“Parenting is a shared adventure of working together as a team. If you can embrace the changes that come with having children, it will bring you and your partner closer than ever. ”
5 ways to keep marriage alive with kids
Anyone who is married with children can tell you that intimacy feels like a distant memory when you’re busy shuttling children to school and rushing to the office. But a couples’ intimacy has an impact on their long-term compatibility and how happy they perceive their relationship to be. Eighty percent of divorced couples report that a lack of intimacy is what caused their marriage to break up.
The importance of intimacy lies in the primary function of sex in any relationship, which is to reinforce and deepen affection and attachment. After kids, parents undergo a shift in identity, and values, which tends to make them work harder but can lead to them feeling less appreciated by their partner.
We sat down with Dr. Michelle Skeen, host of her own weekly radio show called Relationships 2.0 with Dr. Michelle Skeen, so that she could give us the inside scoop on how to rebuild and maintain intimacy.
1. Communication is key.
Realistically, it’s often difficult to communicate with children in the house. Skeen says it’s often necessary to plan time when neither of you will be distracted. She suggests scheduling weekly check-ins to see how things are going. “It’s like working out. The more you do it, the better it will go.” For example, at the check-in, one spouse might say, “I’m starting to feel a little bit of resentment” before things get serious. “Don’t give up,” says Skeen. “It’s worth the struggle.”
2. Get Creative.
Even if you can’t afford a frequent babysitter, Skeen suggests getting outside with a stroller or bikes, where you and your spouse can connect – even intermittently. As children grow, maybe they’ll enjoy sitting a few rows in front of you at the movies. Or have a child and grown-up table at a restaurant. Plan a date night at home, and have the kids wait on you. Swap date nights with other parents. Dance in the living room to your wedding song.
3. Be Playful.
Employ laughter whenever possible, rekindling a spirit of playfulness and adventure. Some couples need therapy to relearn these techniques, and that is okay too. The goal is a mutual understanding of each other’s positions that allows you to grow closer over time.
4. Express Your Needs.
Be realistic and specific. Ask for something that can be taken care of fairly quickly, such as spooning time at night. Though it doesn’t sound too romantic, try planning sex dates rather then relying on spontaneity.
It makes a huge difference when someone says, “I really appreciate what you do.” A surprise or a note slipped into a jacket or purse thanking the person for all they do costs nothing. When we feel truly seen by people who see us all the time, it affects how we feel about the relationship and ourselves.
Finding time and energy for intimacy with your partner when you have children can be challenging. But with effort, planning and cooperation from both parties, it’s possible to build a relationship that will bring increasing closeness through the years.