How To Keep The Romance Alive, Even With Kids

By on February 17, 2015

When two people love each other, nothing is better than raising a family together. That said, couples often put their parenthood duties and career responsibilities at the top of their priority list, and allow their marriage to fall to the bottom.
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Most parents are on an endless treadmill of chores, meals and responsibilities, and forget to invest in nurturing each other.

When it comes to marriage, don’t just survive, thrive! Try these tips to keep things fresh:

1. Use “I” statements.

When couples become overwhelmed by parenting duties, kind communication can be the first thing to go. Using “I” statements is a concrete way to drastically improve your relationship.

Don’t say: “You’re so cold, you never hug me!” Instead, say: “I could really use a hug!” Speaking about yourself rather than criticizing your spouse will dramatically improve communication and enhance intimacy.

2. Write love letters.

Agree with your spouse to write each other a detailed letter expressing your happiest memories from when you met and fell in love.

Think about the note before you write it, and make sure it includes feelings and detailed memories of specific things you did for one another that made you feel loved and appreciated. Writing and then reading these notes should generate happy memories and positive feelings that you can build upon.

3. Prioritize personal gestures.

Based on your letters, agree to rekindle some gestures or experiences that were routine during your courtship but have since fallen by the wayside. These small gestures will force you to step back from your daily demands and work toward a more loving marriage.

As a client in couples therapy recently explained: “The love letters reminded us of a time when we routinely surprised one another with hand-written notes. I traveled on business last week, and discovering an unexpected note in my suitcase made me feel incredibly happy. It is shocking how such small gestures can make a gigantic difference.”

Whether it is bringing home flowers, writing affectionate notes or giving each other massages, prioritize small intimate gestures, and you will notice more positive energy in your relationship.

4. Date!

Dating is essential for couples with young children. Why? Because couples must EXIT their household together to create space from their demanding routines and recharge romantically.

If your children resist and ask you why you are going out, say something like: “We love our time with you, but we also love each other and we want some grown-up time to talk about how much you love you and how much we love each other.”

I practically beg the married couples I work with to date. I share with them divorce’s dirty secret: that divorcees frequently realize they are more engaged parents because they have built in down time and wish they had prioritized dating during their marriages.

But I hear the same two excuses, time and money.

Consider all of the time you make for your children and your careers. Isn’t your spouse worth at least two nights a month of your undivided attention?

As for money, consider reaching out to a trusted relative or friend for child care, or form a small baby-sitting cooperative. Remember: A home where children see two loving parents — not just two distinct operating entities — makes for a happy childhood.

I encourage couples ending therapy to direct the money they have budgeted for counseling toward a baby-sitting fund. After all, baby-sitting is cheaper than therapy and astronomically cheaper than divorce.

If you are not significantly more engaged and connected in your marriage after taking the above four steps, consider seeking therapy to assess whether other underlying issues should be addressed.