any help with the kids? I know … it’s about you, not about her, but I can’t help but think she isn’t happy and is acting out.
A home-cooked meal and a bottle of wine may help. Or you may be way past that point.
Bad neighbors have ruined many a good home. And Montclair ordinances err on the side of expecting neighbors to be neighborly. Poor treatment of pets and yelling at kids isn’t really covered in our local laws.
So to be straight with you, it comes down to how frustrated you are. Can you find a way to block it out, or is it all-consuming? If it’s the latter, it may not be surmountable.
I’m getting a bad vibe from my au pair. She doesn’t seem warm, doesn’t like to be affectionate, won’t hug or kiss my kids. Even if they fall and scrape their knees. Zero affection. I’ve spoken with her about it, and she said, “That’s just how I am.” This is not going to change.
I’m going back to work full time in a few months, and she’ll be primarily caring for my infant. I worry about her lack of physical affection. Is it a big deal? Maybe it’s cultural? Should I just get over it?
— Trying to treat her like family.
Life coach hat off; mom hat on. I have been through my share of childcare, and change has not been easy. One thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to follow your gut.
It’s also become clear to me that the main job of a caretaker is to take care of the primary parent. Not making you tea and scones, but making sure you’re comfortable with how your kids’ needs are being met. It sounds like physical affection is important for you, especially with your newborn. Some parents don’t want their caretakers to be physically affectionate; you do. If you want it, and she’s told you that she can’t deliver it, it’s a mismatch. Period.
There are plenty of caretakers that will cuddle and be affectionate with your children. This is important to you, which means it’s important.
There’s someone out there who is a far better fit for your family at this time. Let’s find them.
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Local Voices is a forum for residents’ essays about issues and subjects that affect them. For serious issues, such as voting or the environment, submit an essay for a Town Square to firstname.lastname@example.org. Got something to say? Submit an idea for a series, with a writing sample, or submit an individual essay, to email@example.com.