Parents of young children often tend to forget how to play and have fun with each other as partners. The transformation to parenthood can seem to zap the emotional and energetic resources necessary to nurture romance. However, it is important to acknowledge that the health of our marriage is just as important as the health of our kids and our own wellbeing.
All couples with children, regardless of identity or socioeconomic position, can benefit from playing and having fun alone with one another. While it’s fun to enjoy recreational activities with our kids altogether as a family and really mindfully relish in those beautiful fleeting moments, a different kind of fun should be reserved for the couple only. It is important for partners to maintain their connectedness and attraction even in the midst of family demands.
I often chat with my girlfriends about planning date nights, and I don’t think the importance of these deliberate breaks from the grind of daily life can be emphasized enough. Sometimes it finally occurs to me as a partner that my husband and I could really use an evening away for just the two of us. The most enjoyable dates for me involve something as simple as a dinner together, dressed up in some attractive clothes that make us feel like we are still invested in trying to appeal to one another, combined with a more or less hip and tasty restaurant, and (drumroll please), some uninterrupted conversation.
What I mean is, having an opportunity to be still and say the things that we aren’t always able to say to each other due to a million forces competing for our time is truly invaluable for two people who have committed to take on the long path of adulthood together, immersing ourselves into our jobs, household responsibilities, and parenthood, yet having a hard time coming back to each other in the depths of it all.
As a couple with no local familial roots, we get creative and ask friends, visiting family members, and the occasional paid sitter to help babysit. We’re not perfect at it, but I’m happy that we manage to include this practice into our wellness routine, acknowledging that the health of our marriage is just as important as the health of our kids and our own wellbeing.
Setting aside planned opportunities for physical intimacy (more fun!) also nourishes the playful spirit and is quite doable. Sexual spontaneity is a tall order within the context of chaotic parenthood, so take the pressure off of having a dramatic romance novel encounter every time you are intimate with your partner. I tell couples of young children that if they’re making time for pleasurable physical intimacy at all, they’ deserve a pat on the back! Carved out physical play-time for just you and your partner within the hustle and bustle of parenthood is not only fun but actually serves to keep your intimacy and connection alive and thriving.