Dirty diapers and spit-up aren’t exactly the secret ingredients in the recipe for intimacy.
Research published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine shows that both women and men experience a loss of desire from the exhaustion of being a new parent.
Romance may not come naturally when we are exhausted from parenting; however, intimacy is possible and is a basic necessity for creating a long-term bond with your partner and a healthy family.
Here are four ways to be close even when you’re so tired you can barely remember your name.
Laugh a Little, or a Lot! There is no way to prepare for the surprises of parenting. Try playing a game of “I didn’t realize having a baby would mean…” and share your funny moments. Laughing together activates pleasure sensors in the brain and creates a “natural high,” contributing to feelings of intimacy.
A Helping Hand. Notice when your partner is feeling stressed and jump in to support them. You might take over preparing dinner, cleaning the kitchen, shopping for groceries, or tagging them out–taking over ‘baby duty’ when they most need a break. Taking note of the good feelings of being there for each other creates intimacy.
Gratitude Goes a Long Way. “Thank you so much for getting up last night with baby—you are incredible.” “As tired as you are, you got up to make me coffee—I appreciate you.” Simple, heartfelt words of appreciation create intimate moments. You might leave your partner a post-it love note telling them how important they are to you or give them the surprise of their favorite Starbucks drink or book they’ve wanted to read.
Rekindle the Flame with a Daily Mini-Habit. Together, create a consistent habit that takes five minutes or less. You might read two pages of a book together and discuss it, or light a candle and start a coffee-break ritual. It can be as simple as expressing one specific gratitude for the other before bed or having a two-minute massage exchange! The key to creating intimacy is to do the habit daily–no matter what.
Experiencing intimacy while caring for a newborn is a top priority. You don’t have to wait for “the perfect time” to stay close. Your closeness and unity is the greatest gift you can give your baby. So, go ahead, laugh a little, lend a helping hand, express gratitude, and embrace those daily mini-habits to keep the flame of intimacy burning bright!
Healthy Love Habits is Raising Arizona Kids’s relationship column for learning simple habits to create the healthy and loving connection you desire and deserve.