Being Romantic when you have Five Kids

Visitor's Question from a 41-50 year old Male
My wife and I have been married for 10 years. We are both great people, and I truly believe that. We have 5 wonderful children (ages: 13-girl, 9,7,5-boys, 18 month-girl). We're both involved in the church(she Sunday school/volunteer and I on the Board). We both agree that our problem is that we don't talk to each other and we are missing the affection/romance. She's very frustrated in our relationship and so do I. Without going into too much detail: she is very involved with the kids and feels that she has to bring the kids along if I ask her out. If we go out, she can only be out for an hour before she wants to get back to the kids. I feel I'm probably the typical male: doesn't talk a lot (quiet), don't show much emotion, we both workout a lot, I play softball, don't need to "be with the guys", not many things bother me. I give her a peck on the cheek and she thinks all I want is sex. I feel we almost need to set a time up to talk. I don't know.? Advice
I can't even imagine having five kids!! I'm surprised you guys are still talking and friendly, trying to raise them all! :) Really, kids are hugely stressful on relationships. Studies show that many divorces (if not most) are caused by children, and that especially as the kids enter the 13-17 age range the marriage is stretched to the breaking point. So it's no surprise that you two are feeling the strain.

This is NORMAL, and there are ways of dealing with it. One KEY way is to find time for yourselves, to remind each other that you are Male and Female and please each other, apart from everything else in the world. You really need time apart from the kids and your other duties. It's fine and good for her to care about the kids- all moms do. But she should not make the kids into her sole identity. If she does, she's going to be crushed when they leave the house. And by being a 'leech' on their energy, she brings less to them. Kids need a strong role model of how to be a healthy individual in the world. They need to see her as a complete woman - one that has her own brains, desires, hobbies, and so on. If they see that she can't even leave the house to have fun sometimes, what will happen in their own relationships which they will model naturally on you two?

So for your own health as well as the health of your kids, you need to recharge your own batteries. Get a babysitter, get a relative to watch the kids. And go out! Even if it's just an evening out, or a weekend away somewhere nearby, you need to start making that break. Yes, you are parents. But you are also *individuals* and you can't lose that. It may be hard at first, but the more you do it, the more relaxed you'll be, the more you'll see how truly regenerative it is. You may not even realize how tense you were until you give yourselves a chance to unwind. And your kids will love to have the fresh, recharged parents that return to them.

It's like taking a vacation at work. You may think your work needs you there, but after a while, work needs you to take a vacation. Otherwise your performance suffers and the whole system gums up.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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