My wife and I were sitting and having breakfast on a patio overlooking beautiful mountains on a warm, clear morning. Beside us were these two giggling, touchy-feely and affectionate people that were totally immersed in each other ... and they were in their 70’s.
Their energy and love for each other were contagious – so out of curiosity, we decided to nudge our way into their conversation. One was a retired English professor, and the other was a flamboyant workshop leader for couples. They have five kids, travel five months of the year, and through their teachings help people and other couples live better lives.
So we had to ask, “what’s your secret?”
They both looked at each other, smiled, and said, “as we were raising our kids, we made a commitment to each other; no matter how busy we were or how distracted our lives would get, every eight weeks we would go away together for a night or two and reconnect. And we believe this is what every couple should do – all couples need time alone with each other.”
A successful approach to romance after kids is to continue to rediscover the love, excitement, and connection while raising your children.
The commitment of marriage and the bond with each other is built, reinforced, and refined over time. If you let things slide on the romantic end while raising your kids, here are the three keys to connecting with your partner and rediscovering the romance when the nest is empty.
Consciously Switch Identity
Being a parent is not the same as being each other’s lover. It is necessary to switch your identity, to that of a lover, to fulfill each other’s needs – your clothing, movements, language, and location.
Changing status from friends or parents to the character of “lovers” can be a monumental step, and this is the wisdom learned from the earlier couple. Every eight weeks they were able to completely and entirely immerse themselves with each other as lovers, not as parents.
Make It Ritualistic
To place something into a schedule as a top priority gives it energy, enthusiasm, and priority. If it’s not scheduled in and written down, other people or events are bound to take over or replace a ‘good intention’ of getting together.
Discover a ritualistic rhythm that meets and fulfills both of your values and needs. Maybe it's going hiking, biking, golfing, visiting a winery, attending a concert, going to a favorite restaurant district or staying at a beautiful hotel. Whatever your top values are, work on fulfilling each other’s needs in a ritualistic way.
Commit to Growing Together
All great endeavors, including relationships, include the focus of commitment, connection, and growth. As you pay attention to a garden, it blooms and blossoms, and if you neglect it, the weeds eventually overwhelm. If you don’t commit to staying connected and weed the ‘garden of love’ with each other, the challenges of life will invariably bog you down and get in the way, and often this is how couples may drift apart.
Commit to growing together – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to ensure a solid foundation in the various phases of life.
Making it through an entire life together takes work. The world can tend to bend you toward disconnection more than it reinforces it, so it is your responsibility as a couple to consciously commit to a rhythmic and ritualistic practice of spending time and meeting the needs of your lover and life partner.