Yet, in truth, I have met couples that snuggle in bed for 20 minutes after the alarm goes off, or have a cup of coffee or tea together after dinner, or always talk before or after a late night show. Or call each other at lunch. They are a lot happier. Their kids see themselves as safe from divorce. Couples, who connect routinely, see habitual time together as reassuring rather than rigid.
As soon as your kids are old enough, ask them to help support you in this time by not interrupting. Kids can understand that every Sunday morning is Mom and Dad's time. Or the time before 7 AM is off limits. They will respect it if you are consistent, especially if they understand they have a time each day that is theirs.
Creating uninterrupted time for each family dyad, even if it is once a week and not daily, develops the communication bond. Like parents, kids who get this brief daily one-on-one attention are easier to live with and experience a healthy relationship and connection to family. They will also support your time with each other more readily.
My friend Marni commented, "My kids love to see me get all dressed up on date night. They help me pick out my shoes and lipstick. I think it is great that they see the romance of getting ready for the date—even when they sometimes whine a little that they would like to come too. I like that they are fascinated by this other side of Mom and Dad that they don't share."
Likewise, I like that my kids know that Neil and I are going to talk over some family problem together before we set rules and consequences. Sometimes waiting to see the outcome of our meeting is nerve-wracking for the kids but as they wait they get to think over for themselves what we might decide about the issue. They know if we disagree, Neil gets the last word on issues relating to their athletics and I get the final vote on school matters. On money, we use consensus decisions. Everybody has to say yes. We laugh because when we get in a heated exchange, one or the other child is likely to ask us to either go have a meeting or take a timeout, using our own advice on us. Watching us solve problems prepares them to participate in family meetings and solve problems themselves.
It's Never Too Late
Instituting agreed upon dates and ritual times for talk, sex, and cuddling soon begins to change feelings of abandonment and erosion of love in a marriage. Fortunately, it is never too late to start your rituals even when the marriage feels dead or divorce looms. The habits, love rituals, and positive experiences you create will either insulate your marriage from problems, or if absent, they will leave your marriage vulnerable to the natural erosion that the stress of negotiating many new needs that kids bring.