Romance isn’t dead - according to a Sheffield expert, even if you’re knee-deep in housework and children’s homework. Rachael Clegg discovers the secret to reviving the spark for couples with kids
IT’S ironic that the thing that causes a family to come into being in the first place - romance - is the first thing to go out of the window.
When the baby’s crying, the bills are piling and the family home still needs running, it’s no surprise that couples with families find it hard to find time for each other.
You live together, but spend little time together.
So this week, as Valentine’s Day gets nearer, a Sheffield relationship expert offers advice for couples who are more likely to be up to their ears in rusks rather than roses this Valentine’s Day.
Su Campbell, who provides marriage and relationship counselling throughout Sheffield, says the key to reviving the romance in a relationship is finding time for each other.
“You have to bring back some of the romance you once had by thinking about what it was that attracted you to them in the first place and remembering the heady days of when the relationship was first getting going,” she says.
And the way to do this, according to Su, is to re-ignite things with a bit of spontaneity.
“It helps to show each other spontaneous affection - you need to make sure that each person in the relationship feels like they are still fancied.”
This is the tricky bit. When toilets need bleaching, washing needs hanging and drains need unblocking it’s hard to think about giving your other half a massage. But Su says it’s about ‘getting the lover’ back amidst the domestic demands of a family home.
“Sometimes we start taking a person for granted. We stop making the effort,” she says. And it’s this point when sex becomes harder and many couples consider moving on.
“A lot of couples say ‘I don’t want to have sex with them any more’ but then they’ve worked through it after taking counselling and have sorted it out.”
This reduction in romance is particularly prominent in couples with children. “Family stresses and financial pressures can have a big impact on a couple’s relationship. We forget to have fun and forget how to ‘play’. But these things are really important. People get bogged down with thinking ‘we shouldn’t do this’ or ‘we shouldn’t do that.”
But couples should let their hair down every now and again, Su says.
And now more than ever, her advice is timely.
Divorce rates have risen for the first time in seven years, prompting experts to believe the financial crisis is taking its toll on marriage.
The Office for National Statistics has published data that shows as many as 119,589 couples got divorced in 2010, an increase of 4.9 per cent on the previous year.
Relate - the counselling charity - blames the recession for this increase and issued a statement saying: “It’s no surprise that the divorce rate is rising given the pressures that couples and families are under. We are seeing more people than ever coming to Relate.”
Counselling helps couples look at themselves and observe the way they interact with one another. This allows them to make changes for the better and learn to relate to each other more effectively. And, contrary to what people believe, it’s not necessarily a sign that a couple are desperate - plenty of couples seek counselling when things aren’t necessarily a terrible mess.
And while Su can’t do much to change the rising living costs and financial doom that is currently engulfing our society, she can point couples towards a revived, refreshed relationship.
“People say ‘the grass is always greener’ but if you neglect that grass it will never be green. You need to nourish it and feed it.”
And what better way to do this than to have a bit of fun, show your other half that they are your love as well as a mother, husband, father or wife and go and let your hair down.
Who’d have thought lawn maintenance was so much fun?
Stop taking your partner for granted
Have fun - inject some spontaneity into the relationship by dancing around in your underwear or going on a spur-of the moment date
Try and find some time to natter together about inconsequential things
Send a few flirty out of the blue messages to your partner
Surprise them by making an effort to help them with the jobs they hate
Do something daft and completely out-of the ordinary