Keeping Romance Alive

Family Forum™ Results

In December, we asked readers about how they keep romance alive in their relationship despite the challenges of raising children, working outside the home and running busy households. Here’s a look at what they had to say.

This is not intended to be a scientific study, but rather a stimulus for thought and discussion with our readers. Please note that because respondents could check more than one box – or none at all – the results do not always add up to 100 percent. Ninety percent of respondents to this survey were women.

It’s About Time

Respondents to our survey were clear: Time and fatigue are the major obstacles to keeping the home fires burning. Ten percent reported that difficulty finding a babysitter was the biggest obstacle to romance, while 9 percent cited the cost of a sitter. Only 5 percent blamed guilt over leaving the kids.

So how often do our readers get time for romance? Of our survey respondents 44 percent report going out less than once a month, while 22 percent manage to get out once a month. Another 16 percent get out twice a month and 15 percent go out once a week. Only 2 percent go out more than once a week.

The issue of time and fatigue struck a common chord in respondents’ written comments, too. Here are some suggestions they had for other parents:

• “Put your children to bed on time and spend the rest of the evening together.”

• “Be sure to set aside time for romance, no matter what.”

• “Once a year, we take a weekend alone together to reconnect, talk and enjoy one another without the children.”

• “Once the kids are finally in bed, no matter how tired you both are, even if you have to force yourselves, do something together.”

• “I would advise new parents not to feel guilt about occasionally leaving the children. It’s better for them in the long run. We found that out the hard way.”

• “Spend all the time together you can.”

So once parents do get a chance to have a “date,” what do they do? Almost half of our respondents go out to dinner. One in five catch a movie or performance. And 13 percent simply stay home and snuggle. Just 4 percent take part in activity they enjoyed before kids (rock climbing, wine tasting, etc.).

Respondents’ comments indicated that parents don’t need to go out to have couple time. Instead they highlighted the importance of finding ways to be close without the hassle and expense of babysitters, and without necessarily leaving home.

• “We take walks/jogs together on Sunday while our daughter is in Sunday school.”

• “We rent movies on most Saturday evenings. We rent one for the kids to watch and one for us. We watch ours upstairs and our kids watch theirs downstairs. We put our kids to bed and then stay up late talking and being intimate.”

As for advice to other parents:

• “Watch a movie or talk when kids are asleep; meet for lunch.”

• “Try to reserve one night a week for intimacy.”

• “Keep having sex.”

Impact of Kids on Mom and Dad’s Relationship: Relationships are equally strained and enriched

When it comes to the impact having kids has on parents’ relations, more than two out of three respondents said parenthood has equally strained and enriched their relationship. More than one in five said parenthood has mostly enriched their relationship.

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">As for how having kids has most enriched their relationships, half of our respondents said they have gained a sense of being a family. Nearly 30 percent said it has given them a shared commitment and responsibility, while 10 percent said it has helped them to see a new side of their partners. For 8 percent, having kids has kept them together.

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">When it comes to the strain kids put on a relationship, 27 percent reported being most affected by the loss of spontaneity. And roughly one in five cited the unequal division of caregiving roles and chores as well as added financial pressures. Disagreement over child-rearing practices was the main strain for 13 percent of our respondents.

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Two-thirds of our respondents have worked through the adjustments to being parents on their own, while one in 10 reported relying on informal advice and support from friends and family. Just 5 percent said they benefited from professional counseling.

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">For many of these readers, small ways to express affection in the course of their daily routines is a key to keeping the fire aflame.

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">• “We are careful to not let the romance go out of our daily lives by remembering hello and good-bye kisses and hugs … and talking to each other about anything that keeps us connected.”

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">• “Say ‘I love you’ every day. Ask, ‘How are you  doing? How was your day?’ Stay involved in each other’s lives.”

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">• “If my husband or I go to the store without the other, we will usually pick up a little something special.”

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">• “We still send each other love notes and flowers, just because. We make at least one of our daily kisses long.”

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Parent-to-Parent Advice

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">As for other advice on making Mom and Dad’s relationship a priority, respondents offered these final suggestions:

ana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">• “You must not let the focus rest on the children. The focus must be on a healthy parent relationship and the rest will fall into place.”

• “You cannot forget about your partner’s needs, as well as your new baby’s needs.”

• “Remember that it does not matter who wins or who is right, but that the marriage wins.”

• “Share a vision of the future. Create a support group – be it friends or family – to talk about how having children is a mixed bag of joy and stress, and so that you can trade off watching the kids to get away.”

TO OUR READERS: This is an active forum -- you missed our survey and want to share your tips on making Mom and Dad’s relationship a priority, email us and we'll post your comments.

From United Parenting Publications, February 2003