By: Sara Holliday
Couples, prior to baby, cherish the time they spend together. Romantic moments are often carefree and fun. Flirting, deep kissing, and caressing are exciting and passion is alive and well. When two people contemplate having children they often fantasize about a picture-perfect family. They may envision a cute little baby, Jane in ballerina tutu, Bobbie practicing ball, family trips and togetherness. But, when parents leave the hospital with their newborn, reality sets in and the day-to-day demands and responsibility of taking care of a new family member can be extremely taxing on a relationship.
From sleepless nights, to demands of a crying, fussy baby, it all takes a toll on mom and dad. There’s little time or energy left to give to each other and a desire for intimacy ebbs. Even the strongest couples face challenges re-kindling the romantic spark they had prior to baby. This lack of romance can continue on through the child’s development. When the parents aren’t connecting on an emotional and physical level, it impacts the children and can result in isolation, depression, poor grades and acting out. Having worked with couples as a marriage-family therapist, I have identified five fail-proof connection tips that will unite mom and dad and bring the passion back into their family.
Appreciate Each Other. Whether a stay-at-home mom or working full or part-time outside the home, women are typically the primary caregiver and this often means they hold two full-time roles where one role ends, the other picks up. Her work seems to never end. When dad comes home he’s ready to relax and often does while mom needs a break and often doesn’t get one. Both have been working all day, and neither feels as though the other has noticed. This feeling of not being appreciated can cause a lot of tension in a relationship. Men typically want recognition for working hard and contributing to the family’s well-being in his way. An acknowledgement from mom can go a long way and a simple statement will do: “I know you work hard, thanks for all you do for our family”.
Mom, on the other hand, feels appreciated and often relieved, if her husband or partner is helping out. Most men are happy to help, but often need some assistance in knowing the “right” ways to help. For example, mom can say, “It would really help me out if you picked up some milk on your way home.” Communicating a need is much better than expecting your partner to be a mind-reader and the results are so much better because you actually get what you want.
When you express appreciation through actions and words and you notice what your partner did to make your life easier, it will make him or her happy.
Flirt. Everyone loves positive attention. Show your partner that you find him or her attractive by leaving a sweet or sexy message on his or her cell phone. Touch each other often, hold hands whenever possible, kiss each other, and pause and look into each other’s eyes. Make an effort, even if you don’t “feel” like it. Another bonus: Your children will feel more secure when they feel the love you have for each other.
Date Your Mate. Make plans to spend time alone with your partner at least one day or night a week. Get a sitter and go out or have “date night” at home. Watch a romantic movie, share dessert, or just sit on a sofa next to one another and talk. On your dates, focus as much as you can on the two of you rather than your kids. Share your dreams for the future and acknowledge what you have accomplished as a couple.
Take Care of Yourself. Remember the effort you made to look good prior to having kids? Take a little time for yourself to get dressed in clothes that flatter your body. Mom, put on a little makeup and style your hair, and Dad, comb your hair, floss your teeth, trim your nails and put on cologne. When you take care of yourself, you will feel more attractive, and you will desire more intimacy.
Make fitness one of your priorities at least 3 times per week by scheduling exercise into your day. Exercise will not only tone your body, reduce body fat, and increase weight loss, it will also boost your energy so you have more patience with your children. You can make exercise fun and get more connected with your husband or partner when you workout together. Motivate each other with a challenge as to who can lose 5 lbs. the fastest. Whoever wins first gives the other a full body massage!
Bring Back the Romance. Make an effort to show each other that you think they are special. Get him a thoughtful card, or buy her flowers. Most importantly, make each other a priority! There will always be things to do, so when given the choice to do emails, clean up or pay bills, chose spending intimate time with each other.
When you follow these tips and treat your relationship and mate as a priority you re-kindle the flame and bring back the passion into your marriage.
Sara Holliday, MFT, CPT, is a licensed marriage-family therapist, life and fitness coach, holistic health practitioner, and mother of two. She has a Masters Degree in Psychology and a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology and maintains certifications and/or licenses in a multitude of health and fitness disciplines. As an expert in women and families’ health and wellness, Sara has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows including Oprah & Friends Radio, Martha Stewart Living Radio, Playboy Radio, PBS Radio, KABC, KNBC and KTLA and she is a columnist for several women’s health and fitness publications.
Fit by Sara, Inc. Copyright 2007