The Key To Keeping Your Marriage Alive Postpartum Isn't What You'd Think
At the risk of bragging, I must confess that I just had an incredibly amazing day out with my partner of 15 years. With three kids under the age of 8, it literally feels like the last time we had alone time was when we fell in love. Realistically, we haven't had more than 10 minutes alone since baby number two was born. That's almost six years, you guys. Six years. So trust me when I say, you need to make alone time happen with your partner now.
Most of us parents are well aware that it's important to spend time with our partners. Once kids are in the picture, though, it seems damn near impossible to carve out a significant amount of time to focus on, well, your significant other. For those of us who don't live closer to our families, the difficulty is exacerbated, especially when we have financial struggles that inhibit hiring a babysitter, or special needs kids that make qualified and willing babysitters hard to find.
But damn it, dear reader, you have got to do whatever it takes to find that alone time with your significant other(s)! Hire somebody if you can, and beg somebody if you can't! After eight hours of quality time, my partner and I are both relaxed, happy, and connected for what seems like the first time in years. Not surprisingly, this makes us both better parents, thus strengthening the couple-connection even more. Just in case you need more convincing, though, I've taken the liberty of highlighting below all the reasons you need alone time with your partner(s) now:
Because Couples' Massages Exist
I know, I know, I'm totally late to the party on this one. But did you know couples' massages actually exist?! My partner bought us one for our anniversary in April and we finally used it yesterday, as it was about to expire. Even though you don't talk, hold hands, or really even acknowledge each other's existence while you enjoy individual massages in the same room, it's a totally different experience than a solo massage. I highly recommend it.
Because Silence Is Golden
Silence. Remember that? You know, like the actual absence of sound? I didn't. Not until yesterday, that is, when we dropped off our kids at the babysitter that we can't afford and we were driving down the mountain. Absolute silence. We didn't even turn the radio on. At one point, in the beautiful sacred silence, my partner reached out and grabbed my hand. I exhaled for the first time in, well, forever.
Because You're More Than Parents
It's hard, if not impossible, to remember there was a reason (besides parenting) that you chose to have kids with this other person, when the only time you've spent with this other person is with your kids. I didn't just remember but actually experienced that reason yesterday. I remembered that, hey, I actually like this person. Spending time with him makes me happy. We get each other and we are freaking awesome together. Who knew?
Because Your Kids Need A Break, Too
It depends on your children's age, to be sure, but they probably don't even realize they need a break from you, too. But trust me, they do.
It's good, especially during summer vacation (cue parental groans from the peanut gallery), to give your kids an experience outside of your house, yard, and general neighborhood. My older kids were so excited to spend time with the coolest 15-year-old ever (also known as their babysitter) they didn't even say goodbye when we left. The baby cried for 30 seconds, maybe, then got over it. Seriously. Give your kids a break.
Because Tiny Couples' Saunas Are A Thing
I won't tell you about the saunas, though. You'll just have to experience them for yourselves.
Because You'll Notice Your Partner's Eye Color
And it will seem like the first time.
Because It Makes Us All Better Parents
When we had the time to enjoy silence, enjoy a meal without interruption, and enjoy each other while not speaking in code, my partner and I were able to release tension we didn't even really know we had. If stress makes us crappy parents, it makes sense that the reduction of said stress will make us better parents.
When we returned to our children after time along, I realized I had more patience and was able to convey the tenderness that is often overlooked in the chaos of every day life. I could see in my children's eyes how important that was to them.
Because It's Personal
More than anything, dear reader, the reason you need to make alone time with your partner right now is because you want it. Even if you don't think you do. If you don't want to have a relationship after your children leave the house, then not spending time together now is really not that important. But if you do want to have a relationship when you're empty-nesters, you must foster the continued growth of your partnership.
I cannot put my partnership on hold for 18-25 years in hopes that it will still be there when my kids don't need us anymore. But sometimes that is exactly what it feels like I'm doing. I don't want to continuing doing that, though. Instead, I want to continuing growing with my partner. I want to fall in love with him over and over again. I want him to be my best friend. And we need time sans-kids to make sure that continues to happen.