Added responsibility, stress, financial concerns and less time together can cause a growing gap between you and your spouse with kids in the picture. But you don't need a week-long cruise in the Bahamas to reclaim the spark that drew you to your partner. With a little creativity, you can work in little daily ways to show your love and rekindle your connection to keep your marriage strong.
Parents tend to fall into routines that keep the family running once kids enter the picture. If your routine keeps you and your spouse apart, a change to the schedule can help you reconnect. For example, if your husband wakes up early and goes to bed early, while you sleep in longer and stay up later at night, you won't have much overlapping down time. A simple change -- such as you waking up early with your husband -- gives you more time together. You might hit the gym together in the morning after you drop off the kids at day care or enjoy dessert together after the kids go to bed.
Go on Dates
Many couples don't think about dating one another after a few years of marriage and kids, but setting aside dedicated time to focus on your relationship helps you stay connected. Schedule at least one date per month that gets you off the sofa and enjoying an activity with your partner. If a babysitter isn't an option, surprise your spouse with a special meal after the kids' bedtime. Don't feel guilty about leaving the kids to date your spouse. By focusing on your relationship, you set a positive example for your kids about marriage.
Make the Effort
It's easy to go through the motions when you create a family routine that works. Before long, you stop even trying to do things for your partner. Instead of waiting for your spouse to become a romantic, start your own little surprises. Leave a note in his car, take him on a surprise lunch date, bake his favorite cookies or wear his favorite dress. Most parents of young kids have little energy left at the end of the day, so it's easy to skip intimacy. Instead of brushing off his advances, make the first before you're so tired you doze off on the couch.
Plan for the Future
It may feel like you'll always be surrounded by dirty diapers and kids throwing temper tantrums, but soon your little ones will run off with neighborhood friends, join activities and spend less time with you. Looking beyond your current situation gives you a way to connect with your spouse. You might start planning a vacation you want to take in a few years or narrow down neighborhoods where you'll move before the kids start school. Discussing your individual interests and goals also helps you get to know your spouse better.