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Reconnecting With My Husband After Kids

Our former editor explains how she and her spouse made reconnecting as a couple a priority.

Scott and I spent the year prior to kids living abroad, traveling all the time and connecting on a deep level. I would say that we were the strongest we have ever been as a couple after that magical year. Everyone says you grow stronger after kids, and after giving birth to Genevieve, I would say that was true. Sure we had the occasional disagreement, but we felt like we were the perfect team to take on this new adventure.

After Graydon’s arrival 14 months ago, however, the connection that’s been strong since we met, tugged, stretched, even broke. Caring for two little ones, working full time, traveling for work and still trying to maintain friendships took a toll on our marriage. When it came to the two of us, there was no time, no sex and no connecting.

Wendy Manmarren Generes, photo courtesy of Gary Payne
Wendy Manmarren Generes, photo courtesy of Gary Payne

Fortunately, we recognized this early and have spent the last several months diligently working on reconnecting after having kids, not as Genevieve and Graydon’s mom and dad, but as Scott and Wendy.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to be intimate with him; I just wanted to sleep more.”

First, we didn’t want either one of us to feel like we were doing it all, so we sat down and divvied up the household responsibilities such as cooking (grocery shopping has gone to delivery!), dogs, laundry and dishes and hired a cleaning service. We switch off duties weekly so neither one of us resents always meal planning or folding and putting away the clean clothes.

Intimacy was the next hurdle we had to conquer. This was definitely more an issue for me than for Scott. It’s not that I didn’t want to be intimate with him; I just wanted to sleep more.

I’ve also developed some insecurities with my post-baby body. I know, I know. I need to be happy in my own skin, but this is so hard for me. I’ve always been fit. I ran marathons, trained for triathlons and worked fitness into my schedule no matter how busy I got—before and after Genevieve. After Graydon, that all changed. I felt like I never had time to work out, and when I attempted the at-home workouts, dogs or kids always interrupted. All this explanation and excuse to say that it’s hard to feel sexy when I’m unhappy with my undressed self.

“We’re making intimacy dates. Sounds a little unromantic, I know. But it works.”

I’m working on this now too—and so is Scott. We’ve set an end-of-the year goal for ourselves to get back into shape. We joined the same gym (one with child care), we get out of bed at the same time (regardless of whose turn it is to work out; the other one chisels away at some of those divide-and-conquer-duties 
I mentioned above) and we run together (with the kids) on the weekend. It’s helping with the reconnection too, since we met while training for a marathon.

And we’re making intimacy dates. Sounds a little unromantic, I know. But it works. Just like date nights or weekends away, intimacy gets a place on the calendar. By doing that, it makes it a commitment.

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We’re also setting up more quality time to spend as a couple. When we were dating, we loved taking spontaneous hikes and last-minute day trips. Time together now is planned and intentional—even if it means having a glass of wine and snuggling on the couch for 30 minutes after the kids go to sleep. And while we can’t not talk about the kids, we’re mindful not to let them consume our time together.

Time alone has also taken priority. Once a week, we give each other some time to refresh and do something all by ourselves. I like perusing local antique malls, and Scott loves dabbling in photography. Sounds counterproductive to reconnecting, but the solo time provides necessary recharging that makes us better as a couple and as a family.

So Scott and I are still a work in progress in terms of our reconnecting after kids. We’re far from perfect, but honestly, that’s not what we’re striving to be. We’re happy to be that connected team we once were. And we’re getting there.

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This essay was originally published in October 2017.

Illustration: iStock