Motherhood

How Do You Keep Up Your Relationship After Kids?

Marriage after kids

One question readers often ask is how not to forget about your marriage when you have little kids. (Also, a few people panicked after reading this post!) I definitely don’t have all the answers, but for what it’s worth, here are 8 things Alex and I have learned through trial and error over the past six years…

Consider daytime sex. With two little kids and a full-time job, I’m often too tired to have sex on weeknights. All I want to do is eat a piece of sea-salt chocolate and pass out. But daytime sex is another story! When Anton goes down for his weekend naps, we let Toby watch Peppa Pig or Bubble Guppies or whatever he likes; then we steal off to our room and lock that door right quick.

Go on date nights with friends. Whenever we’re out with other people, I see Alex with fresh eyes. He’ll tell an anecdote with a new twist, or he’ll talk about sports with such authority, or he’ll order everyone a round of drinks. It makes me feel buzzy to look across the table and see him in action, and I’m always so glad I get to take him home with me.

Speak your partner’s love language. Recently my friends got totally into figuring out which of the five love languages we crave most: quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts, words of affirmation or acts of service. Which make you feel loved? (I’m definitely words of affirmation and quality time.) Take the quiz here, if you’d like. Knowing yours — and discovering your partner’s (it may be surprising!) — helps you know how to best make each other feel good.

Find new things you like doing together. Don’t you love the shock of doing something new? My friend has a two-person book club with her husband, where they read the same book and discuss it throughout. And even if it’s something small, like trying a new restaurant or creating a playlist for each other’s commute, it’s so nice to shake things up.

Get away from each other, too. Now and again, Alex and I switch off taking evenings to ourselves, while the other parent puts the kids to bed. I’ll go to a barre class or meet a friend or walk to a bookstore. “As important as time together is time apart,” my friend Lucy says. “Whether it be your career, athletic pursuits or separate friends, having an individual identity helps to combat the powerful pull to lose yourself entirely in the roles of ‘mother’ and ‘spouse.’ ” We even spend a bit of time apart when we’re on vacation.

Thank your partner for all he or she does. If both partners are actively contributing to the household, try not to tally things up daily. “My husband likes to say that the work is probably evenly split if both partners feel like they are doing upward of 60 percent of the work, since a lot of what one partner does is necessarily invisible to the other partner,” wrote Rebecca Rosen in The Atlantic. “If you feel like you are doing half, you’re not.” And then thank them. A little thanks goes a loooooong way. (Remember this?)

Tell stories to each other. I love this quote from Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night: “‘Think how you love me,’ she whispered. ‘I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am tonight.’ ” Remember those feelings. Even if you’re tired and bedhead-y and mopping up spilled cereal, you’re the same two people you were when you fell in love. If you want a reminder, it’s always nice to reminisce about your first date or first time having sex or wedding day. It brings up all those schmoopy feelings.

Know that the first six months (or year?) are insane. At least they were for us. You’re in a fog, your emotions and hormones are all over the place, everyone’s exhausted. Don’t analyze your marriage under a microscope during that crazy time. Say what you both need and try to stay positive, but other than that, give yourselves a break. Trust that you’ll get into a groove and feel like yourselves again sooner than later. (You have the rest of your lives to sleep, travel and have crazy sex!)

Thoughts? What about you? How do you keep your relationship going even with little kids underfoot? I’d love to hear and learn!

P.S. A surprising thing about kisses, and 8 things I’ve learned about marriage.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Justine says...

    Jo… thanks for writing this. Especially the part about knowing the first 6 months (or year) are insane. Feeling totally overwhelmed here with an 8-month old and reading that made me breathe a bit. Btw, my partner and I are also “words of affirmation” and “quality time”. (He just handed me a glass of wine so I’m going to throw in “acts of service” too). Love your blog. I check in every day. It’s just the best.

  2. Hey Joanna! This is so true – it is hard, but not impossible! It was a lovely read!
    BTW, am Neha from Milofy – an exciting new couple-socialising app in NYC! It is a social app where couples get to meet other like-minded couples and get to plan their whole day with the fun activities listed on the app in and around NYC!
    We aim at making relationships work even after sudden life changes – kids / extra responsibility at work / moving to a new city.

    Cheers!

  3. It is so hard to navigate through having children and keeping a strong marriage! It is such a balancing act! We take a trip away every year together just to reconnect. It is our reward for surviving another year with our fun but crazy family!

    http://www.farmwifecrazylife.com

  4. Kathleen says...

    Love this post! I have a one-year-old, and things have just started to feel somewhat normal again. These are great tips/reminders.

  5. these are really great tips for my future. thank you!!! plus, they’re so realistic and totally do-able

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  6. What a great post! This is something we have been talking about as we start off on the foster care journey. We will be talking this list over soon!

  7. Thank you for this, a good reminder and resource for some tips after 2.5 years of marriage, a one year old and nearly 7 years together.

  8. Stephanie says...

    Argh! The love languages! I’ve been telling everyone about this since I read ‘Things I wish I’d known before I got married’ (My husband jokes I wrote it – though we’ve been married 3 years and together for 11 ). It’s amazing how many people have never considered it!

  9. Becca says...

    I have 3 kids who are now 9, 6, and 4, and I see how our relationship has really ebbed and flowed through the years with kids. At the end of the day with our babies, we’d collapse on the bed and look at each other and say, “WE ARE WORKING LIKE DOGS!” And now that things lighten day by day with our growing kids, it has just ignited our relationship–while we have a ways to go, it’s so meaningful to go see our kids at baseball games and ballet recitals together! We really feel close after surviving those crazy years! It just gets sooooo much easier so quickly!

  10. Lindsey says...

    Love this post! I have 3 children and have been married 14! years. My husband and I are all for the school and naptime./ put a movie on for the kids and lock the door, haha :) Also having a good sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously help relieve the stress of parenting and how crazy it can get. Also since being in the thick of parenting, I think “acts of service” is hands down my love language right now. I mean when my husband does the dishes, takes the trash out, or something practical like that, I am so into it! haha

  11. We like to play games! I find it allows us to interact and connect more than just watching a show or a movie.

  12. What a good read. My son just turned one, and is going through the clingy stage, so me and my partner only seem to get alone time once the lil one is asleep. We keep the relationship going by talking and poking fun at each other. It is also good to still flirt with your partner, and remember what attracted you to each other when you first started dating.

    http://www.lauralivinglife.com

  13. This is great. I found life with a newborn to be pretty easy actually. BUT now life with a toddler is a game changer. I’m tired often and irritable. :/ we still go to dinner but sometimes it’s a sh*t show. My husband and I recently started reading comic books together (the same ones at a time) so we can talk about them after. It sounds nerdy but we’ve really enjoyed it. Now to get a babysitter…

  14. Theresa says...

    We are still trying to get this down, two years into parenting! Sigh.

  15. Oh man, I guess the fact that this post made me cry means I really needed to read it right about now. We have a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old, and it is hard. Period. Full stop. Thank you for all these tips, especially the one about not being too hard on yourself the first year.

    • Jennifer says...

      I also have a 3 year old and 8 month old. It is insanity. I am starting to feel life will never get easier. You aren’t alone!

    • Hannah says...

      I am in it too ladies! 2.5 and 1…sadly sex is my last priority!

    • Noor says...

      When my twins were born my eldest was 4andi had another 2.5yrs old. And i thought life wud never b the same again.fast forward 5 yrs.
      So much has changed.
      My life is more fulfilling , and hubby n me seem to appreciate each other more.
      So my advice. Hang in there ladies: things r going to get not better but best.

    • Karla says...

      I rarely comment but just wanted to tell you it WILL get better! She gave such good tips. Lighten up on yourself as much as possible because it will all pass in a blink, and new problems will arise and fade. My kids are now almost 9 & 11 and I don’t know how I survived those first five years. You’re not alone, and it will be okay!

  16. Joan says...

    We have a 19 month old and a 3 yr old. I’ve been in graduate school for my NP degree and working part time through both pregnancies. All the madness has taken such a toll on our marriage I don’t think we can survive having a third baby that my husband really wants.

    • Oh, Joan. I know this is post is old but I hope you see this. It is hard. It is hard to learn to communicate quickly when you need to. It is hard to realize “I can’t think clearly, I am too tired, I don’t know if it’s really reasonable to be mad. I just need to go to bed.” But I don’t know if marriage can survive thwarting its very purpose (the having and raising of the babies). Loving your spouse without resisting the children who may (or may not!) come: that’s my (stolen) advice for a healthy marriage post-children.

      Make the life of the family central. Be friends with your husband (I am working on this! Working on always greeting him like I am happy to see him!). Eat dinner together.

      You can do it.

      See: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2014/04/the-third-secret-to-destruction-proofing-your-family/

  17. Geny says...

    This is all so good! I have a 5 y-o and a 3 y-o and my husband and I both work full time. Life is busy to say the least! Last year, a colleague of mine who was in a divorce process told me: don’t wait 10 year before you go on a couple vacation like I did!!! This was the chocking truth I needed to hear. So true. We had been on short 24-hour “trips” since we had the babies, but no real vacation just the two of us. So we took a 4 day trip to Miami last year… and we’re going back this year!! It’s hard to leave without my kids, since we don’t get that much vacation in a year… But I know it is worth it! I’m sure it is better for them to have happy parents that still love each other :-)

  18. Totally book marking this for the future // sending this to all my new parent friends. There must be something in the water. At least 10 couples we know had / having a baby in 2016!

    – Dara // http://www.peoniesandhoneybees.com

  19. Bianca says...

    These are all great tips. I’m due in June with our second and our first just turned 3. My favorite piece of advice out of all these is to remember to give yourselves a break during this time. It took us over a year until we were sleeping though the night and feeling like ourselves again. During that period I felt like we were failing at parenting because we couldn’t seem to get our act together. It took time but eventually everything gets better. Knowing this the second time of round I feel so much pressure to try and appear normal the first year :)

  20. Heather says...

    This was so encouraging…just what I needed right now. Thank you!

  21. lynda says...

    great post- as always………but you forgot to add the BEST 2 pieces of advice you’ve ever given………..

    1. have hubby pay babysitter at the end of the night as to not break the mood after date night

    2. meet your partner at the restaurant on date night.

  22. Linda says...

    Lots of great tips, Jo! :) My husband and I like to text each other during the day to stay connected, too!

  23. juliea says...

    They daytime sex gets way better once the kids are in school. Just. wow.

  24. Yes to all of this but especially “go out with your partner and friends,” “spend time away from each other,” & “thank each other.” The best advice I received on the brink of marriage was to remember to be nice to my husband. That can be hard when sleep deprived, hormonal, and holding a sticky, howling toddler. Why are they always sticky? Also – and I know I originally read this on this site: “Remember, your partner is not the enemy. The baby is the enemy.” I love the twisted humor of that line & we quote it often!

  25. Kate says...

    My husband and I don’t work too far from each other, so sometimes we meet for lunch! Or, once in a blue moon we’ll both play hooky from work, drop the kids at daycare and have a daytime date. Other fun things we like to do aside from go out to for dinner/drinks is go to the driving range (in the summer, the one near us stays open til 10pm and you can buy beer!), play tennis, go for a walk or something else to take advantage of the long evenings. Everyone should also check out their local museum(s), chances are they have an after hours event every so often. Great way to soak up some culture and hang out with your partner in a new setting.

  26. It is all about the daytime sex. put the little guy to sleep for a nap.. the older one is busy with an activity and we sneak up for a quickie. A date night here and there.. we have never hired a baby sitter so we usually wait for a grandparents availability. Nothing fancy needed.. a movie.. dinner.. anything really.

  27. Brooke says...

    Thanks Jo, I needed to read this tonight :) xxx

  28. I really loved this post. Thank you for sharing! As a mom to an almost 2 year old this is something we finally have time to work on again…our relationship! I recently wrote a post on some fun anniversary traditions that might be helpful too! http://www.lushbreak.com/?p=256

  29. Jenny says...

    Thanks for this! What great timing! We have a four month old and are utterly exhausted. I love my baby more than anything but still ache for my old life and our old life as a couple. It’s comforting to know that those “first six months” are not just difficult for us. Is that a light I see?!?

  30. CB says...

    I read this post to my husband! It was fun talking about it together. When I read “consider daytime sex” he said, “I do. Frequently.” So funny! Thanks for the great post.

  31. Thank you so much for this great post Joanna! As a reader I feel incredibly grateful that you saw a need and crafted this helpful post so soon after!

  32. We have a one year old and are still exhausted at night. We could never wait till the baby goes to bed because we go to bed shortly after. It’s important for us to work special time into the day every weekend.

  33. Claudia says...

    This is such a positive, reassuring post! Thank you! We have been married four years and are expecting our first baby in November- I can’t think of a single positive thing people have said to us about marriage after children, it’s always something along the lines of ‘just wait and see how your life will be ruined’. I’ve been so nervous. So wonderful to hear so many lovely people finding ways to make it work x

    • There is SO much joy in parenting. Your life will not be ruined, it will change dramatically, and the difficulties and the joys will be shared. My husband & I now have “couch dates” — we sit together with a glass of wine after the kiddos are in bed and laugh at the many things that happened during the day. These “dates” are frequently interrupted by requests to be tucked in a again, or help in the bathroom but who cares? There is so much satisfaction in sharing our life with these little ones. You will find your own new routines too!

    • Ellen says...

      Same here! We are expecting our first in 6 weeks and I’m so afraid that our beautiful, amazing, perfect relationship will disappear and we won’t see it again for 20 years. I’m so sad! Everything I hear and read only mentions how hard it is.

    • jen says...

      Oh Claudia! Those people are such a$$holes! It’s tough, it’s an adjustment, but it’s not ruined. Not by a long shot. Plus you get to see your partner as a parent and that adds another level of intimacy you wouldn’t have otherwise. Remember to stay in tune with one another because parenthood will affect you differently and it’s important to stay connected and make sure you’re still on the same path. You’ll be great!

    • Claudia says...

      Thank you all for your lovely replies, so encouraging! Glad I posted! xxx

    • Leigh says...

      THIS!! When I was pregnant all anyone would do was share horror stories and then go, “haha. you sure you want to do this?!” Or “just get sleep now because you never will again”. It drove me INSANE. The good news is we are now four months in to parenthood and it’s awesome. Hard and tiring and all that expected stuff, but it’s also SO much fun, and it’s so rewarding. My husband and I look at it as a new adventure and are taking it one day at a time- I feel like more of a team now than I ever did before. You got this! :)

  34. Prudence says...

    I think it’s so important to find things that you enjoy to do together and also thank each other for the things done around the house. Such appreciation is always welcome!

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

  35. This is GOLD. Especially the daytime sex and the getting away from each other! Besides being intimate, giving one another time alone is one of the most romantic things ever in this season of life. Thank you for this!

  36. Oh my soul. For us it was the first year. A baby that didn’t sleep at night until 12 months…we were both zombies. The beauty of it was that we were both too tired to notice that our relationship was non-existent. And since coming out of The Fog, our marriage is even better knowing we survived that first year and still love the hell out of each other :)

  37. Tamsin says...

    5 months into motherhood and I just fantasise about getting a night of uninterrupted sleep, not had more than 3.5hours straight since November! But keep assuring myself that this is a short season of life and I can sleep for the rest of it! Pretty sure my husband feels the same way about sex (we do partake, but I can only relax if I can clearly see the sleeping baby on the monitor screen, which isn’t ideal!)

  38. Thanks for being so open Joanna (as always)! These comments were soooo good! They could be a whole other post in and of itself!

    My tips: I never call my husband by his first name unless I’m referring to him on a business call or to someone else. Otherwise, I never say his name. I always say babe, baby, papi, my love. Even when I’m mad. I picked this up from my parents.

    We have never hired a sitter, and our daughter is 3. We usually have a overnight getaways & date nights when my parents are in town (which is honestly not often enough, but we make the best of it). We knew living away from family would limit our time once we had Luna so we made it a point to put her on a schedule. This helps tremendously! Come 7:30pm on most days you’ll find us together.

    We have in-home date nights quite often and sometimes we go all out. Candlelight dinner outside or dress up. We order fancy takeout and then serve it on nice dishes and pop champagne just because.

    Sexy time playlist helps too! Believe me once your husband here’s that music playing he will know what time it is! Haha!

    Lastly, have no-TV nights. We do not watch TV M-TH because it would just suck the life out of us, and then when we went to bed I’d realize I felt like talking and he’d be sleepy. So now we have time to take care of chores during the week (frees up our weekends), we listen to podcasts or read to eachother in bed, we have sex more often. Also it makes our Tv nights so much more enjoyable. We’ve had couples ask what do you do without TV? (R u for reals?! Hmmm sex, talk, laugh, learn…)

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

    • Love this list, Lendy!!

  39. Zee says...

    Thank you Joanna and all commenters for lending insight and comfort for those, like me, who have yet to take the leap into motherhood (and are trepidated / curious / excited about the prospect)! Please keep these posts coming :)

  40. I am/was surprised that no one really tells you that you might want to rage on your partner during those rough first months of no sleep, healing, hormones, etc. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my husband’s best friend worked for Craig Ferguson, who seeing as I was pregnant, said to my husband and I not at all jokingly “There will be times you are going to want to kill your partner” and really, for no other reason than you’re 1000000X more emotional, exhausted and beaten down. While they were rare moments, I did NOT expect to have anger during what is otherwise such an incredible, loving and momentous life experience. and looking back the best thing my husband could do to shake me out of it was to lean in, take over, or make me laugh. You really have to go easy on each other because it passes, like everything, and the relationship on the other end of those sleepless years is so awesome. Also. Babysitters :)

    • Julia says...

      Yes, with us, it was incredible how aggressive we could both become due to sleep deprived nights! But when shouting at each other in the wee hours of the morning, I remember that luckily we were both aware that we were both victims of the situation, so the anger did not last, and it felt kind of good to have someone to shout at (instead of getting angry at the baby :-).

  41. Christine says...

    I am also a long time married lady (32 years). My husband always pushed for us to get out on our own and to stay connected when our kids were young. We always had a Saturday night out date night. Sometimes I didn’t want to but I also knew how much it meant to him and so I went. Once a year or so We would leave the kids for a night with a sitter (we never lived near family) and stay at a fancy hotel in the city. We would go for dinner and maybe a movie. He always tells people how proud he was of me for finding ways for us to be a couple, not just parents. I still get a thrill knowing he is mine and that we have had such a rich and happy connection. There are many periods as parents that are stressful (I get hives recalling adolescence) and it isn’t always easy to see eye to eye or to even like the other person very much. But those times you reconnect, whether it’s sex while the kids nap or you drag your tired body to a movie and never say a word, but you hold hands, they are the building blocks for your life together when the crazy winds down and all of a sudden it’s just the two of you, just like in the beginning. Because at this stage of life I am grateful to say that no matter how much time we have, it will never be enough.

    • Julia says...

      How beautifully written!

    • Erin says...

      Making me cry reading this!

    • Christine, this is lovely. You made me cry! Thank you for sharing about your love that’s gone the distance. Well done!

  42. GoldenMoon says...

    Love this important and relevant post. I’d amend that you must know that the first 3 years are INSANE, at least in my book. If you can make it through that you know you can make it through anything together, especially with multiple young children under your care. Daytime sex is so key. Who wants to do anything that exerts energy after a long day of childcare! I also love the quote about the partner work being balanced. We try to hold to that truth in our household so we don’t fall into the comparing trap which only leads to endless feelings of not feeling that your partner honors how much you/they are doing. Everyone is putting in 150% in those early years.

  43. Meghan says...

    Any suggestions for the 2 person book club? I’d love to hear some book title ideas that men & women would both enjoy!

    • The alchemist is our joint favorite. I would say try a few out until you both figure what you like. On my own I like all kinds of books, but my husband has never been a reader (unless it involves engineering, finance or self-help). Now we’ve discovered we both enjoy a good whodunit/crime novel.

      Lendy
      http://www.twoplusluna.com

    • emma says...

      Any book which you consume using your brain and not any other body part ;)

    • Sussi says...

      We read a lot of the classics together, it just always feels worthwhile. So if one of us aren’t enjoying it as much as the other, we can always say; “at least I read Of Mice and Men”.
      Its not the old-old classics, but Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Blixen, and other more recent classics.

    • The classics- Jane Austen, Willa Cather, Tolstoy- have been enjoyable for us. We began Death Comes for the Archbishop on our Santa Fe honeymoon!

  44. Kristin says...

    Did anyone else find sex to be really painful after having a baby? Even months later, maybe things are not fully healed? Really hoping it improves! It helps so much to read about these experiences of others. As usual, Cup of Jo gives me beautiful, timely advice for making the most of all life’s stages. Grateful. :)

    • Linzy says...

      Yes. The best thing an open friend told me after I had my first baby was that it took a year to fully heal and for everything to be “good” again. If it’s really painful, I’d check in with a Dr/midwife. If it’s in the “annoyingly uncomfortable” zone and seems to be improving over time, I would say hang in there and give it more time. Time and LOTS and LOTS of lubricant. The podcast called “The Longest Shortest Time” has had several episodes talking about post-partum sex… good luck!

    • Emma Bee says...

      Oh yeah, 6 months at least for me, I had standard vaginal birth with 2nd degree tear. Talk to your gyno if things dont improve even after a few more months.

    • Alex says...

      7 months post birth here and yes, it’s still painful. My OB says it has to do with 1) the thinning out out of skin and tissue down there and 2) much dryer than normal, both because of hormone levels. So not necessarily stretching or tearing during birth. (I only got to 3cm and had to have a c-section). Breastfeeding delays the re-thickening and moistening because of estrogen levels. OB’s advice – lube, lube, and more lube!

    • Kristin says...

      Thanks so much to both of you. I’m glad it’s not abnormal and that it does/can get better with time and care… I will definitely check out that podcast and talk to my OB. Thanks!!

    • Taylor says...

      With my first it was so uncomfortable! and I had a c-section. It got better when I quit breastfeeding. I think something with the hormones made things extra dry and painful. Second time around no issues :)

    • GoldenMoon says...

      Yes! It took me about 6 months to feel healed after my first birth.

    • Lauren says...

      Yessss. Took me a good 6-8 months. If you’re feeling a lot of pain or had a high degree tear (level 4 for me- oof.), talk to your midwife/doc. My midwife recommended pelvic floor therapy. My insurance covered most of it and it was really instrumental in helping me get better.

    • char says...

      Yes, there’s an awesome podcast called ‘longest shortest time’ (which Jo also recommended!) there’s a talk on birth trauma I found extremely helpful. Breastfeeding can often make things more uncomfortable too. It’s normal that it takes time before all feels right again- wish I’d known sooner x

    • Yes! And I had a C-section! Can’t imagine how difficult it must be when the lady garden has been involved too. Hang in there honey it gets better.

    • Anne says...

      Same situation, same problem…

    • Midwives and doctors are often under informed about these issues and even in the best health care systems in the country can struggle helplessly trying to treat them. In some cases it’s important that you address the issue before nerve pathways gain a repetitive “memory” of pelvic pain. I would highly recommend seeking out a good women’s health/pelvic floor physical therapist. Their work is unfortunately relatively unknown. Here’s something to listen to also: http://longestshortesttime.com/tag/pelvic-floor-physical-therapy/

    • Megan says...

      It was very painful for me and I eventually went in and asked my doctor. She discovered that I had torn a muscle somewhere in there, while pregnant or shortly after. She referred me to what was essentially physical therapy for your V-Jay.

    • dahlia says...

      In France, everyone goes to a pelvic PT after giving birth. I have not given birth, but have worked with a pelvic PT after healing from abdominal surgery. Wonderful, wonderful; makes for much better healing! Go go go! It’s YOUR VAGINA, which is totally worth taking care of!

    • Monique says...

      Getting my period really helped – the dryness improved after that. Lube, lube, more lube. It (and patience!) will help. Hang in there!

    • Emma Bee says...

      Wow, I looked at The Longest Shortest Time podcast and found the episode with the pelvic floor physical therapist. Very enlightening! There are some practices in my area (DC) and I might check them out, still having leakage issues when I run, even after doing kegels and being 18 months post partum.

    • Jessica says...

      Yup. I went to my gynaecologist who told me that it helps to sort of “stretch it out” before sex. This is embarrassing for me, but he said it’s the one time he would recommend “toys.” Lol. We didn’t go that far, but a little stretching prior made ALL the difference.

    • Julia says...

      Yes – and only then we started to try lubricants – and stick to it, even after a couple of yrs. since I gave birth. It makes the sex so much more comfortable!

  45. Great post! My husband and I will be married 10 years in August, and I think getting away for the weekend every once in a while without kids is imperative. We have an almost 7 year old, an almost 5 year old and a three year old, so life is busy. But once or twice a year we stick the kids with the grandparents and go off on an adventure. We finally have time to talk about whatever we want, and eat whatever, and sleep as late as we want, without being interrupted constantly, and we can enjoy ourselves and each other completely. I always fall in love with my husband all over again when we have weekends away together!

    • Yes! We don’t go nearly that often because of nursing babies, but going away even every two years is great!

  46. Tina L. says...

    My suggestions for daytime sex or alone time once the kids are done napping (about 3 years old for us) are: “screen time” (tv or ipads) -our kids would never come looking for us since they rarely get it, also concurrent play dates (if one child has a play date, work hard to get the other one a play date at the same time – away from home). Also, hire a babysitter to take the kids out of the house (ice cream, park, etc.) We also plan daytime dates for them with their grandparents, which makes us ALL very happy ;)

  47. Allison says...

    As someone who is due with my first in July, I sincerely appreciate the positivity of this post. I know it is going to be hard and people mean well, but it doesn’t help to continuously hear the list of negatives and “wait until … happens” for how bad is yet to come! Your blog is always such a nice dose of love and happiness to my day. Thank you, Joanna!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Congratulations, Allison! It will be great, you are going to love that baby so so much, and you’ll all get settled right in. Xoxo

  48. Tawni says...

    Thank you for this advice! Do you have any more suggestions for activities couples can do together? We struggle to find something we want to do on date night, especially living in a small town, and usually end up just watching Netflix… again.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      It’s hard to think of new activities! Would you guys ever want to host a game night with friends? I love playing (very) low stakes poker. Or bike rides/hikes. Or at-home wine taste tests… I’ll keep thinking!!

    • dahlia says...

      Game night with two is fun, also! Cards, Scrabble… we like a new game called Exploding Kittens (I did you not.)

    • Jessica says...

      My husband and I have a weird obsession with Lego. Once a year or so, we’ll splurge on a big one to build together. I guess it’s along the same lines of doing a puzzle. We’ll crack open a couple of beers and spend a few hours building. You just get a sense of “working together” and I find a deep satisfaction in clicking the blocks into place. :)

  49. Sarah M. says...

    This doesn’t relate to having kids, but my partner and I have been together for over four years. We recently moved in together, and the first two months were so exciting. New space! New furniture! A million decisions we were terrified of but excited to make together! Cut to last week, the general monotony of it all was less exciting, and you know what he decided to do? Order a puzzle on Amazon. (For the record, he’s not a puzzle person.) We finished that whole damn 1000 piece puzzle in less than a day, sitting around it with coffee or beer, and I totally saw him in a different light: collaborative, a team player in a seemingly solitary activity, and this wonderful problem-solving side I hadn’t seen in a while. Trying something new works wonders!

    • That is such a sweet idea!

  50. Jess says...

    Such a great post Joanna! The first few months are insane and I felt like I over analyzed so much (will I ever want to leave my baby to just go have margaritas again with friends? The answer of course was yes, but I was too tired and glued to my baby due to feeding issues, etc to see clearly at the time) The one major thing that is so true is that everything is temporary. Whether it be the sexless first few months or your child’s teething. And giving myself time to go to yoga has especially always helped me reset whenever I need it.

  51. Chrissy Shea says...

    I can definitely say the 5 love languages were the best thing we could have done for our relationship (we did it before the wedding!). Ours are SO different, we really need to stay reminded sometimes. We share when we feel a little disconnected and say “my love tank feels a little empty..” and that reminds us to look back at our “languages”.

    I will also say so many of these apply without kiddos! Can’t wait to put them to use after too!

  52. Megan Shanley says...

    My husband and I watched the last season of The Bachelor together – something that we have loved watching together for years. Recently on a Sunday afternoon while our 2 year old was happily playing alone my husband asked if I would like to “join him in the fantasy suite”. How could I turn that down?

    • Ha–love this!

    • Sarah says...

      This made me Lol. Adorable.

  53. susan says...

    Similar to your first suggestion, morning or day-time dates can be great, too. We had a babysitting swap with friends one weekend a month and would sometimes send kids over in the morning and do things like bird watching, going to the Farmer’s Market or for a bike ride. We weren’t so tired and worn out (like we often are at night), and it was fun to do simple activities together. It often worked well for the kids, too, since melt-downs usually happen later in the day. Now that my kids don’t need a sitter anymore, I need to remember that he and I should take off more often, ha!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that! I remember that in an interview with us years ago, pilar Guzman said she preferred daytime dates because at night “there is too much pressure not to yawn.” :)

  54. Lauren says...

    I took the Love Language quiz, and pretty much came out equal in all five love languages. Touch, quality time, gifts, compliments, acts of service… Apparently I need ALL OF THEM! My suspicion that I can be a little high maintenance is thereby confirmed, so I’m gonna work on that. Thanks for the insight!! xx

    • Hey Lauren,
      If you’re close on all five love languages that just means your spouse has a better/easier opportunity to fill your love tank. That’s a good thing. 4 of the 5 languages I scored 9,8,7,6 so my hubby has an easier time of filling my love tank full.

    • Roxana says...

      Hey there Lauren, in the 5 Love Languages Book, he explains that all of us DO need all the love languages. It’s just that some are more important to some than others (i.e. you’re more “fluent” in one or two than you are in the others). So, don’t worry (in case you were worried), you’re not any more high maintenance than anyone else :)!

  55. MP says...

    I don’t have kids yet, but was happy to see this post today and felt inspired by the list as my boyfriend and I navigate a long distance relationship. Kids and distance might actually create similar kinds of relationship issues, in a way… Thanks for the post!

  56. Emily says...

    I love these tips! We have an 11 month old and I found some these things to be helpful…
    – Plan date “in” during the week. So she goes to bed and we have wine and light candles and eat dinner or dessert. no tv, no mindless phone scanning, no sitter needed
    – Both of our plates are full with different stressors. Any time I’ve felt like i’m carrying more than my share, I take that as a cue to say to him “have you been stressed or overwhelmed about anything? is there something I can do to help lessen it?” that sounds backwards but honestly, I find the cure for feeling like “i’m the most busy” is perspective & empathy. Plus he always takes that time to ask me the same thing.
    – I’ve noticed that I think of him so fondly during odd times in the middle of the day but somehow by the time he walks in the door, I’m frazzled and tired and those thoughts are pushed out. So I’ve gotten in the habit of texting him as soon as I think of him, anytime that may be. Its also nice because texts are something outside of what the baby ruin (er, I mean, influence)

    Also, cheers to you and Alex for keeping the love alive!

  57. Katie Larissa says...

    Is it normal to take the quiz and feel like you agree equally with both options on a lot of the questions?? Haha!

  58. Allie says...

    as someone who is not yet married (but in a serious long-term relationship of 4+ years) i’d love a post about how to have these conversations *before* getting hitched! i don’t want to get married (or have kids) just because we’ve been together for x amount of time, or because we’re “supposed to”. i want to preemptively engage in real conversations that address things like “how will we handle it when we have a new baby and we’re both exhausted, overworked, etc?”

    how would you recommend broaching these subjects w/ a likely soon-to-be-fiance?

    • Suzanne says...

      This isn’t meant to sound snarky, but how do you ask? You ask! :)

      “how will we handle it when we have a new baby and we’re both exhausted, overworked, etc?”

      Ask him those very questions!

      Before we got engaged, I sat down with my now husband and had a list of big questions I wanted to ask (how will we raise children, how much debt do you have, how will we handle big life changes, what are your love languages, etc etc etc). I warned him in advance (and even sent the list of questions to him ahead of time!) and asked him to be really thoughtful about things. He showed up prepared and was more than happy to go through this process with me, even if it seemed so formal. The whole time I resisted the urge to feel like I was overstepping, and thought to myself, “If he has a problem answering these questions and talking to me about big things – then we shouldn’t get married.”

      If it’s important to you to ask or talk about – just do it.

    • Tory says...

      I just got married a few months ago, and before we got engaged, I had lots of hard questions too! My Type-A strategy was to make a list of all of my questions (they ranged from money to sex to what would you do if we couldn’t concieve to everything in between) and when we were out at dinner one night, I just announced that I had some questions and pulled out the list and started asking questions. I may have ambushed my now-husband, but he handled it like a champ (at one point I suggested that we could resume the list later, and he was like “nah, I’m on a roll, let me have the next one”). It was pretty heavy dinner conversation, and I do recall that a couple seated near us was on a first date and asking questions like “do you have any pets?” We giggled about that.

    • dahlia says...

      At age 46 I’ve supported many of my girlfriends through divorce. I cannot suggest warmly enough that you talk about these things before you get married.

    • Mila says...

      I’m not sure it will matter, because you can’t really know how will you handle it until you are in the situation. You can plan and have a general idea, because it is one thing to have a calm and rational discussion about imaginary situation, and totally different to have real thing while exausted, in pain, while on hormonal and emotional rollercoaster. I had milions of ‘I-will-nevers’ before I had kids, almost all of them collapsed in first year of having a baby.

  59. Dana says...

    Day time sex for sure!! Some weeks, even THAT’S difficult. And we only have a daughter who just turned 2 and a dog. Full time jobs/ he does the gym/ I run and do races/ we try to stick with one date night a week but that’s been hard to fit in our schedules. We joke and say we did way more date nights 1 year ago but it all just depends.

    Back to day time sex…when we both work from home and our daughter naps ( or not) it’s really the only time we can squeeze it in because we aren’t as tired as at night. Sometimes it happens on the weekends too. Oh sex life….#thestruggle lol

  60. Julia says...

    I’m in a little different situation. My boyfriend and I are not married but have been together for 6 years. Back in the early days of our relationship, when I was raising my 14 year-old son and he was raising his 11 year-old daughter (he has primary custody), we both were very clear that our kids came first. About six months into our relationship, his daughter became very jealous of the relationship he and I had. She didn’t want me around out of fear that he’d leave her for me (I know, so sad!) We had to respect that she needed more time alone with her dad to work through her abandonment issues free from my presence. It lasted almost 7 months!

    We found ways to make time for each other though! We had traditional dates when we could, and texts and phone calls were paramount, but my favorite is what we called, “Drive-bys”. This was when my boyfriend was near my workplace, out doing sales calls or deliveries, would drive into my employer’s parking lot. I’d run downstairs and get a kiss (or 7!) and a quick cuddle. Often times he’d bring me flowers or a snack. I’d get butterflies when I knew he was near by! The entire visit would last under 5 minutes but we had a moment to be around each other and made the most of every second. These days, his daughter and I are very close friends and guess what? He still will text me to say he’s doing a drive-by… and I still get butterflies! :)

    • katrina says...

      Bravo – for considering that little girls feelings more important than your own. A someone who’s mother chose her boyfriend over her kids, I can’t tell you how affirming that choice must have been for her to see you be willing to do that.

    • Laura-london says...

      What Katrina said – Julia you rock :)

  61. Emily says...

    Love this – good timing of this article for me and my partner. We’re going on 14 years together (8 married), plus 2 active little people! Great ideas :)

  62. Lindsay says...

    This one really hits close to home for me. We have two boys: almost four and almost one and I am the first to admit that our relationship has suffered in the last four years. I have never prioritized our dates financially (too kids in daycare is $$$ and for us, dating was the first to go), but I appreciate how other readers have said that it’s an “investment” in their relationship. I really need to look at that way to help get us back on track.

  63. Sandra says...

    Our son is 5 and we are still trying to figure it out! We could never do “afternoon delight” with DS around. He would for sure come look for us, and I’d never be able to relax with him awake. But I completely understand about nighttime not working. DS is only in school a couple hours a day and I am at home with him so the days are pretty long. By the the time he’s asleep and we’ve cleaned up the kitchen I just need time to myself and don’t want anyone to touch me–even for something fun!

    One thing DH and I talked about when DS was young is that you’d better have a pretty strong marriage before having kids because the cracks will start to show under the pressure of new parenthood–everything is confusing, your daily routine…well, there just isn’t one for a while, your hormones are all over the place, and there are so many demands on your time. It does get much better as they get older/sleep through the night.

  64. Lindsey says...

    Things that have helped us include 1. frequent communication during the day. Even though we’re in different places, we get to “do” the day with each other. Sometime we text about logistics, but lots of times, it’s just how are you/how’s work/what do you want to watch tonight/etc. So, so nice to be in the middle of a deadline and look down and see him just saying hello.

    The second thing is instituting quiet time during the immediate get home time. Whoever picks up our 3-year-old from daycare gives her undivided attention about her day on the way home. But as soon as we walk in the door, it’s time for us to reconnect, so she gets set up with a quick show or reads books or plays in her room. It’s just 20 minutes or a half hour, but it allows everyone (even her!) to transition and us to catch up and unite to take on the bedtime routine :)

  65. After the birth of our first daughter I felt like my whole life surrounded caring for her, and I know my fiancé fell by the side a little. I just felt like caring for a small baby was such an enormous responsibility that she always needed to come first. Now that we’re on baby #2 I see that WE need to come first. We are a team, and caring for two requires happy parents! I feel much more connected to him, and therefore I am a more loving and patient mother as well.

    Every friday we have a date night. Sometimes it’s an early dinner, home by 8 and we make some homemade froyo together and cuddle or a movie. Or sometimes we make it a longer night and a really get away! It’s so important, and as a SAHM I really look forward to it all week. I love this post Joanna!

    xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  66. I needed this! I agree with one of the previous commenters…now that my baby is almost 4 months old, I do understand how kids can ruin some marriages. It’s a season of choosing, every day, your partner all over again, and choosing to support and love them even when you’re exhausted from caring for a tiny one. But I think that’s such encouraging, reassuring advice about giving yourself grace the first year…I’ve been hard on myself, but come on…our lives were just rocked so completely!

    I think the hardest thing for me has been in the transition to stay at home mother. Now my life is mainly about the baby and things at home (although of course I still read and listen to podcasts, etc.), and his life didn’t change as much…he’s still going to work every day, like before. It feels like a bit of a chasm between us, especially because we’ve been very egalitarian in our marriage. Even if a woman is working, I think the first year post partum can create this kind of gap of understanding between her and her partner because there’s so much she has to do that he just can’t, from birthing the baby to breastfeeding to just that mother’s intuition/instinct that new dads tend to lack.

    And one more thing, you know the author Madeleine L’Engle? I remember in one of her books she said that she and her husband had basically a happy hour every day before dinner, where they would talk over cocktails and their four kids weren’t invited unless they wanted to act grown-up. ;)

    • Couldn’t agree more, Joy. Time to give myself (ourselves!) a break and make sure that that chasm doesn’t get any bigger.

    • Kristin says...

      Thanks so much for writing this, Joy. I am going on month 8 with our first little boy and the words “giving yourself grace” really struck me. The chasm is real and Ms. L’Engle is brilliant as always. :) Thanks for posting and all best wishes to you and your family. :)

  67. Liz says...

    My husband and I have been together for thirteen years and we have two kids, 5 and 7. I think in those beginning months it is so important to have the freedom to name your feelings without judging them-either your own feelings or your partners. It was always such a pressure release to be able to say to my husband that I missed him, that I was totally touched out, and that sometimes I missed the time it was just the two of us. We would try hard to hear each other’s feelings and share a hug and that small act of validation helped to remind us that we were in it together. And, thank god, it gets easier! We have great, frequent sex now. We get time alone while the kids play with friends. We have energy to stay up after we’ve put them to bed. There should totally be an “it gets better” campaign for new parents because it really does. These tips are so wonderful!

  68. mar says...

    Love your post. I just gave birth to our beautiful little boy two weeks ago and I feel like we are presently living in a haze. This is a great reminder that things will get better ..

  69. Anne says...

    “Know that the first six months (or year?) are insane.” – So it does get better? I have a four-month old little boy and the last few months were really challenging… for me as a new mom, for us as new parents and the couple we were before the little guy showed up… Thank you so much for all the great ideas… Here’s to a happy marriage!

    • Kristin says...

      Anne, our first is over 7 months now and yes, the all consuming intensity of the early months does lessen. You get routines and strategies that help you breathe a bit, and even shower! ;) The days still bring challenges, but the baby can start to play for a bit in the crib, be entertained by toys, and you start to find a rhythm. Hang in there and be good to yourself, it is a delirious moment in time. :)

    • Abby says...

      It gets SO. MUCH. BETTER.

      The first x number of months of parenthood are typically the biggest test a marriage/partnership goes through.

      Good news maybe, if you’re planning on having any more — it was rough the second time around too, but not nearly AS rough, because we had experienced it the first time and knew we’d come out the other side before too long.

  70. Helga says...

    I am 53. I met my husband when I was 19 and married him when I was 25 and we’re still very happy. We’ve always had a rule about remembering that once you say something mean it’s out there forever so best not to do that. I also believe in appreciating what you’ve got (my husband isn’t big on compliments but I know he loves me because he leaves vitamins out for me every day because otherwise I’d never take them). Also, ALWAYS say thank you (that’s actually a good idea for everyone.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      he’s doing an “act of service” with the vitamins! maybe that’s his love language:)

    • Liana says...

      Helga this is lovely to hear! I also met my husband when we were 19 and I’m almost 31 now. We are such different people but are happy and very much in love despite being opposites in many ways. I so agree with appreciating the other person for who they are, never being mean to each other and always saying thank you…it’s not always easy but mutual respect goes a very long way!

  71. I whole heartedly agree with not analyzing your marriage within the first year of having a baby. NO big decisions should be made during that time where you are both sleep deprived and not really at your bests. Your relationship will shift and change after having kids, as long as you’re changing together… That’s the key.

  72. Eleanor says...

    So great. My daughter is 2.5 and we’re trying for another (for far too long) so on top of this, we feel like sex is being scheduled. “Gotta go at it this week.” “How about the morning? I’m too tired at night.” I’m home and then freelance so I’m exhausted by night. We just don’t have sex as often as we used to and while we’re truly ok with that, we make a point to do a date night at LEAST every other week, if not weekly. Babysitters add up but man that time is priceless. Also I love the “me” time. We trade off, I have girls nights and my husband golfs on some weekends. My family gives him slack for golfing but that’s literally the only time he takes for himself, so I urge him to do it. Happy mom and dad = happy family.

  73. JL says...

    Thank you for this post! We have a 5-month-old baby (our first), and I admit, I’ve been way too hard on my husband’s and my relationship since she was born. I occasionally freak out that we’ll never get back to the spontaneous, carefree days of yore, but my husband is much more level-headed about it and reminds me that this exhausting, all-consuming (and somehow simultaneously wonderful!) baby stage will come to an end and we’ll get back in our groove. Your last piece of advice was a great reminder for me to ease up for the time being.

  74. Roxana says...

    This is great! Seriously. Great! So propos!

    We have a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. I feel like we’re starting to come-out of the fog and are sort of groping for each other more now; figuratively and literally :).

    The 5 Love Languages are great! We went to one of Gary Chapman’s marriage seminars and really enjoyed it. We spent the whole day together and got to think about our marriage. Also, Gary Chapman is very funny, which doesn’t come-out in the book. Either way, I discovered that my languages shifted a bit after having kids. . . I became a little less “physical touch” and a little more “acts of service.” I think being at home all day with my kids left me desiring a little more physical space than before and wanting someone to load or unload the dishwasher felt a little sexier :). Anyway, just a note for those who think they know their love languages. It helps to reassess.

    Oh, and even though this post is about parents, and not kiddos, there is a 5 Love Languages book for children, which I highly recommend.

    Thanks again for this list!

    • Roxana says...

      I mean, “apropos.” Sorry! :)

  75. Amanda says...

    I have a 2 and 5 year old and feel like my husband and I are (slowly) starting to get back on track. On the advice of my OB/GYN, we recently started scheduling sex. While it sound unromantic and like another thing on the “to do” list, it is the only way we can make sure we are, well, getting it done. We are both much happier if it can happen consistently. Right now, if I were to rely on spontaneity, it just isn’t going to happen. Also, I like Dan Savage’s advice to “do it first.” Meaning, do it before you go out on your date. If you wait until after the dinner or movie you may be too tired, too bloated, too whatever. Plus, it takes the pressure off and I find we are better connected during the date.

  76. Judy says...

    I try to do little things that remind him how much I love him, like write I LOVE YOU on the mirror with lipstick, or put little notes where he’ll find them (in his underwear drawer, in a book he’s reading, etc), put cards in his suitcase when he’s traveling, text him sexy things that would embarrass him when he’s at work, etc. Just simple, inexpensive things that say I care about him and us. Early morning love is good too!

  77. RT says...

    Ours are almost 2 and almost 4, and I really must say the TOUGHEST year of my life was the first year with our 2nd. Holy shit, that threw us for a loop. Just 2 years into life with two, we’re KINDA feeling normal again. It’s exhausting. We do a lot of things to keep connected – date nights whenever humanely possible, one night away from the house each, per week (no babysitter needed if the other parent stays home!), lots of contact with friends (especially other parent friends, even if it’s just texting), and after the kids go to bed at night, that’s our quality time. We are both night owls, so we put them to bed and then stay up for at least 3 hours together, just hanging out, watching movies… whatever!

    • Jessica says...

      I’m 4 months in to life with 2 and HOLY MOLY it is a game changer. No alone time which makes me less inclined to want together time. One of us is always with one of the kids…

    • Kristin says...

      This is a worry of mine. Our first is 7 months and we were hoping to have one more about two years apart, but I anticipate that first year with two being so so hard. Anything you learned that helped you get through? With our first, I keep reminding myself that everything is just a moment in time and whether good or bad it will constantly change and they grow fast. Take care and congrats on your two, Mama!

  78. May says...

    Such a great collection of advice, Jo~especially the last piece about getting over the hump of parent exhaustion~I’ll now see this period of time with a fresh outlook…
    Also wondering when the winner of the Cup of Jo giveaway trip will be announced? Thanks so much for your time.

  79. Mairéad says...

    Ah your last point is what gets us through! 3 small children mean there really has been less and less time for us over the past 5 years – but even with no current sex life, very little affection and sometimes very little talk – I know we are fine and will get back to where we were, only better. At the moment we are in survival mode but starting to see a glimmer of light. It really would be a bad idea to examine a relationship going through this stage of parenthood – and probably a bad idea to discuss the reality of your relationship with any single, childfree friends – they would think you were crazy!

  80. I love this! I am not married, but have been with my sweetheart for 4 years, and this is in my future. I love hearing from you wise mama’s about what that season looks like. Some of these can most definitely be applied to us young folks during busy seasons too.

    XOXO thank you!

  81. Wow. Nailed it! There was nothing I thought of that you didn’t cover here. (Am I the only one old enough to know “Afternoon Delight” … 70s pop hit? Yummy.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha yes!

  82. Someone gave us this sage advice when we had our first, and it was SOLID GOLD:

    “Remember to make frequent eye contact with your partner, especially when things are challenging .”

    This really worked for us, especially when one of us was feeling overwhelmed. Feeling like, “we’re trapped” is so much better than feeling like, “I’m trapped!”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that. it’s so simple and smart.

    • Noelle says...

      I love that. I think touch is similar… sometimes just feeling my husbands hands on my shoulders or a touch of our hands or a hug when I’m feeling down can completely transform my mood and make me feel like we’re a team and we’re in sync.

    • This is so insightful. We v. me is what makes people feel connected.

    • Jessica says...

      Reminds me of advice that was on this blog a long time ago, “remember your partner isn’t the enemy, your baby is the enemy.” We laugh about that so that we remember to be together.

    • Kristin says...

      One time on Cup of Jo, Joanna posted the quote “babies be babies.” It has been my mantra these past months.

      I ask my husband for a good hug, sometimes even (or especially) when we are disagreeing. It’s a game changer. :)

  83. Traci says...

    What beautiful timing. We have a two year old and four month old, and I was just thinking this morning, “you know, I guess I get how people drift apart.” Fuels my fire to keep us crazy about each other. I think it helps us to guard our time pretty fiercely. My big love language is quality time and just the act of hearing my husband say “no” to yet another engagement every once in a while helps me know he’s still making us a priority. Also, we do a lunch date with our kids every Thursday. Even though they’re with us, it’s still a treat to see each other during the day.

  84. Zywie says...

    Our “routine” has returned since our little one turned 4, as we go to bed atleast an hour after his bedtime.
    But what’s been a major distraction is that during regular hours, we can’t have even a normal conversation with him around. He will have to constantly interrupt with his questions & observations.. While it’s sweet that he has so much to share, it can get annoying when we are in the middle of a solid discussion, to pause and answer (again!) ‘is the van a type of truck or is a truck a type of van’ . What??

    I even tried your “pat on my hand” tip Joanna. What followed was my little one’s constant patting on my hand until I gave him attention. Grrr!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, yes, it’s so hard! our boys are such chatterboxes, too. at home it can be tough (basically impossible) to have a real conversation with the boys around. thankfully, when we’re at parks/etc., they get into playing outside and do their own thing! :)

    • Jessica says...

      “I want you to talk to me not to daddy.” ALL. DINNER. LONG.

  85. Di says...

    Our kids are 5 &2 and I don’t know about the fog just lasting 1 year… it’s lasted 5 years for me. As soon as our oldest got easier, we had our second. We’ve really come to value dinners just the two of us, and we have a rule: no talking about the kids. It’s amazing the range of topics you can cover when you’re not discussing their poop, pee and sleep. :)

    • Katherine says...

      I totally get that rule – it’s so important (and just flat out fun) to talk about all the range of things you spoke about before kids. After all, the whole point is that one day they’ll leave home and then you still want to be enjoying each other’s company.
      That said, my favourite part of each day is when we are lying down, about to go to sleep, and we chat about the funny things the kids did that day. Kids are straight up hard work and it’s so helpful and refreshing to share all the enjoyable bits and finish each day focusing on the joy and fun that they bring (since it often feels like the drudgery outweighs fun significantly!)

  86. The best advice I received right after my first child was born was “don’t contemplate divorce until the baby turns one.” I thought she was insane. We were fine, and happy, and we had this sweet little bundle (she was one week old). Little did I know how hard that first year would be! Once the adrenaline wore off we were so tired and frustrated and overwhelmed. Once she turned one (and was sleeping through the night), it was like magic and things suddenly got better.

    My husband and I both work outside the home in a big city, so while our kids are at daycare during the day, we totally take advantage of the childcare and have lunch dates. They’re not as exciting as going out on Saturday night, but we are both dressed up, and get to eat in peace. We always meet somewhere and walk to the restaurant, and I get little butterflies when I see him waiting for me or walking toward me. It’s been really fun! I’ve been thinking about quitting my job, and if I do that will be the thing I miss the most!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha, i love that advice! and lunch dates sound wonderful.

    • Lisa says...

      That is awesome advice! We have a two month old, and there’s been many nights I’ve fantasised about divorce (but haven’t gone through with it). I never would have contemplated that until the baby arrived, and we both feel exhausted and overwhelmed

  87. Recently found out that we are expecting our first (I’m 13 weeks along, and we had been trying for the last year), and although we’re both incredibly ecstatic, it’s impossible to not think about how life will drastically change for both my husband and I after the baby’s arrival. I’ll definitely hope to bookmark and return to these pointers when the time comes.

  88. Liz says...

    I need to work on being more spontaneous and being romantic with my husband and I think day time sex would help. I get legitimately angry when he makes a move after a long day, I just want to be left alone! That sounds so terrible…

    • Angela says...

      It really does not sound as terrible as you think. It sounds exactly what I think/want like 95% of the time, and I’m sure we can’t be the only 2 out there feeling angry at the mere suggestion of sex at the end of a long day. 😊

    • Laura says...

      Liz, it doesn’t sound terrible! I think we’ve all been there!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Me 3 :)

    • RT says...

      We have ALLLLLLLL been there! You are not alone!

    • Amy says...

      What the other commenters said! If my husband nudges me at 10pm as I’m tucking into bed, it’s downright infuriating. I’ll usually snap “Why didn’t you ask me at 8 or 9pm when we were doing but watching tv!?”

    • Roxana says...

      Amy, I am cracking-up because my husband and I have had that exact same conversation a million times. Same time. Same everything. So funny!

      You’re definitely not alone.

    • Dana says...

      Been there. You’re fine. ;)

    • Jessica says...

      Oh my gosh this thread is hilarious!
      I’ll admit that I often get mad if my husband DOESN’T make a move! Like, “hey dude, I’m not wearing this lingerie cuz it’s comfy to sleep in so…??”

  89. Amy says...

    I am a huge fan of the love languages. I discovered them a few years ago and have shared with all of my girlfriends. It’s so helpful to learn what your partner translates as love (or doesn’t!). For me it’s all words, but for him it’s quality time. I’ve tried to adjust the ways I communicate with him based on knowing this (try is the key word here :) )

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      fascinating, right? it was really eye-opening for us.

  90. Nice advice. I am waaaay away from a marriage, but I think these tips can help every relashionship. My advice to keep up your relashionship is: encourage your better half to do things she/he loves. After them they will vibrate their best shelf, it’s always amazing seeing someone so happy and fullfilled that you can’t but fall more for him/her. Just saying ;)

    If anyone is interested in a free course in germinating an avocado seed in less than a month, I published such a course in Skillshare: http://skl.sh/1SvaQsF :)

  91. Maggie says...

    The suggestion of going out with friends rang so true. I fall totally head-over-heels all over again when I see my partner making people laugh or we make eye-contact across the table.

  92. I’ll admit I got to the last one and felt my tears welling up. We just celebrated our son’s first birthday and I am 5 months pregnant with another one. Those first 6-12 months are HARD. I didn’t give our relationship enough of a break during this time. I knew things would be different, but I was hard on us wanting more of our old relationship during those first months. This time I’m a little more prepared mentally and love your advice to stay positive, but give yourselves a break.

    • Roxana says...

      Definitely give yourself (and him) a break! You two are both in THE TOUGHEST season.

      We have a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 1/2 year old; I am still very tired, but things are definitely feeling easier. Slowly, but surely, feeling a bit easier.

      Also, I realized that I put too much pressure on my husband; especially when we first became parents. I felt like I was struggling so much (exhausted, hormonal, confused, etc.) and needing and wanting more from him. But, while he was also taking care of our kiddos and going through all these adjustments (granted, it’s a little different for men!) and being a super hands-on dad, he was missing me, too.

      Hang in there! You can do this!!!!

  93. Jessie says...

    My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years and have three daughters. We go on date night once a week and do our best not to talk about our kids. For sex I usually go to bed first to get some sleep and then when he comes to bed he “wakes me up” On the weekends while the girls are watching a show we’ll come to our room for a quicky. I also read some really good trashy books that gets me going. We also try to do a night out with our friends without each other or alone. If I leave I make sure I tell him everything that still needs to be done and vice versa. This way there is no confusion and frustration. He also does an annually guys trip and I try to do a girls trip.

  94. Julia says...

    Ok, your daytime sex advise….This is fine when you still have a kid that naps, but they are done with that how do you do it? My kids know instinctively that we are up to something and in our small house come running upstairs as soon as we even think of doing it. No way would they be watching a show…We book days off, but since nap time is done and our kids are now 7 and 8 this has definitely suffered.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Toby completely zones out when he watches a show and would never come look for us. But if they ever do come knocking on the door, I’ll just come out, so I guess no harm, no foul? Hmmm, I wonder with your kids if you could make a ritual a reading/rest time or something where they have to stay in their rooms — kind of like a nap for older kids? It’s a tricky one, not sure!

      Any advice from other parents of older kids?

    • Melanie says...

      Once my oldest sister could supervise my other sister and I my parents paid her/us to leave the house – ‘hi girls, thanks for being sweeties, here’s $10 go get ice cream and don’t come back for an hour!’ (so we’d go on our bikes, or even just go to the park)- even as teenagers they did it but by then it was a joke as we knew what they were up to and thought it was hilarious (I never understood why kids thought their parents having sex was gross, I found it reassuring that they loved each other). They always ended it with ‘don’t come home for an hour!’. Now that i’m married and 4 1/2 months pregnant I find myself thinking about how i’ll prioritize sex with my husband in hopes I can have the marriage my parents had

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so cute!!!

    • Amy says...

      I wouldn’t even dare try in the daytime as I have non-nappers. Because Netflix kid shows are usually about 20 min long, they come asking if they can watch another. And my 6 yr old is very aware of all activities around her. I couldn’t relax and get into the mood, even if there was a lock on my door!

    • Kat says...

      One of us “naps” too and then we “can’t sleep” and end up “folding the laundry”. There’s usually a pile of laundry on at least one weekend day. The 4 year old goes down to nap and the 6 and 9 year olds stay in the living room and watch shows/play on devices. Ha!

    • I’ve told my husband, in front of my kids, that we need to talk privately about something and we head to the bedroom…the kids know we’re talking privately and know not to interrupt…we can have as long as we like.

  95. Kids sleep 14-16 hours at night, plus naps, at the beginning. Make sure they get it. It’s good for them and good for you.

  96. Amy says...

    All the points rang so true for me. Our kids are 6 and 4, and I read that once your youngest turns 3, everything gets easier.. or at least you’re mostly out of that new baby fog/tired zone and you may feel like having ‘a life’ a again! I agree too that time apart is great and the going on dates with friends is awesome. Sometimes we have felt so much pressure to have interesting discussions or ‘connect’ deeply on a date night by ourselves, but we do that in little moments in our days. It’s fun to have outside influences into your relationship, and friends and time alone is huge for that.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, and after hanging with friends, you have a whole new amount of things to chat and gossip about :)

  97. MK says...

    I’m copying that last bit and sending it to my husband! And maybe even taping it to the fridge. We have our first child due any day now (eeps). I think we are both anxious about how the new baby will impact our bond.

    • Kristin says...

      It’s an intense phase, but there is nothing more beautiful than seeing your partner care for and build a relationship with your baby. You will do amazing!! All best to you both. :)