In order to keep your relationship strong, you need to endeavour to make it a priority.
Having a baby is the most profound thing you can do as a couple, but it’s important to understand that the shape of your relationship is bound to change.
Your first child will be the most significant shift, but each subsequent child will also affect your relationship and the time and energy you have to devote to each other.
Although the new person (or people) in your life are very tiny, they are also very demanding. And it is easy for your relationship to become secondary to your children.
In order to keep your relationship strong, you need to endeavour to make it a priority. One way to do this is to maintain intimacy and connection with your partner.
But intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex and wild passionate abandon. Sure, sex is a fun part of connection, there are many ways to keep the fire burning with your partner after you have children.
- Watching TV is not quality time
Although you are technically sitting with each other, and maybe even cuddling, watching television together is not quality time.
“I realised that we were putting the kids to bed and just sitting in front of the box,” says mum of two, Danika Bailey*. “We’d eat our dinner on the couch and barely even chat. It had just become a routine.
“So then I decided that we would eat dinner at the table and talk about our day, and it helped us to connect. At first it was a bit of an effort, but then we grew to enjoy that time where we’d debrief about our day. Sometimes we’d just continue talking, or sometimes we’d watch a little TV after, but just having that half an hour made a difference.”
Try turning off the television one night a week and talking, or give each other a massage, or even go to bed early for some cuddles.
- Touching intimately
When everyone is tired at the end of the day sex can become a bit of a chore, so intimate touch is a fantastic way to keep the fire burning. Try taking sex off the menu and have an evening of just being near each other, talking quietly while touching, cuddling, massaging and kissing.
“Touching each other helps you both to release hormones and endorphins that help you feel love and bonded,” says relationship and sex therapist Isiah McKimmie. “These hormones are also vital to a women’s arousal.”
Although you may not start out wanting sex, you may end up bring in the mood. By taking sex off the table at the outset it releases you from the pressure to have sex, so anything else can be a bonus.
- Be kind
Make an effort to tell each other one thing you appreciate about each other every day, or try sending loving and flirty texts throughout the day. This will get you thinking about the good things, instead of focusing on negative things about your partner.
“After 10 years and three children my husband and I still flirt,” says Trish Logan. “Throughout the day we send cheeky messages, or we have a loving touch in the kitchen, or he’ll make a little naughty joke. It makes me feel as though he still desires me even though we may not be tearing each other’s clothes off.”
Making a conscious choice to say nice things helps your partner to feel appreciated, and this helps with the trust and love bond that keeps us strong.
- Add an element of surprise
Children often dictate the routine around the house, so with limited time and energy your love life can get a little stale and predictable.
“Breaking out of your routine is so important for keeping things passionate and exciting,” says McKimmie. “Pushing your boundaries a little will also give you a good old shot of adrenalin that helps you fell invigorated.”
Surprise your partner with some lingerie, or join them in the shower. If it’s been a while since you’ve done that it may feel a little awkward at first, but you can guarantee your partner will be appreciative of the effort.
- Make time for yourself
Your job as a mum is 24/7 and you are often pulled in many different directions all at once. At the end of your day you often feel depleted, and with no time to refill your cup it can become a spiral that’s not conducive to giving anyone any intimate energy.
Taking an hour to go for a walk, get your hair done, grab a massage or read a book may seem like an impossibility, but when you take some personal time for yourself you can come back to your family and your partner feeling refreshed and replenished.
And remember – if you feel as though your relationship has lost its intimacy and you’re struggling to get it back on track, you needn’t struggle on your own to get the spark back.
“Your relationship is the glue that holds your family together, so give it the time and attentions it deserves,” says McKimmie. “Don’t be afraid to get support if things become a little shaky.”
“Your relationship is really important and there’s nothing wrong with getting help to make it amazing.”