It’s Valentine’s Day, a celebration of romantic love that we mark with flowers, chocolate, and even some stuff that you can’t get at the drugstore on your way home from work. But according to a Today Show survey, what parents want more than all that stuff, even more than celebratory sex, is rest.
Sixty-five percent of survey respondents said that they’d rather have a night of uninterrupted sleep than a night of amazing sex for Valentine’s Day. This despite the fact that 61 percent of parents said that their sex life has gotten worse since having kids.
The rest of the survey shows that parents are less interested in materials gifts than thoughtful gestures. Having their significant other watch the kids so they can nap was favored by a clear plurality of respondents, easily beating out flowers, candy, jewelry, and practical gifts.
Only 19 percent of respondents would prefer a gorgeous, expensive piece of jewelry over a totally clean home. The same percentage said that a partner who does romantic gestures — flowers, candles, love notes — is more desirable than one who does household chores.
The survey had mixed things to say about how having kids affects relationships. Nearly half of respondents said that, after having kids, the emotional health of their romantic relationships got worse. On the other hand, 68 percent said that having children made them feel even more in love with their partner.
How can both be true? Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist told Today that raising kids is definitely stressful and tiring in the short term, but it’s also an emotionally powerful shared experience that transforms relationships.
Another therapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin, had some encouraging news for couples who’ve lost the spark after having kids: it doesn’t have to stay that way. “It’s not uncommon for couples to rediscover their sexual relationship once their kids get older.”
The lesson for parents: tokens of affection on Valentine’s Day are nice, a better gift is being proactive about taking care of the kids and the house takes the burden off of your partner. We’re betting that’s true the other 364 days of the year too.