How can you remain a united couple when you have a child? Some ideas to keep your love alive as parents.
Being a parent requires you to devote a lot of time to your child, to managing the daily routines, and to trying to establish a work-family balance. Couples generally have to change their habits after the birth of a child, because they now have greater responsibilities.
Spouses may no longer do activities together like they used to before the birth, at least for a while. However, it is important to devote time to your partner and your couple relationship.
What changes when you become a parent?
The arrival of a child brings immense happiness, but also great disruption. The many changes can turn the couple’s life upside down. For example, fatigue, new responsibilities, and a lack of alone time can cause strain on the couple.
Becoming a parent also brings new concerns, such as education and financial reorganization. These concerns can sometimes add to previous difficulties within the couple. As parents are very busy, important discussions often get pushed aside, which can potentially exacerbate dissatisfaction.
Moreover, a child’s arrival limits opportunity for moments of intimacy. The lack of time spent together and a declining interest in sexuality can also create tension. Generally speaking, talking about concerns and spending time together allows couples to rekindle their flame and form a team to overcome these difficulties.
Why is it important to devote time to your couple?
Enjoying time as a couple is the foundation of a healthy and lasting loving relationship. These moments remind spouses that before they became parents, they were first lovers. Moreover, it’s totally possible to remain in love while being parents.
It is important to continue viewing the other person as a lover, not just the parent of your child.
Sharing moments of intimacy makes it easier for the couple to find solutions to the problems and conflicts they encounter. When alone together, parents have the opportunity to discuss, share moments of closeness, and better understand their partner’s point of view.
The time that parents reserve as a couple is also good for their child
Having a young child is often overwhelming. Without realizing it, parents sometimes set their romantic relationship aside.
However, the child needs to know that their parents are in a loving relationship. Firstly, because it makes them understand that they are not their parents’ only source of happiness, which would be a heavy responsibility to bear.
Secondly, the way their parents treat each other will influence their concept of love and their future love life. It is not, however, necessary to be constantly kissing and embracing in front of the child. In reality, they feel the affection and love that their parents have for each other in their attitudes and gestures.
How do you nurture the love?
Any time you devote to your couple is important, no matter how long. Indeed, it is better to spend a few minutes together each day than to wait to have the opportunity for longer periods as a couple.
Here are some simple ideas to implement in your daily life that will allow you to spend time together and thus stay in love.
Your child is under 1 year old
When you have a baby, it’s not easy to find a babysitter. However, you can still spend great moments of intimacy with your partner.
- Tell your partner that you love them. These are the most important words you can say to each other.
- Treat your partner (e.g., prepare dinner, bring them breakfast in bed, etc.).
Taking care of your couple does not require more money or time.
- Turn off the television, radio, and telephone at meal times. This will give you more time to talk to each other.
- Do some tasks together (e.g., washing the dishes, cooking, bathing your baby, shopping). Even if not very romantic or fun, you will spend time together and have time to talk.
- Reserve a time to talk each day, even if it is only for a few minutes (e.g., ask each other how are you, how was your day, etc.).
- Go for a walk together. If your child sleeps in the stroller, you can take the opportunity to enjoy the time with your partner. If your baby does not sleep, give them books and toys so that they can entertain themselves.
- Reserve moments together when your child is asleep to have a romantic dinner, watch a movie, play a game, etc. You can take an afternoon nap at the same time as your child, so you’ll be in better shape to enjoy your evening.
- Write a love letter or note to your partner. You could tell them why you love them and how you feel about them. Since simple words are plenty when they come from the heart, knowing how to write well isn’t necessary. Reminding yourselves of why you love each other will allow you to maintain a romantic atmosphere despite the routines of daily life and to have the desire to share moments together.
- Let your partner know that you are thinking about them through simple, caring actions. For example, you could send them a joke by e-mail, call them at lunchtime to see how they are doing, pick them up at work, prepare their favourite meal, give them a gift or flowers, etc.
During your time together, try to talk as little as possible about your child. Talk about each other and your plans. You will see yourselves as a couple, not just parents.
- Have some fun with your partner. For example, you could play a game, exercise, take a bath or shower together, give each other a massage, read aloud together, etc. Having fun and sharing interests are conducive to creating emotional bonds.
- Take advantage of any opportunity to physically manifest your affection for each other. Simple and clear loving gestures are often overlooked. For example, giving a real kiss goodbye when leaving in the morning, returning from work, and before going to bed in the evening. Many couples do so absentmindedly without taking advantage of such moments to get closer. You can also hold hands, massage each other’s shoulders, cuddle, etc. Physical contact is pleasant and boosts endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel well-being and happiness.
- Don’t place too much emphasis on small things. You may sometimes not be able to accomplish all of your tasks, and that is normal. Investing time in your relationship is just as important, and even more important, as the other items on your “to do” list. Do not hesitate to postpone cleaning the laundry until tomorrow to spend some quality time with your partner.
Your child is over 1 year old
If you have a child aged 1 to 5, in addition to applying the aforementioned suggestions, you can also consider the following suggestions.
- Travel to work together if possible. If your places of work are close to each other, you could also have lunch together. You would then be able to enjoy a quiet time to eat and chat.
- Go to the park as a family. You can chat with your partner while keeping an eye on your child having fun in the playground modules.
- Occasionally encourage your child to play alone, so they will learn to entertain themselves and not just rely on you to provide entertainment. You can then have time to discuss and be close even if your child is not far away.
To avoid paying for babysitting, you can ask friends who have a child if they can take care of yours. You can then offer to return the favour on another occasion.
- Plan outings with your partner. Start with short periods, at times when there is no routine with your toddler. For example, your first opportunities to go out could be during the day, outside nap time (e.g., one-on-one lunch at the restaurant, bike ride, walk). Later, you can leave for longer periods or go out during naptime or in the evening. Your child will get used to it, and above all, they will know that you will come back rested and happy.
- Cultivate your friendships with other couples. It is also a good idea for a couple to meet their couple friends. Enjoying good times with people who still love each other can be comforting and inspiring.
- Plan a romantic weekend or getaway. However, keep in mind that before the age of 5, a toddler may react badly to their parents’ absence by demonstrating more difficult behaviour when they return. At a young age, children do not always understand why their parents are absent for a long period.
If you’re leaving for a few days on a couple getaway, here’s what you can do to make your child feel safe in your absence:
– Have them babysat at home so they are in a familiar environment. If this is not possible, make sure your toddler has their transitional object, security blanket, or other comfort object with them.
– Make sure your toddler is familiar with their sitter and has a good connection with them.
– Describe your child’s routines to the sitter and ask them to follow them.
If you can’t find a babysitter for your child
In such case, choose an activity you can do with your child (e.g., taking a walk, cooking for your significant other, dancing in the living room). It’s better to include your toddler in your activity rather than not doing it at all. Keep in mind that the important thing is to have fun together.
When should I ask for help?
To nurture a love relationship, consulting a psychologist or psychotherapist can be useful. This could be necessary, for example, if:
You are feeling that you and your partner are becoming distant and that the situation is not improving even though you have expressed your concerns and told them how important your couple is to you.
You are frequently having arguments with your partner that quickly escalate.
Consulting a professional can help to see things more clearly, manage any built-up anger and resentment, and establish new foundations for your love relationship while taking into account your role as parents. When you need help, it’s recommended that you not wait too long to consult, as it is easier to make adjustments when the situation is not too tense and frustration has not yet built up.
Things to keep in mind
It is in fact possible to remain in love while being good parents. Love can be nurtured on a daily basis.
Enjoying time as a couple is the foundation of a healthy and long-lasting love relationship. In addition, it makes it easier to find solutions to the problems and conflicts experienced by the couple.
The love between you and your partner provides a good example for your child.
Scientific review: Geneviève Parent, sex therapist, psychotherapist, and parenting consultant
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: July 2017
Useful links and resources
DEWARRAT, Maryse. Le désir après bébé : devenir parents et rester amants, Eyrolles, 2017, 184 pp.
GÉBÉROWICZ, Bernard and Colette BARROUX-CHABANOL. Le couple face à l’arrivée de l’enfant : surmonter le baby-clash, Éditions Albin-Michel, 2014, 272 pp.
PARENT, Geneviève. Questions sexuelles pour couples actuels, Éditions de l’Homme, 2011, 224 pp.
SCHMIDT-ULMANN, Mélanie. Comment rester amants quand on devient parents, Leduc. S Éditeur, 2010, 240 pp.