1. Date Night
Now that you’re married with kids, has your relationship with your husband gone from magical to meh? “In the throes of new love, there’s a real sense of playfulness, spontaneity and thoughtfulness,” says Boston-based dating coach Neely Steinberg. “That sometimes dies out when you are in the thick of mortgage payments and diaper-changing.” Don’t let the romance die; date your husband instead. Two dating and relationship experts offer easy, cheap and even babysitter-free ideas. This spring, it’s time to start fresh.
2. Reboot the Date
Alone time is key for keeping the flame lit. “Schedule it. Put it on the books. One official night a week,” says Whitney Casey, Match.com’s dating and relationship guru. Alternate making the date plans with your husband, and get ready separately like you did way back when. “It will really feel like a date when you see each other,” Casey says. “So it isn’t like you have been in the bathroom shaving your legs and plucking your eyebrows right in front of him, and he has been asking you which shirt he should wear!”
3. Reach out and Touch Someone
Get touchy-feely again. Remember when he slid his arm around you for no reason, and you looked for any excuse to grab his hand? “Make a commitment to touch each other in a loving, nonsexual and tender way, on the forearm or shoulder, or hand or leg or—wherever you can to show you love and support your partner,” Casey says, insisting you should aim for at least two affectionate touches a day.
4. Flatter Him
You used to act impressed by his strength, intellect, sense of humor and skills between the sheets all the time. Why did you stop? “Tell him how much he turns you on. Just hearing this will make him want to find new ways to rev your engine,” says Steinberg, who also notes that little compliments count, too. “Turn to him one night while at home with the kids and blurt out of nowhere, ‘You know what, honey? You make me really happy.’” Positive affirmations serve as motivation to keep prioritizing the relationship, especially when you’ve been together for awhile. “He needs to know that he is still your hero,” Steinberg says.
5. Makeover Your Greetings
Think back to your greetings in the first days of dating. Make sure your hellos are full of excitement and your goodbyes are full of longing. “The hellos and goodbyes to each other could always be our last, so don’t forget they set the tone for the day, week and relationship as a whole,” Casey says. “Give big hugs, never leave without a kiss, and when you come home, make each other first—dogs and kids can wait.” Casey says your relationship is the foundation of a loving, happy home, so prioritize it.
6. Try New Things
At the start of dating, everything is new. After awhile, you can fall into rigid routine. Bottom line: To keep a relationship fresh, you have to do new things. “Novelty items are truly aphrodisiacs, as they stimulate the part of the brain that will fire up that relationship,” Casey says. Take cooking classes, change from cotton sheets to satin, try out a new perfume, go to a restaurant with food you’ve never tasted. “The list goes on and on,” Casey says. “But try something new in the relationship at least once a month. Even if it is just a new restaurant, this will spice things up.”
7. Don’t Cut Every Corner
Do you leave the door open when you pee? Don’t feel you have time to shave much? What about burping in front of your hubby? Is doing your hair and makeup a memory, not a reality? “Ask yourself: Would you have ever, ever gone on a first date the way you look the majority of the week?” Casey says. “If the answer is ‘no way,’ then it is time to step it up. Change your habits. Make a list of the things you do that aren’t sexy and try to cut them in half, at least.” See if your man isn’t looking at you in a new light. (Then tell him what you did and suggest he try it, too.)
8. Get Physical
We’re talking exercise, folks. “It is a huge endorphin boost, and this is great for making a relationship feel fresh and happy again,” says Casey. “Twice a week, make an effort to go do something active, but not competitive, together.” Take the kids for a walk, or work in the garden. Just move. If afterward you can find a little alone time, even better. Hint, hint: “Exercise raises libido,” Casey says.
9. Send Salacious Texts
Want a fresh idea? Get onboard with the sexy new wave of tech flirting, aka “sexting.” “New daters get a high off of sending each other scandalous texts about what they’re going to do to each other later on that night,” says Steinberg. “Bring the heat back into your marriage with a totally unexpected sext.” You don’t have to go crazy if you don’t want—just tell him you’ve got sexy plans for later. Whet his appetite, and keep him guessing about what you’re up to.
10. Create a Sacred Space
What is your sacred couple space? Your bed in your master bedroom. “This not a place for dogs, cats, kids, papers, food or to-do lists. These can all be taken care of in another place,” says Casey, suggesting you think of your bed as an area with two purposes: sleep and sexy time. “Start this today. It will become a much sexier and peaceful place for you,” says Casey.