More Romance, Please!
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.
Romance Roadblock #5
Your "dating dollars" are paying for schools, activities and half of Toys "R" Us.
Nights out and new lingerie can keep a marriage hot, but who has the cash after shelling out for art lessons, American Girl dolls and the designer sneakers your son absolutely has to have? Don't worry, you don't have to empty the bank: For the price of a baby-sitter, you can fill your life with love adventures. "My husband and I take day trips to the mountains that are within an hour's drive," says LuAnn Wilkins, 33, of Fairlawn, New Jersey. "We hike the deserted trails, complete with waterfalls -- all for the cost of gas and tolls."
There are tons of inexpensive outings for two. If it takes a little black dress (and a little red wine) to put you in the mood, get yourself on the invitation lists of local art galleries. "We go to gallery openings," says Andrea Brown, 33, of Seattle. "They usually serve complimentary wine and cheese, and they take place in the evening, so you can dress up." Not an art aficionado? Check local listings for free concerts in the park. If you live near vineyards, take a winery tour or attend a wine tasting. Many public schools offer ballroom-dance lessons at low prices. Even an impulsive midnight picnic under the stars can add a sexy twist to an ordinary weeknight. While you're cuddling in the moonlight, try this love game: Take turns sharing five things you absolutely adore about each other, says Carter-Scott.