Adults In Love ... After Children
I was recently asked: “My baby is two months old and I’m missing my grown-up time with my husband. When do couples get their relationship back on track once a baby arrives?"
What this woman was asking was not just about time to talk and catch up with her husband, although this is certainly part of it. It was about how to keep the spark and romance alive in general when a baby enters the picture. Sometimes, often even, parents can get very diverted from their relationship with each other with the birth of a new baby. Both partners can become over-preoccupied with the baby, or perhaps one is very involved with baby, and the other is involved with work. Either way, dating, conversation, romance, and sex are out the window. And this does not improve over time by just wishing it away.
There are two recommendations I can make. The first I came across a few years back when I was reading a parenting magazine. It was the title of the article: “Mood Shmood”. Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter if you are in the “mood” to sit and have tea or a cocktails together, or if the stars align for the perfect ambience to make love. Sometimes, the baby or children are asleep, and that is the moment you seize! Mood Shmood, the kids are asleep, it’s time for a game of backgammon and giggles and conversation. Or the baby just went down, so you high-tail it to your bedroom for a quick afternoon delight— there is a reason it is called ‘delight'.
Second, prioritize your relationship with each other as equal in value and importance to your relationship with the children. Why did you fall in love? Why did you create this expanded family? If you are having children as a diversion from or evasion of your relationship, give me a call and let’s see about how to work that out because there will be a lot of damage and hurt all the way around. However, if you are having children as a creative expression of your love, you must always remember to nurture and attend to that love with one another. Steven Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, spoke about how love isn’t just a noun, it is a verb. Love requires action. If you love, as in have the feeling for each other, then you must love, as in take the actions that are loving toward each other. When you develop the capacity to really love each other and make each other a high priority along with your children, you set a profoundly important and inspiring example for your children, and you wind up making them feel all the more loved and secure.
Tend to your love always. Make sure you always have date nights, even if you have your date at home. If you have a young baby and share a family bed, you can be intimate and have sex wherever the baby isn’t… and finding new places and ways to make love can bring new excitement and intimacy to any relationship. In our culture this tends to be a very uncomfortable conversation for couples to have with each other, and it feels even more uncomfortable to reach out to a stranger, meaning a therapist or coach, for help. But again mood shmood, if you want help, or need help, there are many caring people out there who would like to offer assistance.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments. I’d love to hear if you notice any shifts in your life if you take on these two practices.