Intimacy: Choreplay and Date Nights
By: Ashley Mariani, MSW. RSW.
We’ve all heard how important it is to maintain “date nights” once you become parents. The mental load of parenthood can cause couples to feel exhausted, disconnected, and sometimes resent one another. Article after article, and person after person tells us to “hire a baby sitter” and spend a night “reconnecting”. But what if we forget what to do in those moments? What if we feel lost in our own heads, or uncomfortable in our skin? Leaving us feeling awkward with the person sitting across the table because there’s worry they may no longer be attracted, feel the chemistry, or don’t seem to care as much as the once did. So why would they care in this moment of trying to reconnect? Or, perhaps we’re the ones that are no longer attracted, don’t feel chemistry, and just don’t care?
Sometimes, the idea of hiring a baby sitter and having a night alone can seem more appealing. No partner, no expectations, no judgement, no impression managing. Just you and a day that reminds you of what it was like when there was no weight to lift every day. This alone time may be really helpful in the connection of the couple dynamic; Time spent apart not picking up after one another. However, this doesn’t solve the problem at hand or the reason why I’m writing this article.
INTIMACY. Yes, distance can make the heart grow fonder and time alone can spark desire — just imagine returning to a clean house, laundry done, kids fed, and bills paid. In fact, many of my clients talk about this being a turn on; not having to feel like they are responsible for managing the entire home. If you constantly feel the mental and physical weight of doing all the things, seeing your partner participate and go “above and beyond” without having to be asked (on a regular basis) not only removes that weight, but may even turn you on! This is where the word “choreplay” comes from. If your love language is Acts of Service, seeing your spouse take on responsibilities could be what does it for you. In fact, since the things that stress us out are translated in our brains as a threat, it could severely impact your libido and desire. It’s a win-win if there is less house stuff for you to worry about.
What about getting the time to be intimate with one another? When baby sitters are scarce and money is tight, how do you “reconnect” sexually with one another? Intimacy dates are highly recommended. Plan one day a week where you can devote an evening or time of day to be “intimate” with one another. Don’t worry about what that is going to look like until the day comes. Just before your date, talk about what you’re in the mood for and try to find something that both of you can say yes to; kissing, cuddling, caressing, holding hands, massaging, spooning, showering together, watching exciting movies, reading exciting passages, or anything else that involves a degree of closeness and touching, sexually or not. Discussing too far in advance may create some anxiety and negative feelings towards the time together. So, save the details for the moments before. These things can be done when the kids are in bed, or invest in a babysitter and tease each other under the table at the restaurant.
If all of this sounds a bit foreign to you, going slow is a great start. Being intimate means allowing yourself to be vulnerable. If there are barriers to your vulnerability, don’t hesitate to have a third party professional, like a therapist, assist with these conversations.