Sex is a wonderful way to deeply connect and play. But babies can kill your sex life! And left unchecked this can destroy your relationship. Here are 6 things that can help you survive and even thrive through these early times.
Our sex lives really take a beating when we have our first child. If we do not respond constructively to this, our relationships can crumble in the face of not having this opportunity to connect with our partners. Sex is our way to play. It is our way to connect. It is our way to love each other. Without it, particularly as men, we do not have a lot of other ways to find intimacy that we need to be happy in our lives. We are fed by being close with other beings. Without sex, we need to find how we can still get that closeness.
So here are six things that you can do to make sure your relationship doesn’t suffer from the lack of sex.
Step 1: Talk
The first thing to do is go talk to your partner. The reality is that the loss of sex for us men can be really impactful. We can often feel lonely, rejected, angry, frustrated and stuck. It is common to wonder if the relationship is even worth it any more.
If we can talk to our partner about what is going on for us, it makes a huge difference. If we have all those thoughts and feelings swirling around in us, but we aren’t sharing them, we end up feeling really separate. Simply ask her if there is a time when you can really talk. Then ask her how she is doing as a new mom. How is it for her to not have sex anymore and to not have that kind of closeness. It may not be a big deal because she is getting so much intimacy with the baby, but she might also feel very lonely herself.
Share with her all the vulnerabilities that are coming up for you, whether that is frustration, loneliness, insecurity or even jealousy of the baby and how much attention she gives her. Sharing such things takes a real strength and true courage. In my experience, actually showing my weakness requires more strength than anything else, and a lot more than bottling it up in a typical masculine fashion.
Step 2: Lower the Bar
The reality is that women often don’t want to have sex at all for easily eight months after the birth. It is intense to have a being come out of your body, deal with all hormonal fluctuations that result, and have a baby that is pulling and sucking on you day after day. Sex becomes extremely unappealing, and if they are feeling pressure from us to have sex it gets more and more unappealing. If we apply pressure, we ruin our partner’s chances of finding their own sex drive, and this often leads to the typical sexless relationships that plague our society. If on the other hand, we can keep our pressure in check and find other ways to connect with our partner, it allows them to find their way back to their sex drive.
Step 3: Give your partner Space
If your partner is completely wrapped up in having to provide for the baby, it is really hard for her to find herself and thus her desire for sex. We need to get in there and take care of our child, partly so we can have a chance to really bond and find our power as fathers, but also so she can have a break and feel herself as an individual, rather than simply a milk machine. This also gives her a chance to see you providing for your child. There is nothing quite as attractive for a woman as seeing her man provide for her baby in a masterful way. It all leads to her having the chance to build her own sexual desire again.
Step 4: Take Responsibility for the Sex Life.
It is often the case that women do not find their own sexual desire in the same way as they used to for four or five years after your child is born. It just takes awhile for those hormones to shift and for them to not have a kid that is constantly pulling on them. In the meantime, they are capable of being sexual, but it takes us being responsible and supporting that situation to happen. We can do this by learning what supports her to be in the mood and making that happen.
Perhaps it is cleaning the house so they can feel more relaxed. Maybe it is setting up an opportunity when the kids aren’t around so you really have a chance to talk and flirt first. It really helps to ask them what they like and don’t like physically, as things often change through the birth process. The most important is arranging space for both of you to talk, as good sex requires emotional connection for both women and men.
Step 5: Find other ‘Positions’
Sex is a very effective and efficient way to connect, play and love our partners, but we can also find deeply satisfying connection in other ways. As I mentioned, talking is one of the best. Perhaps cuddling. Staring into one another’s eyes for a couple minutes without words. Massage and even little notes throughout the day all add up to feeling like you have a partner in life. They allow us to feel close and that is a human need.
Step 6: Incorporate your Baby!
I know this is very taboo for some people, but having sex with your baby in the room or even in your bed has been the norm for thousands of years. And as a psychotherapist, I can assure you that you are not going to do any harm to make love with them nearby. You are simply expressing affection and love. If we think the child has to be out of the room, it is more likely that they are going to get upset, cry and interrupt the sex.
If you are able to be affectionate with your partner when the baby is there, then maybe s/he wakes up and falls back asleep once she sees that she’s not alone. And maybe you have to stop the sex, but something is still better than nothing. By not having a rigid idea that the baby can’t be in the room it allows for a flow that can easily enable you and your partner to be more intimate. Of course, I am not talking about raucus sex. And as the baby grows, becomes more conscious and is more able to be left on their own, then of course it is best for everyone to make love separately.
Sex really is a wonderful way for us to connect with our partner and feel truly close. Lack of it can really devastate our relationship, but if you use these six things to maintain your connection with your partner and start to rebuild your sex life, you can make it through this difficult period of being a parent.
1.Take the time to talk to your partner. Share your vulnerabilities and listen to hers.
2. Lower your bar so you are not frustrated and pestering her for sex.
3. Give her the space to find herself as an individual and you to find yourself as a father.
4. Take responsibility for your sex life because it is often quite some time before she feels her own deep motivation.
5. Find other ways to connect with your partner outside of sex.
6. Have sex with the baby around because it is actually quite healthy for everyone.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood. I would love to hear your ideas about this juicy subject. Please join the conversation below, but let’s keep it friendly because this stuff is hard and we are all just doing our best. I will see you next time for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood.