Sometimes men say ridiculous things. I'm not saying women aren't guilty of this as well, but I'm just talking about men here. I've shared many breastfeeding articles, images, and rants on Facebook and have had some of my guy friends comment things that made me wonder if they were really being supportive about the real meaning behind breastfeeding or does a man's life just get exponentially better any time boobs are mentioned. Could be either, or both. Still great to have supporters, I suppose.
But writer James Braly isn't a breastfeeding supporter even though his wife is still nursing their 5 1/2 year old son. He wrote in the New York Times that breastfeeding caused him to no longer be attracted to his wife. He boldly wrote about the impact breastfeeding is having on his sex life and how he feels left out.
First, I ask you to put aside your feelings on breastfeeding a 5 1/2 year old. If you would never do it, that's fine. But this woman has, and at that age, it's more like a treat, most often not an every 3 hour feeding. Now let's talk about what this dad had to say.
Braly wrote: "We are in this together, women and children, men — and breasts." And he's right. A family should be a family. But where I don't agree with him is how he says too much closeness with your little ones for too long (often in the form of extended breastfeeding) could lead to infidelity on the dad's part. He even cited Amy Sohn's diatribe about how this is a huge deal in Brooklyn, where moms are getting real wild on the side doing drugs and having unprotected sex with strangers. Sohn called them "regressive moms" for sort of re-living the carefree days of youth while their significant others and kids aren't around. Braly is essentially saying this is what will happen when women are too close with their kids -- the men will stray, the men will regress.
I lived in the very neighborhood Sohn says this is going on -- Cobble Hill -- up until last month. I was in Brooklyn for over 10 years and the last 2 1/2 I was a mom, hanging out with other parents at all the local playgrounds. I never once was asked to party with this wild crowd. I'm not sure if I'm offended that I was left out or really just having a hard time believing this is a widespread thing beyond a select in-crisis few.
Braly, however, didn't partake in schtupping another mommy. Instead he says he is doing something even worse -- "sexless fidelity." He shared, rather candidly, that after seeing his wife nurse his 5 1/2 year old son under a tree in Central Park, he lost his appetite ... for a lot of things. He clarifies how he completely supported his wife's choice to breastfeed, but he was repulsed by it, which directly affected their sex life.
There's a part of me that wants to tell Braly to get over it. The breastfeeding isn't going to last much longer -- in fact, they all made it this far and maybe it should be something to celebrate. I also wonder how much he's talked to his wife about it, and how much he's tried to regain that sexual spark in their relationship. Our libidos can be finicky little bitches sometimes and need a whole lot of coaxing to come back around again -- even his, which seems extremely bitchy. Why dwell so much on his wife's breastfeeding and make it about sex? What can he do to separate the two? I had to ask my own husband, who supported me breastfeeding our twins until they were 16 months. Granted, that's not over 5 years, but I was curious. My husband very honestly told me:
"I was very proud of you for breastfeeding the kids, seeing how great a mother you are. I knew how great it was for them. It was also awesome to have big boobs to look at. It didn't affect our sex life, except to turn me on more because your boobs were bigger."
He totally wants to get laid tonight, which is fine, and he probably will. Unlike Braly, whose wife was most likely extremely annoyed that he shared these details with the world. And now when his son gets older, he'll know dad resented him for nursing on mom's "boobalies" as he calls them.
Still, I agree with Braly when he says: "A man’s loss of appetite for his companion can undermine his partnership, his family and ultimately the society of families. ... the foundation of the parent-child bond is the parent-parent bond." Which I why I think he and his wife really need to talk. Maybe he even needs to talk to a professional about why this is repulsing him so much. His wife's breasts aren't his, they aren't even his son's -- they are his wife's. Breasts nourish, look great in low cut tops, and are fun sex toys. They can be all those things at once. That's something men like Braly need to realize, too.
Did your husband get repulsed by you breastfeeding? What do you think of Braly's statements?
Image via Mothering Touch/Flickr