Many couples--if not most--struggle to maintain sexual and emotional intimacy in their relationship once children arrive in their lives. There are many reasons for this, and it can be a challenge to turn this doom-and-gloom train around. However, there is hope. Making just a few small changes can make a big difference in the lives of parents.
Exhaustion is the number one reason why sex is placed at the bottom of any couple’s to-do list. After all, it is very difficult--if not impossible--to be creative and motivated when all you can think about is closing your eyes and going to sleep. Now that you are in a committed relationship, you may think, “We can always do it tomorrow...or another day...or next month.” But before you know it, there is a level of agitation in the house, distancing occurs, and feelings of loneliness, isolation and resentment begin to build.
Many couples did not learn much about sex while growing up. In fact, sometimes their education was only from a seventh grade science class--and the school courses on sex education were often minimal and confined by societal restrictions on the curriculum. At the same time, some couples received the basics of birth control from their parents or were simply told not to “do it.” Additionally, some couples were made to believe that sex was dirty or never realized that sex could actually be fun without any guilt. Others never knew sex could make them feel so much better afterwards.
Sex can actually help parents manage their fatigue. While most men learn that sex is a stress reliever at an early age, many women grasp this knowledge and awareness later in life. However, once both parents focus on how much better they both feel after they have had sex, the fun begins.
The most important decision you can make regarding reviving your intimacy and sexual closeness is to make a commitment to each other. You must be clear that this is extremely important to both of you, that you want to revive passion in your life and that you will both make an effort. This can be as simple as saying, “At least once a week, we agree to participate, willingly, in a sexual romp.”
Some couples don’t like scheduling sex because they we want it to be spontaneous. But if the sex is not happening spontaneously, couples must set aside a regular time to be together. You prepared for sex earlier in your relationship by showering, dressing up for a date and thinking about being together. So why can’t you do that now?
There is nothing wrong with routine sex--the kind of sex you both know will get the job done. Having a fall-back routine can keep things going when you are not feeling creative, but this will become boring over time. While macaroni and cheese is a great stand-by meal for kids, if you are offering your partner a daily dose of the same meal, you will both get sick of it and lose interest.
Someone has to be the driver of your intimacy. It is a rare day when you are both on the same page, desiring each other at the same moment. Be willing to risk rejection by putting yourself out there and asking, flirting or even helping with chores--whatever turns on your partner.
Sometimes, you will get a, “no, not now,” but seeing a fun mate walking around with a little swagger can help turn things around. Occasionally, the person who did not initiate just needs time to think about it. Be sure not to pout as this behavior is a big turn off. And if you are the one being rejected, remember how that feels, so the next time you’re propositioned, you will be thoughtful in the way you say, “no, not now.”
It is sad how many couples never saw their own parents flirt with each other. They saw minimal, if any, public displays of affection, and the thought of their parents having sex was not on their radar. Don’t be these kinds of parents. You want your children to witness affection between the two of you. How else will they learn? Seeing parents dance intimately to their favorite music, hug and show daily affection is reassuring and sweet.
It is also vital to take time for yourselves, by slipping away for your own private time with bedroom or bathroom doors securely locked. If interrupted by kids, tell them in a firm voice to come back later. It is okay for your children to know you have private time together. Modeling the fact that you take good care of yourselves teaches your children to also take care of themselves.
You must create a clear picture of what you want to look like as a partner. Do you want to be fun? Confident? Enthusiastic? It is very easy to walk around feeling exhausted, complaining about how hard everything is, and worrying about the things that have not happened yet and probably won’t.
Learn to say no to things you don’t want to do, and yes to the things you enjoy. Move toward things that energize you, and move away or set boundaries around the things and people that drain you of your energy.
Sex is a metaphor for life. If you look at what is happening--or not happening--in the bedroom, you can probably see what the rest of your life looks like. It is easy to make changes to your intimacy and sexuality. Once you do, you will see how it affects other areas of your life. Be sure to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You will feel stronger after you do.
Many couples will make changes in their lives for the sake of their children before they will do it for themselves. But having a thriving, robust sex life is possible when you have children. In fact, it is not only possible, but necessary for you to have the life you want for yourself and for your children.
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Photo Credits: Couple holding hands. by T Marie via Flickr; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com