Tags: In This Issue, Parenting
Where did the romance go? If you're like most couples, including my clients and myself, you get home from a planned date night feeling wonderfully upbeat. The next night you can barely remember where you went to or what you ate. Sporadic attempts at romance are just that – temporary and easily forgotten.
Is your marriage with children in trouble if you don't have regular, quality couple time? Absolutely not. When kids are in the mix, married couples should expect a more tempered, but certainly visible, daily romantic connection.
There are two kinds of romance, the one that spontaneously happens to you because of a special setting, like watching a sunset over the beach, and the one you make happen anywhere, by choosing to say the right words at the right time to your mate. The first type of romance readily happens during the dating period, the second type requires greater awareness and effort.
The things we say and do, and don't say or do, can spark or block a loving connection. Our daily word choices become what I call a couple's "daily communication routine," as described in Fight Less, Love More. Hard-pressed for quality time with our partners and spouses, it's easy to fall victim to a poor communication routine. With a touch of awareness and use of the tips below, you can turn your communication, and romantic life around.
First, let's put our mate first. When one of you walks in the door, immediately greet each other (not the little kids or your computer first). A gentle touch on the shoulder with a simple "hello, how was your day?" warms up the night. If you're on the phone when your mate gets home, end the conversation. Yes, your spouse's arrival takes priority over others.
Second, say "good morning" and "good night" to each other because it is a good day or night when you are lucky enough to have your special someone nearby. In our research we found that 25 percent of couples don't consistently say goodnight to each other, and of those, 70 percent had thought about breaking up in the prior year.
Finally, show love by highlighting your mate's positive character traits. Make daily comments like, "I love you for (fill-in-the-blank)," and choose something small, like picking up the pizza. Or, say something like "You are such a good mother because you have so much patience with the kids." Interestingly, in our research, when we asked people whether they'd prefer their mate compliment them for being good-looking (a visual compliment), or kind (a character compliment) 84 percent answered, "kind."
A positive daily communication routine is the way to keep love alive when you don't have time for a vacation. For romance to thrive during child-rearing years you have to choose it, or lose it.
Laurie Puhn is a Harvard-trained lawyer, couples mediator, relationship expert, and bestselling author of Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In. You can find her online at fightlesslovemore.com.