Couples start having problems in their sex lives when the job of raising the children becomes so overwhelming that there is no time to be alone and no energy, even if you find the time. Or when one of you starts avoiding sex as a (misguided) means of coping with other problems in the relationship.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Communication is not always the easiest thing in a relationship, and communication difficulties usually find their way into the bedroom. If you don't have time to talk about things except after the children are asleep you are going to bring your problems and conflicts to bed with you. Don't do it. Your bed is for lovemaking, not negotiations.
One way to avoid bringing conflicts into the bedroom is to set aside time to talk about things during other times and in other locations. Make appointments if you have to. Try to pick times when neither one of you is too tired or grouchy to discuss things like money matters or day-to-day problems. True, if you're having trouble finding the time to make love, you'll probably find it hard to find time for family meetings, but it's crucial that you try. Even if all you can manage are a few minutes here and a few minutes there, at least you're talking things out.
When you're trying to reestablish your sexual relationship with your partner, it's important to have one place that isn't baby-oriented. Let the toys, bottles, and baby things mount up everywhere else if you must, but keep your bedroom as a place for you and your partner—you want to be able to set a sexy mood and scene when you're alone together.
Call in the Support Troops When Necessary
You know you need to set up a childcare plan to cover you when you're off at work or running errands. Having back-up baby-sitters is equally important for the health of your relationship. If you can find relatives or friends to watch your children—even for just a few hours at a time—it can go a long way toward keeping the two of you connected on many levels. You can use this time alone to work out problems together. But best of all, you can use this time to talk about how you used to make love before the children were born and what you would like to do when you get home after the children are asleep. It can build some romantic excitement that can work wonders in your relationship.
Keeping Your Marriage Healthy in the Wake of Raising a Child
It is so important not to take your relationship for granted. Couples drift apart for what can seem like the most trivial of reasons, and the stress of a new baby in the house is hardly a trivial pressure. Even without a baby, you know that a good relationship needs constant nourishment and care, so don't let these new pressures make you forget to take that care. Keep those lines of communication open, keep expressing your feelings and lavishing love on one another as much as possible.
Cooperate, Don't Compete
Many couples get into a dangerous syndrome of emotional competition—trying to overcome each other instead of pulling together as a team. This does nothing but breed mistrust, and it can be exacerbated when a new baby enters the household with its own set of needs. But this is precisely the time when cooperation and mutual support are most needed, so it's worth your while to spend some time and energy to strengthen your bonds of love and trust as a couple.
Learning the Importance of Compromise
If you consciously try to work together, there is no reason not to find mutually satisfying solutions to most of the problems you face. What's key is that you strive to build your relationship on a solid foundation of trust, respect, and compromise. And there's an added benefit: By building a strong relationship with your partner, you are setting the best possible example for your children. The crucial lesson to learn is how to compromise—you're doing no one a favor if you go the totally self-sacrificing martyr route, and you gain nothing by forcing your will on everyone, either. The first breeds disrespect, the second is a recipe for resentment. Compromise means seeing to it that everyone's needs are at least partially met, and you can all feel like you're working together.