Romance is only defined by the couple enjoying, or lacking it! Here are some ways to increase intimacy and romance, while avoiding the traps that decrease them. Generally speaking, keeping romance alive involves each partner in a relationship being sensitive and respectful of the other person’s needs. That said, if your partner isn’t all that receptive to what works for you personally, here are some quick couple fixes that might work, as reported by other couples in healthy relationships. It is possible to maintain intimacy and romance after the kids come along, it just takes a little more work, imagination and out of the box creativity!
Quick Fixes to Increasing Intimacy – the Obligatory Cookie Cutter Ideas
Grab time together without kid involvement when you can. Many couples take their showers together, have quiet time alone in the morning after waking up, and send steamy text messages and emails to each other. Sticky notes on a computer screen, steering wheel or in a lunch bag are great everyday ideas for spousal appreciation. Carving out date nights, mornings or lunches – whatever the schedule allows, without conversations involving kids and family issues, are also great ideas. By now everyone in the world knows romance starts with kind words or actions of affection that speak louder than overt planning of extravagant date nights out, so help your spouse with chores or other routine tasks to show you care. Discussion points? Tune in to local or world news – or even reality TV. If there is anything you can talk about and share outside work, kids, and family, grab it and go! There is no rule to what couples can or should discuss – it’s all about what works for you.
Short Term Fix to Increasing Intimacy – The Harder Stuff
MANAGE YOUR TIME. Couples need to MAKE time for each other, no matter what. Outside whatever your higher power might be, your couple relationship is THE main factor in success and happiness in all areas of your life. You may have made many “commitments” that seemed like a good idea at the time. If you find you have made too many commitments, it is better to pull out of some of them, than risk your happiness and health of your couple relationship.
Long Term Fix for Intimacy – it’s all About ME! Mindful Escape
This is simple – but not easy. You must take care of yourself. I am not saying you have to go out and run 5 miles every morning or read a chapter a day of a self-help book. Find time for what is meaningful to you. This is not mindless escape, but escape with a purpose. You might want to go to the gym before your day starts as long as your spouse is at home with the kids, have 15 quiet minutes alone with a cup of coffee, or walk your dog around the block. From stealing small meaningful moments, to longer periods of respite – only you can define what you really need and desire to refuel your tank and feel good about YOU. Just do one thing to start – if that is all you do, then that is great. Being a solid individual makes you an even stronger part of a couple; confidence in yourself is the biggest aphrodisiac for both you and your partner.
Romance Busters – the Don’t List!
Guys, don’t rev the kids up before bed, pick your ears with your keys, leave the toilet seat up, leave fingernail clippings on the table or get into “contests” with the kids involving bodily gasses on a routine basis. While you may believe these issues are not problems, over time they can be for many women. If you wouldn’t do it when you are attempting to snag a woman, be mindful that it can be a turn off for women within a committed relationship.
Ladies, don’t leave french fries in his car, wear never ending flannel and tattered t-shirts to bed, put him down in public, wax your body hair in front of him, leave personal items all over the bathroom, or take his grooming products without telling him. Many of these complaints are not expressed as easily by men, but it doesn’t mean they don’t think about them. You may not know until you have a “discussion” about another issue that one of these pesky pet peeves is revealed to you.
None of the issues above may apply to your couple relationship, but they are a fun discussion point for your relationship to define what is important to each of you. You may not fit into any of the cookie cutter molds above, but I bet your relationship has its own unique personality you are navigating together. Use these ideas as a guide to start a discussion that should be interesting, enlightening, and lighthearted.
Lastly – Talking Too Much to the Wrong People
When I say each couple relationship has its own unique personality, I mean it. One wife may feel the most romantic thing her guy can do is detail her car, or buy her a blender. Another lady may feel only flowers and candy are appropriate gifts to receive. One man may not care if pantyhose are all over the shower, and he may actually like a woman in flannel as opposed to lace. Understand that if you are talking to others who don’t share your opinions and beliefs on how you run your couple relationship, you can be judged and feel put down. If you have friends and family in your life, only share the details of what works for your relationship with those who celebrate your uniqueness, rather than those who will put you down.
Now, get out there and force yourselves to have some quality couple time! You might find it was worth the fight to grab some time just for yourselves. Remember, when the kids are out of the house, you are left with each other. The time you invest now will define what the rest of your life will look like when you are standing looking in the face of that person you have built a life with. Make it memorable, make it meaningful, and make it fun – happy romancing!
Kim Beair, MS, LPC, NCC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oklahoma and National Certified Counselor.