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More Romance, Please!

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.

Romance Roadblock #6

Your kids' schedules are eating your weekends alive.

Do you need a cruise director to keep track of all your kids' weekend activities? To ensure that your coupledom doesn't take a backseat to tae kwon do, you need to be somewhat crafty. First rule: If you have more than one child, make sure their lessons overlap. That way you and your husband can have uninterrupted time, even if it's spent just grabbing a bagel and coffee together.

In fact, it can be a major parenting mistake to let the kids' activities rule your life. So before signing them up, you and your mate should scope out your own schedule and plan your children's activities around that, says William Doherty, Ph.D., author of Take Back Your Marriage. If Saturday is the only day you two can spend together, sign your kids up for a soccer league that plays on Sunday instead.

Romance Roadblock #7

Every vacation's a family vacation.

You once cruised hand in hand down a canal in Venice; now you're taking turns waiting on three-hour lines at Disney. But even if your lifestyle has changed since your pre-baby days, you can still sneak in an adults-only getaway, says Carter-Scott. Recruit relatives to baby-sit so you can spend an amazing night or two at a local bed-and-breakfast. "To keep your marriage as hot as possible, sometimes you need an uninterrupted span of time when nobody's calling out for Mommy," she says. If a B&B is not in the budget right now, send your kids off to a fun-filled weekend at their grandparents' house and turn your own place into a cozy love cottage. During the day let your errands slide and play tourist in your hometown or the nearest city. At night collapse in bed (or on the kitchen floor) and make all the noise you want, knowing that the kids are loving life -- and out of earshot -- at Grandma's house.

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