San Francisco Chronicle – Media/Client Coverage

Very sexy article about the Make Love & Intimacy Boot Camp movement we support…

Intimacy Boot Camp helps parents reinvigorate ties

By Ryan Lattanzio-  Published 4:00 a.m., Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Purdie family. Photo: Ryan Lewis / SF

The Purdie family. Photo: Ryan Lewis /SF

When Michele and David of San Francisco started a family three years ago, their conversations turned from dates and dinner plans to diapers and day care.”When  you’ve got two small kids and you’re trying to look after the house and  working and paying the mortgage, pretty much the thing that always gets  de-prioritized is your relationship with your partner,” said Forte, a full-time mom.Then, at a mother’s group meeting, Forte saw a flyer advertising a dinner and workshop – for couples. It was February, and her five-year wedding anniversary was approaching, so Forte ran with  the idea. She and Purdie, who works at a biotech company, hired a babysitter and left their two toddlers at home. It was off to Intimacy Boot Camp.

Founded by Leslie Kaplan, co-author of “Make Love Whenever Possible When Married with Children”Intimacy Boot Camp offers “workout exercises” for couples ranging from talking with your spouse for 15 minutes every day to flashing each other. Like a kind-hearted drill sergeant, Kaplan – who is taking her show to Kaiser Hospitals and mothers’ groups – instructs those married-with-children how to reinvigorate their relationships and still make time for the kids.”A lot of people feel embarrassed or shameful about the fact that they fell in love with this person, they wanted to start this family, they have this great partner, they should be happy,” Kaplan said.On their first day of Intimacy Boot Camp, Forte, 44, and Purdie, 41, who live in Pacific Heights with their children, arrived at Pisces California Cuisine in the Outer Sunset expecting something “more like a seminar,” Purdie said.

What they got was an intimate dinner offering Purdie and Forte the first chance to reconnect since their first child was born three years ago. They
were greeted by Kaplan, who handed Purdie and Forte a series of note cards that enabled them to ask intimate questions otherwise not permitted by the task of child-rearing. The note cards asked the couple to talk about why they first fell in love, and to remember the good times they shared together before having children.”I felt like Leslie was really kind of gauging where people were,” Forte said. “Different people were getting different questions.”Though
Kaplan is not a certified marriage counselor, her firsthand experience allows for a personalized approach to her campers.Her project began in 1990, when Kaplan started having children and faced difficulty in maintaining intimacy with her husband. Now married for 23 years, she has long sought to dispel the myth that just because you’re married with children, the children must come first.Prompted by the note cards, Purdie and Forte talked about what their relationship was like before children and about their strengths and weaknesses as a couple.”We  were talking about things that could help you remember why you fell in love in the first place, which you can forget when there are so many distractions,” Purdie said.

Kaplan believes that the disproportionate emphasis on children strains a marriage, and this is reflected in the nation’s 62 percent divorce rate. New parents learn all  about burping and changing, but nobody tells them that their marriage could potentially short-circuit within a year. Unlike some of the desperate couples and mothers who come to Kaplan like thirsty travelers in a desert, Forte and Purdie were not on the verge of a divorce. “We were just feeling so depleted and so tired, we decided it was good timing,” Forte said of her decision to attend Intimacy Boot Camp.”We’re pretty adventurous and pretty spontaneous,” Forte said. “With kids, that all slows down. When you have to sacrifice something and you don’t have enough time, it’s really easy to have that conversation later after  the kids go to bed. But then you’re so tired, and ‘American Idol’ is on. It’s easy to keep not touching base. Before we had kids, we spent a lot more time communicating. ”

In addition to new heuristics for talking to one another, Kaplan left Forte and Purdie with homework, the “workout” routines. Some are intentionally irreverent, such as the flashing and daily French kissing, to make couples more comfortable. Kaplan insists these exercises are the first steps to hitting the relationship restart button. There’s also the weekly date night, which means taking time out of a packed schedule to spend time alone together as a couple.And then there’s the weekly sex date, often the biggest hurdle for the intimately challenged.”It’s like lifting that weight you hate, but you know will make you strong,” Kaplan said. The  boot camp has been a success for Forte and Purdie. They continue to implement the strategies in their routine, and even got away from the kids for a weekend in April.”We have a way’s to go,” Forte said. “We have 15 minutes of uninterrupted talking about three days a week.”That’s three days more than before.Ryan Lattanzio is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

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