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  • Navigating Intimacy as a Mom: The Art of Keeping it Alive and Well

    Parenthood is here, now what?

    Gather around, fellow moms, for a chat that dives into the depths of the often uncharted waters of intimacy. No, this isn’t going to be a ‘bust out the candles and rose petals, here’s how to spice up your love life’ kind of advice column. Instead, picture us on a friend’s couch, nursing a mug of coffee – lukewarm because, priorities.

    Let’s get real about so many moments where you’re so tired you can’t even spell ‘intimacy,’ let alone make it happen. I get it. You are trying to keep humans alive and teach them to be good community members and overall kind people. And at the end of the day you are also wanting to connect with your partner but it just feels hard. Plus, not wanting to take the risk that an innocent conversation might turn into an argument.

    Intimacy isn’t just your time between the sheets. It’s so much more than that! It’s feeling safe in your relationship. It’s feeling seen and heard and understood. Becoming parents is one of the greatest challenges we can take on as humans. Maintaining a strong, supportive and loving connection with our partner is the other one.

    Let’s learn more! 

    gay couple feeding a baby intimacy moms relationship marriage connection love support communication Katheryn Barton Uplift and Connect Counseling

    How Motherhood Changes the Dynamics:

    Motherhood is a glorious mess of unconditional love, cuteness overload, and moments of pure joy that are often too immense for words. But amid this beautiful chaos, there lies a challenge veiled by exhaustion and the unspoken pressure of parenthood. The most common wail from the trenches of motherhood isn’t the baby’s cry, it’s the silent plea for understanding, solidarity, and space for yourself when your identity starts to merge with ‘mama.’ It feels hard to hold on to your own identity, build a new identity as mom and stay someone’s intimate partner.

    This shift in dynamics isn’t just a cliche; it’s a cosmic reordering of the stars in your universe. Your partner, your North Star, now shares the sky with a tiny constellation that you created together. Finding the right balance feels like performing a high-wire act with a toddler’s sense of balance. It’s unpredictable, daunting, and you occasionally nose-dive into a pile of laundry.

    Time becomes a precious commodity, as minutes once spent on leisurely activities or self-care are swiftly repurposed for diaper duty and endless rounds of “peek-a-boo.” 

    Relationships feel the strain too, finding themselves hanging on for dear life as the whirlwind of parenting leaves little room for romantic dinners or uninterrupted conversations. Date nights might turn into a quick exchange of tired glances over the head of a restless infant, and intimate talks become a series of grunts and eye signals decipherable only by the most attuned couples. Don’t get me wrong, the love is still there—it just has to share the spotlight with an ever-changing routine that tests even the strongest of bonds. 

    But hey, if you can weather the sleepless storm of babyhood together, isn’t that the ultimate relationship litmus test? What about those toddler tantrums or teenager tantrums for that matter? The point is, as we are met with these challenges it becomes harder to make sure we are connecting as adults and as intimate partners instead of just mom and dad or mom and mom or dad

    couple arguing with motorcycle helmets on Katheryn Barton Uplift and Connect Counseling communication understanding relationship marriage loveImage Caption

     and dad…

    Communication Breakdowns:

    – Sharing Wants and Needs:

    We are pros at the guess-who-needs-a-nap game, but when it comes to spelling out our own wants and needs, things can get tangled-up like a toddler untying their shoes. Let’s be real – asking for help or expressing what’s really on our mind can feel like trying to put that Lego set together without instructions. The struggle to voice our own needs and wants often leaves us feeling misunderstood, stuck and alone. 

    -Unspoken Expectations:

    As a mom we nurture hopes and desires close to our hearts but we often keep them quieter than a teenager sneaking in past curfew. When our unspoken expectations meet the harsh light of day, and surprise, surprise, aren’t met – cue the dramatic sighs and the age-old tale of communication meltdown. You know what I’m talking about. We have our expectation in our head and for some reason our partner has a very different expectation in their head. Then it’s the silent movie era all over again in the household, with emotions running high, and no one’s quite sure who’s directing the scene.

    So here’s the scoop – setting expectations is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall, especially in the whirlwind life of parenting. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between hoping your partner can telepathically pick up on your dream anniversary plans, and actually telling them what you want – you know, using real words. And it’s not just about romantic relationships! It’s the whole family caboodle. Letting your kiddos know what you expect from them doesn’t have to be a buzzkill. It’s more like laying out the treasure map so they know where X marks the spot. It’s about being as clear as the “no screen time until homework’s done” rule, and hey, maybe with fewer eye rolls in response.

    Sure, setting clear expectations might feel about as comfortable as explaining where babies come from to a curious five-year-old, but hey, nobody said parenting was for the faint of heart. And remember, when those expectations are out in the open, you’re less likely to find yourself stepping on the Lego pieces of disappointment. Instead, you’re building a fortress of understanding – no secret handshakes or decoder rings required.

    -Putting this All together:

    When we have unmet needs and wants and when we have expectations that are not being realized or even talked about, resentment will build. We will start feeling resentful of why our partner has free time to sit on the couch or go out with friends when we are not taking the initiative to ask for these needs ourselves. We don’t have to do it all and we definitely don’t have to do it all alone when we have a willing partner by our side. But we need to give them space to be our partner, not our mind-reader or our assistant.

    couple cooking together in kitchen Katheryn Barton Uplift and Connect Counseling communication connection love support momsImage Caption

    The Quest for Connection:

    -Intentional Input Equals Memorable Output

    Let’s get real: Everyone wants to feel like they’re a VIP in someone’s life. When you make that extra effort in your relationship, it screams volumes. It’s like spelling out ‘I HEART YOU’ with pepperoni on a pizza — it shows that your partner isn’t just another item on your overcrowded to-do list. By carving out time on purpose, ditching the phone, and putting your whole self into those shared moments, you’re telling bae, “Hey, you’re up there with oxygen on my list of essentials.”

    Those little intentional deeds – you know, a surprise coffee before a bonkers day or remembering to ask about that big meeting – are like collecting bonus points in Mario. They add up and can rescue your relationship from Bowser’s castle of neglect.

    -Quality Time > Quantity Time

    Amidst the joyous chaos known as parenting, date night might feel as distant as your teen’s clean laundry. Juggling kids, careers, and Netflix binges requires some magical scheduling skills, but slipping in those pockets of couple-time is crucial.

    It doesn’t have to be a candlelit dinner Titanic-style every week; sometimes, a grocery shopping adventure sans kiddos can feel like a romantic getaway (bonus points if you sneak in a chocolate bar). Or how about letting the kids binge on cartoons for an hour while you both share a coffee in the backyard? It’s about stealing those Oreo moments together – double stuffed with love, of course.

    In short, sprinkle that fairy dust of intentionality and communication over your connection, and watch it sparkle. Remember, even when life goes full-throttle, the pow-wow with your partner should feel like an oasis – a place where you can laugh about that shared memory of Aunt Edna’s dance moves from last Christmas. Keep the connection cooking, and you’ll be that couple giving everyone else relationship envy. High-fives all around!

    Avoid Motherhood Burnout:

    Motherhood is kind of like being a superhero – you’ve got special powers like functioning on zero sleep, and your heart expands to sizes you didn’t even know were possible. But even superheroes need a break to recharge their love lasers. It’s totally normal to feel stretched-thin, emotionally. With all the beautiful chaos that kids summon, you find yourself thinking, “Hey, who’s got my back?” amidst the sea of tiny demands. This is something so many moms experience. And when hugs start to feel more like wrestling moves from your little ones, it can leave you wanting to put up a “No Touch Zone” sign around your personal space. Uh-oh, what does that mean for you and your partner? This is a time to get creative but maybe even give and take some space to recharge.

    Now let’s talk about rekindling the old flame without burning the house down (metaphorically, of course). Spoiler alert: it’s a lot like those TV makeover shows, but instead of new curtains, we’re pulling back the layers of exhaustion to find that spark. Start by pressing the pause button on the world (especially the kiddo carousel) to nurture emotional intimacy with your partner. Share those “feeling alone” moments, and listen—really listen—to each other’s day. And before you dive into the ocean of physical closeness, dip your toes into the waters of emotional connection first. 

    Remember, communication is sexy! How about a secret code word for when you need a bear hug with a no-kids-allowed rule? Then, when you’re both feeling heard and supported—like a tag team ready for the championship—those physical moments can start feeling less like an invasion of space and more like coming home.

    Find That Support:

    There’s something pretty magical about having someone in your corner, be it your other half, a lifelong pal, or that work friend who just gets it. Not feeling alone? Priceless. 

    Our need for connectivity isn’t just some hippie-dippie idea; it’s grounded in our very being! Having a safe haven where we’re truly heard, not just listened to, creates a space for understanding that could rival any cozy blanket fort. And validation? Oh honey, it’s like the emotional equivalent of someone high-fiving your soul and saying, “I see you there, you glorious human.” 

    Now, let’s talk professional backup—couples therapy. I hear ya, “therapy” sounds like you’re two steps away from reenacting a scene from an indie breakup flick. But, let’s drop the drama and consider it more like hiring a personal trainer for your relationship muscles. It’s about flexing those communication and empathy skills, all with a professional guide to encourage you through the reps. And all of you St. Louis folks, gather ’round—me, Katheryn Barton, at Uplift and Connect Counseling is ready to be that relationship “personal trainer.”  

    So, instead of letting challenges do the cha-cha slide all over your relationship, consider reaching out. Whether you go local or beyond, getting a pro in your love ring can lead you to a tag-team triumph. Remember, even the best dance duos have a choreographer to help them glide across life’s dancefloor. 

    I can’t wait to see you do that two-step of love!Katheryn Barton Uplift and Connect Counseling St. Louis MO communication couples therapy support love


    -Katheryn Barton