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Recapturing Romance After Kids Come Along
It can be difficult to find much time for romance and sex after you have kids. Learn how to put your marriage back at the top of your priorities list.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Parents say that having kids will turn your life upside down, but you can’t fully grasp that concept until they actually arrive. And once you go from being a couple to being a family, you may find that romance and sex become scarce. However, with a little effort, you can rekindle the romantic flame in your marriage, even after you have kids.
Romance and Sex: Make Your Relationship a Priority
Many people mistakenly prioritize their lives in this order: kids, career, and then each other, says Norma Feshbach, PhD, professor emerita at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Instead, you should make your relationship a top priority, which will not only benefit you, but your kids, too. "Just like you have to make an effort for your career and your children, you really have to make time for each other," says Feshbach. When you can, do little things, like cooking a candlelit dinner for your partner, to set the scene for a romantic night.
Regan Putnicki, 32, mother of a 1-year-old son, says she and her husband make an effort to sneak in "couple time" when they can. "In the evenings, we'll have 30 minutes or one hour after [our son] goes to sleep, and we'll make a date to watch a TV show," she says.
Romance and Sex: Don't Take Each Other for Granted
Many couples fall into a rut and forget to appreciate each other. Remember to thank your partner when he or she does something nice, and your relationship will grow stronger. Putnicki, a hospital sales representative, says that her husband pitches in where he can around the house. "You have to be appreciative of those little things and not always harp on what they don’t do," she suggests.
Something else to appreciate: the importance of sex in your relationship. "[Sex] is very critical because it is both physically rewarding and emotionally connective," says Feshbach, who advises couples to talk to a doctor if they're having physical problems with sex.
Romance and Sex: Seek Support
Feshbach says that finding other parents in your community can help enhance your relationship with your partner. "I think all parents should be part of a parent group," says Feshbach. Connecting with other people who are or have been in your same situation will reassure you that you aren’t the only couple facing challenges.
If you are having guilt about leaving a new baby or even an older child home, go a little easier on yourself. It’s okay to go out from time to time. Taking off a few hours from your parenting role by having a date night is important for your relationship, according to Feshbach. Enlist a babysitter, friend, or relative to watch the kids and head out for an evening of romance.
If you find that you are having difficulty reconnecting with your partner, you may want to consider seeing a therapist who specializes in relationships. Getting perspective from someone outside your marriage can give you new ideas for putting the spark back into your love life. Psychotherapy can also be helpful for non-physical problems in the bedroom.
Kids are one of life's greatest joys, but it is important not to let parenting get in the way of your marriage. By nurturing your romantic relationship with your partner and making time for intimacy, you will find yourself much more physically and emotionally fulfilled.
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