Welcome back to our series, Intimacy After Kids. In Part Two, we’re talking about emotional intimacy. If you’re new here, start with Part One: Intimacy with Self!
My husband and I are at a time within our relationship where physical intimacy is sporadic. We are both working parents who are utterly exhausted trying to parent a toddler. Additionally, I am working to grow a baby and have no desire to by physically intimate! Do I love my husband any less because I don’t want to jump his bones? HECK NO! In fact, during these physical intimacy lulls, is typically when my love for him grows even stronger.
But “why?”, you ask. Because we focus on our relationship or emotional intimacy for each other. Think back to the early days of your relationship. There was a “getting to know you” stage, where you had the opportunity to spend time together and learn about each other’s hopes, dreams, personality, etc. I consider this the foundation of your relationship. While physical intimacy keeps the passion alive and your room hot and steamy, your emotional intimacy keeps you wanting to sleep in the same room.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, once you have kids, you change and your partner changes. That means you must never stop getting to know your partner. So, in this part, I want to guide you with ten ways my partner and I work to build emotional intimacy within our marriage to ensure we have a strong foundation for our family.
- Draw each other a bath. I never took baths before having kids, now I take one on a weekly basis. Part of the intimacy is creating that space for your partner to relax in and giving them time away from their daily responsibilities. I would highly recommend bath salts, bubble bath, a pillow, and a candle to create ambiance. Once you try this tip, I can assure you, you will both be better to each after having spent that time away.
- Have a candle-lit dinner together. No cell phones allowed. If you want to avoid talking about the kids, here’s a game that is great at helping you get to know your partner.
- Write love letters to each other. Go old school and put your thoughts down with pen and paper. We have a journal that we share together that we were given on our wedding day. If you need a more structured journal, here is a journal that gives you questions to respond to as a couple.
- My therapist once gave me the suggestion of completing the 5 Love Language quiz after a pretty lengthy vent session on how my husband was ignoring my needs. This advice literally changed our relationship. We discovered that neither of us were fulfilling each other’s needs according to what we each needed, but instead what we thought our partner wanted. To complete the quiz for free, go to this link. For further reading, here is the book.
- Date each other! Dating doesn’t stop once you get married. In fact, you need to have scheduled date nights to maintain your marriage. I know a couple that scheduled a subscription to Hunt a Killer, a package arrives monthly with a new set of clues as you and your partner work collaboratively to bring down the killer. If you need any additional suggestions, this list offers ideas for both home dates and going out on the town dates.
- There are a few topics that cause tension in our marriage: finances and time. As a couple we have two options: talk about them or ignore them. As you can probably guess, when we ignore them the conflict arises into a verbal altercation rather than a conversation. Knowing this, we have scheduled time to specifically discuss these topics. Every Sunday night, we sit down after putting our toddler to bed to discuss who is managing daycare drop off, making dinner, late night meetings, etc. By spending ten minutes on a Sunday, we now work more effectively as team. On a monthly basis we review our financial goals. I particularly HATE talking about finances so I need a structure to this conversation. First, we go over our must pay bills (the mortgage, daycare, car payment, student loans, utilities, food, gas etc) then we go over our unexpected bills (car repairs, roof leak, etc.). Finally, we talk about savings. Our rule as a couple, anything over $100 must be discussed with the other person, and out of respect for the other person, this is done. If you are hiding your expenses from your partner, figure out why, and address that.
- With work, family, and relationship taking place in the same area for some couples, it is very important to create a space where work is separate. Every day, my work laptop goes into the closet by a specific time. Early into our relationship my husband and I learned that we needed to set work-talk boundaries. I LOVE talking about work and I LOVE talking to my husband. I often times will combine the two, which causes issues within our relationship. So, part of me being an intimate partner is finding someone else to share my woes of work with.
- Studies have found when a couple is planning a vacation together, they are more happy. While this might not be the ideal time to go on an international trip, you can always plan for the future. Know the cost, set the budget and research the various excursions. While you may not be able to travel internationally or across state borders, there are many hotels in your state offering incredible deals. Check out travel sites, and click the book now button. As a couple, you deserve some time away from the kids, hotel sex, and dinner in.
- My husband is constantly asking if we can play a game together versus spending another night on the couch watching mindless tv. If you are anything like my competitive self, there are a only a few games that end in a peaceful night. I love this card game for playing together while still having the control of your own hand. This board game is great for adults and large groups. You can either play against each other or work together to beat other teams.
- My last piece of advice for this category, work on being a great parent to your child/children. When my partner manages the craziness of bath time, my intimacy bucket is filled. When my partner is able to deescalate a toddler tantrum using skills from this book, my intimacy bucket is filled. When my partner sits on his phone while my toddler is asking for ANOTHER book, my intimacy bucket is emptied. You get the picture. Be present as a parent and try your hardest to raise the tiny humans!
Stay tuned for Intimacy After Kids Part 3: Physical Intimacy, coming next week. As always, thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for commenting. Have fun! 😉