Keeping love alive this Valentine's Day, for couples with kids

SEATTLE -- Valentine’s Day can be one of the most romantic weekends of the year, but for some couples with kids, finding time to dedicate to your partner is near impossible.

According to the Gottman Institute, people will say having babies is one of the best experiences in life, yet 69% of couples have an increase in conflict and divorce in the first 5 years of having a child.

Heather Sund, couples therapist and “Hold Me Tight” coach, says that all makes sense; couples have less time to sleep, talk, dream and date, so that is where the work starts.

She has 5 tips for parents who want to work to keep love alive.

Be Vulnerable

Sund says you should tell each other what you really need.

“Cultivating ‘functional dependency’ is the greatest gift we can give our marriages. Express fears, imperfections, ask for help or forgiveness, respond to each other’s needs and care for one another.”

Look Beneath the Surface

When couples begin to feel like they are “off track”, Sund recommends digging deep and trying to understand what your partner is really saying, what is going on below the surface.

“When we don’t feel close, we express ‘safe’ emotions that protect us,” she said. “Such as blame, hurt, rejection, defensiveness. These are fueled by more tender emotions such as fear, loneliness, sadness or hurt.”

Know and Be Known

Babies and kids don’t need to hide your identity. Sund says it is important to still share and discuss everything with your partner, from the everyday details to the big dreams and goals.

Create Rituals of Connection

“Find a way to love your partner regularly,” Sund said.

She suggests anything from making coffee together in the morning or a hug and kiss before saying goodbye, to planning a special date night or movie night in each week.

Dream Together

“Couples who feel connected dream and plan for the future.”

Sund says this deep way to stay connected can be as simple as taking a cooking class together or planting a garden. Other couples may find satisfaction in saving for a special vacation, starting a business or writing a book.

To learn more from Heather Sund, check out her website or the Hold Me Tight Northwest site.

To find more tips and ideas to keep love alive this Valentine’s Day, check out the Q13 Fox News Pinterest page.