Take Back your Bed

As a parent, your kid(s) will seem to take over your entire life. Even while pregnant, people will stop asking about you the woman and instead ask about you as a walking incubator, how far along? What gender? And once out there's the constant physical attentions needed, be it feeding, or diaper changes, or soothing. And any child will instantly, through no fault of theirs or yours, will be a wedge between you and your spouse. You only have so much attention and time, and kids demand a ton of it, leaving less for your spouse, and they will also have less for you. This is completely normal and it would be weird if it didn't happen in our modern families. We don't have babies then hand them off to wet nurses and staff and then boarding schools to raise for us, not even Kate Middleton, to whom presumeably that would still be an option. Even with a nanny or babysitter or housekeeper in the mix we are still spread more thinly than ever as we try to stay healthy and meal plan and have careers and volunteer in the classroom and keep our homes semi-clean and make homemade baby food from scratch. And while we may have done some of that pre-parenthood, kids make a huge difference in a marriage, for better and worse and all the shades in between. 

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Kids take over: your attention, your house, your relationships with spouses and friends and family (I had never seen my parents so often as an adult as since I had kids then suddenly it's every couple of months). And against this tidal wave of invasion, you need to reclaim something for your marriage. Now if you have all your sex on a certain couch (hopefully in your bedroom), then this would apply to the couch, but for most people sex is a bed activity. And as such, you need to reclaim your bed. Not immediately, I completely understand kids in bed from time to time, but by 2-3 years old you should aim for a kid free (at the very very least to start the night) bed, it will be a very good thing for your sex life. You don’t want the place where you have sex, where you have a special physical connection to your spouse be just like everything else, a place for the kid(s). This also counts for dogs, cats, pictures of mothers-in-law on the wall in eyesight, name whatever it is that making your bed less a place for you and your spouse to have as your own and into a more communal space, think about removing it (them). So this also applies to the beds of teen parents, heck as the kids get older it is a great lesson to teach them about privacy, boundaries, and prioritizing your marriage. Your marital territory can slowly expand, your whole room can be off limits! 

In your relationship, which will be buffeted on all sides by the whirlwind that is parenthood, make a space that is just for the two of you. Try to go to bed at the same time if possible, and you can make your bed a sacred spot in your house, which then frees it from being part of kid-land, which is the rest of your life. This also then allows it to be perhaps more sexual, but certainly signals to your partner and yourself that your relationship is still important and there is still room for it. There are times when kids will absolutely come before spouse, but if that's always that way it will cause a rift that you probably don't want.

If the bed is a step too far, simply can't be done, carve out other small areas for you and your spouse; these can be physical spaces or areas of time. Date nights are an obvious one. But it can also look like: we drink tea (or a glass of wine) together after the kids go to sleep, or cuddle in bed before the monitor goes off (or there's a little hand pulling on you), or we take a bath together once a month (with no kids toys in it!). It can be you never go to sleep without kissing for at least a couple of seconds, as a first small step. Carve out of the melee space for your spouse and you, it can be tiny, but make sure it's there or the relationship will be suffocated. Kids are excellent wedges, so making sure there is time, and even better, physical space for your relationship can help it make it through the challenge of having and raising children. 

parentingAdrienne Dahms