It’s one of life’s great ironies. Sex brings about babies, which, in many cases, sucks the sex life out of even the most passionate couples. Suddenly man and wife turn into little more than Mom and Dad, negotiating their way through a sleep-deprived maze of burp cloths, onesies and those plastic, round dealies with the needle nose that suck baby boogers out of junior’s nose.
Sound familiar? Odds are it probably does.
At least according to a study conducted by the University of Denver. It reported that 90% of new parents aren’t as satisfied with their relationship as they once were. Baby Talk Magazine conducted a survey which revealed that only 24% of new parents are satisfied with their sex lives.
But the people at Good in Bed want to change that. They just published the e-book, Sex and the Baby Years, by Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, OBGYN, which is designed to help couples “babyproof their relationships.” They’re allowing their readers to download the book for free through the end of the month thanks to help from the friendly folks at K-Y Brand, who, as you may know, make jelly. Only not the kind for your peanut butter.
But I digress. I learned of the book thanks to an article Dr. Ian Kerner wrote for CNN‘s “The Chart.” Dr. Kerner, himself, offers up five helpful hints in staying on top (or on bottom, if you prefer) of your post-baby sex life. But before he gets to them, he helps explain why it is that so many couples fall into a relatively sex-free trap after having a child.
Dr. Kerner says the falloff is largely thanks to men becoming second fiddle to their baby. He writes: “As Freud defined it, “eros” is a life-force that motivates us to create and to love, and for many mothers, the energy that goes into doting-on, dressing, feeding, fawning and coddling a baby is a powerful expression of an intimacy that knows no bounds. Meanwhile, Dad often feels likes a third-wheel.”
But that wheel, he contends, must keep on rolling. “My No. 1 advice to dads is: DON’T GIVE UP ON SEX.” He points out that a mom giving all of her affection to their baby while saving none of it for her husband is not a healthy thing. “With the fight for sex,” he argues, “new dads actually perform a vital relationship function, which is to bring their partner back into the relationship and restore the primacy of their couple-hood: a crucial necessity if they’re to flourish and succeed as a family.” He uses the metaphor of emergency landing procedures on commercial airlines. Adults are to put the oxygen mask on themselves before they are to put them on their children, because in order to give kids the attention they need, parents must first make sure they’re functioning properly.
Dr. Kerner seems to place most of the “blame” for sexlessness on the moms, while putting most of the burden for getting back on track, if you will, on the dads. While such a perspective struck me as a bit narrow in scope (if not a touch outdated), I also believe that there’s a lot of truth to much of what Dr. Kerner is saying. Particularly with his airplane metaphor.
Caroline and I call it the trickle down theory. We believe that to be the best parents we can be, we have to put our needs first, even above those of our children. In so doing, we’ll be happy and healthy which will trickle down to our entire family. If we do it the other way, we may gradually grow apart. Always putting our kids first, we believe, will result in our children winning the battle, so to speak, but ultimately losing the war.
But what do we know? We’re not relationship experts. But Dr. Kerner is. So, without further ado, here are his five tips as seen on his CNN post.
- Date night. You gotta have them. Everyone knows it, but everyone also lets it get away from time to time.
- “Re-channel non-sexual intimacy outside the bedroom into your relationship.” Translation? Huge more. Give each other more kisses on the cheek. Hold hands. Snuggle on the couch when you’re watching TV. Such activity greatly increases levels of the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin, and that’s a good thing.
- Don’t allow co-sleeping. Okay, I’m definitely not up for a huge A.P. debate here. Like most things, there are aspects of A.P. that really work well for me, and there are aspects which don’t work that well for me. Though many people whom I like, respect and admire are into co-sleeping, I am would not ever want to sleep with babies. Kerner points out that doing so makes having sex logistically difficult. He also believes that having children in the bed fails to give parents the intimacy and separation they need to put one another first.
- Kerner encourages moms to re-discover their “sense of sexual self esteem.” If a woman is having a hard time feeling sexy as a mom, he hopes she’ll let her partner know what he can do to help.
- Have sex! That’s right. Have sex. Even if you aren’t completely feeling it, pull a Nike. Just do it. “Sex begets sex,” he argues. Once you start having it, odds are you’ll keep having it. But once you stop? You may be setting yourself up for disaster.
As new parents, it’s natural to want to dote on our babies and take care of their every last need, stopping the world to do just that, if necessary. But Kerener’s article is a wonderful reminder that children will be happiest when they are part of a happy and healthy family. To do that, the parents have to be right. And sex is a big part of that equation.
Don’t you think? Have you experienced the post-baby slump?
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