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4 tips for keeping the love alive when you have kids

It’s February, the month of candy hearts and red roses and Valentine’s Day. Or, if you’ve been married a long time, it’s another night of putting your snotty kid to bed early, and collapsing in bed next to the person you married who is already snoring his or her way to dreamland.

Keeping the romance alive when you have children is a challenge for even the most passionate of people. Date nights no longer consist of moonlit walks after an expensive meal. Now you spend all your money on a sitter while the two of you eat at Cookout and cruise the aisles of Target — don’t forget to grab some diapers or allergy medicine while you’re there.

But there are several ways to keep feeling the love for your significant other. Here are a few ideas.

Have an at-home date night. Put the kids to bed early, then have dinner for just the two of you. Listen, I get it, I have older kids, too, who want to stay up. Give them a book or let them veg in front of the television while you and your partner grill steaks and veggies together and enjoy them in a room away from everyone else. Light candles if you want to get fancy. The point is to enjoy each other without phones or kids interrupting, and most often that will be after the sun sets.

Communicate. Talk to each other. And I don’t just mean about the next teacher conference or who paid the power bill. Remember all those conversations from your early years together? Have them again. Dreams change, goals get fulfilled and new goals are made. Talk about them. Do you want to travel? Have you thought about going back to school? What will you do when your parents are older and need assistance (I promise you didn’t have this talk when you were newlyweds)? You need to talk these things through and communication is vital to a healthy and loving relationship.

Kiss each other. This sounds like a no-brainer, but really, put effort into it. Kiss each other in the morning before leaving for work. Kiss each other when you’re back home. Kiss before bed. And mean it. Kiss so the kids are grossed out. The more passion you put forth, the more you’ll feel. And kissing, as we all know, is a gateway act to “other things,” that also helps keep the love alive. The more intentional you are with showing love to your spouse, the more you won’t have to worry about being so intentional.

Show your gratitude. Did your husband who never washes dishes actually wash them? Did your wife who hates dealing with the insurance company spend an hour on the phone with them? Thank them. Thank your spouse for the things they always do - cooking dinner or giving the kids a bath. Are you in a one-income household? Thank that person for working so hard. Or thank the one who stays home with the kids all day. Whatever it is. Let them know you appreciate it. A little appreciation goes a long way in a relationship. It shows the other person you notice their efforts and do not take them for granted.

In order to avoid singing “You’ve lost that loving feeling,” you have to work at it. Love is a verb, it’s an action. It’s not a feeling. So when the amazement and magic of early love start to wane, the work begins. And that is the real key to staying in love. Acting it out.