When I was in my early twenties, I met a seasoned father who gave me some advice. He said, “When you’re young, you love your spouse. When you grow older, that love shifts toward your children instead.” If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: that’s terrible advice. After all, some day you’ll be empty nesters again, and when that time comes, if you prefer the company of your long-lost children, then you’re going to be miserable old codgers.
Both before, during, and after children, your spouse has got to be your number one. Period. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if your house is on fire and about to explode and you’re faced with the horrible dilemma of either saving your child or your spouse that you’re supposed to choose your spouse. The mantle of parenthood is all about sacrifice and selflessness, which means that sometimes, unfortunately, a nursing baby or a frightened child is going to literally come between you and your spouse, and sex will have to wait. However, this doesn’t mean that your spouse has ceased to be your top priority; it simply means that your relationship is mature enough to accept responsibility before gratification. It means that you’ve achieved a state of true love, which has everything to do with service, patience, and teamwork.
The good news is that absence makes the heart grow fonder. My wife and I have found that while our sex life tends to slow down during the months around birth, following this period, our sex lives inevitably pick up at an accelerated rate, making up for lost time. Though there’s a sleeping baby nearby, we’ve felt separate for so long that suddenly we’re like newlyweds, rediscovering each passion for the first time. These cycles of denial, suspense, and blissful pay-offs add spice to our marriage that otherwise wouldn’t be there. After all, we can’t give time and attention to the “child of our love” without also turning our hearts to each other.
While it’s easy to have an optimistic point of view from a distance, the day-to-day frustrations as children eat up your schedule can certainly take a tole on any relationship. So here’s some quick tips to keep the fire going:
- If possible, have sex in the middle of the day. The #1 killer of your sex life may be nothing more than exhaustion. There’s no rule that it has to happen at night. Think priorities.
- Set goals and keep them. While everything around you tries to tug you apart, make a plan of how you’re going to stay together … or it may not happen. Set regular times for sex, dates, relaxation, reading, exercise, recreation, etc.
- Insist on a regular “room time”. If your kids are on a regular napping schedule, then mommy and daddy can get on one too, no questions asked. Consistency and firm rules will help children understand when they need to entertain themselves so that mommy and daddy can “take a nap.”
- Have a sense of humor. When things don’t work out (which may sometimes be the rule, not the exception), don’t take offense. Don’t let it weigh on you. Focus on the other good parts of your relationship.
- Remember that every setup has a payoff. Generally speaking, the longer you wait, the better it will be next time!