Remember when you and your spouse first starting dating? Things were light, airy, fun, and spontaneous and you came and went as you pleased no matter the time of day. There was little interruption in your time together and nothing stopping you from having amazing sex anywhere in your home. And after that amazing sex you slept in until you actually wanted to get out of bed. Remember? Well things slightly change when you start having kids.
I remember having my first son, getting through maternity leave, and transitioning to life after baby. Date nights grew scarce and fatigue set changing life as we knew it. We loved our baby but missed the flexibility of our old lives. We grew accustomed to the changes and happily embraced parenthood but noticed that the dynamics of our home had changed. We admitted it and knew that we’d have to work together to ensure that we stayed connected, mostly because I worked night shift and he worked day shift.
I started to seek out ways for us to stay connected. We started being diligent in maintaining our connection and respecting our time together. I’m here to share 5 things that you can do to stay connected after having kids.
You will always hear (or read) me talk about communication. It’s, to me, the most important thing in any relationship. And yes I put it above trust, which is second. Communicate with your significant other when you start feeling the disconnect. Don’t hold it in hoping that it gets better, because the disconnect can linger and create a distance between you that didn’t need to exist. Parenting can be exhausting even when both parents are overall happy. To date I still communicate when I’m needing some alone time because even though we’ve been parents for awhile it still happens. It’s easy to get into the rotation of day to day life and neglect your spouse’s needs. It’s not intentional, so don’t let the everyday create a disconnect with your spouse.
Schedule Date Nights
I read Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming” and was quite smitten to know that she and past president Barack Obama scheduled their date night. We, as people, schedule everything and are sure to keep our appointments (for the most part). We show up to work, hair and barber appointments, interviews, and get the kids to their lessons and school (pre-Covid). Why can’t we schedule date night and be sure to show up? Treat it like any other important appointment. By doing so, you show your partner that they’re important to you. Don’t skip out on date nights. Find a sitter and make it happen or make date night happen at home after the kids are asleep. I have a lot of “at home” date nights that are just as valuable and fulfilling.
Put Your Spouse First
A lot of people don’t agree that your spouse comes first after babies are born but they infact should. Putting your spouse first does not mean that you care more about them than the child(ren). If you put the child(ren) first and have a failing relationship, what does that teach the child? Focus on your spouse and maintaining a healthy relationship so that you both are a good example for them. The way I see it, if you plan to be with your significant other long-term, you have to pour into them because, if you’re lucky enough, your children are meant to leave the nest. If you’ve poured more into your children than your spouse, where will that leave you two when you’re solo? You don’t want to find yourself staring at a stranger simply because you’ve allowed the two of you to grow apart. Growing apart isn’t hard. Staying strongly connected is the true test of love. Putting your spouse first helps them remember why you’re in the partnership to begin with and keeps them in love from the beginning. Read other’s opinions here.
Keep the Sex Alive
Hear me out! I’m giving this advice because I’m guilty here too. After children, it’s not particularly easy to be spontaneous with your sexual encounters. You have to be quiet and don’t just walk around naked per se. And if you’re like me, you have small ones that still come in your room in the middle of the night at different times. If you’re one to go to bed late, you risk the dreadful “walk in” and if you go to bed early, you risk the kids still being awake. This is my dilemma as well. I’ve discussed scheduling sex with my husband and he did not like that idea at all. I mean, hey, I understand but it’s either make it a priority or it won’t happen. We don’t schedule it since he won that battle, but we do try to make an effort to being regular. We don’t want a sexless relationship and you shouldn’t either.
Give Yourself Grace
Parenting is hard so give yourselves grace. After kids it takes adjusting, planning, and realigning. Offer your significant other grace when they’re not doing things the way your would or making decisions you wouldn’t make. I think we have all been here before kids as well but it’s particularly important to remember this after kids. I remember my husband finding humor in how anal I was with my breastmilk when I was working and others were responsible for our child(ren). He’d extend me grace when I ranted about the waste because he knew how important it was to me. He learned to find the value in me, even if he didn’t understand my frustration. When you find yourself offering grace at a time that you want to be critical or upset with your spouse, remember to take a breath, step back, and communicate. Your spouse will appreciate your grace and remember to extend it to you as well.
There’s no doubt that once you introduce kids into a relationship that the dynamics change. You’ll find that midday lunch dates and late night dinner and movies might be limited. You find yourself working around the children to squeeze in alone time. It takes true effort to stay connected to your spouse after kids are added into the relationship. Note that I said it takes effort, not that it’s impossible. Put these pointers to use and know that children add spice to your life too. You just have to learn to work around them.
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