Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

These 4 Things Will Help Keep Intimacy Alive During the Toddler Years

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Oct 23

If you’re the parent of a toddler, you might feel like you’re too tired and busy to even think about sex with your spouse – and for good reason. Your sleep schedule is off. Work levels around the house are at an all-time high. If all that isn’t enough, there’s still a rambunctious toddler – or toddlers - that needs to be cared for, played with, loved on, and disciplined.

With all that’s going on, it might be tempting for some, especially moms, to view sex as merely another item on a never-ending to-do list. But according to our marriage counselors, you’d be wise not to see it that way. With good communication, intentionality and some creativity, you can keep the flame of intimacy going in your marriage during the toddler years – and hopefully this post will help you do just that.

What follows is some wisdom pulled together from Focus’ counselors and marriage experts to help you and your spouse prioritize your marriage during this hectic time.

1. Take the long view of things.
When you look at marriage as a life-long commitment, it gives you a better perspective on the toddler years.  These years are merely a season in life. It won’t always be like this.

2. Keep in mind that sex and intimacy are two different things.
There’s more to marriage than the physical act of sex – although that is important, too. During these years, it would help to remember that although fatigue, stress and busyness may impact your sex life, you can still strive for intimacy.

If you’re creative, you can come up with a thousand ways you can connect emotionally without being physical. Respect each other’s varied ways of feeling and experiencing romance, and serve both needs equally. You can enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck, snuggle on the couch while you watch TV, or have a heart-to-heart conversation in the car as the kids snooze in the backseat.

3. Keep the boundaries around the marriage strong through intentional measures.
While sex shouldn’t become the ultimate pursuit in a marriage, it still is an important part of it. God created sex as a way a husband and wife “can become one” – both emotionally and literally (that is, in the children produced from their union.) It’s a gift from God to provide mutual delight in marriage that bonds husbands and wives together.

Couples would be wise to implement some practical ways to help carve out the time they need to engage in sexual intimacy together.

- Schedule – or be spontaneous!
Time is a finite commodity, so your calendar is a reflection of what matters to you. That’s why, for some busy couples, it works to schedule times of intimacy. We make sure to make the time for other things, like dentist appointments and soccer practice – why not sex? Being open to spontaneity is also a good habit, especially for the very busy parent.

- Early bedtimes and other parenting boundaries
By implementing things such as strict bedtimes, husbands and wives can make sure they’ve built-in “together time” for each other every day.

- Date nights
Dating your spouse is such an important part of marriage – in fact, our research tells us that 92 percent of couples who make a date night a priority have increased satisfaction in their relationships. (Read our website’s section on date nights for more information.)

4. Understanding and patience helps create an environment where sex is a possibility.
Couples should treat each other well because that’s the right thing to do, not as a means to an end – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the benefits of that end if we do what’s right.

Husbands, your wife may feel overwhelmed at having to keep up with the kids and the house, so pitch in and help. Many wives who previously didn’t have an “acts of service” love language might develop it during the baby and toddler years.

The marriage section of Focus’ website has more good advice and perspectives on sex, as does our Pure Intimacy website. As always, please know you can call us at 1-800-A-FAMILY if you would like to speak with one of our Family Help Specialists.

What has helped you keep the intimacy of marriage alive during the toddler years? Please add your insights in the comment section – that might be the piece of advice that helps another couple.

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