Welcome to ‘Sex After Kids,’ a column where parents frankly talk about how their sex lives shifted after they had children and what steps they took to recalibrate their relationship. A baby raises the stakes. Couples have less time to devote to one another, emotional intimacy can dwindle, date nights — at least for the first months — are nearly non-existent, and sex is often a non-starter. Couples must adapt. Here’s how they do it.
When Juan and Caitlyn Hatt met, they already had two kids from previous marriages. But two years into dating, Caitlyn became pregnant and then, 14 months later, gave birth to another baby. Now, with a very full household and schedule, Juan and Caitlyn have to work overtime to make time for one another. Their goal? To prolong the honeymoon phase for as long as possible. Here’s how they’re making it work.
Juan: When we first got together, we already had two kids from previous marriages. My child and her child actually went with our exes. So we spent our first few years with just the two of us while we were going through custody agreements and getting all of that straightened out. So, there was a lot of freedom. We didn’t have to do anything, parenting-wise, other than every other weekend until we got things situated. So, it started off that way, and then we started getting more visitation regularly. It wasn’t until about two years ago that we got her daughter with us full time. So we did have a lot of free time to be together.
Caitlin: But also, something that I felt stressed about was that, while my daughter had all of her stuff and a safe place to stay, I didn’t get to wake up and see her every morning. And if my ex would change the weekend I was supposed to see her… That was a stressful part that I believe, motivated me to work even harder in order to give a better life to our children.
J: And then we had our first kid together. From that point, Caitlyn had to quit working to stay at home with him. That was a little bit of a change. Before that point, we had been able to, do whatever we wanted every other weekend and most weekdays. And then all of the sudden, we have a newborn. And then our second daughter popped out fourteen months later. So that was just back to back. We spent the first two years of our relationship pregnant.
J: Our first baby was definitely a surprise.
C: Let me put it this way: I said, “If there’s an x, that means I’m not pregnant, right?” He goes: “That’s not how it works, Caitlyn.” So it was definitely a surprise, but a very, very happy one.
J: Our second child together — we were pretty much planning on that. So, after the fourth child between the two of us, we both got fixed. We love our kids, but that was enough.
C: Economically, that’s enough.
C: Honestly, Juan is the love of my life, so that made things easier. I felt as if I was truly living for the first time when I got with him and met him. Every journey, every step, every pregnancy and change that I went through, I was reassured because I knew he was right by my side. I knew this was what I wanted my life to look like.
J: There were some stresses, obviously. Having two children, especially with that second newborn, that was a little bit stressful for Caitlyn. It took her a little bit of time to adjust to it.
C: It was also a little stressful because I was at home. Our third child, who is five today, is a monster. He’s huge. So, by the time that I was going ahead and getting formula and stuff like that, he was going through a can of formula in a day and a half. I was like, oh wait, but I should be working, because I could provide more, but I need to be at home with him.
C: Childbirth was pretty fine for me. I would say with the third child, our first together, that lasted about an hour and a half. With our final child, 15 minutes. I told the nurses: “If you don’t get the doctor now, one of you better be ready to catch.
J: They were both pretty quick.
C: I think part of what made post-birth recovery so smooth was the lifestyle that Juan and I have. We are into fitness and healthy eating and things like that. But also, we have always, together, technically had two children from our previous marriages. So it was never like I could just sit back and recover. It was more like, “Okay, let’s get going.” We had to immediately start learning how to handle one more kid in the equation.
J: It’s hard making time for one another. But we have an open conversation about it. I work a lot and Caitlyn works a lot here at home. We go to the gym a lot and we have the business, so we have to really make the time [outside of that.] We found, over time, that once the kids go to bed or that they’re taking a nap, or in the morning — we’re usually up earlier than the kids — we can have a little bit of ‘us’ time. So we spend time together then, talking. We make time for date nights. We have a set dinner every other week and we go out and throw darts and just have some time to ourselves. We purposely make sure we have time for that.
J: We’ve always been very intimate — the emotional intimacy part has always been an ongoing conversation. Going out on dates did come later, as the kids got older and we got a little more comfortable leaving them with the baby sitter. But we’re very close. We do everything together. We work together. We sleep together, train together. We’ve spent a lot more time than the average couple together, I think. We don’t have hobbies apart, and we don’t have a girl’s night or a boy’s night out. We do things with other couples and our family.
C: We’re always together. We don’t want to be apart. Even in a simple gesture of, “Hey, I’m going to go wash dishes,” he’ll say, “You know what honey, I’ll go ahead and dry them for you.” That creates an intimacy right there for us. We talk about the business, and about what’s up next at the gym, like if it’s arm day, and we talk about the kids. That really brings a lot to the relationship for us, as well.
J: Exercising together is big for us. In the beginning, we had to go separately, until the babies met the age requirement for the kid’s club. But as soon as we were able to get them into the kid’s club, that became another intimate time for us. That’s two hours that we get to spend talking and training and having us time. The kids are all looked after. So we work out, sit in the hot tub and sauna, and have deep conversations. That’s really another bonus: that time is our time, the kids are looked after, and we can have whatever conversations we want. Although, the kids would like to work out with us.
C: They do. The 5-year-old is already like, “Hey mama, I want to do your resistance bands.”
J: We discuss intimacy often. We’ve been together for six-and-a-half years and we’re still in the honeymoon phase. So we do talk about it a lot and we talk about it in terms of: What can we schedule? What can we do? Can we make sure the kids are taken care of so we can have that time? But the most simple thing we do sometimes is, when the kids are taking a nap, we’ll go out in the backyard naked and lay out and tan together and just talk. We just have a quiet moment together. So we do lots of quirky things like that. It’s definitely a priority for us to stay intimate and love.
C: Being able to go to the gym and just say “Wow, I can really see your triceps are toning up.” Simple statements like that, for us, add to the ‘Wow, she’s telling me that I’m looking attractive’ and ‘he’s telling me that I’m looking attractive.’ For us, that keeps the honeymoon phase there.
J: We definitely share too much with each other.
C: We do share too much!
J: We don’t keep anything from each other. A lot of people don’t do that, but we’ve found that if we can just be ourselves, and be able to talk openly, then we really can improve our relationship.
C: I don’t see us as having our separate lives. Like “Caitlyn does this on her own.” Our life is together. We’re one. That’s just how it is.
J: One of the big things we realized was that we had very different childhoods. I didn’t expect that we had to figure out how we were going to parent our newborns. We didn’t have the exes involved: this was our child to raise together. That was something we definitely had to learn.
C: I was raised, my mom was like a nun. She put me on track and to the point, and never let me put my arms on the table. I had to learn, instead of getting irritated with my husband when parenting issues would arise and he would say “Settle down, settle down,” I had to say: “Okay. So let’s talk about, in this situation, how would you have handled it?” And I had to see his point and compromise. So instead of freaking out on each other, we try to be open and honest and learn how to parent together —
J: The best we can.
C: The best we can, yeah.