Part 1 of 2
For most women, myself included, having little kids has made the journey to the bedroom with my husband a little bit more complicated. I’ve had many clients lament why God made men and women’s sexual desire so very different. I have a theory about that. I think maybe God made us different because he wanted us to figure out how to communicate: he wanted us to have a better, more whole relationship. If we both had desires like most men, nothing would ever get done because you’d be having sex approximately 10-50x a day. You’d have all these babies and no one to remember to take them to the doctor. Or make sure they have clothes that fit them.
I think the beauty in how women experience desire is that it (at least when a women is finding sex fulfilling) requires effort to connect, effort to like her body, effort to be more well rested and take better care of herself. For example, because I know that a regular sex life is an important way my husband feels loved, masculine, and attractive I know we need to be connecting regularly so I can enjoy it. Since connecting emotionally is not natural to him, he has become a better man through these efforts. He’s learned to be more considerate, more thoughtful. Have you ever noticed how the best men have been married for a long time to a good woman?
Here’s why us moms have an especially hard time getting in the mood:
- Exhaustion/no energy
- Busy schedule, lack of time alone with hubs
- Feeling unattractive, not sexy, not liking body
- Disconnected from body, sense of self outside of “mommy”
- Not feeling emotionally connected to husband
- Negative feelings toward husband
- Messy house/overwhelming to-do list
- Haven’t shaved or showered
Now, here are some practical ways to increase the odds that you will have sex with your husband and enjoy it. Sound good? Ok, I think you are actually going to hate them, because do you really have time for more things?!?! I hope you’ll try some of it anyhow. I know it’s not easy, but we can do hard things (no pun intended)!
How to get in the mood:
1. Time to have sex: Ask yourself, when is the ideal time for your mind and body to be open to sex? Ladies, when you are dog tired, your body will not respond the way you want it to. Sex can become uncomfortable or even hurt in this state. Or it can feel like you are being used, or like a very unpleasant chore. I don’t recommend pushing through these things and having sex like this (unless you are trying to conceive, in which case you may have less choices about timing–do the best you can with what you have, friends). So, make sure you have made space in your life during the times you are more rested.
2. Well rested, relaxed: Not getting enough sleep? When possible make appropriate changes to get to bed earlier, take turns with your husband on night or morning duty, get out of the house with friends or alone. Skip the 2nd or 3rd glass of wine. It’ll just make your sleep less restorative and your mornings harder. Ask for help from your parents, friends, neighbors. Give your kids to someone trustworthy for the day or evening. It takes a village, folks.
3. Feeling appreciated, valued, loved: You could try something a little like this (whisper this seductively so he knows you’re being silly, even though YOU TOTALLY AREN’T JOKING AT ALL): “Baby, you know what really turns me on? Clean dishes. Oh yeeeeeaah. Or dinner made, kids bathed. A note or text during the day. A ‘thank you’ or a ‘what would I do without you?’ A, ‘isn’t mommy so beautiful?’ to the kids. I especially get aroused when you offer to do something I normally do, or when you put me first. Or when you genuinely want to know how I am, or remember about that meeting or the doctor appointment I was nervous about and ask me about it. When you listen to my feelings. mmmm…yes.”
4. Connected to husband: But for real though, what makes women want to have sex is emotional connection. We have to teach our husbands how to connect with us, and how to love us so we feel loved. We are simply more complicated. And he feels loved when you have sex with him…so this is a win/win for everyone. Husbands love for you to say EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT/NEED. They can’t always read between the lines and he sure can’t read your mind. Be specific, be honest, be real, and be vulnerable with him. Also, check out this blog if you need help explaining to him what a day is like with the kids or ideas regarding talking about your day. Being known is what intimacy is all about.
5. Feeling sexy or attractive: For me, the goal was all about getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight and all my old clothing. Once I got within a few pounds of that goal I realized that there was no way some my old stuff would fit even if I lost all the weight. My body was just different (this was especially true after my 2nd). I decided I needed a different attitude and some new clothing (and some alterations) and not a different body. It is vital for the health of your marriage that you find a way to accept yourself EXACTLY the way you are. It’s great to want to be healthy, exercise, and eat well…but love yourself WHILE you do those things. Don’t wait to be kind to yourself until x, y, or z thing happens. Feeling awful about myself just made me feel depressed and made it even harder to get motivated.
6. Sleeping kids: When this is happening make sure you and your husband are in the same vicinity the number of times you decide is your normal. More on frequency in the next post.
7. Clean house: a clean house totally turns me on. But, I am learning to live with the mess. I just try to see it all as our abundance and feel gratitude instead of anxiety. It’s a journey, friends. But if you wait for a clean house and a checked off to-do list you will NEVER HAVE SEX AGAIN. And that’s no good. We have to learn to focus and say to ourselves, “this man right here. He is the most important thing to-do right now.” Besides you can get back to your list when you’re done. A good friend, life coach, or counselor can help you prioritize, let go of what you need to let go of, and learn how to manage your anxiety or racing thoughts if it feels too big to tackle on your own.
Stay tuned for some more ideas for enjoying sex again!
*PSA: It is impossible to write a comprehensive blog about sex. It’s too complicated and big. I would love to have written so much more, but the kids only leave me alone for so long. If you need more ideas, check out “A Celebration of Sex” or “When Two Become One.”
**PSA #2: If you try these things and find yourself thinking: “NONE OF THAT HELPED, thanks for nothing Lauren!” You could be struggling with negative feelings toward your husband, resentment, post partum depression, depression, anxiety, pain due to changes in your body from birth, difficulty figuring out how to be a mom and a wife and acknowledge your body as more than a vessel for babies to grow and feed and use and empty until you have nothing left, nothing at all for anybody else, especially not the jerk who did this to you. Kidding. But seriously though, email me and I will help you or find someone who can help you. Your family needs you to be healthy and whole and to know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. And, at the risk of sounding cliché, please know that, no matter what your road(ahem…sex)block is, there are answers, there is help, and you aren’t alone.