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Challenge: Romance After Kids

The Importance of Dating Your Spouse + Keeping The Love Alive: Advice from Marriage and Family Therapists

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I almost can't believe my husband and I recently celebrated our 9 year dating anniversary! Being parents of two small children and both working outside the home, as well as not having many resources and childcare assistance, we rarely get alone time together, and even more rarely get quality alone time. Keeping the love alive in a long term relationship is difficult to do, especially when you have children, but it’s not impossible. We just have to intentionally try to make an effort to continually light that flame. It takes discipline, dedication, and effort. If we passively love our spouse or partner, then we may grow apart and end up feeling like we don’t know each other anymore or worse yet, end up resenting each other and desiring to find love elsewhere. But there is hope! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! In this blog, I will give you my tips on the Top 5 Ways to Keep The Spark Alive and my husband will provide his perspective on the Importance of Dating Your Spouse, but first let me tell you how we celebrated!

Being a marriage and family therapist being married to a licensed marriage and family therapist, many people have commented over the years that my husband and I must have a "perfect" relationship. And even though we learned tools that other couples may not know, our marriage is far from perfect. In fact, if I am being honest, we have had our fair share of struggles. I'm talking the kind of struggles where we barely speak to each other for days. Many, if not all, relationships do at one point or another.

Before I share my tips on how to keep the spark alive, here is quote from my husband's perspective on the importance of dating your spouse:

"The toil of everyday life has a way of consuming you. You lose perspective due to having your time filled with problems to solve and life stressors to manage. It is easy to lose perspective and view your wife as a part of and contributor to the daily chaos. A husband can develop a distorted view of his wife only seeing her as mother, co-parent, and roommate. It is essential to take a break from the chaos and strip away all the layers of stress that can weigh you down. A date night, a spa day, or a cup of coffee at the dinner table can be an opportunity to reconnect to the person you fell in love with before all the stress came along. Meaningful intimacy can't survive in a marriage with out this intentional engagement. This fosters intimacy and trust. If this part of your relationship is neglected then stress will define the relationship and drive you apart. Make time every day for affection and 100% attention even for a few minutes. A date night once a week or a couple times of month will feed the relationship and inspire affection and connection."

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I have learned a lot over the years and below are my top ways to help keep the spark lit in your relationship but if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them!!!! This list is as much for me as it is for you!

  1. Smell good! Many people believe that falling in love is all about our natural scent, or pheromones. A pheromone is defined as a “chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behavior or physiology of others of its species.” So let your scent shine!! Make sure you are bathed each day to really make the most of your natural smell. You don’t have to always wash and style your hair, since it takes so long for many of us, but at least wash your body each day. And if you wear a special perfume or lotion that engages your partner, wear that when you want to be intimate, when go on a date, or simply when you just want to get close and snuggle on the couch and binge watch Netflix.

  1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt! Take your spouse or partner through a journey in time through your relationship. This is healthy to do for any couple, but especially for a couple that has lost that loving feeling. Find some old photos from your first date, first kiss, engagement, wedding, etc. Remind your lover how, when, and why you fell in love. Describe each event on a piece of paper and how you felt in that moment. Remind them of the early days in your relationship, before work stress, financial stress, home stress, children stress, in-law stress, etc. It will revive your love when you go down memory lane together!! And if you can pull it off, wear an old outfit you found in those photos or even recreate a similar meal or memory as a date night in or a date night out that correlates with the photos and ultimately the memories! To make it extra fun, play and make it into a game and leave little notes around the house with clues to the next chronological event in your relationship!

  1. Have Sex! Gasp! Yes, I said it. Have Sex. You don’t have to do it too often, take a long time to get it done, or make it mind-blowing, but as Nike says, just do it! Simply get naked on a regular basis with your spouse or partner. Try not to have expectations or put too much pressure on yourself or your partner. If it happens, fantastic, but make sure both parties are ready physically, emotionally, and mentally. If you haven’t done this in a while, maybe start with just kissing or touching first to feel more intimate with each other before going for the gold.

  1. Write it down! Use the skills you learned in the 3rd grade and write a handwritten note to your spouse or partner with a love quote or a sentence or two sharing something you love about them. Remember how fun it was and how good it felt to pass notes to your loved one in middle school? If you were a child of the late 70’s or early 80’s, you may even remember how to fold the note into different shapes and designs. So leave the text messaging for day-to-day items and write a love note. Leave it on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, on the front door, or even in their car as often as you’d like!

  1. Act like a Girlfriend. You are a mom and a wife. And those are important roles we focus on daily, but remember that despite those new roles that you have grown into over the years, still remind your husband or partner the girlfriend they proposed to years ago. Can you remember the days when you’d stay up too late, drink too much wine, or sleep in until noon together? Well maybe we don’t have those luxuries as much anymore, but still try to date your husband or partner and remind them of the girlfriend they once knew and loved.

And if you feel like you and your spouse or partner need a professional to talk to about your relationship, please go to Psychology Today and find a couples therapist in your zip code.

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