Before my daughter was born I always vowed that I would not let having a baby change my relationship with my husband. I wanted to show my own child a model of what a good relationship is like.
When my daughter was born, I found having a baby so all-encompassing that it seemed hard to even imagine physically separating from her in order to rekindle my romantic life! I carried her in a sling, we co-slept, and she woke frequently in the night. When she was asleep I felt so exhausted that sex was the last thing on my mind. I spent my time reading books about parenting, and my thoughts were consumed with how to be a good mum. I loved this important work, but I also missed my husband who sometimes seemed like a distant figure in my life. A year has passed, and though my daughter now sleeps better, I’m still tired and not always feeling in the mood!
A few weeks ago my mum was visiting, and my husband and I nipped out for a 15-minute bike ride together. For those 15 minutes it was like going back in time to before we had a baby. I felt so free cycling on my bike, chatting and laughing with him. And I was surprised to find that during the days after our bike ride I felt closer to him.
Later I realized that the bike ride had been our form of Special Time. That spending concentrated quality time is something we can do with our partners as well as our children. It wasn’t necessary to have a big chunk of time. 15 minutes could bring us closer together. So I decided that every night, when my daughter was asleep my husband and I would do Special Time too. We would do it, without fail, even if it was just for five minutes.
My husband’s response was, “What about the cleaning?!” But after giving it some thought he agreed it would be a good idea. And so starting a few weeks ago, we’ve been doing Special Time. One of us chooses an activity, and we do it for between five minutes and half an hour. One night we played cards, another we sat on the balcony looking up at the stars. Sometimes we just snuggle up on the sofa to have a chat about our days. We’re gradually becoming more creative and adventurous with our ideas for special time. Soon we may even venture out for dinner at the local restaurant in our village!
I’ve never been good at being domestic, and though I love cooking I’ve always lacked enthusiasm for tidying and cleaning. But now I’ve found I’m going about my domestic tasks with much more enthusiasm. There is a purpose to getting all the cleaning out of the way, so that we have time to be together at the end of the day.
When we think of rebuilding closeness with a partner after having a baby, we tend to focus on the obvious “sex” part. But it’s important not to neglect spending time together doing other things as well. Having Special Time in the evening means that even if though I spend most of the day away from my husband I still feel close to him. And I’m finding that this extra feeling of closeness makes me more in the mood for some extra-special time!
– Kate Orson in an Instructor-in-training in our Certification Program. She lives in Switzerland. You can connect with Kate on Facebook at Parenting by Connection with Kate Orson.