Do you remember the children’s rhyme when you were growing up, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”? For many people, this isn’t just a children’s rhyme, but a path their life followed. (This isn’t the case for all couples raising a child as there are many beautiful ways families develop.) One of the problems with this rhyme is that it stops after the “baby in the baby carriage.” But this isn’t real life, because even when you have children, you are an individual; a friend; a family member; a partner in a couple; along with being a mom or dad. Yes, much of your life when having children does revolve around your children’s needs, but you still need to remember you are more than just a parent, and your life needs to represent that.
Until your child is sleeping through the night, your life will most likely revolve around your baby and trying to get any sleep you can squeeze in. Once your child starts sleeping through the night and you start to feel like you are firing on all cylinders again, working on finding balance in your life is important. Everyone’s balance will look different, but finding some balance is necessary.
Some couples may need to start with reconnecting first before even thinking about romance, while other couples may feel connected but may not be feeling the spark.
Here are 5 ways to help your relationship/marriage after having children.
- Check ins- Between the regular ups and downs with raising children; the stressors in the world; your own mental health; and the feelings that come up about your partner, you have a lot you are managing both externally and internally. It is important to set aside time each day, even if just 10 minutes, to check in with each other to see if anything needs to be discussed, worked through, if decisions to be made, and/or to get “Quality Support”. Quality support is receiving or giving support during an uninterrupted time which is spent completely focused on each other. Too often while trying to give or receive support during the craziness of all of the responsibilities of the day, there are interruptions and a lack of focus on your partner, and therefore the partner needing support can feel like they aren’t a priority or aren’t able to really count on their partner. The “check in” time is a perfect time to be able to ask for and give the support needed, as it is time set aside each day that allows for full attention. With the “check ins,” it is important to find a regular time each day that won’t have to be canceled or delayed. Keep that time as a reservation, and even if there isn’t anything serious that needs to be discussed, you can use that time as quality enjoyment time to connect for the day.
- Quality Time- We have all heard how important quality time with your partner is, but what does it actually mean? This is uninterrupted time with just the two of you without phones, and ideally without screens. No screens?! The truth is, you aren’t able to really connect if you are both staring at a tv, computer, or phone while watching something the entire time you are spending together. Ideally, your quality time is spent doing something enjoyable with your partner. By engaging in an activity together, you are able to have experiences with just the two of you. You now have something new to talk about and allows you to create new memories you can reflect on in the future. “Quality time” is where you are able to be a couple with the focus being on enjoying your partnership versus focusing on being a family.
- Individual Time– This may seem counterproductive as we are talking about keeping romance alive. However, when you have children, you can lose yourself. Continuing to grow as an individual not only can feel good to you, but also continues to make you a more interesting person. Your “individual time” could be time spent doing hobbies, taking classes, spending time with other family members or friends. All of these experiences allow for different types of conversations and topics to talk about when you are spending quality time with your partner.
- 3 types of Intimacy- When fostering romance in your relationship, most people think of intimacy. It is really important that you make sure to focus on what I define as the 3 different types of intimacy. The different types of intimacy are emotional intimacy, affectionate intimacy, and sexual intimacy. For many people, to start to really have the full desire to be sexually intimate, they want to feel close and connected with their partner. You can help nurture those feelings by focusing on your emotionally intimacy and affectionate intimacy. Make sure to start asking questions of your partner to continue to get to know them at a deeper level. People do change over time, not their core beliefs; but their likes, dislikes, wants, needs, and desires. Find out more about your partner for who they are now compared to who they were when you first met. Also, make sure to include physical touch such as holding hands, hugs, sitting close, cuddling as this is the affectionate intimacy that deepens the emotional intimacy.
- Planning for your future- Start talking about what you want your future to look like. Include short term plans and long terms plans in your discussions. Think about what you want to experience together both as a family with your children, and also times without. Set dreams to strive to attain when your children are out of the house, both when they are gone short term and when they move out. Just thinking about exciting times for the two of you can create a connection and romance.
I know life is so full right now that it can feel exhausting to think about needing to focus on one more thing. But, once you start to focus on your relationship/marriage and start to spend more quality time together doing fun things and building your intimacy, it will not only get easier but you will also be looking forward to it so much, that you will want to create more and more time for the two of you.
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