The State of Marriage: Kids and Your Sex Life

What was once about just the two of you — fun, spontaneity, impulsivity, sex whenever you felt like it, juggling only each other’s schedules — now becomes much more complicated. Many couples find it difficult enough to negotiate between just the two of them let alone when they have a third, fourth or fifth person whose needs must be met.

Sex life tends to take the biggest hit. This is a combination of loss of certain freedoms with demands of more pressure. Loss of spontaneity. Loss of time to romance, to talk and to “warm up” for sex. And loss of individual time which leads to feeling stressed. And then the demands and pressure. Demands to make more money. Demands of operating with increased stress under sleep deprivation. Pressure put on when you and your spouse have different styles of childrearing which can lead to arguments.

When you are angry at your partner and stressed out, you probably won’t feel like having sex. Women often get their “touch needs” met by their babies and they no longer want to be touched by the time it’s nighttime. Their children may have been pulling on them and clinging to them all day and they may not feel like being touched by their partner, whether it’s an affectionate touch or a sexual one. Resentment over not enough attention to each other and constant demands of kids leave couples angry and therefore not wanting to have sex. Physical changes of childbirth and age on the body also greatly impact the desire to have sex.

If you don’t carve out time to talk to one another and reconnect, then anger will mount. Working out the day-to-day strategy of life will become more difficult. Both parties need to acknowledge that having children does mean sacrificing personal time. Partying with your buddies will largely fall by the wayside. Occasionally, partners can negotiate to allow for that. But it is important for the marriage that you spend private time together. Make time for dates. Make time to talk about how your life is changing.

Remember that men and women have different sexual needs. Men get turned on quickly. Women need time to warm up slowly until they are as hot as their partners. Both partners need to empathize with the other, to understand where they are coming from, to divide responsibilities fairly. Communication, as always, is key. Acceptance that things will be different, as opposed to denying the reality and trying operate as though it all should be the same, is necessary, too.

Planning and prioritizing a sex life is important. Once the sex is gone, the marriage isn’t far behind. For women, ask for talk time, for emotional foreplay, for feeling connected as a method to then feel sexually connected.

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