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how to keep the flame alive after kids

Written exclusively for bümo by Jessi Malay, mompreneur, angel investor, and mom to Alessandra.

"Even the healthiest of relationships go through their rough patches."

My husband and I are together so much it would make most couples queasy. I’m Jessi Malay and my husband Gabriel and I choose to share a business, a marriage, a house, and a 2 year old, and still want to have sex with each other most nights. 

Gabriel and I met through work 7 years ago, he was head of a scrappy digital marketing division at a record label and I was an independent recording artist who had just started a little fashion and beauty blog as my side-hustle.

My indie label hired him to help with marketing my project and we’ve continued working together every single day since we met…

I was in love with G since the moment I saw him. I was truly never a hopeless romantic, weddings made me uncomfortable, and definitely did not believe in love at first sight, but something in his eyes and big warm smile just made me want to dive in! The early days of our relationship were a fantasy. Traveling across the country and abroad for my shows and digital campaigns. Trips to Paris and Rome. Not only was he helping with digital marketing but within a few months of us working together, he was also my photographer for the blog and would play piano for me when performing acoustic sets. A normal day for us would be a photoshoot on Matador Beach and watching the sunset from the sea caves. 

And the sex. The sex was everything I had fantasized sex could be, life-changing, I was seeing the world differently, everything was vibrant (and vibrated) lol! Needless to say, things moved quickly… from hot and heavy, to married and a baby within a couple of years. Also, needless to say, our relationship changed drastically, from first-class flights to Europe and the best sex of our lives in fancy hotel bathrooms to 5 days of childbirth, followed by delirium, sleepless nights, countless diapers, and a bout of postpartum depression.

Even the healthiest of relationships go through their rough patches. Whenever I feel G and I are approaching a dark period, I remind myself of a quote my dad said to us on our wedding day: a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person (Mignon McLaughlin). And if you accept that your marriage isn’t going to be all butterflies and sex on the beach, it helps you accept your lulls and search for the opportunities to fall in love again and again. Here are 5 ways G and I keep our marriage not only healthy, but SPICY, even after 2,555 work days and a spirited toddler! 

1.) Perspective

How do you digest your partner’s acts of love? Sometimes finding love in your relationship simply means adjusting your perspective. We find romance in very different things and a very different lifestyle than we used to. Our lives used to be fast and at 35,000ft in the sky, and are now much slower, and full of simple routines like bath time and potty training. Is it as glamorous? No, but it’s a matter of perspective and a practice in appreciating the little things. Now what turns me on is when he packs our daughters bag and lunch box for me so I can run out the door to take her to school. It’s changing her diaper when it’s not his turn. It’s dancing salsa in our stairwell instead of the club. And it’s his disposition. He goes into every morning with such a positive attitude and truly treats each day as an opportunity to thrive and conquer. 

2.) Be selfish:

 Are you each clear about what your individual needs are and do you communicate them openly? Through my postpartum depression, we both learned that prioritizing my self-care was not to be taken lightly. When I feel good about myself inside and out, I take better care of those around me and have a much greater capacity to love hard. This applies to both parties in a relationship. G needs his workouts and basketball time. He has a weekly guys’ night. I stick to a morning and night skincare routine. At LEAST once a week I’ll get outside to take a long walk in the fresh air. I do brunch with my girlfriends. I even started splurging and taking private dance classes because it’s a passion of mine that I wanted to have back in my life, to feel more like myself again after having a baby. When your partner understands your needs, that’s HOT.  

3.) Quality over quantity: 

Sex that is. G and I used to have sex at LEAST everyday… yea. After having Ále we started having sex less and less, not because we didn’t want to, but because we were physically and mentally completely depleted. When this first started happening I was almost ashamed to admit it. Then I realized that it wasn’t the quantity, it was the quality that counted. Some weeks we’d have sex 4 to 5 times in a row still. Sometimes we’d have sex once a month. But every time, we’d still give it everything we had in us to remind each other how much we still LOVED our sex, always leaving the other wanting more for the next time, even if that was another 2 weeks away. 

4.) FLIRT: 

Even if we’re not having wild sex everyday, we are sure to constantly show each other some type of physical affection. Whether it be long hugs, kissing, massages, little butt grazes throughout the day, you name it! I realize a lot of people aren’t comfortable with this kind of affection and it may even feel cheesy at first, but I promise when you get into the habit of it, it almost becomes like a game and really keeps the connection alive between sex. Also a little word of advice, if you are going to Netflix n Chill, the “chill” part needs to come first because once the Netflix goes on, you’ll be out cold like G and I after a long day of work and caring for a toddler!

5.) Dream, believe, achieve, TOGETHER:

G and I love our passion projects. Because we work together day in and day out, we’re aware that we need to keep things spicy in that department too. For us that’s music. Since we both originally came from the music world, we find ways to keep it alive for both of us whether that be recording acoustic songs on the piano (G plays, I sing) or shooting music videos to new music I’ve recorded that G’s produced. For you and your partner it may be starting a Pinterest board of what your dream home looks like, making a goal of saving a certain amount each month for your children’s college education, or taking tango lessons together! It really doesn’t matter what your common passion is, just as long as you establish one so you dream and grow in the same direction. If the passion project gets stale, pivot and find a new one, but do it together. 

Lastly, remember this: 

nothing comes before US. Stressed with work, missed a deadline, not reason enough to go cold on each other and not connect, have dinner as a family, and have at least 30 minutes to an hour of US time at night before going to bed. Communicate, hear each other, see each other, seek love. US against the world.

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