Does this sound like you?
~We are so consumed with our kids’ schedules. We can’t find time for ourselves.
~We can’t find good child care, and we have no family here.
~We can’t afford to do anything for ourselves. All our money goes to the kids for their activities, clothes, and other things that they want.
~We often put our needs on the back burner to accommodate theirs.
~My spouse travels. I am left with all the child care during the week. When he comes home, I want him to help with the kids and give me a break.
Yes, it is expected that after a child arrives on the scene, intimacy declines. In the beginning, an infant’s demands are overwhelming and there’s no predictable schedule. Sleep deprivation is a real phenomenon, and so is the need for a woman’s body to heal after having a child. The adjustment to having children is huge. Becoming a mother and a father involve wearing new hats, for sure. Having children can certainly bring a couple closer, but it can also cause distancing if one is not prepared and equipped with the awareness of the potential pitfalls.
Whether a relationship is weathering a first child or a second child, the union can get jolted. Responsibilities vary inversely with each additional family member, which compounds the family system.
Time for intimacy goes down. According to the Gottman Relationship Institute, “Within three years of their child’s birth, about 70% of couples experience a significant slump in their relationship quality.” Yikes! With statistics like that, it is no wonder couples need to look at reclaiming their romance and passion.
Some of my clients have come up with fun, inexpensive ways to date. Put the kids to sleep and cook a romantic dinner together. Have a picnic in your backyard and exchange compliments (“I hit it out of the park the day I married you!”). Have a night-time latte, gaze into each others eyes, and talk about when you first met. Send each other romantic and affectionate texts during the day.
Say “I love you” often. Hug and touch. It is fine to give your spouse a kiss and hug in front of the children. It helps teach them what a healthy married relationship looks like.
Are you ready to get creative? Here are seven ways to rev up the romance. Feel free to add your own.
Buy a chocolate dipping sauce or spread, like a jar of Hershey’s spreadable chocolate, or make your own. Cut up his favorite fruit, such as bananas, mandarin oranges, or strawberries. Serve this in the bedroom, with a box of plastic spreaders. Then suggest a few places on him to spread some chocolate for your more refined appetites.
Still a bit sticky from the spreadable chocolate? Take a shower together and get super sudsy and slippery.
Are you tired of cartoons and the kids hogging the remote? Do you wonder if you have a mind left for an adult conversation? Netflix is a great way to watch good movies at home, and it is easy to use when you can’t get out to the movie theater. Order two pizzas by delivery. Let the kids have one. After they’re in bed, you two can finish off the other one and watch a romantic comedy or drama. Talk about the movie afterwards so that you realize that you are still capable of talking about something other than the kids.
Work out together. Stand facing each other. Hold hands, then stretch as far high as possible. Stretch right and then left. Doing various stretching exercises together will help you to stay flexible and help bring your closer together. Take a yoga class together or just make time for nightly walks with each other.
Pretend to her that you are a famous French podiatrist. Speak with a fake French accent: “I am from the Infamous French Foot Fraternity.” Explain that you are going to massage her feet and certify that they meet international inspection standards. Whisper something in a fake French accent in her ear, such as “You have such beautiful feet!” For bonus points offer to paint her toenails.
Bring flowers to her when she least expects it. Take a bubble bath together or just go for a scenic drive and talk.
Make his favorite dessert, even though there is no special occasion. Watch a ballgame with him.
Offer to help out with the kids or around the house when you notice your partner is getting overwhelmed and needs a break. Help with household chores or bring in help for a day. Remember that your marriage is forever. Your children will eventually have their own relationships and families, and they will leave the nest. What will remain is the two of you.
Does this sound like you?