Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.

Dear Kristen,

I FINALLY convinced my husband to have a vasectomy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, though I’m particularly interested in it being the gift that does not give me a 4th child. Three is enough.

My worry is, what if I don’t become all wily and un-tameable in the bedroom after the impregnation fear is lifted? Because I’ve been pretty much terrified of becoming pregnant again for… ever. Convincing him to get the snip-snip was a big deal and feel like I should, um, deliver the goods.

Talk post-vasectomy sex with me, baby.

-Megan
Megan,

Yay! You have the freedom to get busy without worrying about baby-makin’. You’ve graduated into Recreational Sex Territory. Except now you are a busy mom of three and, if your house is anything like mine, you’re probably exhausted.

My first suggestion is that we re-work your motivations to see if we can’t have you taking more ownership of this goal of getting your groove back. (In psychology, this is what is referred to as a “reframe”.) I think it’s awesome that you want to bring the passion as a reward for your husband’s recent foray in outpatient surgery. However, I don’t think that “vasectomy reward sex” is going to keep the sexual flame alive in the long-run. I think one night of hot sex should do the trick in terms of paybacks on that one. (Frankly, I think three babies coming out of your body already evened the score on that one, but an offer of a night of passion never hurt anyone).

That being said, I think it is really important for women to work at improving their sex lives, not just for their husbands, but for themselves. Sex shouldn’t be just something we do out of obligation for our husbands. Trust me, I get that it feels that way sometimes. I think nearly all mothers struggle with self-care, and it is easy to view sex as just one more way that we are caretaking and using our bodies to comfort someone else. It’s so easy to fall into feeling like our sex life is one more thing in a laundry list of things we do for others. But what about keeping ourselves happy? What about the simple joy of an orgasm? What about the perfect distraction that sex can provide from the minutia of motherhood? What about that sweet afterglow of reconnection with your partner? What about grinning at breakfast because you and your man had a hot one the night before? Make improving your sex life one of your own goals. Do it for YOU. Stoking out your husband will just be a nice byproduct. And I promise, if you can change your mindset to making this about your own sexual needs, there will be less resentment and more fun in this area of your life.

Now, on to the question of how to become wily and un-tameable. I’ve got some bad news in that department. You’ve got two things going on that may mean the lead-up to sex looks a bit different that it did in those lusty early days of your relationship. First, you’ve got a house full of children. Second, your libido is probably biochemically lower than it used to be. This doesn’t mean you can’t have some intense moments in the bedroom. . . but it does mean that getting there might be a little less spontaneous that it used to be. I think a lot of people are adverse to the idea that sex should be scheduled. But if you wait until you are both feeling frisky and spontaneously ready, that time may be few and far between. Give yourself permission to be pragmatic about sex during this season. Work on what goes on in the bedroom, but don’t worry if it was an iphone reminder instead of a hot make-out session in the kitchen that got you there. Keep the lines of communication open, and be open about what feels good and what you would like more of in your sexual encounters. Also, never underestimate the power of the compliment or a flirtatious text.

I’m writing all of this assuming that at some point in the distant past, you and your mate had a sex life that was mutually satisfying. If that’s the case, with some effort and perhaps a bit of scheduling, you can get back to that place. It may not be as frequent or as romantic, but there are also sexual perks that come with the comfort and intimacy of a long-term relationship. If, however, there were issues prior to this stage of life that made sex less than enjoyable for you, then by all means find a professional who can help you figure it out.

Moms tend to have a hard time with self-care in all aspects of their life. Fulfilling our sexual needs (or even acknowledging that we have them) can be a challenge. But like many aspects of self-care, sex is something you might want to put on your to-do list. And again, not for him. For you.

Readers, how have you found your sex life to change since having children? Do you have any tips for keeping the passion alive? Do you often feel like sex is another obligation?

As always, if you have questions you would like me to address in a future column, be it sex, relationships, or parenting, feel free to leave them in the comment section as well.

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