Newlyweds, Sleep or Sex? Life with Children

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Welcome to Part II of our ongoing Life Transitions Series. In the first installment I spoke about some of the challenges facing newlyweds who are living together for the first time. This week’s topic is about life with children. Raising a family has unique challenges for couples who have to balance parenting with keeping their love relationship alive and vibrant.  Life with children often means you have to make difficult decisions such as between sleep and sex? 

Of course you want to do the best you can to nurture and care for the kids, but couples have to make their relationship the priority at times when they may not feel like it. Moms might be over tired, feel supremely unsexy after spending all days with the kids, or overworked from holding down a job, keeping house and caring for kids. Dads may be stressed from driving kids to appointments, sports practice, coaching or long hours at work. Stay at home parents may not have spoken to anyone over three feet tall for days at a time! When you have a chance to rest, you both just might want to tuck in and sleep. Who wants to go through the trouble to get a sitter, get dressed up and go out; or to plan a romantic evening in that could be interrupted by a knock on the door at any moment? 

Life with children is exhausting no matter how you slice it, and it’s hard to find the motivation to devote extra energy to your relationship. You only have so much energy and how you spend it is crucial to your personal happiness and that of your relationship. Neglect your relationship now, and you’ll pay the price later. 

Here are some recommendations to help you nurture and prioritize your love relationship with your partner:

  • Schedule kid-free time. This is more difficult when children are small and gets easier as they get older and more able to care for themselves. Find other parents in the same situation as you and trade childcare for kid-free evenings out (or in) with your partner.
  • Have sex regularly. Yes you’re tired and you may not feel sexy, or you may have issues about your post-baby body. Partners, your women need YOU to reassure them and help them feel sexy and desirable. Schedule these times when babies are napping or kids are at school if it’s not happening organically. Do whatever you need to do to have some adult sexy time. This is one of those times that scheduling the time for lovemaking may be necessary, there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • Ramp up the romance. Give gifts, send text messages and above all tell and SHOW your partner how much you love them every single day. It can sometimes feel like it’s all about the kids, so you need to flip the script and make it all about each other too.
  • Remember you’re also modeling loving behavior for your children to learn how to treat their future partners. They need to see you showing affection and being demonstrative together.  Telling your wife she’s a great mom may seem loving but it should be about her as a person not as a mom. She needs to know she is still your best friend, wife, lover, and you love the person she is now and forever.
  • Build each other up and support each other at home. Share chores, pick up the slack for one another, do what needs to be done chores wise, even if it’s typically not your chore. Have your partner’s back, and encourage them. Life with children can be stressful. You need to be there for each other supporting one another through the challenges of parenting.
  • Give each other a break. Self-care is important. Your partner can’t pour from an empty cup, so you can take the kids out for the day on a weekend and allow your partner some time to recharge, sleep in, have lunch with a friend or go shopping without the kids. I can guarantee they’ll be happier when they come home. 
  • Do things as a family. Be the proud parents you are and attend those games or recitals together. Go on family adventures and be proud of your role as parents together. This will also bring you closer in shared joy with your kids. Life with children is fun and exciting, certainly never boring! 

These are the good times in life when you’re raising your family, make them count and do everything you can to enrich your relationship and become even closer and more in love so that when your kids leave home, you and your partner will be able to carry on with your beautiful love story through to the end of life.  Be sure to come back for our next installment of the Life Transitions Series. Part III is all about life as empty nesters. 


About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.