Finding time to keep your relationship with your husband on the up and up isn't hard when there's just the two of you, but it becomes exponentially more difficult when children are added to the mix. Toss in the sleep deprivation and it becomes nearly impossible to remember a time when you and your husband were just a couple. How do you manage your marriage on three hours sleep?

Communication is key
All kinds of communication, verbal and non-verbal. Reminding your other half that you're not only somebody's mother, but somebody's wife, only takes a smidgen of time, a pinch of thought and a touch or two. Literally. We're all physical creatures. Our kids like to cuddle. So what happened to all that hand holding and snuggling on the couch you did with your hubby before the little ones came along? It's time to get touchy feely again. A hug, a kiss on the neck as you walk by, or a one minute massage are only some of the ways you can use to re-establish a physical connection with your mate.

"Even just a little love squeeze on the back makes me feel special, like I've not been forgotten. It gives me a two second holiday away from the screaming kids, when all I can think about is my spouse," says mom, Tammy Budgell--Geno, of Alberta, Canada.

Intimate contact -- yes, this is stuff you do in public! -- will make them feel important, wanted, and loved throughout the day. And like anything else, what you dish out is what you get in return. Massage anyone?

"Communication tends to be one of the major issues," says marriage mediator Charmaine Hammond. No matter how long you've been married, your spouse can't read your mind, so remember to actually talk to your mate. It's too easy to put aside conversation in favor of getting that "to do" list done or vegging out in front of the television. Don't let meaningful dialogue with your spouse fall to the wayside! Discuss your day together. Find out what the other found exciting, depressing, good and bad. Comfort and support each other by exploring up coming vacation plans, home renovations or anything else that's important to your family and you.

Date (No, not the fruit!)
Babysitter is a good word to have in your vocabulary. Join a babysitting co--op or ask the teen that delivers your newspaper, but get out no less than once or twice a month without the kids.

"We average two or three times a month," says Budgell--Geno. "It gives us a chance to have a conversation without being interrupted."

Whether it's going to see a movie or out for a quiet dinner, everyone needs time alone with their mate. Another great way to stay connected with your spouse is to get away for a private "just the two of you" weekend at least once a year. Let Grandma and Grandpa have some one-on-one time with their grandchildren or set up an arrangement with close friends where you look after their kids for a weekend and they look after yours.

Don't forget you're an individual Take time out on a regular basis for yourself. Whether it's once a day or once a week, make sure you get some time to recharge your batteries so you can be the best wife and mom you can. Take a pottery course, read a book, visit your favorite stores, go for a walk, or do whatever you like to do that gets you out of the house. Make up a schedule, discuss it with your hubby, put it on the fridge then actually go when it says you can go!

"I go for a walk every day," says mom of two, Michelle Hunt*, of Alberta, Canada. "It's my sanity break. I go after supper for only about 30 minutes, but when I get home I feel like I've been gone a week and I'm ready to tackle anything!"

Managing your marriage isn't easy. marriage mediator Hammond says it, "requires a degree of creativity to balance work and family and marriage."

In other words, it's work. And like any other household chore, if you let it sit, it collects dust, rusts and may eventually break down. Watering it daily, greasing the joints with teasing, cleaning with communication and upgrading with love can keep your marriage in good shape. It's the kind of work that's supposed to be fun. So, go ahead, have a good time!

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