My ex-husband and I got married with the intention of one day having children.

That was actually a thing after our very first date. He really wanted kids; I was unsure. He told me that if I wasn’t at least open to the idea of having children one day that we wouldn’t have a second date.

I love my children. I’m so grateful I had them. And (since it’s not a “but”) I also know I would have been perfectly fine if I’d never had any. My life would look a lot different, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today, but I would have been okay being child-free. I explored how I felt about it more and came back to him with the equivalent of a vague maybe.

Eventually, I grew to want children a lot, and I even went to great lengths to have the children I got (87 shots, three minor surgeries actually. Thank youuuu, infertility).

Regardless, my ex-husband and I married with the intention to one day have children. We naively thought that children would bring us closer.

It seems counterintuitive to schedule romance, but you have to in a marriage with kids! This could be planning just ten to fifteen minutes every night to check in with each other, making an effort to not just be “business” partners, but romantic partners.

This can also look like scheduling regular dates, once a week or however often you can get away, where you aren’t allowed to talk about the kids. Some couples even schedule when they’ll have sex regularly just to keep it on the table since it’s so easy to put off, or they might see a sex therapist to help with issues following having children.

You can also “schedule” romance by remembering to appreciate each other: telling your partner he looks hot today or thanking him for taking out the garbage. These little things add up.

Again, it doesn’t feel romantic when these things are being scheduled, but it shows that you’re making your romantic relationship a priority and not allowing it to be subsumed by your children and their needs.

While this all paints a dismal picture of parenthood, most parents rate parenting as their greatest joy. The important thing is knowing upfront that it will be tough: having children will exacerbate every issue you already have in your relationship, and it will make romance so much harder. BUT there are things you can do to help, whether you’ve had kids already or are about to have kids.

All great relationships take work, and unfortunately, you are just going to have to work harder once you have kids.

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