Not so long ago, I visited some friends with a new baby.  They were doing really well, but when I asked them what they found hardest about becoming new parents they said it was not having as much time for each other.  I think it’s one of the biggest challenges when kids come along – how do you make sure you still get quality time with your better half?

We’ve found it pretty hard to go out as often as we’d like to.  We don’t have a lot of family in Sydney who can babysit for free.  But I was reminded of how important it is recently because my husband and I are taking a young engaged couple through the The Marriage Preparation CourseThe Marriage Preparation Course is really big on what they call ‘marriage time’.  They suggest spending time together on a daily, weekly and annual basis.  The daily part is pretty easy – you just need to keep in touch throughout the day.  The weekly part is the hardest, because that means dedicating one night a week to ‘marriage time’, which is essentially a date-night. And then the annual basis means going away somewhere special for a weekend to recharge and reconnect, without your kids.

If you don’t have a host of willing babysitters just lying in wait to look after your kids, then it’s pretty hard to make that happen every week.  Once a month might be more achievable.  One idea is to set up a reciprocal arrangement with somebody else who also wants to have more time with his or her partner.  One of my neighbours and I have just started doing a baby-sitting swap after the kids are asleep on a Sunday night.  They went out last week and we went out this week.  The kids didn’t even notice.

Of course it’s also possible to have a date-night at home, (if you can resist the call of the TV, the phone, the internet and the unfinished ironing), but you have to put in some effort to make it feel special.  You need to dress-up, light candles, put flowers out, cook a really sumptuous meal or play some good music… whatever it takes to get you excited.  Frankly, if you have a new baby right now, it probably all seems way too hard.  But I don’t think there’s any way to have a special night together without somebody putting in some thought or effort.  Pizza in front of the telly might be easier, but it’s not likely to invigorate your relationship!

How has your relationship with your husband or wife changed since you had kids?  Do you still find time for a ‘date’ together without the kids?  If not, what stops you spending time together?  Money?  Tiredness?  No babysitters?  What could you do to make your relationship more inspiring?  If you’ve got a great relationship with your other half, tell us what works for you.

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