30 articles Articles posted in Relationships

Keeping The Spark Alive

One of the things that often slides first in a relationship, once you’ve had kids, is “what goes on in the bedroom” which can cause a spiral of other issues in its wake. Lack of intimacy can put a real strain on a relationship and before you know it, you’re barely giving each other a peck on the cheek as you leave the house in the mornings. Like all things, relationships (and especially the physical side of things) takes effort on both sides and getting back to that special place where you give each other butterflies in your tummy can seem like climbing Everest when you’ve got baby sick in your hair and the dog is rubbing his arse on the carpet.

With that in mind, I’ve teamed up with Vagisil and their new ProHydrate range, which relieves intimate dryness so that you can feel comfortable, confident and enjoy intimacy when you want to.

Sexting

Okay, so this may sound like something that is reserved for young’uns, but sexting is an amazing way to open communication. Vagisil’s survey shows that 56% of women want to feel more connected to their partner and this is the perfect way to start. Typing things out gives you the opportunity to think about what you’re saying (and edit it before you send, if you want to!) and it allows you to say things to your partner that you might never have the guts to say out loud. Install a dedicated messaging app such as Signal or Telegram and ONLY add your partner as a contact. When you see the little message icon pop into your notifications bar, I guarantee you’ll get a little flutter of excitement!

Get Playful

Using toys together can be a really amazing way to enhance your sex life if you feel like things have gone a little bit stale. Either browse a site like LoveHoney together or order something as a surprise and set aside some time to play together.

Make an Effort

If you’re falling asleep on the sofa wearing a dirty hoody with unwashed hair, there’s a very good chance that you’re not giving off a very “ready for loving” vibe. It’s so important to have mind and body in the same place and while we aren’t suggesting that you go for a full-on makeover to give your partner THE SIGN, making a little effort to shower, wear something without holes in it and maybe a bit of mascara is far more likely to inspire lust. Obviously, that goes both ways and if your partner is still sitting in a sweaty haze after going to the gym when you want to get busy, tell him to get his arse into the shower too – maybe even together!

Time

I know SO many couples who claim lack of time as a reason for a dead bedroom, but I think we all need to be a little bit more creative about how we use our time. If you find that you’re exhausted by 9pm, why not have an early night but set your alarm a little early to surprise your other half with some morning fun? Or drop the kids off with a friend or relative for a couple of hours while you “go shopping” and head home for some uninterrupted intimacy.

Space

Just recently, I was reading a thread about co-sleeping and how it can put a real dampener on things. If retreating to a grown-ups only bedroom isn’t always an option, try to create a space somewhere else where you can steal some time together, such as a sofa bed in a home office space. Knowing you’ve got somewhere just for you can really take the angst out of everything.

Do you have any other tips that Mum’s the Word readers might benefit from? Leave me a comment below. The Vagisil ProHydrate range is available at Boots and Superdrug.

Almost a Third of my Life…

Today is a bit of a special day here in the MTW house – it marks the exact day TEN years ago that Husband and I became a couple. Ten years have passed, not without some major ups and downs, but quite honestly, I think Husband and I have basically beat the odds. No-one expected us to last as long as we did, especially when we announced our engagement just six weeks after meeting, but a decade later, almost a third of my life, one dog, two babies, eight house-moves, new careers and a whole load of life in between, here we are. As much as I’d like to remain dignified in my self-satisfaction, what I actually want to do is give a MASSIVE middle finger to all of our doubters.

via GIPHY

I think most people who’ve been with someone for a whole decade will agree that marriage takes work. Unless you’re one of those weird couples who never argue (and I’m not sure they truly even exist, if I’m being honest), there will always be friction. Sometimes that friction feels too much to bear and I’m terribly guilty of failing to communicate at times, but Husband and I both work to make sure our relationship stays strong.

What I will say, though, is that although we sometimes argue, although things aren’t 100% perfect all the time, I’m still convinced that I made the right choice. I still find Husband absolutely hilarious, I still love our shared interests and tastes in music and films, as well as our differences and the fact that we learn from one another all the time. And, obviously, I still fancy him rotten *blush*.

With all that in mind, in honour of a DECADE of not killing one another, I thought I’d write some new vows for the next ten years together, just because no relationship is completely unchanged after ten years and I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was 21.

I promise…

…to do my best not to turn into my mother.

…to try to keep my tendency to over-react and be passive aggressive to a minimum

…to avoid rolling my eyes when you tell me how much you hate washing up

…to try stay awake through at least ONE film per week

…to be considerate of the fact that you’re not a happy passenger in cars and not take it as criticism when you point things out when I drive

…to never use the kids as a weapon or use you as a method of discipline when you aren’t here

…to put up with your farts…as long as you put up with mine

…to serve you smaller portions of dinner because I KNOW you can’t not clear your plate

…to try to stay young at heart and enjoy each other as the years go by

Romantic, huh? Maybe not, but sometimes it’s the practical considerations that we make for one another that remind us how much we’re loved. The fact that Husband knows how I like my coffee, or when he hoovers the car out even though I’m the one who let it get disgusting, or when he listens to me talk endlessly about the dramas which have turned me upside down over the past couple of years, always remaining on my side. That’s love, that is.

So, here’s to another ten years with my best friend and the best Dad I could wish for, for Sausage and Burrito Baby. Now, if he’d just vow to put his clothes in the washing basket, life would be perfect…!

Maldives, August 2006Look how young we look! (Ignore the random Maldivian man in the background…!)

Valentine’s Gift Ideas

Lovehoney lickable candleOkay, so I realise I wrote a post last week talking about how most people simply wanted time with their partners for Valentine’s Day, but no-one specifically said that they DIDN’T want an actual gift! With that in mind, I thought I’d give you a few suggestions for the big day:

Something Naughty

We’re all grown-ups here, we can talk about sex toys without blushing, right? Right?! No? Okay, well that’s fine because Lovehoney is the perfect way to buy sex toys and other naughtiness with complete discretion. You can buy online in the privacy of your own home and the packaging is always a plain brown box, saving your blushes! Plus, there are some great
Lovehoney voucher codes around to help you get a bargain.

A Promise

Cinema vouchers, in my opinion, are a really nice Valentine’s gift as they’re basically the promise of future date nights. If you’re busy people or parents, getting yourself out of the house for some dedicated alone time might not always be a priority, but if you have some vouchers sitting around it might give you the impetus you need to do something together.

A Recipe

Cooking a meal for someone is really nice, but cooking together can actually be really fun and rewarding. When you write their Valentine’s card, print off either a menu for dinner or the recipes and slip them inside, then have all of the ingredients ready for an evening of culinary togetherness.

Something Personal

Now that Google is a thing, it’s really easy to find map co-ordinates. If you have a special place, for instance the place you met or the place that you got married, you could have the co-ordinates printed on a small canvas. It will look like a jumble of numbers to anyone else, but you and your loved one will know that it represents somewhere very special.

Consideration

Sometimes, it doesn’t take lavish gifts and spa days to make someone feel special, just a few hours of letting them get their own way! Declare your other half to be “King/Queen for a Day” (or President, if you’re a republican!) and allow them to make ALL of the decisions; they get to choose what’s for dinner, what TV you watch, whether they get to sit in their favourite armchair. Little considerations like this can make someone feel very special indeed and it costs basically nothing.

What are you hoping for, for Valentine’s Day?

What Women and Men REALLY Want for Valentine’s Day (and it’s probably not what you think!)

Valentine's DayEvery year, starting around Christmas time (I got my first one on Boxing Day!), I start getting a slew of emails from PR companies about the ‘perfect gift’ for him or her that their client has released for Valentine’s Day. They range in price and quality from tiny trinkets to clusters of diamonds and everything in between, many emblazoned with declarations of forever love. Every year, I wonder if this is really what people want for Valentine’s Day? For me, V-Day is a bit of a Hallmark Holiday (generated to sell cards and flowers without any real substance) and, maybe because I’m lucky enough to have a Husband who can be thoughtful all year round, I don’t put a lot of stock in the whole charade.

I thought I’d take to Facebook and ask others, both men AND women if they’re getting what they REALLY want for Valentine’s Day and the answer was genuinely a surprise. Here are some of the replies:

“All I want is a date night. I know I sound like a prick but quality alone time with my husband is my favourite thing!”

I just want someone to babysit so I can have some time with my husband, I don’t need a present or anything, just his time”

“Hubby and I have been together for 12 years and we have always said that we should show each other love everyday not just one day of the year.  We are fully aware that prices are bumped up for that day too. We used to get each other a card and re use them with a new written message each year until they were full. Now we have children we make cards to each other with their help. We are happy with a take away so no one has to wash up, a bottle of bubbly stuff and a movie. We make sure we are both free that evening to spend together. The kids and I usually make some valentines cakes or cookies or something. (I did get an eternity ring one year though!)”

“Don’t give two hoots about Valentine’s Day but wouldn’t mind a break on Mother’s Day!”

“I’d want a voucher for a day out such as a spa or concert or theatre or even cinema! Maybe some sort of activity like segway/quad bike (don’t mind, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie!) basically a day evening out just me and the hubby.”

I’m hoping for a trip to cinema with my other half to see Deadpool – so romantic!”

“I’m taking my hubby to see Rihanna for Valentines day; belated as she doesn’t tour till June!”

“I get flowers every year which I love and I cook dinner just for the two of us. We make a bit of an effort to get dressed up. Bottle of wine and then a film.”

“Date night.”

“Married 15 years and don’t really do anything, but if I had to choose I would love a cleaner for the day”

“An afternoon & evening together without the kids! As much as I love them dearly…”

“A day off. Just me and him, no kids or school runs or business to run, just pjs and TV. I might not even talk to him, but merely coexist with him in blissful work/business/child free serenity…A girl can dream…!”

I think the most remarkable thing about all of these comments is that not one person has mentioned flashy jewellery, perfume, flowers, any of the usual things. All they seem to want is time. As a parent, I know how it feels to be “time-poor”, and Husband and I often remark about how we feel like ships passing in the night sometimes, even though we both work from home and probably spend more time than your average couple in the same place. It’s about the QUALITY of time that you spend together, I think.

And as for the men? Well, one requested a night with Rihanna, one replied with an answer that I simply couldn’t publish on a family blog and my own Husband said “nothing really…no fuss”, so I think that adequately illustrates the mars/venus analogy!

What do YOU want for Valentine’s Day?

The Return of Maternity Matters

When I started blogging in the Autumn of 2010, a large part of my need to get my thoughts out of my head was because of the birth trauma I’d suffered whilst having Sausage in August 2008. Skip forward two years and I’d joined forces with Susanne from Ghostwriter Mummy, someone I’d only ever communicated with online, but who understood me better than some people I’d known my whole life because she’d been through a traumatic birth of her own.

You don’t want to believe that trauma, depression and PTSD will be something that defines you for the rest of your life but, in my experience, it’s something that does stay with you forever – you just learn how to carry it more comfortably, over time, like a heavy bag with a rubbish handle.  And it’s out of this shared experience that Susanne and I started Maternity Matters, a place for us and anyone else to tell their stories, find some support and to join together in improving knowledge and care for families who’ve suffered a trauma.

Over the past three years we’ve shared some incredible accounts of women of all ages and all walks of life, as well as collating news regarding maternity care in the UK, although life and babies (two more for Susanne and one more for me, bringing our collective total to six!) meant that the site has gone unloved for a while…until NOW! We’re hoping to bring Maternity Matters back to life and get it back on track. Susanne and I have a lot of new experiences to write about and we’re hoping that we’ll have lots of contributions from fellow bloggers and parents who want to share their stories.

In the meantime, Susanne and I will be launching the #MaternityMatters linky, starting tomorrow, for you to link up any article, blog post or story relating to:

fertility

conception

pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions/ complications

childbirth – of all kinds

breast/bottle feeding

postnatal experiences

parenting a baby

pregnancy/baby loss

The linky will go live every other Friday and we’d love to get as many of you as possible linking up with ANYTHING maternity-related. Also, if you’d like to contribute to Maternity Matters, please email jayne@maternitymatters.net with your ideas.

MaternityMatters

Remaking Memories

800px-Justice_in_concertWhen Husband and I met, I was 21 and he was 26, and it was fair to say we’d both done some living before we became a couple. He’d lived all over the place, both in the UK and abroad and we’d both had long term relationships with other people, both of which had ended pretty badly in their own ways. We were pragmatic enough to know that we’d seen things and been places without each other and we’ve shared memories freely without it causing issues between us.

The other day, we were in the car on the way home from the farmers market and a song came on Spotify from a band we both love, who I’d been to see with someone from my past and it got me thinking. I think back to that gig with fondness (for the band) and complete and utter CRINGE for who I saw them with. I wish I could replace the memory with something that meant something to me, other than regret. I want to be able to think about seeing them in concert without having a whole bunch of other nastiness surfacing at the same time, but that seems almost impossible.

As I mentioned, Husband lived abroad for a spell, in the Alsace region of France and talks often of his time there; the locals who were baffled by the crazy English boy going jogging in the snow, the laid-back lifestyle and wonderful sense of community whereby villagers would open up their houses and invite anyone in for coffee and cakes. It sounds amazing, yet in the past when Husband had talked about us visiting together, I’ve felt really weird, like I’d be smack bang in the middle of memories of his ex girlfriend. However, the band epiphany has made me realise that it’s not about what we did before we met, or who we did those things with, it’s about sharing experiences with each other and using past experiences to enhance our lives together.

Now, instead of thinking about his ex being with him in France, I think about how happy that place made him and how much it means to him, which makes me think I’d love to visit. Instead of feeling rueful about having seen a band I love with someone I have horrible memories of, I think about replacing those memories and how much fun Husband and I would have if we saw that band together. We’ve even talked about taking Sausage to see them too, which would repair my rubbish memories one hundred-fold.

I’m not talking about rehashing the entire 21 years before we met, that would be impossible, not to mention something I’d really NOT want to do, and I know re-doing things won’t actually erase old memories but it would mean that I could share experiences with people I love and effectively reclaim old events for myself. Does that make any sense at all?!

What do  you think? Do you avoid doing things or going places you’ve been with an ex or do you see it all as a wealth of experience to be shared with the one you love?

Let me know!

Romantic Rendezvous

The lovely people at My Single Friend have asked me to take part in their Romantic Rendezvous competition, where I tell you about my most romantic encounter to be in with a chance of winning an ASOS voucher, worth up to £150.

My Husband and I have a slightly different idea of romance to most – I’m not a huge fan of gushing love poems, serenades or anything which might set off my over-active cringe gland, however, I managed to marry a man who is extraordinarily good at understated displays of romance, so I’m a very lucky girl! I get random bunches of flowers, not just for birthdays or Valentines, but when Husband senses that I need a pick-me-up, or he’ll do ridiculously adorable things like playing through my Skyrim so that I have enough money to buy a house!

The most traditionally ‘romantic’ moment we’ve shared was probably our wedding, which wasn’t actually very traditional at all, although the romance started way before the day.

Husband proposed to me six weeks after we’d met. We were both fairly tipsy and in the middle of a nightclub, celebrating a friends’ birthday when he turned to me and asked me to be his wife. Now, this may not sound like a romantic setting, but when someone you’ve met only 6 weeks ago, someone who had been vehemently opposed to the idea of marriage, tells you he wants to spend the rest of his life with you, that’s pretty damn romantic. Of course, I felt the same and said yes without hesitation.

Skip forward to our wedding.

We’d been very kindly given a lump sum of money by my Dad and told to have whatever type of wedding we wanted and after being bullied and pressured by certain parts of my family to do things their way, (soon to be)Husband and I decided that the wedding should be about US, so 2 weeks later we were jetting off to a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean to have our wedding in seclusion. I’d bought a dress from a high street shop, Husband got married in shorts and neither of us wore shoes!

On the day of our wedding, we were told to be ready by 6pm…and that’s all we knew. Far brom being the average Bridezilla, I had literally no idea what my wedding would be like, but it didn’t matter. At 6pm, we heard a knock on the door and we opened it to see a Maldivian band in full traditional dress waiting with huge drums to escort us up the beach to where we’d be wed. An aisle had been made from palm leaves and a shelter had also been constructed from leaves and flowers, under which we said our vows.

Standing there, with my Husband, with a wreath of tropical flowers lashed around both of our shoulders, we pledged our lives to each other. The azure Indian Ocean lapped at the shore as our toes sieved through the pure white sand – it could not have been more perfect. We were by ourselves but we only needed each other.

Maldives wedding

That evening, once we’d freshened up, we were led back to the aisle which was now dotted with gently flickering candles, and ate a meal of freshly caught lobsters and seafood, whilst drinking champagne and listening to the ocean just feet away. We didn’t need white dresses, DJs, embarrassing uncles doing the Macarena and the obligatory plastered on smiles for a billion overly-posed pictures.

It might not be everyone’s idea of romance, but it was definitely mine and knowing that we started our married lives in such an amazing way just made the whole experience something that we’ll never, ever forget.

What was YOUR most romantic experience?

Durex Real Feel Review

32680_DUREX_real_feel_pack_home_landingOkay, so my blog usually focuses on family life, so a review of condoms is a bit of a far cry from my usual content, but since BB was born I’ve not had a chance to arrange a more permanent form of contraception, so the opportunity came along at just the right time. Durex Real Feel condoms are made from a special new material which feels as close to the real thing as you’re going to get whilst being protected and the best part is, they’re latex free. Here’s me, talking about them a little bit more:

 

 

Durex has a dedicated site for their Real Feel condoms, and there’s a whole bunch of other bloggers over their talking about their experiences with the product, so do head over there to get the lowdown on what everyone else thought of them, as well as all of the ‘technical specifications’!

Dating in 2014

love-online-datingOkay, so I’m probably not the best person to comment on the dating scene in 2014 – I was lucky enough to meet Husband when I was 21, get married at 22 and have been happily with him ever since (8 years last Saturday, in case you’re interested!). However, Husband and I have had the “what-if” conversation plenty of times, and the thought of getting back onto the dating scene as it was when I was in my early 20’s fills me with dread.

When I met Husband, I may have been a bit of a social butterfly, but these days, bars and clubs are SO not my scene, not to mention the fact that I’m probably 10 years too old to be going to the places I used to frequent. The thought of doing the “eye contact over the bar, is he looking at me, is he smiling or does he have wind?” thing all over again is not appealing in the slightest, so I totally understand why internet dating has become so popular.

There are some great sites around, such as iwantu.com which allow you to meet people, engage in free adult chat, and make a connection without having to drag yourself to places in which you don’t feel comfortable. The other good thing about free adult sites is that everyone knows why everyone else is there. You won’t approach someone in a bar, only to find they’re married or taken, and feel completely embarrassed – if someone is on one of these sites, like upforit.com, they’re there because they’re available and looking for love, which will remove the potential for awkwardness.

Of course, because we’re all grown ups here, you might be looking for something a little less commitment heavy and a little more fleeting, so a site like shagaholic.com might be more appropriate for you. Everyone needs a little…companionship…from time to time and seeking out other people with the same intentions can be really fun and empowering, if done safely.

Several of my single friends have tried internet dating, some with more success than others, but I think it all very much depends on your expectations. If you keep things light and fun, there’s a lot of potential for a good time to be had by all and it can mean that you can engage with people without having to even leave your living room – what’s not to love about that?!

Have you had any dating successes by using an online site? I’d love to hear from you.

Why I Don’t Care if Ellen Page is Gay

image

I became aware of Ellen Page back in about 2006, when Husband told me about this film he’d watched where a young woman entrapped and brutalised a paedophile, mostly for shits and giggles, which had an awesome actress playing the lead role. If you’re aware of Hard Candy, you’ll know that a young Ellen Page gave a performance which was as convincing as it was memorable and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Skip forward a couple of years; Husband and a very pregnant me sat and watched Juno, a film which handled the issue of teen pregnancy with a grace that had never been seen before. Here, we were faced with a young woman who, while on the surface may have been a bit off-beat, was conscious and uncompromising in her decision about what to do with the life of the child that she knew, ultimately, she wasn’t ready for. Juno was a kid who fucked up, had an accident, did what so many others do, but the way she dealt with it (and the space and respect that her parents showed her in dealing with it) reflected what a kid can really do, under such enormous pressure. I cannot imagine anyone else playing that role.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Ellen in various films, such as Inception, X-Men, The East and Whip It (a particular favourite which has made me desperately want to learn to skate so I can try roller derby!) and I can honestly say I don’t think she’s made a bad choice or put in a bad performance.

Aside from her impressive career, she seems to be a pretty impressive person, too. Away from the spotlight, the (self-confessed) “tiny Canadian” has involved herself with various humanitarian issues, such as campaigning to end the military dictatorship in Myanmar, Burma and also appealing for The New York City Food Bank.

Of course, there’s long been speculation as to her sexuality. Her ‘conspicuous’ lack of male escort at various award ceremonies never fails to set tongues wagging and her graceful but slightly awkward avoidance about whether she ever had a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio in various press junkets leading up to the release of Inception caused even more hyperbole (although, quite why anyone thinks that’s an appropriate question of a professional actor, I don’t know. Would it ever have been asked of a man?!).

Ellen’s self-outing was delivered at the Human Rights Campaigns Time to THRIVE conference, where she decided to use her personal life, and effectively sacrifice her well-protected privacy, to campaign for the safety and well-being of other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people across the globe. She’s unleashed her truth in the most conscientious way possible, in a way that doesn’t benefit her, but will hopefully help millions of other people across the globe. She says she’s “tired of lying by omission” and hopes that her coming out will help others to have the strength to be open about their sexuality, too.

So, while the title of this post may come across as slightly glib, I really do mean it. I adore this young woman and everything she stands for. As a mother to (almost) two girls, I feel that I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that there are women like her out there, setting an example of strength and selflessness and showing that above all else, being yourself is the best thing you can possibly be.

Who Ellen Page chooses to fall in love with is of absolutely ZERO consequence to anyone but herself and her chosen partner and what I hope is that we can start to end the process of defining people by their sexuality. It simply does not matter whether a person is gay or straight or any of the other shades of the Rainbow. What matters is how they choose to live their life and the way they treat others around them. Of course, I believe people should be proud of who they are, and their sexuality, to an extent, factors into the person as a whole, but there’s so much more to everyone than that one small factor.

Anyway, its 4.16am, I’m sitting in a darkened maternity ward and probably rambling somewhat now, but I wanted to get my thoughts on the page and say that I wish Ellen a lifetime of happiness and love.

That’s all.