It can be hard to keep the spark and romance in your marriage alive when you are surrounded by children who need your constant care and attention. However, as a couple you must make a conscious choice to create moments for intimacy before the spark completely disappears.

As children grow up, they become so inquisitive of whatever goes on around the house. Sometimes they do not understand why mummy and daddy would want to lock themselves away. But does this mean throwing away your intimacy? Evelyn Kharono, a relationship psychologist, says intimacy should not be ignored because it is a crucial ingredient in a relationship and without it, the relationship will be affected.

Date nights
Martha and her husband have been together for 10 years but they have managed to keep their intimacy even with children in the picture. Martha says, “At the weekend, we sometimes send the children and the maid to our parents which allows us to have quality time together.” Although sending children away is not done regularly, the couple sometimes get intimate outside home. “We sometimes stop by a hotel on our way home and if that fails, we wait until all children have gone to bed,” she shares.

Kharono says couples can still be intimate but with caution to avoid affecting the children. “You can decide to have your own culture that is only understandable to both of you,” the experts says, adding, “You can also decide to use colours to signal the other or body language that only you as adults understand. In this way, the intimacy will not be lost even in the presence of the children.”

Communication is key
Victoria Mukasa, a mother, says one thing that needs to be stressed is the importance of working on your relationship. Physical intimacy is very important, but an emotional connection is just as important. “Before we had a baby, my husband and I could not keep our hands off each other. But after having our first child, months would go by and we would have no sex.

I started to feel unattractive, lonely, and unloved. I talked to him about it, and he admitted to not being in the mood because he was worrying about our finances. It was draining him physically and emotionally. We both decided to venture into farming and give each other at least 30 minutes of undivided attention every day.
Prioritising intimacy brings us closer, helps us face other challenges better, including securing the family finances,” she says.

Shower power
“Our favourite thing to do is shower together. It is something we have to do anyway, so we do it together. Once our children are down for the night, we both jump into the shower and talk about whatever is on our minds,” Christine Nsokwa, a mother of two says.

Kharono emphasises that it is not a must that you have lots of money to make time for each. There are many other alternatives at home that you can engage in.

Caution
However, Kkarono says if not done the right way, children might learn inappropriate manners at an early age which will not only be an embarrassment to the parents but also for the children.

Nalwada (not real names) says her family stays in a single room house with three children (12, 10 and three years). She adds that over time, the two elder children have been caught in compromising situations and she worries this predisposes her daughter to early pregnancy. When she tried talking to them, one of the children says they have on several occasions heard or seen their parents having sex and they are just trying to experiment what they see.

For such couples, Kharono advice is to plan ahead. “If a family has older children and stay in a one-room house, wait until the children are out of the house and if this is not possible, then plan ahead of time to have them stay at a relative’s house maybe once a week so that on that day you have all time to enjoy each other’s company,” she says.
Kharono cautions parents against being nude in front of children. In conclusion, she urges parents to devise their own means of intimacy that will keep children innocent and unaware of what is happening.

What is appropriate?
Samuel A. Bakutana, a relationship coach and the chief executive officer of Inspired Leaders International, says it is safe for couples to hug, touch each other lovingly or sit on your husband’s lap. These acts, he says, will just show the children the undying love that exists between mummy and daddy and act as a good example for them.
“However, couples should avoid unsuitable kissing, having sex, fondling each other’s intimate body parts such as a woman’s breasts and having sexual conversations in the presence of children,” he says.