Nicholas Sparks, an author known for his love stories, once defined romance as “ . . . thinking about your significant other when you’re supposed to be thinking about something else.” Well-said Mr. Romance Novelist, but as a mom, you are almost always thinking about somebody else, and it’s not usually your husband! The baby needs a diaper change; the dryer just buzzed; somebody spilled their sippy cup so the dog is now covered in sticky apple juice; I should have been showered and out the door 45 minutes ago. Romance? What’s that? Keeping the spark of romance alive isn’t easy when you’re a parent. In honor of February and Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a few tips for parents to help you reconnect and rekindle the romance.
Love Letters: Once upon a time, suitors and courtiers proclaimed their love through long, eloquent poems, sonnets and letters. In today’s technology world, we don’t usually sit down to write anything longer than a grocery list, but why should that stop you? Whether it’s a short and sweet text, an email, or even a post-it note slapped on a coffee mug or ipad, share your feelings with your partner. Or, get really good and slip a card (yes, Hallmark actually still makes these) in a computer bag, or on the dash of the car. My husband once sent me a fun, sweet, upbeat love song, and it still warms my heart to this day. So whether you say it in text, email, handwritten notes, or even with music, the point is – just say it!
Sleeping Together: Yes, once upon a time, this probably meant sex, but in the world of a parent, it actually means just sleeping together. But, why not snuggle up with the one that you love when the baby’s asleep? Or, if your kiddos are past the point of nap time, have them do Quiet Time while Mommy and Daddy still get a Saturday afternoon snooze. It’s sweet, it’s cuddly, and yes, it’s romantic. And, who doesn’t need a nap?
Skin-on-Skin: As a mom, you know the importance of bonding with your child, of your little one feeling the touch of your skin on his. Romantic love is no different. Yes, it’s true that finding a moment alone takes a small miracle, so don’t wait for that. Give your spouse a hug when he comes home – or maybe even a real kiss, not just the perfunctory peck on the check. Hold hands while you’re watching that DVR’d version of Modern Family or just give him an extra squeeze when you’re bobbing and weaving around the kitchen, getting dinner ready for the kids. It’s that physical affection, that small touch or moment that keeps the romance alive in a marriage.
Remember When: Look at a couple that’s been married for 40 or 50 years, and while their sex life may or may not be heating up the night, so much of the love and romance of their marriage is in their shared history–the years of joy and sorrows, the memories that they’ve made. As parents, you may not have many opportunity for fine dining and dancing under the stars. But, spend an evening at home on the couch with a with a glass of wine, some photo albums and or even family videos. Relive your wedding day, your honeymoon, the days when you were dating, your first moments as parents – nothing reignites the romance after kids like a little walk down Memory Lane.
A Quickie: Yes, I said it. And, I’d say it again. Let’s face it – sex is what got you into this whole parenthood thing; you still deserve it. However, long, languid nights spent in each other’s arms aren’t happening. And you probably don’t fall asleep naked in each other’s arms, lest a toddler come wandering in and start asking questions! But, knowing that you just have a moment, that at any time the baby could wake up or the alarm clock is about to go off, or that it’s almost time to go pick up the kids adds some extra sizzle to it all. Like two teenagers about to get busted by the parents, it’s exciting! So, surprise your significant other and you’ll probably make his day – or night — as well.
Dates: Any relationship class, seminar or counseling emphasizes the importance of making time for each other – and parenthood is no excuse. Yes, that time may get more spread out, but you still want to do it. If you can’t be one of those couples who does a weekly Date Night, then do it monthly – or whenever you can. If Date Nights are out of the question, kick off a little early from work and go enjoy dinner or a movie. Even better, take a personal day, and enjoy lunch with the One That You Love. However you can make it happen, make it happen – and stick to it.
The Element of Surprise: Some people are just naturally romantic and understand the meaning of the Grand Gesture – and then there’s everyone else. But, you know what’s sexy and romantic? Something you totally weren’t expecting! So, maybe it’s not a dozen roses, but what about some flowers from the grocery store in a vase? While every day can’t bring diamonds, what about a takeout version of your favorite dessert from your favorite restaurant? Tell your partner he’s got the afternoon or evening off from the kids and to go relax. Or better yet, what if your husband tells you you’ve got an hour to go take a long bubble bath? Sometimes, the romance is in the unexpected. So, surprise each other!
Rekindling the romance in your life doesn’t mean you rewind to when you were a new couple, glassy-eyed and newly in love. It doesn’t have to be violinists on the riverbanks or a diamond bauble in your champagne glass. Don’t kid yourself – those are great, and every person still deserves the Grand Gesture once in a while. But, it’s the little things that truly do mean a lot. And knowing that in this season of your life, making the time, making the effort, showing your love in the big and small ways, really shows love and thoughtfulness – well, that’s romance right there!
Happy Valentine’s Day!