Busy couples who do these enjoy a more fulfilling relationship
Here at Men’s Variety, we like to focus on the role of intimacy in relationships. As we’ve discussed in the past, honesty and mindfulness are essential ingredients to a happy love life.
But let’s be honest. Once you have kids, finding time in the bedroom can be a real struggle. As a dad, I know there have been times when I wanted to be with my wife (in the biblical sense) but couldn’t because of the babies.
Perhaps you can relate?
Because I know finding time for closeness is an issue for many couples, I decided to get some advice from experts; folks like marriage therapists, relationship counselors, and psychologists.
My goal in writing this piece is simple: to provide concrete “action items” that you can use in your own life.
Before continuing, it’s important to state that making intimacy and affection relationship priorities matters – and it matters a lot. Without a dedicated focus, nothing else can happen.
Part of this means being open to new experiences and getting creative. I’m not suggesting you do anything crazy, but I am saying it may be necessary to step outside of your comfort zone.
Here’s seven ways busy couples can have a great sex life.
1. Have realistic expectations
Before kids entered the picture, being together (read between the lines) wasn’t too difficult. But once toddlers arrive everything changes. Schedules fill up. Time evaporates.
One of the best ways to cope with your new reality is to adjust your expectations. Every relationship expert I spoke to has emphasized this point repeatedly. Both parents must embrace patience and hold realistic ideas about what’s possible.
Having realistic expectations helps to prevent disappointment both inside and outside of the bedroom.
2. See your partner as sexy
In the fast-paced world of parenting, it’s easy to see your spouse as a partner. This is the reality of trying to raise children.
But if you aren’t careful, those chore-splitting duties can morph into a working relationship.
“I tell couples to see one another as sexy every day. Remember what attracted you to them in the first place and see your mate through the lens of love,” said Adina Mahalli, MSW, a certified social worker who spoke to Men’s Variety. “Be mindful about your mate’s body and the things you like.”
Mahalli emphasized that getting it on doesn’t have to be the end result. “Holding hands, romantic text messages, kissing, and cuddling can be amazing things. In fact, sometimes small gestures can be more meaningful than a roll in the sack,” she said.
3. Schedule time
For many people, the thought of blocking out time for intimacy is a turnoff. I mean, who wants to feel like a checkbox?
But the hard truth is busy moms and dads hardly have enough time to focus on their own needs, let alone their spouse’s. That’s why scheduling “together time” [TT] needs to be an option.
The nice thing about putting TT on the calendar is it gives couples something to look forward to. Costa Provis, a licensed counselor who works with young parents, encourages this approach and suggests having fun with it.
“If you both have an open hour on Saturday mornings, why not use it to your advantage? Try something new, like a different position. Think about role play. Anything that helps to change things up,” Provis says.
4. Step into the past
Most therapists encourage couples to live in the present and enjoy the moment. That’s great advice most of the time. But what if the intimacy piece isn’t working (or happening) in your relationship?
Aaron Sternlicht, a licensed psychotherapist in New York, suggests using the past as a conduit to the present. “Talk about what it used to be like when you first met. Call upon those romantic memories and let them flood the here and now. Lean into those powerful feelings and use them to your advantage in the bedroom,” he says.
“Remember that time we did it in [fill in the blank]?” he offers as an example.
5. Don’t buy into the hype
One of the ways couples become unhappy [sexually] is by falsely comparing themselves to others. In almost all cases, the perceptions are based on myth,” suggests Chicago psychologist Greg Harms.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a couple tell me they think they should be doing it three or four times a week. When I ask why they believe that, the answer is almost always, ‘Oh, isn’t that the norm?”
Here’s the real deal – most new parents are lucky if they can get it on once a week. Anything more is a gift,” Harms says.
The main point is to not buy into the hype about how much others are doing it. “Be extra cautious of braggers. Usually, people who self-promote are compensating for something missing,” Harms adds.
6. It’s OK to be frisky
“I’m not sure why but some couples stop being frisky with one another the moment they get married,” says relationship coach Gail Crowser. “Touching, laughing, and being a little bold with your partner is perfectly OK after you tie the knot and especially after you have kids,” she says.
“One of the ways you create emotional intimacy, which can lead to physical intimacy, is by having fun. It’s the norm at the beginning of a relationship – but sadly fades as time goes on. It doesn’t have to be that way. Being mindful of our sexiness and that of our partner can go a long way,” she suggests.
7. Quick is OK
A lot of people frown on quickies because they think they aren’t meaningful. “That’s unfortunate because whenever we exclude something, we cut ourselves off from an experience. But we forget closeness happens through a series of actions and not just one thing” suggests Dr. John Moore, a licensed therapist in Chicago.
“Obviously, you don’t want every encounter with a partner to be fast. That said, quickies do serve a purpose and can help to relieve pent up stress. I like to tell my clients that quickies are like snacks – enough to keep you satisfied so you don’t go hungry,” he suggests.
On a related note, Moore reminds us of the following: “People confuse the terms intercourse and intimacy all the time. It’s not about frequency. It’s about the connection,” he says.
Bringing It All Together
Hopefully, the seven strategies shared above will help you to create more intimacy with your partner.
If you are looking for more couples resources, a great book to consider is Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages (See Amazon). It has lots of insight and filled with action steps that you can take for use in the here and now.
Do you make intimacy a priority in your relationship? If the answer is no, what can you do to create positive change?