Transitioning into parenthood and adjusting to the changes can be challenging, and for some couples it takes a toll on their relationship. To keep the spark alive after having kids, consider trying the following.
Make time for adult talk.
Children take up a lot of time and space. No matter the age of your children, certain subjects are off the table when they’re in the room. When the nature of a couple’s communication changes, it’s easy for both parties to feel disconnected from one another. To avoid this, make time for adult talk. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or right before bed, set aside at least ten minutes to lie together and share the things that are on your mind. Simply sharing your office drama or explaining a strange dream you had will do wonders for your relationship.
Say hello and goodbye.
You may think this is something you’ll never stop doing, but when you get busy with the kids, hellos and goodbyes are usually one of the first things to fall aside. Instead of becoming distant strangers living under the same roof, make a point to greet each other each and every day. It only takes a few seconds to lock eyes, kiss, hug, or exchange your own greetings. This may not seem like a big deal, but it plays a big part in keeping your intimacy alive. Making your own greeting and parting traditions will not only keep you close, but it will give you a reason to connect each time you reunite.
Ask for what you need.
So many parents are afraid to ask for what they need because they think it means they’re failing. However, asking for what you need is vital to staying in love once you hit the parenthood stage. Letting your partner know where you stand and what you need from them is a great way to not only work together, but also to keep you sane! For instance, if you need half an hour to yourself when you get home, then say so. If you want to take a bubble bath instead of putting the kids to bed, then ask for it. It’s easy to let your own health and happiness get sidelined when kids are involved, which is why getting what you need is so important: taking care of yourself and feeling good will give you more room to prioritize love.
Make time for dates.
No matter how busy you may be with the babes, make a point to schedule in a date night with your partner. This can be an evening walk together, or a quiet dinner and a movie, a mini stay-cation, or a trip to a nearby city. Whatever you choose, the time that you spend alone with your partner can restore and build feelings of intimacy and will give you a chance to talk about things beyond the kids. As busy as you may be, going on dates together should always be a priority.
Have the serious conversations in person.
In a world where smartphones and tablets dominate, it couldn’t be easier to stay informed and connected with your loved one. That said, there are certain conversations that should be reserved for in person. Having arguments or discussing controversial subjects via email or text is a recipe for disaster. Since you can’t read the tone when it’s typed out, many things can be interpreted the wrong way. To keep the love in your relationship, set aside the tough talks for real life and use electronics for the lighter stuff.
Don’t pretend things are “fine” if they’re not.
Hiding your true feelings and biting your tongue are dangerous mistakes to make as a parent. When your partner asks how you’re doing, be honest with them. If something is bothering you, let them know. Bottling up your emotions is a disaster waiting to happen. Sulking or acting passive-aggressively won’t resolve anything either. Instead of beating around the bush, be open when it comes to your emotions. The only way to stay connected and in love is by letting your partner know how you feel.
Keep intimacy alive.
Many of us think intimacy means sex, so when as a parent there’s no time for sex, we imagine that the intimacy is gone. That’s not true. The trick is to keep touch alive in your relationship. As humans, we respond to physical touch more than most other things, so keep your hands on one another! Whether it’s cuddling on the couch, holding hands in the grocery store, a quick kiss before dinner, or spooning in bed, staying physical will keep you intimate. Add in some compliments and you’ll be falling for one another all over again!
Think before you speak.
You’ve probably heard this your entire life, but as a parent your nerves will be tested and you may not always think before you speak. No matter how frustrated or short on patience you find yourself, always take a moment to consider what you’re going to say before letting the words out of your mouth. This is especially important when it comes to maintaining happiness in your relationship. No matter how justified a blowup may seem, there is never a good excuse for lashing out at or blaming your partner when the woes of parenthood have worn you thin. You should also avoid using words like “you don’t” or “you never”. These accusations won’t be helpful to you. Instead, approach disagreements from a more positive place by using “I” statements. For example, “I am feeling really stressed and would appreciate some help with the dishes”. When you communicate in a way that isn’t badgering or accusing, your partner will be more inclined to listen.
Don’t forget the little things.
As a parent it can be tough to fit in full blown romantic gestures, but it’s the little things that can keep your spark alive. Sure, it may be unrealistic to plan a romantic getaway for two at this point in your lives, but that’s why the small gestures mean so much in these situations. Whether you bring flowers and give back rubs, or pick up beer and cook a meal, these loving acts will keep your partner sweet on you.
Always add “I love you.”
“Can you pick up milk?” “It’s garbage day.” These are prime examples of text messages and quick phone calls lovers share on a regular basis. What so many couples forget to do is add “I love you.” As a parent, a great way to stay smitten with your partner is by always, ALWAYS saying “I love you”. Adding these three small words to your conversations and messages will show your partner that, even though you’re busy, they’re still on your mind, and are cherished and loved.