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More Romance, Please!

Romance Roadblock #3

Who can flirt with the kids always around?

Have those lingering touches and bedroom eyes gone the way of Saturday mornings spent sleeping in? Guess what: It's not only possible but downright healthy to flirt (albeit mildly) in front of your children. Parental PDAs set an amazing example of how sweet and tender a marriage can be, says Carter-Scott. So don't be shy about stealing a smooch or saying, "I love you" when the kids are around. Bonus: Those tiny touches and loving looks will keep your mind and body constantly primed for the real fireworks to come: Just ask Trish Simo, 29, of Mundelein, Illinois. "My husband and I have our own little hints to each other that are way over our 5-, 2-, and 1-year-olds' heads," she confesses. "We created our own code language. Saying secret love comments to each other when the kids are around makes us look forward to them going to bed at night!"

Of course, if your kids are old enough to catch the romantic innuendos, you'll need to use a bit more discretion, but you can still be a full-on flirt. Send each other steamy emails at the office or on your home computer. (Change your password frequently to keep your junior hacker in the dark.) You can also leave sweet and/or slightly suggestive messages on each other's cell phones throughout the day.

And when all else fails, find an excuse to go behind a locked door in the middle of the day. "My husband and I have three kids," says Veronica Dennis, 31, of Hacienda Heights, California. "So we have to make each moment count. Every once in a while, we tell the children that Mom and Dad need to have a meeting to discuss something private. We then adjourn to our bedroom, lock the door and begin our 'meeting.' It's quick but intense, and we usually take the children for ice cream or something afterward. We tell them that our meeting was about a surprise for them, so everyone is happy!"

Romance Roadblock #4

Some date night! You always end up talking about the kids.

You've booked the sitter and reserved a table for two at your favorite bistro (the one you always used to go to before you became parents). But instead of having a fabulously romantic night out on the town, you spend the whole evening discussing -- guess who? -- the kids. Aargh!

Surprisingly, parent-talk can be a bonding breakthrough, says Carter-Scott, if you steer the conversation away from the children and toward your feelings about your new role. "As parents you feel so many things: blessed, overwhelmed, inspired, scared," she explains. "Share those real feelings -- what intimacy's all about -- and you'll be able to relate more deeply as partners."

That said, if you can't even remember what you used to talk about before you had kids, it's time to reconnect through your shared hobbies: the sailing, salsa dancing, pool playing or antiquing that was a big part of your falling-in-love years. If you don't have the time or money to indulge in those old favorites, think up new rituals to share at home: Paint your bedroom a hot, sexy color together. Pick an ethnic cuisine to master and get cooking in the kitchen. Read the same book and discuss it before dozing off -- think of it as a book club for the two smartest, coolest people in the world.

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