Promoting intimacy after children
Children are a wonderful gift, but now that you’re a parent you may find it hard to keep the romance alive between you and your spouse. And while scheduled date nights or weekend trips can certainly give your relationship a much-needed reboot, truly rebuilding intimacy now that you have children isn’t just about the grand gestures. It’s about creating daily habits that promote unity and really prioritizing your needs as lovers, even as you juggle the demands of the day to day. So, here are three important things to remember as you move forward:
Keep the lines of communication open. The most basic aspect of intimacy is communication. Taking the time to be mindful of your spouse’s thoughts and feelings amid the chaos of life is the first step in ensuring you’re not taking each other for granted. So set aside some time in your day to talk to each other like you did before you had kids. This means talking about yourselves for a change! Even if it means snagging just a half hour after the baby falls asleep, crack open a bottle of wine or brew some herbal tea and sit down together.
Talking is good stress reliever and promotes unification. Go ahead and talk about the latest drama at work or that awkward interaction you had with an old friend at the grocery store. The important thing is to let your spouse listen to you and to listen to your spouse. But don’t just talk about the bad stuff, as you don’t want these chat sessions to become a venue for negativity. Tell jokes. Talk about your dream vacation or what you would do with a million dollars. Who knows, you may just learn something new about one another.
Have fun with each other. Parents experience a lot of stress and can easily fall into the trap of seeing their spouse as more of a coworker in the business of life than as a lover. Researchers at the University of Missouri suggest that the foundation of a good marriage is genuine friendship and that there are many things you can do to foster friendship within your marriage. They offer a few suggestions including, “work on a mutual project together,” “plan little surprises for each other” and “compliment each other often.”
Obviously, the idea is to find and nurture those things you have in common. And if you’re struggling to find something you already have in common, seek something new you can do together. Finding a new mutual hobby will encourage communication, openness and humility. Plus, physical activities like hiking or bicycling promote overall health and well-being, while creative pursuits, like taking a pottery class or cooking class, stimulate your brain.
If you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend, try something simple like instituting a board game night or finding a book to read together before bed. Unlike zoning out in front of the TV, activities like playing games and reading together allow for greater levels of interaction and conversation, not to mention more opportunities for you to entertain and surprise each other.
Physical intimacy cannot be neglected. Many people equate physical intimacy with sex. But just as a square is one type of rectangle and not the other way around, sex is only one type of the huge spectrum that is physical intimacy. In fact, it’s actually important that sex is not the only form of physical intimacy in your relationship, but that you are physically intimate in as many ways as possible. Tender touching, hand-holding, kissing and cuddlingtogether on the couch are all examples of the kinds of physical intimacy you can easily build into your daily routine.
And if you think it’s women who predominantly require non-sexual touching in order to be happy, you’d be wrong. Surprisingly, a study cited by ABC News found that men actually need more loving touching than women to be happy in marriage in the long run. They go on to say, in general, “Couples who use touch to comfort, to compliment, and yes, to seduce and arouse, are bound to be happier.” Remember, a person’s touch can communicate so much, and with limited time to yourselves, a simple touch can go a long way in assuring your spouse that you care.
Of course, sex is definitely a key component of physical intimacy, and it’s important to prioritize time for sex. But one mistake many couples—especially couples with children—make, is to let sex, if it’s happening at all, become routine. It’s important to at least occasionally make sex special. This means putting some thought and effort into an amorous evening. Light some candles. Put clean sheets on the bed. Allow time for foreplay. Perhaps even kick things off with a massage. Adam and Eve suggests an erotic massage—complete with arousing massage oil—”can go a long way in rekindling passion and maximizing the level of sensual touching for any couple.”
For more intimacy ABCs, go to BLC Life.