Keeping the romance alive in a marriage is difficult, even for the hottest of couples. Introduce a baby and, well, that burning flame is likely to be more of a warm ember on a good day. Before I gave birth, my partner and I made plans to keep our marriage hot after the baby, but those well-intentioned ideas quickly dissolved when the reality of parenting hit (and hard). Because, you know, parenting is hard and it's exhausting and when you're too tired to keep your eyes open the absolute last thing you want to do is get between the sheets for physical anything.
During my first pregnancy my hormones took a nosedive, leaving me with little desire for anything even resembling intimacy. That, coupled with severe morning (read: all freakin' day and night) sickness meant my partner would be waiting a while for any special "couple" time. My second pregnancy was the complete opposite and came with surging hormones, like that of a pubescent teen. It was during that magical time that we thought we could continue this streak of romance long after labor and delivery because, well, why not? Boy, were we surprised (disappointed) when, after we brought out babies home, all those plans went right out the window.
Listed and properly filed under "ideas that sound like a good idea at the time," here are things we thought about doing to keep our marriage hot, even if life (and baby) had other plans. At least we get an "A" for effort, right?
Go On A Weekly Date
Like a majority of couples, we made all kinds of plans to do the "mandatory weekly date" thing. Whether it was just getting out of the house for some baby-free time, or doing any number of errands — together — it would count as a date. What we soon found out was: we were way too tired to even think about planning to leave the house, and sitters weren't always available. You could argue a "date" is devoted couple time, no matter where it is or how it happens but after baby came home it sounded like one more thing on a long list of to-do's.
I almost laughed typing this because, while our intentions were in the right place, after I'm done feeding, bathing, and changing a new baby I do not want to role play or dress up as the "sexy" maid or "sexy" police officer or "sexy" anything, unless it's in exchange for pay (that's a whole other topic). And not that there's anything wrong with it whatsoever (more power to you if you're into it), but the last thing I felt when I was postpartum was "sexy." What I did do was dress up as an exhausted mother desperately in search of coffee, and it's safe to say that I nailed that particular role.
Designate A Foreplay Night
Remember those days of endless kissing and every touch and tingle felt heightened? Before we had children, it was fun because we didn't have the two separate roles of lovers and parents. Though, honestly, I've never been a big fan of foreplay.
Once our personalities split, it was a lot harder for me to stop being "mom" and slip into "lover." Thus, all that kissing and stuff just became a hurried state of getting to the real business at hand — before the baby wakes again.
If you have the means to go to a hotel, I say go for it. For us, if we'd had the chance to stay somewhere new, it would've been to catch up on sleep. Changing locations doesn't even have to mean leaving the house, but when you're bogged down by all the new parent responsibilities you might not be as into "doing it" on the kitchen table like you used to (or, so I've heard).
Give Regular Massages
If you've never cared for a newborn before, it's easy to make grand plans to care for your partner with massages, home-cooked meals and the like. Once my baby came home, I didn't have the energy to do much of anything, let alone rub my partner down. Sorry, dear.
Consolidate Shower Times
I remember the days of feeling open and free with my body — before pregnancy stretched things into weird places and left a lot of me sagging and sad-looking. I've never been completely comfortable in my skin, but before the massive weight gain I had a sense of confidence.
After baby, it was slow-going to get back into any kind of "shape," and even then, my partner would have to pry the towel from my cold, dead hands to get a glimpse of me near the shower.
Put Each Other First
I can't discount this one completely because, while our original plans included more one-on-one time together without baby, this didn't go out the window completely. We still strive to put each other first as often as we can, and I think that effort is valid. However, sometimes it's just a fact that the baby's needs can and should take precedence and, while getting adjusted to life as a family, that's OK. I don't think admitting that a tiny human needs us to think of ourselves and our relationship second, means we don't still love and care for one another. It just means that, well, we're parents.
I admire any couple willing to put forth a plan to keep a marriage hot. Relationships are complicated and when you throw a new baby into the mix, the complications only intensify. If you're worried about losing the spark, try to focus on what brought you together in the first place and, eventually, when the baby's needs aren't so continuous the romance will return.