My Account

Dating Your Wife with Kids Under Five

Dating will not just keep you both close to each other, but its positive effects will model a strong and healthy relationship for your children, thus creating a happy home.

Share this post:

Dating your wife

When you first met the woman who is now your wife, you were awed by her intellect, beauty and sophistication. You treated her like she was royalty: picking her up for dates, holding doors open, bringing flowers, cooking dinners, the ring, the beautiful wedding.

Fast forward to today. She is still the love of your life, but dating her is like running through an obstacle course, and the babies you had together are both delightful and a terror.

You lean in for a kiss, but you get pushed away by the envious one year old in your wife’s arm. You hug her and the toddler clings to your leg because they also want a hug. You try to have a conversation and every thirty seconds you get interrupted with someone wanting milk, apple juice, crackers, cheerios, and of course the inevitable diaper change. You make plans to go out for dinner and one of the kids gets sick. Perhaps, at last, you decide on an at-home date and she falls asleep during the first thirty minutes of the movie.

But despite this, you, the husband, are her rock star and best friend. Your affirmation and support means the world to her, now more than ever as you raise your children together. In their book And Baby Makes Three, Drs. John and Julie Gottman write that “the greatest gift you can give your baby is a happy and strong relationship between the two of you.”

However, with kids around, maintaining that happy and strong relationship isn’t that easy with all the new changes in your lives.

Research shows that your wife’s brain is changing in pregnancy and motherhood. A study published by Dr. Pilyoung Kim in 2010 shows that her brain is actually growing! Specifically, the gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, parietal lobes, and midbrain areas increases, which is associated with a mother’s positive perception of her baby.

A more recent study completed by Dr. Elseline Hoekzema, published in 2016, indicates that the gray matter in areas associated with social cognition (where we store, process, and use information about other people) decreases, creating a “pruning” effect that results in a mother’s focused attunement to her baby.

Furthermore, hormones released when a mother is with her baby, such as dopamine and oxytocin, create an “in love” feeling that keeps her motivated to return and take care of the tiny human who keeps stealing her sleep. While one study suggests that there is diminishing ability in memorizing words (not recognition or working memory), the majority of difficulty concentrating may be attributed to her lack of sleep and increase in responsibilities.

That being said, she may be more forgetful and absent-minded with certain aspects of life, but she is also a mental genius when it comes to your children’s needs, schedules, and even keeping up with the dirty diapers.

But it is up to both of you to continue to devote time to each other and maintain your relationship. Dating is a great way to keep the love alive, and it is essentially spending quality time together, doing something you both enjoy while simply catching up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. Dating will not just keep you both close to each other, but its positive effects will model a strong and healthy relationship for your children, thus creating a happy home.

The amazing thing about parenting is that you are both doing it together. So, naturally, the first ideas for plans are things you can do with your kids. You can go to a petting zoo, have a backyard campout, or build Lego castles together.

However, spending time together, just the two of you, is just as important as playing with the kids, and going on an actual date together (or having an at-home date) is a great way to maintain the fun and closeness of your relationship. Once the kids are in bed:

  • Hire a sitter and go out for a dinner date. Over dinner, you could talk about your love maps and explore each other’s worlds, or ask each other about highs and lows of parenting, marriage, and how you can support each other.
  • Make a pizza together and watch your favorite show on Netflix.
  • Write each other a poem. (No ideas? Try this.)
  • Create a bucket list.
  • Give each other a massage.
  • Watch a TED talk, then discuss it.
  • Get a deck of Salsa Cards and talk about how you can spice up your sex life. Then try it.
  • Make a time capsule that reflects the current moment in your family.
  • Cook a recipe you’ve never made before.

It can be difficult to make time for yourself and for each other when you have children, but it’s also a great time to grow together in a new way. Make sure to continue building your friendship and keep going on dates, which can be fun, romantic, and will keep your relationship strong. It is, after all, the best gift you can give your children, and also each other.

If want to build a deeply meaningful relationship full of trust and intimacy, then subscribe below to receive our blog posts directly to your inbox:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share this post:

Tamara Patterson, LCPC, NCC is a counselor in private practice, college professor and writer. She is passionate about helping others be well, so they can love the ones they care about well. Tamara created her own online courses to increase coping skills and emotional intelligence which can be found on her website

Recommended products


The 6-step plan for preserving intimacy and rekindling romance after baby arrives.


Learn how a couple can protect or recover its greatest gift — their love for one another.

Due to popular demand, this product is currently out of stock.

Related posts

helicopter parent with child

Helicopter Parenting: From Good Intentions to Poor Outcomes

The Gottman Institute

We live in a competitive world and want to give our kids every advantage. But with helicopter parenting, it can backfire ...

Read More

Distressed woman experiencing emotional conflict as her husband yells, highlighting relationship tension and communication issues.

Why Is My Husband Yelling at Me?

The Gottman Institute

Read More

How to Be Kind When You’re Upset With Your Partner

Sanaa Hyder

Kindness is not just important in the heat of an argument. ...

Read More

Inside Out 2 and Emotion Coaching

Amy McMahan

Gottman's emotion coaching is brought to life in the movie Inside Out 2. ...

Read More

Getting Parents on the Same Page

Rebecca Eanes

Dr. Gottman’s research has shown us that there are three steps to reaching a compromise. ...

Read More

What to Do During a Rough Patch

Are Rough Patches in Relationships Normal?

Dana McNeil

What you can do when your relationship is on the rocks ...

Read More

Subscribe to Gottman Love Notes

Sign up and start your relationship transformation. Subscribe and get the latest on relationships, therapy, and much more from the experts. Includes a free download and access to special pricing on Gottman products every month