Have cotton nightshirts replaced sexy lingerie? Have Teletubbies or Pokemon jingles replaced your favorite love songs? Are romance, intimacy and uninterrupted lovemaking just vague memories? Then you must be married with kids.
As soon as the baby arrives, nearly every aspect of your relationship changes—including your love life. At a recent seminar, a mom named Helen asked us for advice. "My husband and I had a great love life before we had kids," she said. "But now we have a problem. Frankly, after three preschoolers climb on me all day, I just don't want to be touched. I'm exhausted and want my 'personal space' back. I end up making myself be intimate because I know my husband wants sex. He senses my reluctance and that doesn't help things. Any tips on how we can reignite a faltering love life?"
Our advice to Helen applies to all couples struggling with getting their sex life back on track after kids arrive. You need to give yourself permission to prioritize your marriage—and that includes finding the time and energy to love each other. One warning: don't wait for spontaneity or you'll end up waiting a long, long time. Your marriage needs to come first, and here's why: your kids will wait while you build your marriage, but your marriage won't wait for your kids to grow up. Ask any couple whose marriage ended just as their kids left home.
Couples with children become concerned about the loss of the easy intimacy they enjoyed earlier in their marriage. It's a common struggle but certainly not hopeless. We know; we've been there.1