How does a couple “stay connected” after children?

Being very conscious about it. A lot of times, I see couples who … They come in. The presenting problem is lack of sex in their relationship. These couples usually have been married 5 years, 10 years. Inevitably, when I ask them when did the problem start, they always say, “After the kids. After my wife had the first child.” Or, “After the second child.” I see that a lot in couples. I think because part of our old thinking, and erroneous thinking is that when a child is born, the mother’s job is to focus 100% on the child. That’s the farthest from the truth. I always tell my couples that, really, the focus needs to be on the partner. They’ll look at me, again, like if I had 3 heads.

I say, because when you don’t focus on the partner, and if you don’t focus on the relationship, then that child isn’t going to have a happy relation to grow up in. That’s what’s really important as far as what we give to the child. I’m not saying you don’t take care of your kids. The spouse absolutely has to have an important role in it, and be engaged in the child parenting, and the rearing.

A lot of times, when I get a couple that has these issues, especially after the children were born, it’s really just about, “We can’t go back. We can’t change the past.” We could look at it. We could see why the problem has developed. Have them focused on how am I going to make my partner priority now? If that means that I have to get some outside help, if financially the couple can do that, then that’s what’s required. If the couple can’t do that, if financially they’re not able to have a nanny or pay babysitters, or daycare, that’s all fine. Then, it’s about really getting creative with the couple, and how can it work. We include a lot of pillow talk, sitting down and eating together twice a week.

There’s no excuse for a couple not to connect. That’s basically a lot of what I have to do as a therapist, is kind of break down the excuses, because I can have a couple come in with a million excuses, as to there’s no time, or there’s no money, or we have 3 kids running around. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I never say it’s going to be easy. I validate that for the clients that I understand that this is going to be a challenging time. Where can you make your partner a priority? In what area of your life?

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