When parenting takes the Oh! out of romance

I almost said No. Write an article on ‘how to keep romance alive with kids around’? Me? Oy. I asked my husband (vaguely hoping he’d agree to write the article), and he had no idea. But, with the topic incubating in my head in the intervening week, I had a revelation, which I’ll share with you.

First, some background. My husband and I met on a blind date. It lasted five hours and he told me, during that date, that he was going to marry me. We knew within three months that he was right, and we were engaged after eight months. Our relationship continued much as it began: ro-man-TIC…

Weekly date nights. Monthly gifts. Stolen lunchtimes. Big and small surprises.

Three years later we were parents. And today, ten years in, romance in the heart-clutching sense seems more relevant to cheesy TV, than it does to two ou toppies living in the eye of the parenting / working / surviving storm.

But that’s because our romance is no longer ‘traditional’.

You may recognise these behaviours (which for me count as romance) in your relationship:

  1. Shared smiles over a child’s head when they do or say something adorable
  2. Stolen time whenever you can, for a weekly, monthly or even yearly ‘date night’
  3. Acts of service. This, one of the 5 Love Languages® (find yours here), refers to anything you do to consciously ease the burden of responsibilities on your partner. When my husband fixes things in the house, especially without me nagging him, that’s his way of showing real love.
  4. Compliments
  5. Heartfelt words or home-made gifts for a birthday, anniversary, or ‘just because’
  6. Playing games together – whether your thing is card games and board games, or dress-up-and-don’t-tell games. You know the kind I mean.
  7. Shared showers
  8. Hugs, snuggles and held hands
  9. Undivided attention and quality conversation over a meal, hobby or exercise
  10. Kept promises
  11. Shared laughter, which goes a long way towards fostering intimacy
  12. Making sacrifices, large or small, for each other’s happiness or wellbeing
  13. Bringing an unsolicited cup of coffee into the bedroom in the morning

As I look at this list, I realise that parents need each other’s time, in order to experience romance. Whether it’s a night out or five minutes of meaningful eye contact (without children, cellphones or computers in the way), real and sustained connection comes from all of those moments, added up.

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My husband told me last night that, when you’re dating, romance tends to be about ‘impressing the other person’ – whether that’s with thoughtful gifts, fancy meals, good looks, your social circle, or even sheer sparkling wit.

On that basis, then, when you’re co-parenting, romance is about simply seeing, hearing and touching the other person, and about prioritising the finding or making of all of the little and big moments needed to do that.

Below, please share some of the signs of romance in your relationship.

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Tiffany Markman in 2017.

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Author

Tiffany Markman

Tiffany Markman

Tiffany Markman is a copywriter, speaker, trainer and mom. She was South Africa’s Freelance Copywriter of the Year in 2020 and one of the world’s ‘Top 50 Female Content Marketers’ in 2021, but she's still working on securing an award for her Mommying. She likes her coffee strong and black, her paragraphing short and tight, and her apostrophes in all the right places. Visit her website.

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4 Responses

  1. Wow. Ya`ll have a lot of time on your hands if u can do all that!!! Not realistic at all and too much fairy dust unless you can afford super helpers or doting grandparents etc. For the rest of us….a good night’s sleep cuddling in the same bed minus kids is a miracle.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Amy. It can certainly be difficult. But, if I’m honest, none of these things takes real time – except the yearly date night, board games and showers. Actually, we should probably all be showering anyway. My thinking is that the little things make all the difference. And that we should pat ourselves on the back for whatever we may manage. (Also, where would we be without a bit of fairy dust?)

  2. Great article Tiffany. After being married for 14 years I realise that the romance evolves over time. It’s more about supporting each other, doing things as a family and taking time (small things) to acknowledge each other as parents and spouses. We don’t ever have the time for going out (or we’re too tired) so simple gestures make a big difference. Kids also learn from what they see.

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