The daily grind of parenting doesn’t always allow for romance, but that’s not exactly shocking information.
Running a household with young children who require constant attention does not put me into a sexual mood. My husband and I are great co-parents, have busy jobs, and we equally divide household duties, but there are many times when we mimic roommates rather than soulmates.
It’s not like we don’t try – it’s just that life with kids often gets in the way. At dinner, my husband will ask me how my day went. Before I can answer, my son will chime in about the fun trick he taught the puppy. My husband will remind my son not to interrupt, but the moment of connection has passed.
During the day, I will sext my husband about getting hot and heavy later that night. However, after dinner, dishes, taking out the garbage, getting the kids bathed, dressed, and into bed, we both plop onto the couch, phones in hand, scrolling mindlessly, and zoning out. To be honest, by the end of the day we are both so exhausted that a good night’s sleep sounds more appealing to us than having sex. So, we sleep.
And that’s the slippery slope that can dangerously lead to becoming roommates with your partner.
Before having children, my husband and I did everything together. We got along swimmingly and would calmly and rationally resolve our disagreements. We didn’t really have to try to have a thriving relationship because we had the emotional and physical energy to do so.
After children, that same emotional and physical energy went into our children and our togetherness was redefined by parenthood. But after ten years of marriage, what I know for sure is that it’s all too easy to blame parenthood on a complacent partnership. As relationships evolve, so does the level of energy that needs to be put into them.
If you think your relationship with your significant other is heading down the roommate path, here are some common parenting-related relationship problems and ways to help.
You don’t talk about anything real
The fix: Sure, you guys talk about bills, the kids, and schedules, but when was the last time you both discussed anything real? Schedule 10-15 minutes in the morning or evening to talk. Have your morning coffee together and put down your phones, if only for 10 minutes, and talk about your day or schedule a date night at least once a week to catch up.
Make the effort to genuinely ask how our partner is doing. Communicating in an honest way helps to open up emotional intimacy.
You’re rarely having sex
The fix: Sex should be instinctive and passionate, not something that pops up in your Google calendar. But guess what? If you and your partner are lacking in the sex department, scheduling sex can be a game changer. When sex is scheduled, you both know what to expect, and it gives you both something to look forward to.
Scheduling sex can also help lead to a more spontaneous sex life since it helps to decrease the amount of time between sessions. Because, like any habit, the more you do it the easier it gets, and the less you do it the harder it becomes!
You are both two ships passing in the night
The fix: Try to enjoy experiences together and create new memories as often as possible. If you’re going to plop on the couch together, watch a show you’re both interested in and cuddle while doing so. Take up a shared hobby or work on a home project together. Try going to bed at the same time so you have more opportunities to connect.
You don’t have to do everything together, but finding at least something that is just for the both of you will help increase the emotional (and perhaps physical) intimacy between you and your partner.
You think sex should be like in the movies
The fix: Hollywood makes it seem like no matter how tired or busy you are, the moment you lay eyes on your partner, you will feel an immediate desire to rip off their clothes and have your way with them. Hollywood tells us that our partner is responsible for our arousal and that if we don’t feel immediate chemistry with someone, they are just not “the one.”
That’s just not real life.
When we are fed unrealistic depictions of what a healthy intimate relationship should look like, we will likely begin to believe that there is something wrong. You will not always feel chemistry with your partner. You will not always desire intercourse the industry standard of two to three times a week. And, sex doesn’t have to consist of intercourse; there are many other ways to be intimate.
What’s important is that you feel a continuous intimacy with your partner and that it rarely takes a back seat. Do the work to make your relationship a priority and set all unrealistic expectations aside.