Did you babyproof your marriage?
You've got your baby on your breast, your 2-year-old tugging your arm and your husband tuning out your request to pass the flippin' burp cloth. Wonder where the magic went?
You know you need to give hubby some attention, but if one more expert suggests "date nights" when you just want a get-together with your pillow, you'll hurl.
Don't worry -- you can keep your marriage glued together during this stressful stage in your life. Cathy O'Neill, a mom of four girls ages 9, 6, 3 and 13 months, and co-author of Babyproofing Your Marriage, shares how below.
It's understandable that nagging increases after having kids. There's just so much to do. "But even if your complaints are completely legitimate, the 'I can't believe you forgot the diaper cream/didn't unload the dishwasher/didn't brush their teeth' litany of gripes doesn't work," says O'Neill. "It just leads to resentment and both of you end up feeling frustrated."
Instead, tell your husband exactly what you want. Most men really do want to make their wives happy, but they don't do well with general requests like, "You need to help out more," or "You need to show me that you love me." Get specific. Decide to divvy up responsibility for certain household chores. For example, you pay the bills and he grocery shops, or you get to sleep in on a Saturday mornings and he gets to on Sundays, plus you switch off bathing the kids.
Take better care of yourself. Parenthood means reducing many critical life-maintenance activities -- like time with friends, exercise and sleep -- and as a result you can start to wilt. "We can feel overwhelmed and vaguely dissatisfied with life and our husbands," says O'Neill. "When you recharge you increase your ability to enjoy your marriage."
Be dirty and sexy
Say, you're too tired to change your bra or wash your hair -- romance sounds like a joke, right? "Your husband most likely, couldn't care less about unwashed hair, well-worn bras and even hairy legs," says O'Neill. "He just wants to have sex with his wife and enjoy the closeness and connection that it brings."
How do you do that? You have to schedule sex. Even if that doesn't sound exciting, it works. You can give the kids leftovers, plan an earlier bedtime and get on with your own preparations. Also, when time is limited, romance doesn't have to be a big production, O'Neill adds. Just being affectionate with each other -- kissing, hugging, handholding, cuddling on the sofa -- can lift you out of the daily grind and remind you that you're loved.