Is Your Marriage Normal?

It's normal to feel like you're growing apart.

A few years ago, I was the sole family breadwinner, with a colicky baby. My husband's start-up business took nearly all his time but produced little income. To compensate, I let sex go. I let romance go. I let my marriage go.

"Parents often focus on their parenting role instead of on their partnering role, and we see the end result of that in our divorce statistics," says Dr. Love. "The number-one cause of growing apart is withdrawing your interest and your energy." Many parents, for instance, spell each other with child care. When he's with the kids, she gets a manicure. Or when she's with the kids, he's at the gym. Try these ways to connect emotionally and physically on a regular basis.

Get skin-on-skin contact. That means hugging, kissing, or touching. Make a habit of doing it before one of you leaves the house and whenever one of you comes home. Do it first thing in the morning and the last thing before sleep at night. I sit close to my husband on the couch. I pat his rear whenever I walk by and give him back rubs if I have a spare moment.

Date your spouse. You can, of course, hire a sitter and go out on a regular basis. But here's another tactic: Enforce an early bedtime. My daughter's old enough to stay up later than 8 p.m., but when she goes to bed early we get two hours of couple time (and uninterrupted sex time).

Start regular rituals. I share a cup of coffee with my husband most mornings. He often tucks me in on the nights he stays up later than I do. Once a week, I make him bacon for breakfast. These rituals are small ways for us to strengthen our bond.

If you stop settling for normal, you'll eventually find that your spouse is much more than a bedmate, your best friend, or the person whose sperm helped you create those little children. He'll be the one person in the world who knows you better than anyone -- and loves you anyway.

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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