Updated: Feb 4
So, you have a new baby who has come to join your married life, and now you are a family of 3 (or more!). There’s no doubt about it, it’s a beautiful thing!
As time ticks on, however, you start to notice how much it begins to change in your relationship with your partner. You realize that you don't snuggle as much as you used to. Perhaps those quick tussles in the bed together occur a little less frequently… or not at all! Adult conversations that once stimulated your mind and added richness to your relationship are far and few between. And when you do manage to get in some time to talk to one another, you notice the conversation is always about the baby! Chores seem to pile up, alone time is nonexistent, and, before you know it, your spouse becomes a stranger to you.
It’s no secret that having kids presents itself with some pretty busy moments in life. Whether you’re a working-mom or a stay-at-home-mom, having a baby upsets the balance in your life and marriage.
As a Marriage & Family Therapist, I’ve met hundreds of couples who feel their relationship seems to be sinking. Unfortunately, by the time most couples come to therapy, there relationship is in a pretty terrible place. They are engaging in those 6 warning signs that tell therapists the relationship is doomed to fail. It’s no surprise that couples will ignore the trouble in their relationship until the problem is bad, they can’t hide from it any longer.
Children can be a particularly troublesome time for couples too. Couples are faced with raising a new life, putting their parenting skills to the test, and trying to blend different approaches to child-rearing that may (or may not) go well together.
Today, I'm going to share with you about the Emotional Piggy-bank, and then I'm going to give you 4 easy tips you can begin applying TONIGHT to help rekindle the romance in your relationship.
The Emotional Piggy-Bank
This is a concept I teach parents and couples when working in therapy. Pretend that your relationship represents a piggy-bank. Every time you spend quality/positive moments with one another, you are depositing money into the piggy-bank. Whenever you argue or do something to hurt your partner, you are withdrawing money from the piggy-bank. This is your Emotional Piggy-bank, and it's a pretty simple concept.
Essentially, the key to keeping your relationship with your spouse healthy is to always have money in your Emotional Piggy-bank. Couples get into trouble when they keep withdrawing money from the bank, but do little to put money back into it. Children add to this mix because the stress of raising kids increases the chances that you will withdraw money from the bank and do little to replace the money in the future.
Using this idea, I'm going to give you 4 tips on how you can squeeze in those special moments to keep your marriage happy and healthy through the stress of raising kids. These 4 tips will serve as depositing money back into your Emotional Piggy-bank so your relationship is always RICH! So, let’s look at some ideas on how to keep the romance alive!
1. Make Sure to Have Some Date Nights
This is a pretty obvious one, but couples really struggle to manage it. If you can have a weekly date night where the two of you get to spend some time alone, go for it! If you’re like me, however, weekly is going to be pretty tough.
Don’t sweat it! Shoot for a date night at least 1x per month for a few hours. It may not seem like much, but it goes a long way in helping to deposit funds into that bank!
2. Try to Enjoy Meals Together
Life can get pretty hectic! It’s becoming an increasing trend to eat meals on the sofa while watching TV. Scratch this off your list of options. Take advantage of the fact that you all have to eat anyways, so spend some time together!
If you have a baby, feed him while you and your spouse get a chance to talk about things that matter to you! If you have older children, go around in a circle asking each other about your day. Model to your children how to listen to someone else and show interest in what others are saying.
3. Acknowledge Your Spouse When They Come Home
Do you know how many people walk into their home every day and aren’t really acknowledged by their family members upon arrival? Can you imagine how awful it must feel to be gone all day and no one seems to care that you’re finally home?
Make an effort to say “hi” to one another! Stop what you’re doing and go greet your spouse at the door with a kiss, a hug, and a, “How was your day?” We do this for our guests who come to our home… why wouldn’t we do this for the person we have chosen to share our lives with?
If you’re the one coming home, you can do the same thing by seeking your spouse out and sharing in a kiss or simple embrace when you get home.
4. Don’t Forget Physical Intimacy
There are many ways of being intimate with one another, and they don’t all have to include sex. There is research to show that sharing in sexual intimacy on a weekly basis is good for you and your relationship on many levels. But with small kids, this can be very difficult. This doesn’t mean you can’t be intimate in other ways, however.
Simple caresses as you pass each other in a hallway, or a quick kiss that lingers just a little before you dash on to your next chore with a frisky smile, can go a long way in keeping the playfulness of your relationship alive until you can find some “alone” time.
I knew one woman who was still married to her husband after 40 years of marriage. She was in her late 70s. I asked her once how she kept the romance of her marriage alive. This was her response:
“By never forgetting the fun of sneaking in private moments without my parents finding out!”
She explained that having kids while being married is the same as being a teenager with your boyfriend and your parents in the other room. It didn’t stop you then, did it? Why would it stop you now?
"Go Get'em Tiger!"
I hope this post gave you some easy tips to help spicy up your relationship with your spouse. Remember, in order for your relationship to remain healthy, you have to keep pouring into it! You have to keep depositing those funds into that Emotional Piggy-bank!
So go get'em, and begin enjoying a little more romance in your relationship tonight!