I remember when my kids were old enough to be less dependent on us. We no longer got up in the middle of the night to check for monsters under the bed or in the closet. Our kids were finally able to get their own glass of water or take themselves to the bathroom. It was a joy when my boys were at an age where they could bathe and go to bed on their own. Nights were returned to my husband and me again. However, something strange had occurred. We adapted to our roles as parents., but lost touch with what it meant to be intimate lovers. The funny part is that we had not realized we were not connecting intimately. Yes, we were “intimate” and, we kissed, or showed each other affection–in passing, or before one of us left for the day. But that deep, heart shaking, look into your eyes kiss, or the patience and time we took to really get into each other, we had not done focused on in a long time. We were so surprised when we tried to truly reconnect as lovers. We fumbled a lot, and were so clumsy with each other. It was so strange until we had to laugh. Thankfully, we recovered!
It is no secret that after having children intimacy can change. Some couples go from being deeply intimate and having sex at any time of the day, multiple times throughout of the day, to weeks between having sex or just being connected intimately. If you are lucky, a quickie every so often may occur, or a kiss, here and there. Additionally, “us” time gets reserved mainly in the evenings, after the kids are finally asleep or when you think they won’t wake up again and disturb your groove. However, by that time you think you and your spouse have “us” time, you both are so tried, you barely have enough energy to kiss each other goodnight. Then, if you do have enough energy to have a go at it, you are on edge because at any moment you fear your child will wake up and bang on your door. So, intimacy, let alone foreplay and actual sex, gets pushed further and further back into the “let’s skip it” column of your mind.
Of course, you and your spouse adapt–we certainly did. You accept that you are parents and get sex and intimacy in your schedule the best way you can, if and when you can. But, eventually, the kids get older, independent, and interruptions are less frequent, until they are non-existent. Nighttime become yours again. Then, as your children attend school, meet peers, and get active, they start hanging out, and having nights and days away from home. Eventually, you start to notice, “gee, no one is home but us most of the day.” However, you and your spouse have now developed a pattern. You learned to stop relating to each other like you did before the kids–you stopped being lovers and started being parents. When you get to this point in life, its time to rediscover the lover in you, and in your spouse! You can reclaim your emotional intimacy and sexual energy. It can actually be exciting to get in touch with the lovers you and your significant other used to be. Here are five easy suggestions to jump start the process:
1. Recognize that this is a normal phase in transitioning from lovers, to parents, and back to lovers again. There is nothing wrong with either of you. This can simply be a part of married life, provided no other issues are going on. All you need is a little change in thinking and behavior to get out of the parent routine .
2. Start dating again. When your kids are at an age where you can leave them alone for 2 or 3 hours, take time to date. Go to the movies, or out to dinner. Go have a cup of coffee or tea, maybe ice cream. You can also take a drive or long romantic walk around the park or neighborhood. Dating your spouse helps you both to reconnect.
3. When you have alone time with each other, have adult conversations that do not include the kids, the house or finances. Save those serious discussions for non-romantic business related conversations. Only talk about your hopes, dreams, likes, and dislikes, or feelings. Compare if you guys feel the same about these topics now as you did before you got married. Discuss how much you love each other and why. Remind each other why you fell in love, or remember how you make each other laugh and incidents that drew you to each other.
4. Make small intimate moments and romantic gestures throughout the day. For instance, leave a post-it note on your spouses pillow that says things like “iHeart U, Ur sexy, or TY for Ur Luv.” Text a quick romantic meme, emoticon, or messages about how you feel. Send a ring tone of a love song your spouse or partner likes. When you come home, give him or her an unexpected kiss. Hug each other, in a long warm embrace, each time you see each other–even if you just left the room . These small intimate moments and gestures can mean a lot and serve as a reminder that you value your spouse as a lover, not just as your child’s other parent.
5. Explore each other’s body. Sometimes just touching, kissing and focusing on the shape and texture of each other’s bodies (without actually having sex) can be very intimate and intense. Look into each other’s eyes and recite poetry, or loving words. Have a little intimate pillow talk while touching.
By putting these suggestions, or maybe some of your own, in place, you will soon rediscover the lover in your spouse. With continued interaction, you will realize renewed intimacy and you will soon feel back on course with being intimate partners, not just parents.
If you have a great way to reconnect, feel free to share in the comments. Or, if you have a question about intimacy and sex after children, feel free to Ask Dawn!
Dawn C. Reid
Expert Relationship & Personal Growth Coach
Reid Ready Coaching, LLC