Reinvigorating the marital relationship

"I'd like some innovative ideas on how to reinvigorate the relationship with on's spouse after a new baby. It seems all our time and energy goes to the 3 month old and the 3 year old. By the end of the day when the kids are asleep, we're both too tired to do anything but falling into bed too. Any suggestions?"

"Take the weekend to rejuvenate your relationship. Give the kids to a neighbor, relative or friend for a few hours so you and `the spouse' can go out to eat at a restaurant that has a quiet atmosphere and/or dim lights or one that you used to go to when it was just the two of you. Talk about the current status of your relationship and what each of you can do to make it better. This could be the start of creating a stronger relationship than before the kids were born."

"Include a `date' day or night into your weekly schedule. For an extra special date - get out of town! Try a bed & breakfast, they are fairly inexpensive, relaxing, comfortable and service often include breakfast in bed. You can even take baby to some. This get-away will get you out of the hum-drum routine & can be very romantic! It helped us!"

"Even though at times it may seem as though it is too much work, you need to set aside time alone and away with each other. This will mean getting a baby sitter and being very intentional but our children do not benefit from parents who are relating to each other only as parents and whose relationship as spouses is not strong. A get away-just once a week can help (maybe even have this get-away be in your home while your children are at a baby sitter's house). It can really help to add to this an over night or weekend get-away a few times a year as well."

"Take time to be adults with each other and work at communicating your needs, fears, hopes, etc. Help each other sleep in by taking turns getting up with the kids. If you're too tired at night, make love in the afternoon when the kids are napping."

"When you `fall into bed' at night, fall into each others arms and smile or talk yourself to sleep. Reassure yourself that soon the baby will get older and you'll have more time to do

more things together."

"We have done a couple of things. First, we keep a big desk calendar right by the phone so that we jot down all our appointments and plans, giving us an up-to-date view of the days & weeks ahead. Planning ahead, even for things like grocery shopping, helps have some control over our time. As much as possible we do these things together. We also plan our time together. If it doesn't work out, as can happen with children, we look forward to the next time. Finally, we talk, talk, talk!"

"Go out. I wish we had done it more - it's good to accustom your little ont to occasional sitters before he or she is too old. You can start slowly - for instance, just leave for an hour, then move up to a movie (although this leaves little time for communicating with your spouse). Then consider an overnight together. It makes all the difference and worth the effort and expense."

"We found the only way we had time and energy for each other is to schedule it. The best time for us is Sunday evening. This time usually does not get changed due to other commitments and Sunday is usually a day baby sitters or relatives are available. We have a standing date on Sunday. It gives us something to look forward to, gets the week organized and gives us new energy. Even just 2 hours is a luxury. We also found that just going for a walk is as fun as something expensive."

"Take a shower together. They have colored tubes of soap for kids that you could use on each other. Have fun painting each other and then rubbing it off in the shower. It's very nice and very relaxing, and a lot of fun!"

"We belong to a baby sitting co-op, which is a wonderful way to have a baby sitting service and support group of other parents combined! Some of our friends with young children solved the difficulty finding time for husband and wife to be together by rotating baby sitting among 3 couples, 3 Friday nights a month. One of those 3 nights they had the other 2 couples, the other 2 Friday nights were theirs to enjoy. Since fine restaurant dining is out (too expensive) and we like to get together with other couples, we take turns having a nice dinner in our homes. The host couple plans the menu and prepares the entree while the other couples are assigned other courses to bring."

"Change the way you think about the time you spend with your children. It is time spent with your spouse as a family. Talk with him while you hold and feed your baby. Read the bed time story together - alternating pages. Take a walk after dinner with the baby in the stroller and hold hands with your spouse. Your life and relationship have changed forever longing for the things you used to do, feeling guilty about not spending time just as a couple, and being frustrated by all the duties you must complete each day are the greatest wasters of time and energy we struggle with."

"Since you are exhausted at the end of the day, an evening date with your spouse may not be appealing. Here a sitter and go out for breakfast or lunch, a walk, whatever you two enjoy. The key may be to schedule your special time together at a time of day when you have some energy."

"Shower together. It'll give you at least 10 intimate minutes a day. Even if the baby's still sleeping, I'll get up and shower with my husband before he leaves for work (plus, I may not get another chance all day!)."

"My husband and I have learned to create new personal time since the birth of our second child three months ago. One of our best times is the extra hour we give ourselves in the morning before work. We have gradually adjusted our own sleep schedules to get up an extra hour early while the kids are still sleeping soundly, we can talk, cuddle, etc., for that whole hour."

"Patience! Our son is 6 months old and we're just starting to renew our marriage relationship. I've read a lot of articles that say to schedule time together - and it helps. We've had several `dates' with our boy at the sitter. However, I don't know about other women, but I find it difficult to feel romantic or intimate at a `scheduled' time, so that aspect of the relationship has taken a little longer than I expected."

"We have 4 children and I have made that a priority. Especially after each one is born and there is that adjusting period. Currently our newest is 2 months old. One way we've dealt with this problem is getting up a little earlier in the morning while the kids are asleep. Also, at least every 2 weeks we go out to eat alone. It usually isn't longer than 2 hours because I am nursing, but it gets us out of the house. We also send the kids upstairs to play to give us time to talk."

"Our neighborhood (about 9 families) has formed a baby sitting co-op. Families take care of each others' children on a point system - no money involved. So, if finding sitters is a problem, you might like to contact some neighbors about starting up a co-op."

"Take a night off by yourself occasionally, while your spouse baby sits. Taking time for ourselves often refreshes us to be able to take time for others."

After the kids are in bed, have a candle lit, romantic dinner with a special menu and a fire in the fireplace. Get some good wine, champagne or sparkling non-alcoholic beverage, use the good chine, etc., and relax & enjoy."

"You need to make time to be together. Perhaps once a month you could have your parents, sitter, etc., take care of the children to go out dancing, dancing or to a hotel. If you're unable to get away, just spend time holding each other or caressing each other. Maybe one night you can put the kids to bed early to spend intimate time together."

"With young children, you can lose yourself and your husband easily. Doing things together with or for the children can help you share your thoughts and ideas. When you do manage time with just the two of you, reminisce about the past. Talk about how you first met and fell in love, about your wedding or any special times. It can really bring some warmth and re-kindled energy back to both of you. It took me 7 months after my baby was born to really feel like `us' again. Just keep trying because a new baby (especially a first) is quite an adjustment that doesn't happen overnight. And enjoy your baby!"

"One night a week my husband and I go to bed right after the kids. No cleaning, no work, no nothing. Then we read together, talk, play a game we both like or watch TV in each others arms. We hug a lot and just enjoy each other. It need not be the same night each week. We may or may not have sex but the time is always intimate because we have each other `undivided.'"

"Try getting up together in the morning before the kids wake up and enjoy taking a shower/bath together. It's a great way to start your day and you can take as much time as you like."

"In order to have a happy family life - you must first have a happy marriage. Make sure to set aside time every day (or week) just for the two of you. Schedule it in just like all the social events - a date per say. Your children will be as rewarded as you yourselves for taking that special time."

"I find that when we cuddle with the baby together on the couch or in bed we share our dreams and wishes for his future and that in turn brings my husband and I closer too."

"It's important to remember that the baby will get easier and as the baby eases into a schedule and sleeps all night, you'll be less exhausted. At the point when I had a 3 month old and 15 month old, we basically just slugged along, occasionally just dropping whatever for a hug. It is important to remember that this phase will pass."

"Tell the older children that they should play by themselves for an hour or so during the time the baby is sleeping. Use that hour to communicate with your husband."

"Your relationship as husband and wife is as important as your relationship to the children. You don't need a lot of time to be together. What is 20 minutes out of the day? During the hours when the kids are awake: touches, hugs kisses and special smiles directed entirely to each other will make you both feel special and the kids will love watching their parents expressing these feelings. My husband & I find our kids (7, 5 & 9 months) are easier to deal with when we have taken time out for each other - probably because we are in better moods when we've had our adult time. Make time! Re-evaluate your priorities and don't be afraid to lose a few minutes sleep in lieu of romance. Remember, your love for each other is what created your beautiful children and your continued expression of love will nurture your children."

"I'm not one to answer this because I'm in the same situation but I know the answer is that you need to be alone with each other. Whether it's a weekend away or just at home and have the kids stay with a relative or someone you trust who enjoys your children so you don't spend the time with your husband worrying about the kids."

"We also have a 3 month old and a 3 year old. One night a week we have a middle school girl come for a couple of hours to keep the 3 year old company and watch the baby. We go in the other room and spend time together. That time is set up like a meeting. We discuss the happenings of the week - compliments & criticisms included. It gets us looking eye to eye again. It seems like the hugs & kisses come freely then, once the baby sitter goes home and kids are in bed. (I don't pay the middle school girl as much as a regular baby sitter because we are at home.)"

"If the baby naps and the 3 year old is in pre-school, then meet at home for a lunch date. Trade sitting with friends at dinner-time so the kids are not at home, and then do whatever you want for 2 hours - eat, talk, make love, trade massages, whatever."

"When our children were small, we needed time together but couldn't spend money on a sitter. We started a `Mom & Dad' night once a week, usually Friday or Saturday. We both worked to feed and bathe the kids then we get them in bed early. Then, we had a candlelight quiet dinner and were able to relax. Even when we had leftovers, it seemed like a real treat. Now they're bigger and we still do it and they just accept it as routine."

"Have you tried making love first thing in the morning, or even at lunch. If these times are inconvenient, get a baby sitter for a couple of hours and use that time to make love."

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
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