Does Parenthood Mean You're Grounded?

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couple at dinner sipping wine
Dating does more for a marital relationship--and the kids--than you can imagine.

My niece and her husband just had their first baby, so I sent them a restaurant gift card, with a note: "Use this. Soon. Just you two."

I know what I'm talking about.

After our first child was born, 16 years ago, Frank and I didn't head out alone for six months. The first time we did, we were called home by the babysitter six minutes into a movie. In the six years following, we didn't fare much better.

There were reasons, of course—a miscarriage, finances and, finally, a second child. But by then, we'd become so accustomed to never going anywhere alone together, it hardly seemed to matter.

But it did.

Family togetherness is terrific, and taking kids along on every outing helps develop their social skills and manners. But spending so little time alone with one's partner leaves a married couple adrift. My husband and I drifted, not exactly apart, but a middling distance from the strong pull of that center core that holds a couple together, a center that once held us tightly, in lust, in love, in proximity to one another's minds and spirits. 3 Zen Ways To Keep Connected After Having Kids

But it seemed logical to not go out as much. Our earnings had declined as I stepped down from full-time business owner to part-time consultant to occasional freelancer. Free child care was scarce—his parents urged us to save by staying in, mine lived across the country, and I generally refused to consider any teenaged or non-relative sitter. Then there was the attachment issue I had helped created. Our first son practically considered me his conjoined twin.

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