Most research suggests that couples are less happy with their partners after they become parents. But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to Beth Goss, a parenting and relationship educator with the Gottman Institute in Seattle.
“A really common thing that happens after a baby comes into the picture is that you go from being soulmates to roommates. Suddenly it's all about dividing tasks, and that's not what brought you together," Goss tells TODAY.com.
So how do you get back to being soulmates?” Don’t worry: the solution isn’t to “go on a date night.”
Goss says the secret to keeping your romance alive after having kids is small, thoughtful gestures.
“It’s the little stuff, like walking downstairs and seeing that your partner put the laundry away, or did the grunt task that you didn’t want to do — all that stuff is basically foreplay. That is what's going to put you in the mood," Goss explains.
Goss’s husband, Timothy, has been unloading the dishwasher for 30 years and it never goes unrecognized.
“Often what we do is, we notice something but we don’t vocalize it,” Goss notes. “You want to notice the stuff you like — ‘You look so cute playing with the baby,’ or ‘Thank you for unloading the dishwasher.' Hearing nice stuff about yourself all the time? It feels good and makes a huge difference in a relationship.”
Though Goss’s children are now 24 and 28, when they were younger, she and Timothy would divide and conquer on the weekends.
“We made sure to give the other person time to do what they wanted to do,” Goss shares. If Saturdays and Sundays are too hectic for your family, Goss recommends giving your partner space during the week.
“For example, ‘Every Tuesday is your night and I’ll deal with dinner and bedtime and baths and all that stuff,” Goss says. “It’s just another way of showing the other person that they’re important, and appreciated. And all those things help with desire."