Think back to your first date with your spouse. Ok, maybe you don't remember the first date but think back to the early days of your relationship when you were in the beginning stages of dating. Where did you go? What did you do? How long did you prepare for the date- how much planning was involved? Ladies- how long did you spend getting ready for that important date? In the beginning there is a lot of thought and preparation into dating. You work hard to put your best foot forward and make a good impression. But once the newness of the marriage wears off and kids arrive, your dating life with your spouse can tank.
A friend of mine recalls, " I remember going out on a date with my husband before we got married. I got up and ready for my normal day. Went about my activities, then back home to get ready from scratch for our date. I started with a fresh shower, new hair blow dry, and then hours discussing wardrobe choices with my roommate. Flash forward to now and our life doesn't look anything like the "good o'le days". With jobs, and kids, and the roller coaster of life- we just do not have the resources or flexibility to go out like we used to. Some days it takes all we can to make it through dinner with the kids, baths, story, bedtime, before we both fall asleep in front of the tv at 9:00pm. A date, ha I wouldn't even know where or how we would fit that into our lives now that we have kids. However, I love my husband I want to learn how to date him again."
After having children, it's so easy to let romance go by the wayside. Chances are you are both tired (possibly sleep deprived), stressed with life's many obstacles, and the last thing you think of is romance. However, it's the little romantic things you can do that will keep your marriage going strong. When was the last time you brought your wife a bouquet of flowers- just because? In this day and age- a grocery store bouquet can sometimes be the cost of your weekly Starbucks bill. When was the last time you had dinner just the two of you- no children? If your answer to these questions is an honest "I don't know" it's time to make some changes. "Date night" still counts if you grab Subway sandwiches and drive to the coast to watch the sunset or after the kids are in bed throw out a blanket on the floor and sit and eat dinner without the tv and enjoy each other's company. Do not limit yourself to think that a "date night" has to cost a lot of money.
Romance after children can often feel like the battle of Gettysburg-each side waiting for the other to make the first move.
Husband: Why do I even try when nothing I do is ever good enough?
Wife: Why should I be the one to make the first move-HE'S the one that needs to show me he loves me.
If both partners constantly wait for the other one to make the first move, you could go years without romance and a distance could grow between you. In these situations its best to be the first one to wave the white flag. Be the one to make the first move. I've found that a romantic gesture- even a small one- can be enough to soften both parties and allow the space for romance to return.
Remember those early first dates. Remember those people- who they were, what they wanted in life. Remember what brought the two of you together, and look for the little ways to bring "those people" into the present day. Romance does not have to be about gifts, or dinners, or champagne and limo rides. Romance is about saying I love you. I need you. I value you. I miss you.