©iStockphoto.com/Yuri Arcurs Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri Arcurs
Before you resign yourself to the fact that there's no time for intimacy, know that there are some effective means of making time for sex amid your parental duties.
We turned to marriage counsellor Susan Blackburn for some tips on how to keep that romantic spark alive even when the needs of your family get in the way. After all, it's not just important for the health of your relationship, but for the whole family.
"Couples who nurture the marriage first have far more to give, not only to one another, but also to their kids," says Blackburn. "A strong emotional connection with one's partner provides a stable and secure foundation for children and parents alike."
Here are her tips for keeping intimacy alive in your marriage.
1. Plan date nights in advance
The most successful couples never stop dating, even well into their marriage. "Dating provides the time to connect emotionally, have fun together and revive romance and affection," Blackburn explains.
Getting out of the house for an evening out can really breathe life back into your marriage, so make dating a habit. In order to ensure your time together doesn't eventually fall to the bottom of your list of priorities, plan dates ahead of time and actually put them on the calendar. "Without scheduling dates in advance, couples rarely have time left over after family obligations, such as chauffeuring, cooking and cleaning, have been taken care of."
2. Make child care arrangements for your kids
Date night should always take place in a kid-free zone. After all, this is your time to step away from your daily responsibilities. But planning care arrangements for the kids might be easier said than done.
"If you find yourself without the trusted help you need to get out for a date, consider joining playgroups in your neighbourhood, trading babysitting with other couples so that you rotate nights out and getting up the nerve to ask family members and friends to give you a break," Blackburn suggests. "More often than not, your friends and loved ones would be happy to help if they knew you needed it."
Page 1 of 2 -- Find out why you shouldn't let the kids sleep in your bed, plus more tips on keeping sex alive after having children on page 2.
3. Don't let the kids sleep in your bed
It might be an easy routine to get into -- and an even more difficult one to break -- but co-sleeping can widen the gap between you and your partner, both in bed and beyond.
"Allowing children to sleep in the marital bed is one the fastest ways to put out the romantic flame between married partners," warns Blackburn. "Couples can make their bed a no-kid zone while still being inviting, warm and honest parents. Remember that children feel more secure when their parents are affectionate and have a close connection," she adds.
4. Surprise your partner every now and then
Just like maintaining a regular date night, a few romantic surprises here and there can also help keep your marriage thriving both in and out of the bedroom. Why not slip a note into your partner's briefcase before work to serve as an unprompted reminder that you love him or her?
"Communicating with kindness and respect is key in creating and maintaining the romantic spark," explains Blackburn. Everyday communication should be positive and affirming, but keeping it interesting is just as important.
5. Make time for yourself
Maintaining a romantic bond starts with feeling good about yourself. Find time to do things that make you happy and those feelings of confidence and sexiness will follow.
"Bring out your inner siren by enjoying a warm bath, exercising, shaving or putting on makeup if that's desirable, wearing soft, feminine clothes in pink or red, getting pampered at the salon or by listening to sensual music," says Blackburn. When you feel good about yourself, intimacy comes naturally.
Ensuring family demands don't zap the desire from your marriage requires placing high priority on maintaining a strong connection with your partner. The most common factor involved in couples drifting apart is the belief that the children's needs are more important than the needs of the marriage, Blackburn explains. but you can find a balance. Practiscing intimacy and having regular alone time may take some getting used to, but the results are well worth the effort.
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