How to Stay Close After the Kids (Take a Break)

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Couples Counseling | Comments Off on How to Stay Close After the Kids (Take a Break)

You love your children. You love attending to their nighttime cries, scheduling their play-dates, preparing their meals, checking their homework, and chatting about a myriad of childhood joys and concerns. You love your children and your children feel it and know it every day.

What about your partner? After the kids come along, relegating your relationship to the back burner seems tempting, especially when parenthood compels you to tend more immediate fires. But no one likes to be neglected, and the back burner won’t stay hot for long with no one to relight the fire.

When was the last time you attended to your partner’s needs? Scheduled uninterrupted time together, a quiet meal alone, checked in on their career, or chatted about more grown-up interests? You love your spouse, but can he or she feel it and count on it every day?

Take heart; staying close after having kids is entirely doable. Here are a few ways to make that happen:

Break away

  • Dedicate short blocks of time alone weekly.

Separate mentally and completely from the hustle and bustle of family life, even if it’s just for an hour in a secluded part of the house. Borrow 10 minutes from the kids’ bedtime routine, leave work 15 minutes early, or eat leftovers to streamline dinner prep. Stolen moments together maintain intimacy; fight the feeling that he or she is just “one more thing to do.”

  • Commit to extended periods of time alone monthly.

Once or twice a month, look forward to a longer period away. Plan for your kids’ care and focus your attention on the care of your relationship. Informal options like community activities or recreational excursions can be as enjoyable as a fancy date night.

Break the monotony

  • Choose interesting, inexpensive activities.

Do something novel. Share new experiences. Investigate outings that won’t dip into the family budget. Picnics, board games, or paddleboats on a lake are refreshing, inexpensive ways to bond on a regular basis.

  • Reconnect with common interests or hobbies.

Before kids, did you love long bike rides, road trips, or cooking gourmet meals for each other? Why not buy a membership and meet up at the gym to train for a bike race, borrow a travel book to guide you through your city’s sights, or take a cooking class?

Break up the conversation

  • Nix the kid-talk.

            Sometimes you can be unaware of just how much kid stuff monopolizes the conversation. Practice thinking outside the parenting box; look outside your family affairs for discussion topics in the news, community, or your extended family.

  • Check in on old dreams, goals, relationships.

Once upon a time you and your partner spent hours on the phone and dreamed out loud over long dinners. Your passions are integral to your life before and after the kids; they deserve your attention. Recalling pre-child matters helps restore excitement and intimacy between you.

  • Reacquaint yourselves with your partner.

            Do you know what matters to your partner today? Connect by asking questions about your partner’s daily concerns. Communicate that you understand the stresses of the daily grind, demanding boss, or irritating neighbor. Notice the flattering haircut or freshly folded laundry. Let your partner know that you see and appreciate them on a daily basis.

How you think about your relationship is vital to its success. You’ll do well to see loving partnerships as an investment. You are wise to prioritize your partner. The returns are huge if you see the value in devoting thoughtful attention to each other. When you put forth the effort, you’ll find that fun and friendship will follow.

 

 

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