Easy tricks to turn up the heat in your relationship

Dine together After a crazy day of running around, when you finally crash at home, you realize you’ve barely said two words to your spouse. Steal some alone time by pushing your bedtime back (not the kids’ bedtime!) and nestle in on the couch for a late-night meal. Friday nights and weekends are the perfect time to order in and open a bottle of bubbly to make it a bit more romantic.

Lather up These days, we’re all looking for ways to lighten our carbon footprint, so why not conserve a few dozen litres of water and get frisky in the shower? Tuck the kids in for the night, grab the body wash and do the environment (and your libido) a favour.

Get physical Remember when just a simple touch would send your pulse racing? “Once kids enter the equation, parents become very child-centred,” says Orangeville, Ont.-based marriage and couple therapist David Rubinstein, who adds that it’s important to remember that “mom” and “dad” are also men and women who want to be touched, listened to and loved. The bottom line: Don’t underestimate the power physical contact – a hug, kiss, back rub, etc. – can have on a relationship.

Dirty dancing Depending on your skills (or lack thereof), dancing together can be a great way to get physically close and start a little hanky-panky. So turn on your favourite tunes – whether loud and fast or slow and romantic – and shake your booty!

Take a long hike Or a bike ride. Or a walk. “It’s important that couples spend time together without their kids because it helps them reestablish their connection,” says Rubinstein’s co-therapist Louise Dorfman. Make the most of time together by enlisting the services of a babysitter for a few hours and go for a walk, see a good movie or share a treat at a dessert shop. “Do whatever is most fitting for your relationship and make time together a priority,” says Rubinstein.

Watch a steamy movie The Notebook, anyone? How about a late-night viewing of Unfaithful? Whatever steamy movie gets your popcorn popping, make it a screening for two. A recent study found exposure to nonviolent erotica caused short-term increases in the desire for already-present sexual tendencies in both men and women, making movie sessions an ideal way to set the mood.

Go old school Hold hands. Kiss longer. Make out on the couch like carefree teens who don’t have to worry about kids, mortgages, clients, problems at work, etc. Remember the kisses and touches that made you fall in love way back when and make these long-forgotten displays of affection a regular event.

Do what you gotta do With time comes life experience, knowledge and – sadly – flabbier physiques. But rather than dwell on your not-so-tight-bottom, try to boost your self-image, says Rubenstein. “Some women find getting their nails done helps, while for some it may be taking a warm bath or even going to the gym. The goal is to do whatever’s necessary to create positive feelings and not let negative opinions get in the way of your sexual relationship with your partner.”

They say the darndest things “Having children is a joyful event and, as they grow, talking about and bonding over the funny things kids say or do can have a huge positive impact on parents’ relationship,” says Dorfman. Once a week, set aside a few minutes after the little hams have turned in, cozy up with your partner and – free of interruptions from TV, computers or cell phones – giggle about the funny things your kids says.

Just do it Even if you’re insanely attracted to your mate, sometimes it’s hard to muster up the energy for sex. Sure, you’ve had a long day at work or you’re tired and icky from schlepping the kids around, but Dorfman and Rubinstein say you should get busy anyway. “The goal is not to do what’s comfortable. Sometimes it’s easier not to have sex, but commit to doing it when you don’t want to and you may find you enjoy it more than you’d initially thought,” says Dorfman.

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