By Kelley Kitley, LCSW and BCB Expert
Maintaining a strong and healthy connection with your partner is a MUST in any relationship. The special conditions of pregnancy, recovering from childbirth, running a busy household, balancing work and multiple children can make it difficult to prioritize your relationship and may leave you feeling like you’re living with a roommate not a romantic partner.
Many of the couples I work with have enormous responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, often feeling depleted by the end of the day with nothing left to energize their relationship. It is important to make a conscience effort to increase emotional and physical intimacy.
Here are some tips:
-Once the kids are in bed, carve out some time to turn off the “screens” and check in with each other, rather than run through the list of things that need to get done the following day. Find out about a project your spouse is focused on at work, set up your next date night, share perspectives about a topic going on in the news.
–Be present and listen to what your partners needs are (and make sure they hear yours) so you can be a team rather than focusing on what your partner is NOT doing. Replace “You never put your clothes in the laundry basket and you always leave dirty dishes in the sink” with, “I don’t feel as exhausted at the end of the night when you help me get the kids to bed.” “I really appreciate being able to get to the gym on the weekends before we start all of the activities.”
-Keep a list of what is already working well, what you appreciate about each other, and continue to build on the strengths. “He compliments me when I am feeling less than attractive,” “she stopped at the grocery store on her way home from work and picked up that gallon of milk we needed,” “we share common core beliefs about parenting,” “when I am worried about something, he is a good sounding board and helps simplify things”…
–Take turns initiating “sexy time” at least once a week. It can be a great way to relieve stress and help relax to get a good night sleep. Most couples report that they feel emotionally closer to their partner after they have engaged in some kind of physical touch. Put sexual intimacy on the calendar and make each other accountable. Often times we say we are too tired at the end of the day and physical intimacy is the first thing to go by the wayside. Try setting the alarm 15 minutes early – morning sex is a great alternative!
We need to slow down and be reminded of what made us fall in love with our partner in the first place. Remember how much you would look forward to seeing one another at the end of the day when you were dating, trying out new restaurants together, participating in common interests together, laughing, and what you were initially physically attracted to. Loving relationships require continual work. You must be patient and make a commitment to keep it thriving.
Kelley Kitley, LCSW, is CEO and Founder of SERENDIPITOUS PSYCHOTHERAPY, LLC. She is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. An action oriented therapist, she believes the therapeutic process is a partnership and she works with clients using a holistic approach to achieve their mental health goals. While she predominantly uses positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help clients heal and become the best version of themselves, she has a eclectic array of experience and specialized training to draw upon. She speaks in the community on a variety of topics related to women’s mental health and is in the process of publishing her self help/memoir.