Bringing Back the Heat to a Post-Baby Marriage
Did you see that romantic movie where Ryan Gosling tells the female lead how sexy she looks in stained yoga pants with spit-up in her unwashed hair? No? That's because such a scene doesn't exist, although it should. Even when you're exhausted and cranky and feel like your body doesn't belong to you anymore, you've still got it going on. The man who loves you knows that better than anyone, even if he's also too busy and exhausted to show it. Making your relationship a priority is one of the best things you can for your kids and for yourselves, so shake things up—starting now.
Schedule Alone Time
There will come a day when you can have a spontaneous love life again. Remind yourselves of that if creating a weekly calendar entry for "Sex, 9 to 9:30 p.m." feels too clinical and forced. At the end of another long day, it's easy to forgo sex in the interest of getting more sleep...until one day you realize you can't remember the last time you capped off the night with anything other than a chaste kiss. So for now, treat your physical relationship like one more item on your to-do list, and put it in writing.
The key to making this work, though, is not to talk or think about this particular calendar entry the same way you approach a dentist's appointment or other chore. Decide as a couple when and how often to schedule special alone time, then make an effort to be flirty about how you discuss it. On the day of, send a "Looking forward to tonight!" text with a winking emoji, or say goodbye in the morning with an extra long and meaningful kiss. Then you'll both spend the day looking forward to the night.
Maybe you made an art of missing French class in high school. But if you've never snuck out on something you were "supposed" to be doing, you're missing out on a thrillingly naughty experience. Of course, skipping a major work meeting or leaving the kids home alone are big no-nos, but taking a long lunch break to take a walk in the park with your hubby is a low-stakes way of getting that thrill.
Embracing spontaneous fun is a simple way to give your relationship a little spark of excitement. Call your husband in the middle of the day and ask him to meet you at a store where you can try on sexy dresses and give him a fashion show. Schedule a last-minute play date or hire a babysitter on a Sunday afternoon so you can go to a movie or even just nap together. If you have willing parents nearby, suggest a sleepover with the grandkids, and run off to a local hotel together.
Pressing your bodies together and swaying in time is one of the simplest ways to physically and emotionally reconnect. And that's good news for parents, because dancing is free, fast and you can even do it in front of the kids. One way to do this is to make a habit of having family dance parties. Start with a few fast songs that everyone can boogie to, then play at least one slow song for you and your spouse to dance to together.
Alternatively, make a playlist of sentimental tunes like your first-dance song, and make a habit of having an occasional pre-bedtime twirl together. You might feel silly at first, but lowering the lights and bringing out a few candles should help put you both at ease. And if you laugh through the whole dance, well, that'll bring you together too.
Take this a step further by signing up for ballroom dancing lessons or by planning a monthly date night to a dance club where you can let down your hair, have a few cocktails and try some PG-13 moves away from the prying eyes of your kids. Years down the road, when your kids see you dancing at a family wedding and wonder how you got so good at the rumba, you can look at each other and know that it's your little secret.
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Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.