Make kid-related conversation off-limits for at least 15 minutes a day. This means a few hours a week when you're not allowed to discuss the children or their needs. (You're people, too, and you have your own needs.) Instead, take this time to talk about and to each other. But do make sure to avoid perfunctory topics like finances, work, and domestic affairs.
Get in touch with your physical side. When you come home from work, hug your spouse. When you wake up, kiss each other. Nothing creates better communication and closeness than experiencing love through touch. The more you feel with your hands, the more you'll feel with your heart. The same is true with smiling. If you try keeping a happy disposition, eventually you'll discover that you have many things in your life to feel happy and smile about. This is especially important in these turbulent, anxiety-ridden times.
Declare family time over at 9 p.m. From 6 to 9 every night, have dinner with your family, bathe the children, read them stories, help them with homework, and allow them time to come and talk to you about anything they want. But at 9 p.m., make sure all the young children are in bed with the lights out and that teenagers understand you're not to be disturbed. This gives you time to unwind, read, cuddle, and maybe even have sex! Oh, and turn the TV off. Stop watching other people make love when you should be doing it yourself. Remember, love, unlike Monday night football, is not a spectator sport.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of the Oxford L'Chaim Society, has written many books, including the bestselling Kosher Sex and the recently published Why Can't I Fall in Love? In 2000, he cofounded the Heal the Kids Initiative with Michael Jackson.
Copyright © 2002. Reprinted with permission from the February 2002 issue of Child magazine.