First off, let’s demolish the myth that there is no romance after the kids come along. Adding shared responsibilities and kids to the mix can actually enhance our intimacy. It may be true that our time and energy becomes divided. There are more demands made on us. Responsibilities can creep in and overshadow the romance if we let them, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When I fell in love with my wife we were both in college. We had class and work and other extracurricular responsibilities that made demands on our time but we moved earth and heavens to make the time to be together. I remember walking across the college campus just to see her in the library for a few minutes. I made several six-hour car trips our first winter together in blizzard conditions just to talk a few hours and give her a kiss.
Smash the stereotype that the only time we do something romantic is when we did something wrong!
The obstacles actually made the gestures more romantic rather than taking away from the romance. In the same way, the slightly increased challenge to crank out the romance makes the extra effort even more romantic, intimate, and meaningful.
Keeping the romance alive is not complicated. It just takes a few simple acts, done regularly.
Build Romantic Tradition:
With every passing day, month, and year you become a little more familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your spouse. There’s something endearing about being there through good times and bad. As we get more acquainted, it becomes easy to forget to do the little things that make such an enormous difference in maintaining and increasing the love you felt on your wedding day.
- Hug and kiss at least eight times a day: Paul Zak, who has been called Dr. Love, endorses the importance intimate physical contact such as hugs or kisses to increase production of Oxytocin in the brain and body. This has significant biological effects on the growth of relational trust, connection and empathy.
- Go to bed together: Mom’s busy, Dad’s busy, we’re all busy. The truth is that many couples have very little time to themselves when they can just talk, laugh together, cuddle, and get a little frisky. When we hit the hay together, it provides that much-needed “grown up time” every parent needs and longs for from time to time.
- Be nice: I know this seems overly simple, but it is such an essential bit of advice when talking about maintaining spousal intimacy. Respond in calm and kind ways. Cut out the yelling. Learn to solve problems without anger and meanness.
- Make special occasions special: Every year we make several excuses to go over-the-top and do something to show love and affection for each other. It’s great to look for and even create any opportunity to celebrate your love. Valentine’s day, Birthdays, Anniversary, etc. are all examples of occasions to capitalize on.
- Laugh together: Make a habit of making each other laugh. Tell jokes and create inside jokes that only the two of you know about.
Switch it Up:
It’s important to keep things fresh. Variety is the spice of life. Familiarity can become an enemy rather that an ally. People thrive on novelty and spontaneity. Find new and exciting ways to express your appreciation, love, and affection for your spouse. A few ways to do this include:
- Touch in passing or when least expected: This can be really fun. Make the good morning kiss a little longer than normal. Put your hands around your spouse’s waste when cooking or cleaning. Allow the mundane to be a little more exciting!
- Turn off the TV: This will do wonders for creating intimacy in any relationship. I’ve recently been made aware of how many couples have TV’s in their bedroom. I think we can think of far more entertaining things to do in the bedroom; play cards, pillow fight, and so on…
- Do something romantic, just because: I’m amazed every time I buy flowers for my wife at some random time of year that everyone always asks the question, “In the dog house huh?” or “What did you do?” Lets smash the stereotype that the only time we do something romantic is when we did something wrong.
- Make the extra effort to get the babysitter: One of the hardest extra expenses my wife and I deal with is springing cash for a babysitter so we can continue dating each other. It’s worth the extra time, energy, and money to find a sitter so you can continue to engage your spouse in fun and memorable dates and personal time together.
Put Your Spouse First:
Last, but certainly not least, is to remember to put your spouse first. It’s so sad to me that so many marriages end in divorce and often when they do, you here a couple say, “At least I got the kids out of this marriage.” Our spouse is the one we chose to love. Our kids often do things that upset us and are more hurtful than conflicts with our spouse and yet parents love them unconditionally. In my counseling experience, I talk to countless parents that put the kids, work, their parents or others ahead of their spouse. Choose everyday to love your spouse again and show them and others that you put them first.
- Support them publicly and privately: Back them up. Help them out. Listen. Put their needs above others.
- Devote time to them: It’s easy to get wrapped up in life and what we are doing at any given time and forget to give appropriate time to our spouse. Work, recreational activities, kids and other friends can sometimes take us away from each other and make our spouse feel that they play second fiddle. Make the time to be with them.
- Reserve your best for them: Along with reserving time for our spouse, it’s important not to simply give our spouse what is left after everyone else has taken their piece of us. This may require that we learn to separate ourselves from outside stresses so we don’t take outside frustrations out on our loving and innocent spouse. Think of how you treat people in your life and work on making your interaction with your spouse the most kind, helpful, understanding, genuine and loving of any exchange in your life.
Show your children and others that you love and appreciate your significant other. Work together rather than against each other. When we do this, it has a synergistic effect on our parenting and family. When our marriage comes first, our children have a solid model of healthy, positive relationships and feel more secure in their own relationships. When we keep the love and romance alive, we are happier and have less stress and more support from day to day. By keeping our marriage strong, we in turn affect individual, relational and generational cycles without even considering it.
Question: How do you keep romance alive in your marriage, even after kids?
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