If only the honeymoon stage lasted forever. If only it were possible to sustain that level (and…ahem, frequency) of romance for the years to come, even after kids. Alas, for most couples, romance seems to be harder to come by when the family grows.
Blame it on pregnancy, postpartum, job changes, or all the financial responsibilities that come with adulting. The stress of adulting, especially as it relates to becoming a parent, can extinguish even the strongest of flames. Unless, of course, we make romance a priority no matter the season.
While dating, my husband and I were surrounded by couples who challenged us to be intentional in learning how we each felt most loved. Even early in marriage, there used to be plenty of brain space to plan the next way we’d surprise each other. But when we had our daughter, I remember sending a tear-filled Marco Polo to my closest friends saying, “How will I ever be able to meet a need of Drew’s again? I can barely keep up with our baby, much less taking care of myself.”
As for sex, what used to be possible any time of day based on our mood, then suddenly depended on our baby’s routine. We were often either exhausted from caring for her, afraid to wake her, or eager to use the sudden free hour to do something we were behind on, like eating.
Now, just two years later, I look back and see what has enabled us to keep romance alive post-kids (especially since we added a 2nd, and have baby #3 on the way!).
Being intentional to surprise each other.
Surprises have felt so key to keeping romance alive. Whether it’s adding licorice to our grocery delivery because I know it’s his favorite, or when he suddenly has off work and sends me on a day away, surprises keep things fun! They also require looking for opportunities to show that we’ve been aware of what might be a felt-need or especially meaningful to the other person.
Make a plan when you have to.
Especially as it relates to sex, sometimes spontaneity post-kids can be really difficult. While we’d say some of the best times are the unplanned ones, some of the most needed times for us to reconnect physically are those we planned. Whether you mark the calendar because the week is crazy, or just wake up and say, “tonight once the kids are down, let’s meet in bed right away,” making a plan has helped us not end up with weeks where we miss this important part of our relationship.
Romance goes far beyond the bedroom and definitely doesn’t always start there. Non-sexual touch, time, words, gifts, etc., contribute to filling our ‘relational love tanks’ as we like to call them! We try to leave the house for a date night twice a month, and the other two weeks, we try to choose a night with only one commitment: do something fun together, besides sex.
Change can be good and even necessary.
Having kids changes things physically and emotionally, so it makes sense that romance would shift in what it looks like over time. We don’t always have the energy for the same kind of night out or intimacy that we used to, and that’s okay! The important thing is that it happens. We seek to evolve together with openness to how we’ve both changed and what would make us each feel most loved.
There is a season for everything.
Especially during the newborn weeks, being intentional about romance looks vastly different than when our youngest is at least 4 months old. We try to keep the pressure off by not making rules or commitments that feel limiting but allow romance to adjust based on the season we’re in. We just want it to exist and are learning to accept where it needs to shift for a time.
Romance is essential to having a thriving relationship, but it can be hard to come by without a plan when kids enter the picture. This is how we do it! It’s far from perfect, and we have a lifetime to keep learning by trial and error. We’re just convinced that it’s necessary (and fun!) and don’t want to miss out on a great marriage because laziness won.
What have you found helpful in keeping the flame alive in your relationship, even after kids? Tell us what you’ve learned in the comments!