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Romance after children might not include as many flowers and chocolates

Romance. In the beginning, it’s about candlelight dinners, walks on the beach, holding hands, flowers, and talking until dawn—you know, the stereotypical ingredients of what happens when two people fall in love. Now, fast forward five or ten years. Mystery and romance are hard to find among the daily chores. Life becomes about organization, not spontaneity. You divvy up who does what and when: dishes, cooking, shopping, kids, etc.

For many women, it’s shocking (and a little scary) to realize that these days, your romantic fantasy is less about knights in shining armor and more about your husband wearing an apron as he finishes washing the dishes, after having cooked a full meal and tucked the children in bed. Where did the magic go? you think.

And is there any way to get it back? The answer is yes—but that magic might look different from what you’re expecting.

“In the beginning of a relationship, romance often does take the form of getaways, special dinners, and stolen kisses,” acknowledges Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes. “But over time, my marriage has matured and my family has grown—I’m sure you can relate! These days, rather than receiving a box of chocolates, romance for me is an action that says I’ve been thinking of you—desiring you.”

Ivana maintains that romance is important to women throughout their lives. It lets them know that their partners desire them, value them, and cherish them. But over time, she acknowledges, the “look” of romance can and does change.

“The challenge of domestic life is keeping the magic alive,” Ivana points out. “Especially after kids enter the picture, illusions wear down and you focus more on the nitty-gritty details of everyday life. In the midst of this, how do you, as a friend of mine put it, ‘never stop wooing’? To me, that means never taking your partner for granted.”

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that romance has to be, look, and feel a certain way. It doesn’t have to take hours or cost a lot of money. Instead, it’s about paying attention to the details that matter to your partner, and keying into what the other person finds special and surprising.

Here, from a woman’s perspective, are some of Ivana’s examples of what “romancing the mom” might look like:

Instead of planning a big, fancy dinner at a trendy restaurant, wait until the kids are in bed, then light a candle and pour both of us a glass of wine.
Instead of sprinkling rose petals on the bed and, well…you know…a foot rub or a slow dance in the living room will do.
Instead of bringing me flowers, ask our kids to draw me a picture of a beautiful bouquet.
Instead of planning a weekend away, call me at lunchtime and say, “Pick up Subway and meet me at the park—we’re having a picnic.”
Instead of buying me expensive lingerie, call me in the middle of the day and ask me what I’m wearing—even if you know it’s yoga pants and a T-shirt.

“These are just a few examples of what a busy mom might be craving from her partner, and of course, romance in action will look different from couple to couple,” Ivana concludes. “The important thing to remember is that creativity, thoughtfulness, and love outweigh time, money, and over-the-top effort every time when it comes to keeping the magic alive in the midst of everyday life.”

About Princess Ivana:

Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom.

February 3, 2014

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