No Matter What, Just Do It
Of course, you and your spouse should take advantage of times when your children are visiting your exes to recharge your relationship. That's possible if only one of you has children from a previous marriage, or if your exes are flexible enough about schedules to allow you to coordinate weekends alone.
When you have children living with you full-time, however, you need to be creative. "We try to schedule a sex date at least once a week, because that's the glue that helps hold us together," says stepmom and stepfamily counselor Kay Grimes, of Dallas. You should also plan to do something fun away from home every week. If it's a financial stretch to go out to dinner, then take a walk, window-shop, drive around looking for your dream house, stroll through a museum, or sit in a coffee shop and do the crossword puzzle together, suggests Sharon Stober, who's also the editorial director of Your Stepfamily magazine. In addition, try to create 20 minutes of relaxed time alone together every day, she urges. "And that doesn't mean falling asleep in the same bed." Wake up every morning and vow to show your affection at least once that day. Can you promise, perhaps, to kiss your husband's neck before work on Monday, instead of blaming him for his daughter's rude behavior over the weekend? Can you take the initiative and start the lovemaking tonight?
Whatever your situation, keeping your sense of humor is key. So is flexibility, says Brian Foti, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, who's in the fourth year of his second marriage and has an son and two stepchildren. "Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that the children's needs come first -- end of story." As a jazz musician, he compares blended family life with music: "You'll always have to improvise to stay close."
Copyright © 2003 Holly Robinson. Reprinted with permission of Parents magazine December 2003 issue.