In her new book Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband), relationship expert Andrea Syrtash devotes an entire chapter to couples with children. That’s because she knows that kids can be a total buzz-kill when it comes to your sex life. (What mom doesn’t remember spontaneous morning sex followed my coffee and newspaper in bed?) Syrtash suggests we “cheat” on our children every now and then to reignite the marital flame. We caught up with Syrtash to discuss prioritizing, sexting and why Costco’s not exactly a turn-on.

Scheduling a ‘date night’ can be a pain in the ass. It’s important, of course, but it requires so much energy. How can tired, overworked moms get motivated to make the effort?
It’s just like traveling. Sometimes it feels like such a pain to get everything together, to take time off work, pack your bags… But then you’re happy once you’re there. Same with date night. You’re not going to feel like it after a long day, but breaking out of your routine – introducing novelty and connection – actually relieves stress. Pleasure chemicals will be released in your brain. It might be as simple as going to a new neighborhood and stumbling upon a restaurant. That will trick your brain into thinking it’s all new – and it’ll temporarily bring you out of ‘mom mode.’

Studies show that married couples are more satisfied in their lives than singles – until children enter the picture, that is. This is depressing! How can women prevent this from happening?
A lot of mothers feel guilty when they prioritize their husbands – or date night – over their children, but it’s important to realize that kids would rather witness their parents getting along and having date night than seeing them fight or being disconnected. And kids pick up on these things! Couples need to make it a bit of a habit in order to see the benefits. Once women realize, Wow, it actually feels good to wear nice clothes out at night and connect with my husband and not talk about the kids and and bills and all the things that, let’s be honest, parents need to talk about, they start to see the benefits. It’s almost like working out. You never feel like going to the gym but once you’re in a routine, you actually miss it if it’s taken away.

You bring up another interesting stat in your book about couples in the UK spending an average of 15 minutes a day having real conversation (five minutes in the morning and then another 10 in bed). How can couples ensure that they’re communicating effectively, that they’re taking the time to connect?
We prioritize every other ‘to-do’ item on our list but we need to make connecting with our partner a priority, too. Let’s say you’ve just put the kids to bed. Before you flip on the TV or do laundry or mess around on your computer, take the time to connect with your spouse. One mom I interviewed literally schedules talk time. Even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes, make it the ground rule that you’re not going to talk about kids, bills, in-laws and other stresses that are seemingly urgent. It doesn’t always have to be a deep conversation – you won’t always feel like it – but think of it like spending time together when you were just dating, before you had kids. Chances are you simply hung out and checked in with each other, even if it was as simple as fun, light banter – something that’s not about the stress of our everyday world.

Scheduling talk time is one thing, but lots of mom I know say that scheduling sex is a total turn-off. What would you tell these women? Is that just the reality of being a mom?
They have to get over it. Scheduling sex is a reality that parents have to deal with – but it won’t be like this forever! And just because you plan something doesn’t mean it has to be structured. You can be as wild as you want in the act! If these women feel like they want to bring more mystery and excitement into the bedroom, there are ways to do that. For example, if you know that Tuesday night is sex night, during the day you can sext your partner or send a cute, thoughtful email saying that you’re excited. You can still build up the anticipation so that it feels fun, naughty and exciting.

One chapter in your book is called “Take A Time Out: Cheat On Your Kids.” That says it all! How important is it for parents to spend time together away from their children?
Parents feel guilty when they don’t involve the kids all the time, but they shouldn’t. It’s important to keep our identity outside of parenthood. My parents had date nights and I don’t feel scarred by that one bit. They were actually modeling healthy relationship behavior. What I want mothers to take away from my book is that taking time for yourself – or time alone with your husband – will not only make you happier but it’ll trickle down to your kids. Besides, kids are adaptable. For example, they can learn that they’re not allowed to come into your room if the door’s closed, or that Saturday night means ‘adult time’ for mommy and daddy – and they’re usually okay with that.

I love your Top 5 List of things that do not count as a date, including watching TV together or grocery shopping. So true! Is this just a result of women feeling pressure to multi-task?
I think so. Even sitting on your couch watching TV can be relaxing and nice – I’m not knocking it, especially for couples with newborns – but generally that shouldn’t be considered an actual date night. Don’t trick yourself into thinking the Costco run is a big, romantic night out! You’re still in mom mode, worker mode, to-do mode. It’s interesting… a lot of women I interviewed said they had no time for sex or dating but they admitted to being on Facebook for an hour each night before bed. Where are our priorities?

(Photo: amazon.ca)