Yummy Mummy

Friday, August 24, 2007

Question

My boyfriend and I have been together for over three years. Our sex life was incredible—until we had our two kids. Now it feels like we don't even have a sex life anymore. When we do have sex, we are not even into it. How can I get that spark back?

Answer

If you have two kids and a three-year relationship, your children are pretty young. They are still in a very time-consuming phase of development where diapers need to be changed, communication is not the best, they are easily frustrated and cry a lot, they need constant supervision, and they may not sleep through the night. Unless you are independently wealthy and have a nanny, you are probably still sleep-deprived from the time when they were babies, and didn't ever get a chance to fully catch up. Your body is, then, slightly run down; you may get sick easily, and you certainly don't have a lot of reserve energy.

Under these circumstances, it's difficult to set aside the time or have the animal vigor that good sex requires. You and your partner may have a strained relationship due to the financial demands of a young family, or conflict over who is supposed to take care of the kids and keep the household running versus the responsibilities of a job. People who are young and childless can focus on keeping in shape and dressing to look their best. Priorities change when you have little people at home; after childbirth, some women fear that their partners no longer find them attractive. Even devoted young fathers can secretly worry that the children have replaced them in their girlfriend's affections.

Postpartum depression is a serious problem that affects many mothers—and fathers, too, actually. Isolated young couples usually don't get enough help from friends or family so they can take a little time off to just focus on each other.

You can't turn back time, but there are some things that might greatly improve your sex life. Let me make a few suggestions. The first is that you and your boyfriend become more verbally and physically affectionate with each other. Start with expressing more appreciation for each other, and gratitude for the other's presence in your life. Creating a more positive emotional tone in your household builds a stronger foundation for desire.

A guy who wants the mother of his children to be more amorous has one easy solution: Give her an evening off. Bring home some hot food, take the kids off her hands for the rest of the day. Feed them, give them a bath, put them to bed. Let her have the time to take a bath alone, read a book, think about something other than baby food and spit up, and pay some attention to her own body. When the two of you are alone, ask her how her day was, and really listen. She can tell you are listening if you ask a few intelligent questions about what she's told you. Don't give her any advice or try to problem solve, no matter how tempted. Just listen to what she is saying and reflect back: that sounds really hard, you were smart to think of that, how did you put up with that kind of behavior, etc.

You may not get laid the first time you do this, but if she's not sliding over to your side of the bed and giving your cock some attention by the third or fourth time, your relationship is in trouble. I hate to generalize about people's behavior based on their gender, but I think it's safe to say that many women don't want to have sex unless they feel that the man in their lives understands how hard they are working, is willing to help out, and genuinely cares about their internal or emotional landscape.

The reverse is often true for men. Within the context of a long-term relationship, we may perceive that there is intimacy and feel taken care of and loved because our partners want us sexually. (This is quite different than the way that we behave if we're single and dating.) If a wife or girlfriend stops coming to us for sex, we feel that our friendship with her is in jeopardy. Knowing that she desires us is the necessary precondition for feeling close to her, loving her, and knowing that she also feels committed.

So, Mummy, fight for time alone with your man. Go through your address book and call friends, co-workers, or family members who might be good babysitters. Put on some grownup clothes and get the hell out of the house. Have dinner and talk about something else besides your kids. Give each other compliments. Talk about why you were attracted to each other and fell in love. Flirt. Make out in the car.

Hopefully, your babysitter understands that the two of you might come home and need some time together before you're ready to resume childcare duties. Sneak into your bedroom and pretend you have to be absolutely quiet, then try to have sex. Limitations like this can be surprisingly effective at building erotic tension.

The tough part for you two will be breaking through to the space where you can reconnect and remember what drew you together. The channel that erotic energy used to flow through has gotten clogged. But if the two of you cooperate, you can clear its path so that the bond between you keeps getting stronger instead of weaker. Once you've had a good sexual encounter, don't let it drop. Pay each other compliments. Write each other little dirty love notes. Buy him some cute underwear. Make sure that your marital bed remains adults-only. It's okay to occasionally comfort children who've had a bad dream, but allowing the kids to take up permanent residence in your bedroom will kill your sex life. It's sometimes very hard for children to accept the fact that mommy and daddy want time alone with each other, so you might as well start establishing that boundary now.

If you come up with other things that work, please feel free to write again. This is a common dilemma, and other couples could benefit from your experience or insight. Best of luck to you. I know first-hand how hard this is.