How to reignite the romance in your relationship after kids

Kinderling News & Features

Has romance left the building since bub's moved in? Don’t fret, we've got some good news for you. First, it’s a common occurence – exhaustion and a pile of dirty nappies can be lethal passion killers. And second, help is at hand.

Desiree Spierings, therapist and director of Sexual Health Australia, recently spoke to Kinderling Conversation about practical steps to put your relationship back on the radar now you’ve got a little one in the next room.

Listen to her interview now:

1. Accept intimacy will take a back seat... for a bit

"If you’ve got a newborn, your focus should be on it and both partners need to accept that’s completely okay. There are two components to a relationship: security plus adventure. When a baby arrives, we have to focus more on security. When you have a bit more of a routine going and more energy later, then it can be about adventure and passion."

2. Realise men and women feel different, post-birth

"The female is going through major bodily and hormonal changes and it can be difficult for the man to understand that or when they’re up for intimacy again. Instead of leaving the questions up in the air, talking about it and keep each other informed will help a lot."

3. Understand the concept of ‘skin hunger’

"Often, a woman’s ‘skin hunger’ has completely been satisfied by the end of the day. They’ve had a baby hanging off them all day and they can’t even contemplate the idea of someone else hanging off them. For a man, it’s different – they might come home and be like ‘what about me?’ and she’s like 'leave me alone!'"

4. Learn the difference between emotional and physical intimacy

“Often women crave emotional intimacy and when they get that they’re more up for physical intimacy. For men, it’s the other way round. If they get more physical intimacy, they are more up for that emotional connection. If you get the ball rolling on either end – the men thinking about the emotional side, women about the physical – things often get easier.”

5. Build a ‘bridge’ between the everyday and intimate

“(After a long day) it’s only natural that you might have trouble switching from the role of parent to the role of hot date. The trick is to consider how you can build a bridge from one space to another. Jump in the shower or go for a bit of a walk, before reconnecting with your partner.”

6. Actively make romance a priority

“Put romance on your to-do list - most of the time it’s not even on it. Live by something I call the ‘Good Enough’ principle. Often we want to do things perfectly – we want the cleanest house etc.  But ask what would make your partner more happy – doing the dishes or spending some quality time with them? Say to yourself 'it’s good enough - the kids are all in bed and healthy, and now I can spend some happy time with my partner'.”

7. Plan date nights and try different things

“Date night is very important because it gets you back to just the two of you. That will help you remember what you saw in each other and give you opportunity to reconnect. We humans tend to be creatures of habit so we might want to choose the same restaurant or the same meal. Doing something new together will rekindle that attraction so think creatively about what you’re going to do.”

:: Read Kinderling's 7 date ideas better than a fancy dinner

8. Create a couple bucket list

“Write down ten new and novel things you’d each like to do together. When you have time, pick an idea out at random. Some of them could even be things you could do with your children. (If money’s tight), having a date in the house can be really nice. Like a picnic in the garden or having a romantic dinner once the kids are asleep."

9. Dispel expectations

“When it comes to sex, there’s absolutely no average (for number of times a week) for parents. What’s key is that you’re both happy. It becomes a problem if there is a mismatch in libido. If one wants it more, they always thinks the other has the problem. Also the one with the lower libido does control the frequency, which can frustrate the other partner. Talking it through is important.”

10. Learn the two-minute trick

"Research shows couples who spend more quality time together are not just happier now, but also happier about the prospect of a future together. Try something really simple called two minute partings and greetings. Every time one of you leave your house, say goodbye properly and take two minutes to share a kiss and talk. When your partner returns, make them feel welcome, have a kiss. It doesn’t demand extra time like date night, but those minutes will soon start to add up.”

Hear Kinderling Conversation weekdays at 12pm and check out the podcast

Also see more Love & Relationships stories:

:: Seven sweet date ideas that aren’t just dinner
:: 46 years and going strong - how to have a long and lasting relationship
:: Dating coach tips for single parents

Photo credit: Dreamstime