My wife, Yvette, and I have spoken before about how the person you marry is not the person you end up with. After 11 years of marriage, four children and a whole lotta life, my wife and I have renegotiated the terms of our marriage, and relearned one another, over and over again with every new shared and individual experience.
Becoming parents especially was something that shifted the routines within our marriage. You go from working as a team to take care of each other, to working as a team to take care of each other and a child. Priorities shift, romance changes, the ways you once connected adapt to fit around the tiny life you are now responsible for.
It shifts again with every child, as your game plan has to expand to cover more ground. You start to find each other in the in-between, but if you’re not careful and don’t seek it out, you can (and will) lose each other in the hustle and bustle of it all. A question we get all the time is, “How do you balance marriage and kids?” The truth is that you have to be intentional about it. But how?
Communication is key
The blanket answer is communication. You’ve got to communicate about everything in marriage, even the things you or your partner think should go unsaid. In my opinion, the biggest pitfall for married couples comes when either or both partners assume their spouse should automatically know what they want and need. Sometimes, yes, you can read your partner like an open book and intuitively know them because of how much time you have spent with the person. But when you throw in four children, a business and all the other fun things that life throws at you, it gets a lot harder to find that unspoken voice in the noise.
When it comes to intimacy, who initiates and how often?
Where do we start the conversation about how to maintain intimacy? Frequency. What are you and your spouse’s respective sexual appetites like? How many times a week do you hope to have sex? Is it the same? If not, can you meet in the middle? It’s important to disclose this so that neither person feels overwhelmed or unsatisfied. Once you establish how often you’d like to have sex, it becomes easier to talk about how you can make that happen.
Next, we approach the how. Who will initiate sex? Will you take turns? Personally, I recommend taking turns because it takes some of the pressure off whoever normally does it and makes both parties feel wanted and taken care of, and also keeps the power dynamic and responsibility balanced between the two of you. Furthermore, how do you prepare for sex? Is there a date night? An opportunity for emotional intimacy beyond the physical intimacy beforehand? These things also need to be factored into your intimacy schedule.
Creating an opportunity for connection
I want to be clear that it’s not so much about having a rigid calendar of your sex life, but more about scheduling the opportunity for connection and intimacy. That takes the pressure off relying on spontaneity when the opportunity for spontaneous encounters is low. It’s being intentional about scheduling not only time for physical intimacy, but also time for real connection, whether that’s a date night or family time — things that make you want to be physically intimate with your partner because you feel close to them.
Scheduling this time not only ensures that it takes place, but also gives you and your partner things to look forward to or an opportunity to come back together after a disagreement or fight. Instead of trying to find the in-between, you create it. Instead of searching for each other, you meet one another where you know you’ll already be and take it from there. It’s an energy- and time-saver that you and your partner will absolutely be grateful for.
Sometimes my wife and I go to Lowes for date night. Sometimes we play tennis. We make sure to schedule time for fun together because that’s the kind of stuff that makes you remember that you’re not just parents — you’re also people.
My biggest tip for married couples with kids trying to find each other amid the craziness and carve out time for intimacy is to reject the idea that scheduling time for intimacy makes it any less enjoyable. Find new ways to surprise each other and continue to grow with one another in a way that fits your new normal. Your marriage will be better for it!
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