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“My partner and I have become roommates!” Here are 5 tips to bring the romance back to your relationship after kids!

In this image we see a man and woman sitting in a dark living room on the couch. The main is sitting forward with his face in his hand. The woman in the image is carrying a baby. There is a dog sitting on the floor in front of them. The couple is watching television. Couples therapy is available at our Woodland Hills, CA therapy office.

It’s a common situation: a committed couple with kids have seemingly lost the spark in their relationship. The needs of the children come first; the adults are busy and tired. Any energy they have goes toward their kids’ needs and wants. Most of their conversations revolve around their kids’ needs and wants. At the end of the day, when they are alone together, they use that time to do the things they couldn’t get done while taking care of their kids, or they’re too tired to put any effort into focusing on one another. They are lost in their relationship, disconnected from each other.

Unfortunately, this common situation doesn’t have to be so common. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Yes, being a parent changes your whole world. And yes, raising kids is a big responsibility that takes time and effort. However, a fact often gets lost when we become parents: you are parents, yes, but you are also still individual people, and you are also still a couple. Supporting one another, connecting with one another, communicating with one another are just as important as they were before you had children; arguably more important. Your partner is the person you will live with until the end. It is the natural order of things for your children to grow up and move away. Your partner is the person you met as an adult and chose to build a life with. You might wonder now where it went sideways; you couldn’t imagine this kind of disconnect could happen in your relationship.

Couple’s therapy for relationship issues in our offices in Woodland Hills, CA, or online can help you improve the connection and intimacy in your marriage.

3 Reasons Why you Lost the Spark in Your Relationship

1. You get too busy with the to-do list:

Between the needs of the kids and errands to run, your couple’s relationship has been moved to the back burner. The necessities are now keeping the baby alive, paying the bills, and doing other errands. Over time, when compared to the daily tasks on your list, it begins to feel like a luxury to attend to your relationship. Even when you do find “free time” outside of the immediate needs of your kids, there is usually some sort of goal or project that you’ve been putting off, something for the house or family that you’d like to work on.

2. You are too exhausted:

This is probably the most common reason a relationship deteriorates over the course of the marriage. You are out of energy. You are so depleted you don’t have anything more to give to your partner at the end of the day. You’re tired. You’re so, so tired. You may even be the partner in the relationship who is carrying the mental load on top of the tasks you are completing all day. You’re out of time, energy, and strength. Your cup is empty.

3. The unspoken and unresolved issues:

A couple is seen in this image sitting on a couch beside each other. The woman is looking away from the man and the man is looking away from the woman. Both of their arms are crossed. Leaving your issues unresolved and unspoken can cause bigger problems in your relationship. Couples therapy is offered at our therapy office in Woodland Hills, CA. 91364 | 91307 | 91356

If there were some voids in your relationship before having kids, then the kids may have become a distraction from doing the work of resolving your issues. As time goes on, you continue to build resentment, hurt, or anger toward your partner that you two never worked out. You tell yourself, “Oh, I don’t have time,” or, “Kids come with so much responsibility,” as to why your couples’ relationship has been forgotten. But in actuality, way before kids, there were unresolved issues and those issues eventually, catch up with you.

Falling into a romance rut after having kids is like falling into any other pattern of behavior that doesn’t work out for you. No matter how long it’s been going on, the plan of action is the same: identify the problem, take the first step toward changing it, and be consistent. You might worry that you are powerless to make changes in the relationship because you are only one of the two people who are involved, but that isn’t the case.

You can take steps individually and as a couple with our couple’s counselors that will bring the romance back to your relationship.

5 Tips to Bring the Romance Back to Your Relationship After Kids

1. Take care of yourself:

In this image we see a woman sitting down with a smiler on her face. She is holding a cup of coffee while writing in her journal. Taking time for yourself can help you be better in your relationship. Virtual and in person therapy is available at our therapy office in Los Angeles, CA. 91364 | 91307

Yes, we will start with you because it is not your partner that has to change first; it is you.

While it is often assumed that our partners can and will do what we need them to do to improve relationships, the better idea is to start with yourself. You are the person you spend the most time with. You are the person who knows your thoughts, who feels how tired you are, who can tell when you’re hungry or thirsty. You have to take a deep dive into how your day is structured on all levels, meaning sleep, hydration, nutrition, alone time, and time with family and friends. How does that look for you? Are you getting everything you need to get in order to be healthy and self-supporting?

Making sure you care for first might feel odd to you. Upon becoming a parent, you may have subscribed to the thinking that your child(ren) come(s) first. Yes, it is true that big decisions need to happen with your offspring in mind. But every day and how it looks for you should start from a place of how you can feel your best. This means that you have to prioritize yourself so that you can be your best self. This doesn’t make you neglectful; it gives you the energy and clarity to be more present with your family.

2. Re-structure your priorities:

In this image we see two women and a baby boy. One of the women is holding the baby boy in her hands and is passing him to the other woman who is a nurse. Getting your priorities in line can help clear your mind and shift your focus on your relationship. Couples therapy is available for in person and virtual sessions at our Woodland Hills, CA therapy office. 91364 | 91307 | 91356

There is something that I tell my clients in my practice here in Woodland Hills about how to prioritize. It seems to pull the rug out from underneath them, and you might be surprised as well.

When you restructure your priorities, this is what I recommend: You come first (because you can’t pour from an empty cup); then comes your couple’s relationship (because guess what? This family of yours began as just you and your partner); then, at last, come the kids.

Yes, you read that right; I ask that you put your kids last. This doesn’t mean their basic needs come last; nobody would encourage you to leave feeding, clothing, and bathing your children till the very end of the list. But mentally, parents wake up in the morning, and they have their kids’ needs in the front of their minds and their partner’s last.

You might be thinking, “But my children need my help! They need me! My partner is self-sufficient!” To cope with that thought, try this one instead: “me, my partner, and my children all deserve my care and attention.” Everyone deserves to have varying needs met. For an adult who can clothe and feed him/her/themself, your assistance with breakfast won’t be necessary.

What that partner will need from you is affection, attention, communication, quality time, and consideration. Together, when you are on the same page, you are able to provide care for the children. The more united you are as a couple, the more you actually give to your children. When two strong individuals support one another, they create an incredible team. That incredible team raises self-sufficient and confident children, who will eventually grow up and move away, leaving their parents on their own once more. Ideally, these parents are still invested in one another when that time comes; this is facilitated by being consistent in prioritizing one another ahead of the children.

3. Assess your relationship:

A couple is in their home with their baby. The mother is carrying their baby girl and leaning her towards the father as he gives her a kiss on the cheek. Couples therapy can help rebuild and strenghten your relationship with your partner and make your family stronger. Therapy is offered for couples at our Woodland Hills therapy office, either virtually or in person. 91364 | 91307 | 91356

You can’t improve your relationship unless you have clarity and agreement on what the problem is. Sometimes it will be more effective to assess your relationship with the help of a couple’s counselor, who will help you evaluate your relationship’s strengths and needs for improvement fairly and objectively. The point of this step is to define the problem; you can’t change or fix what you don’t know.

For example, you may say, “Something is missing in my relationship,” but we don’t know what that is. You may say, “We need to be more intimate,” but can’t pinpoint what exactly is off with the sexual health of your relationship. The assessment done through neutral and curious exploration can help to unpack what might be missing or where the intimacy got off track.

Another helpful aspect of the assessment is to be clear about what you want. It is not enough to say, “I don’t want…”; this will leave you moving away from something without any idea of where to go next. It is far more helpful to be able to choose something positive and work toward it. Make a note of how often you experience physical touch in your relationship. Everyone has different expectations and needs with physical touch, but in general, you may find that hugs, hand-holding, little pats on the back, or kisses, go a long way toward feeling closer to your partner. It is far easier to enjoy physical intimacy with someone if your “alone time” isn’t the first time you’ve had contact with them in a week! Non-sexual physical affection creates closeness and comfort, which are essential for romantic physical interactions.

4. Create a plan and take action:

In this image we see a man and woman standing together outside. They are both holding a cup of coffee. Couples therapy can help strengthen your relationship and overcome issues. Virtual and in person couples therapy is available at our Los Angeles, CA therapy office.

Almost all couples know they need to have that “date night” to “keep the spark alive.” But creating a plan involves more than just having a “date night” from time to time. Creating a plan has to be individualized so that it can directly address the problems you identified during the assessment phase. Yes, the idea of making time for one another to be alone and connect is a great one! But it has to be intentional; it needs to be part of the ongoing action you’re taking and behavior you’re shifting, not just a band-aid you slap on to try to make things better. Creating a plan means coming to an agreement about what you both want and how you can foresee getting there.

For example, you may decide that you want more quality time together. Creating a plan means pulling out the calendar and making a note of where that is possible, and determining what “more quality time together” actually means for you. It may mean reading the same book together in the evenings and discussing it on the couch once per week. It may mean a book clue and a date night out of the house every two weeks.

You might want to “communicate better” to feel more connected. How does that look in your relationship? Does it look like a quick huddle in the morning, one in the evening, and secret signals in front of the kids? Does it look like setting aside an hour at a set interval to discuss what you’re feeling or the incidents related to your secret signals? Does it involve using different language, such as, “I feel that…” or “It seems to me…”?

How much fun can you have in your plan of action? Yes, you are dealing with something important: your relationship. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be struggling and exhausted by implementing a plan to improve things.

5. Don’t give up:

In this image we see a family of four in their living room. The mother and father are sitting beside each other on their couch, smiling, while looking at a laptop. Their daughter and son are playing with one another around them. Couples therapy can help bring your family back together and resolve issues with your partner. Couples therapy is offered at our Los Angeles, CA therapy office for virtual or in person sessions. 91364 | 91307 | 91356

Come back to your why. Remember what it was about your partner that you fell in love within the first place. Long-term marriages are a marathon, not a sprint; there are bound to be harder miles and easier ones. If your partner is also looking to improve and prioritize your connection, there is no reason the two of you can’t make that happen. Even if you have to set the alarm to remind you to take some time to connect every night after the kids have gone to bed, do what it takes to create habits that support your goals. Do what it takes to remind yourselves that your goals are important and that things take time. Allow yourself to explore without getting locked in on an idea of good or bad, with no space in between.

There will always be busy times, or periods of grief, that overwhelm your plan to stay focused on your partner. At these times, you may have to agree to adjust your routine a little bit. Taking the time to communicate is still showing that you value your partnership. “The next two weeks, the calendar is full. What if we use two of our nightly chat times per week to make sure we are getting self-care, and then go back to our routine?” A small adjustment, made with an end date, isn’t a failure. It’s flexible. As long as you are both on the same page about it, it makes sense for your relationship.

No matter how long it’s been since you and your partner transitioned from romantic partners to feel like roommates, you can take steps to make changes if you’re both invested. When we become parents, we are quick to adopt that title as our main descriptor. Validate yourself as a human being who has needs and desires by prioritizing self-care. Maintaining a romantic relationship with your life partner is a valuable use of your time and energy.

Other Services at Embracing You Therapy

Here at Embracing You Therapy Group, we invite you to explore with us how life would be different if you had more control over your thoughts and emotions, and we invite you to consider that it is possible to accept things just as they are, embracing imperfections to create a gentler place for calm in your life.

At our mental health practice in Woodland Hills, CA, we offer individual therapy and couple’s therapy. Both Dr. Menije, Ani Seferyan, AMFT, Cindy Sayani, AMFT, and Ani Seferyan, AMFT offer virtual therapy to treat mental health concerns including panic attacks, OCD, phobias, and stress; Mood disorders including depression; Relationship issues, both in couples therapy and with individual clients; Perinatal mental health issues such as postpartum depression, Codependency, and Addiction.

Let’s learn what drives your unique perspective on anxiety and stress. Then, let’s find the tools-your unique tools that help you respond to life in a healthy, calm way. Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Client Care Coordinator.

This is probably the most common reason a relationship deteriorates over the course of the marriage. You are out of energy. You are so depleted you don’t have anything more to give to your partner at the end of the day. You’re tired. You’re so, so tired. You may even be the partner in the relationship who is carrying the mental load on top of the tasks you are completing all day. You’re out of time, energy, and strength. Your cup is empty.

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