According to people who track such things, forty to fifty percent of all marriages will end in divorce. Yikes. When you sit down and think that – statistically speaking – nearly half of married couples will get divorced, it is sobering. And while you are sitting there thinking thinking thinking about that statistic, think for a minute about life with kids. Here is where the part of your brain that you don’t want to acknowledge admits that in a way, it does make sense.
Kids are amazing. They’re wonderful. They’re adorable balls of endless possibility and our immortality all rolled into one. But they are hard on a marriage.
When is the last time you lounged about with your significant other all day long and just talked? Or other things? When is the last time you sat down to an adults-only dinner at home and had a long and lazy conversation that didn’t involve all things kids? The funny thing about kids is that while they bring you closer in some respects – the sharing of these wonderful beings you created, or adopted, or otherwise care for – they also absorb an amazing amount of your leisure time. All of it really.
The result is that couples with kids have to work at their relationship. Hard. They have to schedule time together, they have to overlook the fact that they have recently seen their spouse unshowered and covered in kiddie vomit, and they have to forgive and forget frustrations over messy rooms, screaming kids, and everything else that comes up on a daily basis.
So how can couples reconnect? There is loads of advice on this subject, but we wanted to talk to women about what worked for them. Below are some of their stories and suggestions – names, of course, have been changed.
Lingerie – “I know it sounds trite, but for someone who usually has to catch moments of opportunity here and there (and with kids, there aren’t many of those), it really made it seem like it was a special encounter.” Note to all the men out there – a couple of women mentioned this, and the general advice seemed to be: gift certificates for lingerie she can pick out – good; actual lingerie you buy for her – bad.
Kid-Free Vacations – “Take a vacation! A night or more away from the children in a beautiful setting can do wonders.” (If you can’t go someplace far away)… “Find something a few hours from home. My only rule is that you don’t go with family.”
Stolen Encounters – “I had a friend tell me that she and her husband would lock themselves in their bedroom closet and ‘do it’ before going out on date night. Her reasoning was that by the end of date night they were tired, it was late, might have to drive the sitter home, etc. This way, they made sure to get some and start the date night off right! That means, of course, that you have to HAVE date nights!!! She said her kids never bothered to look for them in the closet, but if they closed their bedroom door, the kids wanted to know what was going on. Also, I think she had a walk in closet…”
Hotel Date Nights – “My husband and I weren’t ‘connecting’ enough, if you know what I mean. For date night one time, I surprised him by telling him we were going to dinner and a hotel. We had to be home that night (we actually made it by midnight), because we just had our regular babysitter for the night, but it was nice to ‘make believe’ we were on vacation for a few hours.”
Turn It All Off – “One night a week, after we put the kids to bed, my husband and I have a technology free ‘date night.’ Instead of watching TV or looking at this or that online, we play a board game, talk about whatever we need to talk about, or anything else that doesn’t involve technology. It’s amazing how much talking you do when you turn off all the distractions.”
Take Care of You – “I went for a long time after kids wearing T-shirts, sweats, and anything else that I could throw on in a moment’s notice. At some point, I realized that I had lost the ‘me’ I loved. When I took back my ‘me,’ I was actually better as a wife. So if I were giving advice I would say get a pedicure, wear perfume every once in a while just because, buy some new underwear! Don’t think of it as something you are doing to reconnect with your husband. Think of it as something to reconnect with you! It helps all around.”
Marriage Counseling – “I always thought that going to marriage counseling meant something was wrong with your marriage and that it was the last stop before getting a divorce. But after going, I have a totally different perspective. It’s more like exercise or eating right. It’s a great way to take care of your marriage and make it better. I think all married couples should go from the very beginning before you settle into bad relationship habits. Getting an impartial outside perspective on your marriage changes everything. And you learn practical ways to improve your communication and handle stress.”
Marriage is hard. Marriage with kids is harder. If it were easy, the statistics wouldn’t be what they are. We could tell you to work on yourself so that you are more attractive for your husband as a way of reconnecting, but we kind of think that is crap. We prefer the advice from the mom who suggested you take care of you. So there you have it: “Don’t think of it as something you are doing to reconnect with your husband. Think of it as something to reconnect with you” – only with fringe benefits.