Look, we know that most couples sex lives take a dive right after the baby is born. And that’s totally normal!

You need time to heal from childbirth. Plus with the sleepless nights, breastfeeding challenges, and hormonal roller coaster going on in your body, sex after kids isn’t going to be number one on your to-do list (pun intended).

But what if your baby is now 6 months, 9 months, or a year old and things still aren’t happening in the bedroom?

Heck, what if you’ve reached toddlerhood and any thoughts of romance are buried beneath piles of dirty laundry, overpacked schedules, and some inane thing called “work-life balance” you’re pretty sure is just a fantasy..what then?  

Well then, if we’re being really honest, you might have a problem. You might have entered….THE ROOMMATE ZONE. And trust us, this is definitely someplace you DO NOT want to be.

 

Dangers Of The Roommate Zone

A growing number of couples find themselves living together as roommates. They go to work, take care of the kids and maintain a social life. Making it seem from the outside looking in, like they are a happy couple. The only issue is when it comes to romance, there ain’t nothing going on.

Researchers estimate that almost 20% of married couples are in sexless relationships. And this number doesn’t include those couples who still have sex, but are emotionally disconnected from one another.

No one starts out wanting to be roommates with their spouse. But after kids come along, once passionate couples may find their connection has slowly eroded into routine and indifference.

Roommates do all the work of a marriage without getting any of the perks. These partners report feeling unloved, undesired, or taken for granted. This makes everyday challenges and stressors hard to handle, and can leave a person feeling bitter, resentful and angry. Which perpetuates the cycle.

These issues only get worse when the kids get older and start to spend more and more time away from the house. The two of you may find yourself looking at each other and saying “now what?”

Don’t let this happen! Don’t wait until the kids are older to address a lack of intimacy and connection in your relationship because if you do, chances are it may be too late.

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What Causes Roommate Syndrome

How do couples that start out as passionate, loving, and romantic end up living together as roommates? There are two reasons marriage counselors see fairly often; neglect and unresolved anger.

With neglect, partners focus their time and energy on everything else BUT their relationship, causing it to fall to the bottom of their priority list.

Having a family forces you to focus the resources you used to spend on one another (time, energy, money) on your children. The difficulty is that your supply of resources remains the same, it’s just the demand that increases.  And it increases a LOT, thanks to little ones who need a ton of attention.

Also In Beenke: Sex After Childbirth: Get Back To Getting It On

The second reason relationships slide into the roommate zone that many couples may not be aware of is unresolved anger.

It’s inevitable in a long term relationship that anger will happen. The problem occurs when people allow angry feelings to pile up without addressing them in a healthy way.

Unresolved anger kills romance. It’s as simple as that.

Yet many couples after years of cruelly venting or stuffing down their feelings find themselves separated by a wall of anger so big they can’t connect anymore.

 

The Warning Signs

Passionless marriages don’t just happen in a day. Here are 6 signs you may be on your way to the roommate zone you should watch out for.

 

1. PDA Has Gone Out The Window

Forget about sex for a minute, oftentimes the first thing to go in a relationship that’s headed towards the roommate zone are public displays of affection.

Are you no longer holding hands, touching, or embracing? Have you stopped looking lovingly into each other eyes when you talk?

What about kissing? Do you still share the occasional passionate kiss… or has that become awkward? Are you down to nothing more than a quick emotionless peck on the cheek?

 

2. You Aren’t Having Sex

If you can’t remember the last time you had sex, or you only have “special occasion” sex, like on anniversaries…it’s not a good sign. And the more time that passes, the harder it will be to rekindle your sex life.

Also In Beenke:  Never In The Mood? What Might Be Causing Your Low Sex Drive

Biologically your body will stop producing the sex hormone that makes you aroused if you go for long periods without it. Which is one of the reasons why neglect so easily transitions to roommate syndrome.

 

3. You Don’t Initiate Sex

Maybe you are having sex on occasion, but are you ever the one that initiates it? Be honest.

If your spouse is always the initiator, and you begrudgingly oblige…then there is probably a relationship problem beneath the surface that may bubble up and cause issues if left unresolved.

 

4. You Lead Separate Lives

You may sleep in the same bed, but that’s where your connection ends.

If you spend your days in separate circles, and everything else takes priority (work, friends, kids, travel) then there won’t be any energy left for romance and intimacy.

 

5. One Of You Is Distracted By Someone

If your relationship is in trouble, you or your partner may find you develop feelings for someone else – such as a co-worker or friend you’re suddenly drawn to.

If another person holds your attention, it’s usually because something is missing in the marriage.

Even if you don’t act on the feelings, the mental energy involved in an emotional affair will take attention away from your partner and can reduce the intimacy between you.

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6. You’ve Lost “Erotic Presence”

Esther Perel, the psychotherapist of Ted Talk fame, talks about the importance of erotic presence in a relationship.

She says that sex is not the only ingredient for a healthy relationship. You can do the act quickly, without intention, and it has no real impact.

“If people had a less narrow definition of what sex is, there would be an ability to feel more sexually connect after having kids.” – Esther Perel

Perel says what’s important is the erotic presence, the feeling of pleasure, connection, aliveness, and vibrancy you can get from being with your partner. If that’s not there, then you’ve got an issue.

 

Get Back To Being Lovers

Are you in a roommate relationship and want to make a change? Here are 6 tips for reigniting romance and getting back to being lovers.

 

1. Make An Effort

Good relationships don’t just happen, they take work. Complacency can kill a relationship. Make a decision to prioritize your marriage and commit to setting aside some of your resources (time, energy, money) to do it.

See your partner with new eyes. In order to recapture romantic and loving feelings, you have to let go of old memories and resentments and try to look at each other fresh, in the present moment.

 

2. Plan Date Nights

Set aside some time on a regular basis where you can be alone together. With kids in the mix, this means you are going to have to do some serious planning.

Also In Beenke: 12 Hot Date Ideas Guaranteed To Sizzle

Hire a sitter, use a service like Nannies4hire, enlist the help of friends, whatever you need to do to spend one-on-one time.

It’s not just about putting it on the calendar, it’s about assigning value. You’re saying that your relationship is important!

 

3. Bring Back PDA

Start touching each other already! You can start small, a little hand-holding here, a little hugging there…but make an effort to connect physically throughout your day.

And please, bring back REAL KISSING. Don’t just do the absent-minded peck, get in there and be present for a passionate kiss. Try a little make-out session after the kids have gone to bed.

Kissing is such an intimate act, sometimes even more so than sex, we really recommend it as a way to reconnect.

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4. Pay Attention To Each Other

Partners in roommate relationships often feel judged and unappreciated. They think they are taken for granted, and their partner isn’t really listening or paying attention to what they do.

Start paying attention! Notice the little things your partner does for you. Listen intently when they’re talking and look them in the eyes. Try to understand what they are feeling.

Nothing rebuilds connection faster than affectionate attention.

 

5. Schedule Sex

If you’ve stopped having sex after kids all together, it’s time to get back on that horse (so to speak). Scheduling sex may not sound…well, sexy – but sometimes it’s necessary to get the ball rolling.

Oftentimes you’ll find that apathy and neglect leave you feeling “not in the mood”. But once you start with a little foreplay and kissing, you may find you’re suddenly in the mood after all.  

Plus sex is one of those things that tends to be self-sustaining. When you’re not having sex, you don’t think about it as much. But once you start, you tend to have it more.

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6. Manage Your Anger

Anger is just an emotion, there is nothing inherently good or bad about it. The trouble in a relationship happens when people don’t manage their anger in a healthy way.

If you’ve been lashing out at your partner and are saying things you’ve later regretted, or you’ve stifled your anger and tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist, there’s probably a lot of resentment that needs to be resolved.

Don’t ignore it! Talk it out with your partner in a non-blaming or attacking way. And if you can’t do that, then find a marriage counselor who can help you.

There is no shame in seeking help from a qualified counselor! They are trained to handle this kind of stuff, without judgment or shame. Helping couples have fulfilling sex after kids is right up their alley.

It may be just the thing you need to get you out of the roommate zone and back to being lovers.

 

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