I still vividly remember the day I first set eyes on my wife. I was a chronically late high school senior, which meant I routinely spent time in late detention. Little did I realize my penchant for disregarding time would provide a pivotal moment of serendipity. My wife, then a member of the high school band attending practice, had exited the school at nearly the precise moment late detention let out. Her blond hair, along with her light pink jacket, caught my attention right away. She moved with purpose. Whatever teenage angst I had been harboring that day immediately melted away. She was different. Little did I know she'd change my life forever.
Despite several turbulent years encompassed by separate colleges, distinct career aspirations, geography, and personal growth, we still found ourselves passionate about each other. Then, one spring day in Yankee Stadium, she proposed. As a married couple, our romance bloomed. We traveled often, dined out and slept in simply because we could. Yet this blissful existence would only last for one fleeting year. A new chapter in our lives began the day we confirmed we were to be parents.
As expected, our romantic indulgences diminished proportionally as our due date approached. Yet I naively convinced myself that we'd return to "normal" not long after the baby's birth. The reality turned out to be a more compartmentalized approach to intimacy. Neither of us was prepared for the sleepless nights, the onset of stress, the lack of time, and the newfound responsibility of being a parent. Yet surprisingly our passions burned brightly despite the pitfalls of parenthood -- albeit with a lot less verve.
After the birth of our second child, romance once again took a back seat to raising our kids. As they grew, so did their demands on our time and energy. Mind you, my wife and I would still exchange amorous glances, steal a hug and kiss or two in between toddler tantrums, and hold hands while watching intently for Blue's next clue. Our star-crossed romance had evolved into a parents-gone-mild approach.
Yet every so often -- be it on date night, or at an event such as a wedding we attend alone -- we rediscover each other, laugh a lot about the insanity of it all, and connect once again. Our children, both intricately linked to our lives as a family, fade into the background during these private times. They're never forgotten, of course; we inevitably mention our children in conversation. But the focus redirects to rekindling the spark in our relationship. At our last wedding reception, my wife and I danced, drank, laughed, and indulged in each other's love. Just the remedy needed to solidify the foundation of the sometimes rocky business of parenting.
My advice for dads-to-be? A short list for you to forge your own path to romance in the age of parenthood:
- Stay optimistic. Life is good.
- Your relationship with your wife will change, and you must be willing to adapt.
- Family life requires balancing one's whole life while including the lives of your family.
- Learn time management skills.
- Don't lose your sense of humor.
- Remember to make time for just you and your wife.
- Think of romance in terms of a slow burn leading to memorable moments, rather than love on demand.
- Everything changes -- you can, too.
What's your secret to keeping romance alive after you've started a family?