Remember the person you fell in love with? Remember those butterflies and tingles? The sparks? The kisses? The date nights? The exquisite intimacy (and probably the reason you are now a mom)?
Oh, yeah, those… it might feel like a lifetime ago. Then the baby came and everything changed. For me, the first year after my daughter arrived in the our lives feels like one dark blur. Any form of intimacy went the way of the dodo bird. Part of the reason for this was postpartum depression. Kind of hard to get “in the mood” when everything around you is a painted a shade of black. Another factor affecting my desire for intimacy was recovering from a 3-degree tear along with an emergency surgery, both requiring months of pelvic floor physical therapy to finally heal before I could enjoy sex once again.
As I battled depression and tried to get my physical body back in somewhat normal function, I realized that my relationship with my husband had taken a dive. Both of us were so sleep deprived those first 18 months of my daughter’s life that we never made time for ourselves, let alone each other. When we did get a little free time, naps were the top priority. Both of us worked full-time jobs and opposite shifts. We hardly saw each other anymore. My love for my husband never changed, but the sparks, tingles, and butterflies no longer existed.
Here’s a few steps we took to get our relationship back on track.
1. Take time to hug, like REALLY hug. More than 20 seconds. And while you are hugging don’t think of anything except the fact you are in your lover’s arms.
2. Kiss. Kiss when your partner comes home or leaves. Kiss just for the hell of it. Kiss, kiss, kiss. It only takes two seconds, but that simple connection makes all the difference in the world.
3. Flirt. Isn’t that how you two ended up together in the first place? Don’t stop now that there’s a kid on board.
4. Exchange notes. Text, email, an actual hand-written note. Make sure you include lots of x’s and o’s.
5. Connect. Sure you don’t have those endless hours of uninterrupted time together, but even five to ten minutes can be effective. And no cell phones or any other electronic distractions should be running during this time.
6. Listen. Ask them how they are feeling or about their day and listen. Don’t interrupt and don’t judge.
7. Keep it simple. While a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant make a lovely date night, sometimes just making a bowl of popcorn and sitting together by the fire or a cup of tea with candle light can be just as nice.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned value of quality over quantity and that simple act of making your partner a priority can do wonders to your relationship. How else do YOU connect with your partner in this stage of your life?