Are you one of those well-meaning mothers who overservice their children, always assessing, planning, organizing, worrying? Do you focus so much attention on your kids and your home that you sometimes forget about that guy over there in the corner? You know the one we mean—your husband?
In 2004, the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University conducted a report whose key finding was: “For the average couple marrying in recent years, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains close to 50 percent.”
You don’t have to become a statistic—you can take small steps, starting today, to reclaim your life and to fall in love all over again with your partner!
Here are the top ten tips-from-the-trenches we gathered from talking with over 500 mothers for our book, Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too: It’s Good to Be a Little Selfish, It Actually Makes You a Better Mother.
1. Small gestures matter. Let’s not forget how nice it is to be the recipient of small gestures of affection. A quick kiss on the cheek, a rub of your forearm, a pat on the back, a foot massage—all with no strings attached—can really boost your mood. Every time you get the chance, reach out to him with a sweet gesture of love, and you’ll soon find him looking at you with renewed appreciation.
2. Take time away from each other. Too much togetherness is not always such a good thing. Sometimes we need time-outs from each other to remember what we love. Maybe you need one morning each weekend to go to a museum, do Pilates, or take a knitting class. Maybe you need a whole night away, visiting an old friend, or a weekend taking a refresher business course with a bunch of strangers. Being an independent woman will make you appreciate all the more the strengths you share when you are together.
3. Break the ice. It’s always awkward to start fooling around when you’ve been knee-deep in dishes, dirty clothes, or bill paying. It doesn’t take much to get men going, but for women it’s a whole different story. Try using massage oil and getting him to give you a good back rub, that works like a dream. Or how about getting all clean and steamy together in the bathroom? Lighting some candles can help reset the mood. Now, guess what a favorite icebreaker is for men and women alike? Yup, you guessed it, soft porn. Go for it!
4. Work on your feminine wiles. Won’t being intimate be a lot more fun if you embrace an open-minded attitude? Maybe trying something new would give you a kick. Think about something you’ve always wondered about—maybe it’s a sex aid, or a risqué movie, or a new technique you’ve heard about—and do some research. These kinds of forays are easy and private now that we have the Internet.
5. Pick up on cues. If you’re sensitive to his mood and sympathize, he’ll return the favor. If he looks tired, suggest he go for a run or take a quick nap. If he’s buzzing around stressed out, ask some questions and try to tune into what is really going on with him. When it’s your turn to be tired or stressed, maybe he’ll have learned to take notice.
6. Take time to observe. Instead of focusing on where things are going wrong, observe him at unguarded moments and think about all the things that are right. Do you like the way he smiles when he’s doing a puzzle with your eleven-year-old? Is it amusing to see him riding a scooter with your teenager? When he’s hauling leaves in the yard or hammering the pipes under the sink, do his muscles remind you of the good old days?
7. Take a time-out before launching in. When it’s on the tip of your tongue to lash out, hold back. Force yourself to take a time-out. After five minutes, reassess what you were going to say. Is it still important? If you bring it up later, at a moment when things have calmed down, could your comments be more effective? Is it possible to rephrase your criticism and turn it into a suggestion instead?
8. Be curious about him. Truthfully, it’s easy to get bored with our partner’s constant talk about work, golf, politics, or whatever rocks his boat at any given time. But try this: instead of just listening (and being mentally absent), ask him questions. Each time he answers, ask another one. You’ll find that soon you’ll be more present in your conversations and, because of that, you’ll be more genuinely interested. At the end of the day, you also benefit from feeling more connected.
9. Get back to your roots. When you were first dating, what did you love doing together? Did you go on late-night runs or work out at the gym? Did you catch the Saturday matinees? Would you spend every other weekend hiking in the hills or swimming in the ocean? Were art galleries your favorite place to flirt, or maybe you liked dirt biking or taking walks along the promenade? Reconnect with those activities that brought you together and enjoy them all over again.
10. Have a blast together. This is definitely the number one suggestion that came up. When we get busy, we forget how to have a plain old rocking good time together. Go on a roller-coaster ride, together—not with your children. Hop on bikes. Pack a picnic. Go to a park and have a sprinting competition. Wash your car together and get soaking wet. Do something foolish and fun, and remind yourselves that you’re not too old to laugh until you wet your pants.