Why is it that all romance novels stop at the part when the man and woman fall in love? When they consummate their relationship or get married? When I was a teenager and reading Mills and Boon novels, I used to wonder this. Surely this couple were just starting their lives. Why didn’t the reader get to see the rest of it? Moving in together, having kids etc. Was it because the writer knew the couple would need my top tips to show how to keep the romance alive?!
Well, 11 years down the line and having had two children, I know the answer to that question. I know why Mills and Boon decided to stop when the romance was fresh, when there was no pitter, patter of tiny feet and no furrowed brow over the bill that has landed on the door mat.
Being a mother and a lover
I’ll admit, it’s difficult having a sexual, romantic relationship whilst also being a mother and caring for a child’s needs. However much magazines and films like to romanticize it, the two don’t really sit well together. A date is all about the anticipation, time spent getting ready. Concentrating on the other person, their needs, their desires. Add children into that equation and you have dirty fingerprints on your clothes, demands for snacks, meltdowns etc.
But the good news is that many relationships succeed through the first years of having children. Love, attraction and respect persevere through the snotty noses, diaper changes and the school years. But how do these couples do it? How do they retain that ‘spark?’ That is really the big question and one I’ve attempted to answer with my top tips on how to keep romance alive.
Tips how to keep the spark and romance alive
1. Put a lock on the bedroom door!
This one is a must. Children have no boundaries and want access to their parents at all times. Lovely when you want a hug or have spare time for them but not quite so good when you and your partner are attempting ‘adult time’. Set your children up with a craft, TV or anything that will occupy them, slip upstairs and lock that door! Then you can truly relax and concentrate on each other. Whether its for a quick 15 minutes or an hour, your attention will be on your partner and you will both benefit from this time.
2. Adult time
Yes, this is a tip! As a parent, we spend so much time doing activities that children enjoy. Crafts, teaching them to cook, playing sport with them. It’s all good but we have to remember that we are adults and sometimes need to behave like one. Don’t just save the adult time to collapse in front of the tv when your children have gone to bed. Remember to leave the tv control alone and instead choose an activity you both enjoy that you do not do with the children. Whether it is listening to music, sharing a bottle of wine and talking; it will help you to reconnect.
3. Book a babysitter
Find yourself a babysitter. Whether its a family member or someone you trust, book them in! If you’re worried about the cost, factor it into your monthly budget. It doesn’t have to be every week, but the two of you deserve an evening out. To reconnect and remember that you have fun together and have more in common than just your children. Trust me, it will leave you feeling happier and closer to your partner, even if you do have a hangover the next day.
4. Have a romantic getaway with the kids
Sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? Surely, the kids SHOULDN’T be with you for a romantic getaway. However, sometimes we have to make do with the situation we find ourselves in. My suggestion would be to keep this in mind when you are booking your trip. If you are staying in a hotel, look for one that has activities for children. Make sure the children have a separate room. Plenty of hotels have rooms next to each other with interconnecting doors. Good for your peace of mind but remember to lock it when you need to. If you are going away with friends, suggest to them that you watch each others children for a night. Both couples will get a romantic evening by themselves and your friends will appreciate you all the more. Don’t forget that every couple needs to ‘date’, to keep the romance alive; no matter how long they have been together.
5. Sexual spark
Lastly but definitely important, you have to keep that good old attraction going. It can be so easy to let life grind you down. As much as we love them, children are hard work. They are tiring and when we are tired, we don’t make as much of an effort. Paying attention to what you wear and taking care of yourself often diminishes. Many couples come to view their partner as little more than a caregiver or a friend. That is the death knell to a romantic relationship. When you first met each other, the attraction would have been strong and this is something you need to pay attention to. Listen to your partner’s opinion when buying underwear or nightwear. Make sure you look after your hair and your figure. Not just to help with the sexual attraction but also for you. The more you respect and like yourself, the more your partner will. This is definitely one way in how to keep the romance alive in your relationship.
I have total respect for couples that make it through the storm of childhood and still love and respect each other. It is a great example for your children and gives them the joy of having both parents at home. However, it does take work. The last thing a child needs is parents fighting all the time and not spending any time together.
There is a belief that we need to spend as much time with our children as possible and that we will harm them psychologically if we do not. This can lead to a lot of guilt if both parents work or are wanting to have adult time. However, studies show that quality can be more important than quantity. If you are a stressed out parent, working too hard then spending the rest of your time with your children, where does your partner fit in? Neither your children nor your partner will benefit. Its best to proportion your time. There are three people who most importantly need your ‘spare time’. Your children, your partner and you!
Time for yourself, away from your children
If you allocate time to yourself, to fit in an activity just for you, you will be more relaxed and better company when it comes to your family. Make sure you give yourself time before anyone else. Otherwise your stress will feed onto others. Plan a time, once a week where your children know to leave you alone. Whether it’s half an hour to have a bath, an hour to read or whichever activity you choose, you can guarantee that after it you will feel more relaxed and calmer. This relaxed moment feeds down to your family and joy will flow.
Spend time apart from your partner
I know, I know. These last two points actually sound like you will be trying to get away from your partner, which is hardly working on your relationship. But bear with me, it will all become clear.
When we are in a relationship and also when we have children, life can get a little over-whelming. Work, house, children, spouse. There are so many demands on our time and attention. The most healthy thing we can to help our relationship survive is actually spend time apart from our partner. Don’t let your friends drift away. Give them a call and arrange an afternoon or evening out. Try not to talk too much about your family, apart from a ‘catch-up’. We have to remember that we are an individual, first and foremost with personal needs. And spending time with people outside of our immediate family helps tend to these needs. We leave refreshed and can return to our family feeling renewed and loving. I can’t think of a better way to come back to my partner.
Does your relationship need to regain that spark?
Do you feel frazzled with life and the demands on your time? Maybe your relationship seems to be slipping away. Don’t worry, the positive behind this is that there is hope. Where two people once loved and fancied each other, this spark can be reignited. It can take work but as you start showing your partner more attention, he will appreciate and love you in return. Start following the tips above to learn how to keep romance alive. Don’t miss any out and your relationship will feel reborn. And make sure you enjoy the journey along the way. It will be fun!
Enjoy and hold onto your relationship