Everyone knows that having children AND a relationship is tricky. But they're not mutually exclusive. Here's how to stay together and keep that eternal flame from being stubbed out in the ashtray of life…
1. Something's changed, (but hang on in there)
When you have a kid, things change. Compared to your perfect, clear-eyed, peachy skinned baby, your partner starts to resemble a badly shaved ape. Instead of toast and milk and that warm, dewy baby smell, he reeks like an old sleeping bag doused in Lynx. And he's always wanting to TOUCH you. EWWWWWW! This period is a tricky transition for all mothers. Your boobs have become massive engorged milky honkers that are about as sexy as Ann Widdecombe's jowls. Your crotch may as well have cobwebs and a 'condemned' sign on it. But still, ape man is always getting in your way, feeling you up and trying to talk to you and stuff. Sigh. But keep at it and try to be nice to him.
One day, out of the blue, you will remember you're a person who needs sex, attention and conversation, rather than just a ravaged reproductive vessel with a pelvic floor like a haunted trap door. And on that day, you'll be glad you didn't chuck him out with the used nappy sacks.
2. Talk crap and have fun
Personally, before I had a child, all me and my husbands' texts and emails were full of affection and regard for each other's wellbeing. Now they just say 'get milk and bread.' Thrilling conversations are often replaced with tedious logistics and before you know it the only thing you've said to your other half all day is 'can you empty the bin, the car seat's broken, have you put that money in, I think we've run out of Sudocrem, where's the remote, Goodnight'.
But one thing that keeps a relationship going is the ability to talk absolute drivel about stupid stuff. Like a 30 minute argument about whether Katie Hopkins is a real woman or a fibreglass robot. Or bitching about people's eyebrows on TOWIE. Or quoting Zoolander. Or straddling the sofa and re-enacting the Bound 2 video, pretending to be Kim and Kanye naked on a motorbike. (Nope? Is that just me? Okaaaay.)
3. Do sex
When you have kids, sex is trickier to pull off than walking across those big ball things on Total Wipeout. In fact, sometimes you'd rather get punched in the vag by a row of boxing gloves under the blistering Argentinian sun while Richard Hammond makes 'amusing' comments. It's nothing personal. It's just that it's a total faff and Masterchef is on and it's Wednesday. (Only perverts have sex on a Wednesday, surely.) And you're so tired. Dog tired. Tired to the bone. You've done all the housework and looked after the kids and worked a 12 hour shift and none of these things make you want to do it.
The bottom line is, you don't want to satisfy any more needs – not even your own. All you want to do to is float on a cloud of nothingness, maybe with some crisps and an iPad. But try to do it when you can. It's good for you. And when you do, you remember that it's great and not at all like doing the dishes or being a contestant on Total Wipeout. (Just don't ruin it by imagining that Richard Hammond is watching you. Buzz kill.)
4. Go out, for God's sake
Remember 'out'? That part of the world that isn't the kitchen, or the sofa, or your child's room? Out is exciting and fun, and contains a myriad of things, like films, gigs, plays, restaurants and bars selling crazy drinks with umbrellas in them. Sometimes it's better than the telly. So go out with your mate and look them in the eyeballs and talk. You might be surprised.
However, if it turns out that - post kids - you're one of those couples who sit and stare at their phones all night, don't be dismayed. You're either a) doomed or b) just a bit rusty. In either case you should just stay out longer and drink loads. When you regain consciousness and realise you got off with someone else and spent a month's wages in the casino, you'll both definitely have something to talk about the morning after.
5. It's OK to hate each other sometimes
Kids open the door to a whole host of seething, boiling resentments, because NOTHING IS EVER FAIR. From the moment a baby starts to grow in its mother's womb, the woman is signed up to a life of biological and societal servitude. Children demand the moon on a stick from their mums and treat them like serfs.
After having children, women are often shunted into part time work – whether by choice or by necessity – so they end up having to run the home and do all the boring, grinding tedious chores, even if they had no plans to be housewives. (This is also true if you work full time). Men, however, seem to get through all of this unscathed, then crack open a beer and wonder why you're so stressed. They don't even have periods. So it's OK to want to kill them with a potato masher.
As long as you remember to like them sometimes, too. Awwww.
Isn't it romantic?