My husband and I had sex yesterday. You might wonder why that is noteworthy, until you learn that we also have two girls, ages 4 and 1.
“Aha!” you say. “The surprise is that they had sex at all.”
One of the most common concerns in the first year after having a baby is the frequency of having sex. How to have sex after children is one of the more frequent pieces of advice handed out by relationship experts, friends, pastors, and well-meaning relatives.
So many times this advice is confusing and contradictory itself. You need to set up a date night once a week from the beginning ,says one. Resentment sets in, then, when one parent, usually the mother, feels that leaving a newborn baby for hours is too difficult and interferes with the breastfeeding relationship. Set a schedule for having sex and adhere to it, trumpets another. That sounds good, but can also set up resentment again when one or other of the partners is extra tired and doesn’t feel well; or if the baby is having a bad day and not complying with the schedule.
After almost 5 years of plowing through all the advice about how to have sex after children and talking to numerous friends with now grown children, I have distilled some of the more useful advice. Of course, each couple needs to find their own mix of need and opportunity, but these tidbits might be helpful along the way.
Just do it! This may seem difficult, especially for the mother, but you do need to just go ahead and get that first time out of the way once your obstetrician has given you the go ahead. You feel like a different person physically; but you also came out of the hospital a completely new person with a new perspective. So having sex with your husband might feel like someone you don’t know having sex with a stranger. It’s okay. Your husband, or partner, might be feeling the same way. You will both get used to each other again.
Laugh. Unless your partner seems really upset in the moment about the diminished frequency of having sex after your child is born, make a joke out of it. This can ease the tension and has the benefit of letting your partner know you are aware of the lack of a sex life. My husband does find it less than funny when I joke about “who are you again?” but at least he knows I’m thinking about our sex life.
Make an effort to see your partner as a sexual being. This is tough when you are more excited about him taking out the trash than for his dashing profile or sexy biceps. But even when most of your thoughts center on your little one and who is going to change the next diaper, take a bit of time to at least remind yourself about your husband’s blue eyes or whatever other feature motivates you.
Get on the same page. This, for us, is probably the most important factor in our sex after children journey.
Together, determine that you will have sex once a week, or twice a month, or twice a week. That way, if hubby winks at you when it’s close to bedtime, and you are exhausted, crabby and have a headache, you can say “tomorrow” with no hard feelings. Or if you snuggle up to him and hear a sigh or snore, you know it will only be a day or two before the two of you will be having sex.
Be creative! Having sex after children involves more creativity, not less, than the old carefree days. Kids, especially when they are very young, never seem to nap at the same time. By the time you and your partner have wrestled, coaxed, brushed, read, sung and snuggled your brood to sleep, sometimes you are more apt to stare at each other across the living room like fellow soldiers home from war than as sex partners. Creative can mean paying the neighbor girl to play with the kids outside for awhile. It can mean mini-trips to the grandparents for a little kid-free time. Creative can also mean setting one child up with an engrossing computer game while the other naps, and sneaking in ten minutes or so.
Remember, this is a season. Really, before long, they will go off to bed themselves. In just a few years, they will be the ones locking their bedroom doors. And hopefully, the bonds you’ve forged with both your partner and your children during these years will hold through the teenage ones as well!