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Love and Sex After Children: How to Keep the Flame Alive

Demonstrating a loving relationship with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your children.
Demonstrating a loving relationship with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your children.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Caring for children can be both physically and emotionally draining. If they're not depriving you of sleep or privacy, children definitely deprive you of uninterrupted conversations, romantic dinners, weekends away and unhurried, unscheduled sex. Now for the positive side: Many relationship counselors believe that you can have children and a love life, too.

Dr. Ellen Kreidman, best-selling author of Is There Sex After Kids?, says "one of the best ways to show your children love is by having a loving relationship with your spouse." In fact, Dr. Ellen helps couples become better parents by becoming better partners and lovers.

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Three Reasons the Flame Dies After Kids:

  1. It's difficult to shift gears. Dr. Ellen says it can be tough switching from the role of parent to lover. Making that transition begins with changing how you refer to your mate. She tells couples to call each other by their pet names. Do not refer to your spouse as "mommy" or "daddy." That's a sure way to prevent your partner from feeling sexy.
  2. You take each other for granted. Do you stop what you're doing and greet your spouse with a smile when he or she comes home from work, or do you continue talking on the phone while you assist your child with homework and make the family dinner? Dr. Ellen encourages couples to remember what it was like when they first fell in love and were separated for an entire day. Greet your partner in a way that makes him or her feel like the most important person in your life. Embrace, kiss and ask your mate about his or her day.

3.  You're bogged down in routine. Instead of being lovers, people often become working partners. When that happens, couples often end up having routine sex. While you may need to schedule time to be alone when you have children, Dr. Ellen says you can still make your sex life more exciting. Be creative. For example, make love in a room other than your bedroom (and preferably when the kids aren't around). Surprise your mate with sexy lingerie, or call him or her at work and flirt like you did before kids entered the scene.

On the next page, learn how to have a love affair with your mate.

To avoid giving your spouse "leftover love," you need to schedule time for sex. It's "the best way to ensure intimacy," says Dr. Ellen, who adds that such planning can actually create anticipation. And don't say that you can't find the time. That's a poor excuse for sacrificing your most important relationship. Dr. Ellen says you need to do three times as much to keep your mate as you did to win your mate. Couples should spend one weeknight alone together and one weekend every three months without the kids.

Don't Let Obstacles Get in Your Way

To have a healthy love life after children, it's important to make your relationship with your spouse your top priority. Here are some of the most common obstacles to avoid:

  • You can't find a baby sitter. Many couples use this excuse because they feel guilty leaving their kids after working all day. Tell your kids that you need one night a week for grown-up time. Let them help pick a sitter they like and schedule him or her every week for six months. The kids will start to look forward to your night out, too.
  • You don't have money for a sitter. Many couples can't afford a sitter every week. Arrange a baby-sitting swap with a neighbor or friend. Or establish a "do not disturb" rule one night a week. Set your children up with a movie, sleeping bags, popcorn and breakfast items for the morning.
  • You're too tired to go out. Do it anyway. Going out will decrease your stress. You'll feel energized and relaxed when you return.
  • You don't feel romantic. It's common when juggling work and children to feel this way. Start sending positive messages to yourself about your sexuality. Some affirmations that can help are: "I love my body," "I love being touched and touching," "I love sex." If you really can't get in the mood, try sleeping in each other's arms or have your partner give you a massage and see what happens next.
  • There's not enough time. Make the time. Wake up early or stay up later. Divide household responsibilities with your partner so you can have some time together. Make the children's dinner and feed them in a separate room while you have a romantic dinner with your spouse.

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