Having regular “date nights” is a very popular advice for young parents. But it has some caveats. If your dates never looked like rom-com stuff, these outings will not refresh your memory and will not “rekindle your passion”. If anything, they will feel forced, or even cheesy. When I dated my wife-to-be we used to hike and walk a lot. Walking in the park with a pram together brings more memories than a dinner in a fancy restaurant. Walking together also creates new memories, equally happy – where we are a family.
Do not get me wrong. Date nights are great. Hire a babysitter, buy tickets, book a table, dress up. Getting away from all the hassle is very refreshing. That what it is – a getaway. You can only pretend there is two of you in the world so many days a month. This is just not enough to keep the romance going.
Most of the time you should build your new romance in the new paradigm of your family.
Express Your Love
Love has many languages. Usually, your preferred way of expressing affection depends on the “language” your family used. You can also mirror the way your partner shows you her love.
Express your love with words. Leave notes on the bedside table. Compliment each other. Say how lucky you feel to be with your partner. Even if sex isn’t as plentiful as before the kids, you can still love each other madly with words.
Express your love with time you give each other. Time of your life is the most precious thing you can give. Sometimes it means you have to uninstall your favorite game app to play scrabble together. Sometimes it means getting up earlier to finish all the work and free the evening for her.
Express your love with little gifts that show you were thinking of her during the day. Bring her favorite hand-made chocolates or memento from a place you once visited together. Coming up with ideas isn’t that difficult if you do think about her.
You can show love in any way. Just make sure you do it every day.
Spoil Each Other
For parents, it is normal to spoil the kids rotten. However, you should not forget about each other. If you are always putting your kids before your partner, you are not making them a great favor. Quite the reverse. The best things you can give your children is a happy home and a strong family. That is possible only when you invest time and effort into your relationship as a couple. “Mom and dad love each other and together they love you” – that is the most precious message. Not “You are the most important thing in the entire universe, so you can interrupt your mom when you want all dad’s attention to yourself”.
Sometimes you can feel absorbed with the emotional needs of your children, and it is natural. They need you. However, do not neglect each other. Find time to talk about things that important to you two, about the things you want as a couple.
Be Like Children
Holding hands, hugging, kissing goodbye, stroking each other’s hair – sounds like teenagers? Moms and dads should do that too! These G-rated signs of affection and intimacy are very important. Before the kids, my wife and I had hours alone every day. Now we only have half an hour before we fall asleep. I am sure that this is a lot like your situation. You should find the way to sneak tenderness into your daily life, and all kinds of PDA are perfect for the job.
Some parents do not want to “gross out” their kids. However, what can be wrong with dancing, holding each other, and kissing in front of your kids? It is your job as parents to teach them how to show affection. Besides, they will have no doubt about you loving each other. The positive model is the best thing you can equip them with for their future relationships.
Be a Father
This one is for dads out there. Be a team. Raising kids is your project together. Do not play “who has it harder” game. Sometimes the most romantic words you can say is “Get some sleep, love. I’ll take care of the kids”. She needs it. If you are a breadwinner and she is a primary caregiver – you have fewer opportunities to leave an imprint on your kids. Appreciate every minute.
I cannot stress enough how important father’s involvement is. Do not help your wife with kids. Instead, be an equal parent. When you will split the care and troubles in two, you will appreciate parenting as a shared experience. Create those memories together. This precious bonding beats any promises to get her the moon from the sky.
Who said that sexting is reserved for teenagers? It is a great way to keep the romance alive. Send each other flirtatious messages, describing your desires. Being intimate at night is much easier if the thoughts were floating in your mind the entire day.
You can exchange messages the old-school way: write each other long emails. Letters are great too, but make sure your kids will not lay their hands on those! (You do not need to gross them out THIS MUCH.) If you feel awkward flirting and it makes you laugh – that is great too! Laughing together strengthens your relationship even more.
Choose Her over Everything
Loving each other is a continuous decision. This means hurrying home instead of watching football with friends. This means choosing the job with better hours to spend more time with you family. This means an awful lot of things every day. With every decision you make in favor of your relationship, you invest your heart into it and keep it alive.
Do not expect too much of each other and try not to get disappointed with one another. Relax about chores and errands, about being on time at your neighbors’ barbeque. You being together is the most important thing in your lives.
Post-kids romance is not a unicorn. You do not have to play-pretend to see it, you don’t have to complete impossible quests. Where there’s love, romance transforms but never dies. It becomes more homelike and tame, as your daily bread. It doesn’t have to be sparkly to be precious.