After the Lovin’: What Happens after Sex?

Alan Bernstein understood. He wrote the lyrics to the 1976 song “After the Lovin’,” recorded by Englebert Humperdinck:

So I sing you to sleep
After the lovin’
With a song I just wrote yesterday
And I hope you can hear
What the words and the music have to say.

It’s so hard to explain
Everything that I’m feelin’
Face to face I just seem to go dry.
But I love you so much
That the sound of your voice can get me high.

Thanks for takin’ me
On a one way trip to the sun.
And thanks for turnin’ me
Into someone.

So I sing you to sleep
After the lovin’
I brush back the hair from your eyes.
And the love on your face
Is so real that it makes me want to cry.

And I know that my song
Isn’t sayin’ anything new.
Oh, but after the lovin’
I’m still in love with you.

There’s an old joke that after sex, men simply roll over and fall asleep. That’s not entirely true. But if that’s what happening every time in a marriage, the couple is missing out on another opportunity to bond — after the lovin’.

So what does or should happen after you make love?

Spouses vary on what they desire, but it’s good to consider what can reinforce their sense of intimacy. Let’s start with a little primer about your brain.

This is your brain.

Egg - raw

By Paolo Neo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

This is your brain on sex.

Egg Souffle

By user:lokionly (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

During sex (especially orgasm) and afterward, the brain releases the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin, which produce feelings of connectedness and contentment. Hello, soufflé!  We go to a happy place in our minds and hearts, and these chemicals are responsible for what scientists call “pair-bonding.” Pair-bonding is the glue of monogamy — that sense of you-and-me, we-belong-together, I-only-have-eyes-for-you. So it’s not surprising that after some good lovin’, our bodies may feel awash in satisfaction.

Which sometimes leads to…

Zzzzzz . . . sleepytime. Some husbands, and some wives, do want to roll over and go to sleep immediately after sex. And it’s not usually because they want to be done with their spouse. Their bodies are exhausted and sated, and they feel so good and relaxed that it’s natural to slip into slumber. Now this may not be a good idea if you’re married to someone who wants to chat or cuddle, but it is understandable. Of course, if you both want to journey into dreamland, knock yourselves out. (Not literally, of course; the sex will have done that for you.)

Stick figures spooning

By Patrik “Naimina” Fredriksson (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Snuggle bunnies. Some couples love to extend their hands-on time with cuddling, stroking, etc. They fold their bodies together and snuggle like bunnies. One typical post-sex position is spooning, in which one spouse is backed up against the other. But other embraces are common. What matters is the skin-to-skin contact that continues beyond lovemaking. Indeed, that flesh-on-flesh also produces oxytocin and lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in your body. So it’s no surprise that snuggling is an outgrowth of sex for many couples. It keeps the bonding going.

Talk that pillow talk. The reduction of stress, the lowering of blood pressure, the release of oxytocin and endorphins, the general sense of closeness and well-being — all of these can contribute to more intimate conversation after sex. This is often referred to as “pillow talk.” Your honey may drip words like honey — sweet nothings oozing from his mouth about how much he loves you, how beautiful you are, how awesome that felt, etc. Or the conversation may run deeper, one or both spouses desiring to reveal more of themselves now that they feel connected, vulnerable, safe. It’s also possible the excitement of sex just has you two chatting about this, that, or the other. Maybe you even crack a few private jokes, and this time he laughs at your brilliant sense of humor. However it happens, the intimacy of sex can spill over into the verbal part of your relationship, expressed with some much-appreciated pillow talk.

I’m so hungry now! Some of us get hungry afterward. Possibly even ravenous. A case of the munchies post-coitus is not uncommon. You might even crave something specific. Like a double-decker brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce. You can ignore the cravings or simply head to the kitchen for whatever will make those pangs of hunger go away. If you don’t want to miss the other stuff — cuddling, talking, and eventually sleep — you can bring your food back to the bed. A few crumbs in the sheets won’t hurt. You were probably going to wash those sheets anyway, right?

Whatever you choose to do, consider your mate. Maybe you don’t feel the need to cuddle much, but a few minutes of snuggle time would mean so much to her. Maybe talking afterward doesn’t occur to you, but he needs you to listen and respond. Maybe you aren’t that hungry, but she could use a little help eating that double-decker brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Those moments right after sex can prolong the feelings of intimacy you experience in lovemaking. For many wives in particular, continuing to find ways to connect lets us know the lovemaking was about more than the physical release of sex and climax — that it truly is about becoming one flesh.

Now, it’s your turn: What do you do “after the lovin'”? How important is the time after sex to you and your spouse?

Other recommended articles on what happens after sex: Afterplay by Generous Husband and After the Act by Do Not Disturb

10 thoughts on “After the Lovin’: What Happens after Sex?

  1. Bonnie Wallace

    I -almost- always want to go to sleep after having sex. Which is why I always wait until before bed in the evenings to have sex. If we had sex while our son was watching TV in the evenings, he’d never get put to bed because I would pass out. I have also found that sometimes, when I want to take a nap in the afternoon, masturbation helps with that, oddly enough. Orgasms just make me extremely relaxed and naturally sleepy. They also help “turn off” my brain. Luckily, my husband is like that as well, so there’s no expectation that we’ll be having long, romantic chats after sex!

  2. Happy Hubby

    Ever since my wife got a nasty uti the running joke is that I push her out to go to the bathroom.

  3. Rachael

    Ah, we both enjoy the post-orgasmic nap, esp me. With afternoon sex, I can snooze for a while, then get up to pee; whereas at night, its up to pee then back to bed to sleep the night through. I’m almost disappointed if I don’t get some sort of snoozing in.

    We do snuggle and chat though, but never for all that long… 5 minutes or so. Its such a fun time, for sure!

  4. Lindsay

    We are definitely a cuddling couple. Unless circumstances (like a screaming kid) interrupt us, we cuddle afterwards. We cuddle other times too and that can lead to sex.

  5. Jay Dee - SexWithinMarriage.com

    Our best conversations have happened right after sex. All that oxytocin flowing really helps bring stuff out. We talk about ourselves, our marriage, theology, some really deep stuff.

    The rest of the time, we basically pass out because … well … we just worked really hard.

  6. loracfray

    Sex energizes me, so most of our good sex is in the morning. We are spooners and hubby has an after sex ritual of giving me goose bumps! Hubby insists that we are not done unless the goose bumps appear. This happens when he spoons me and then kisses/licks my neck in a certain spot and runs his fingers lightly up my arm! It amazes me that after all these years an electric current still flows strongly between us. On Saturday mornings we love to go out and get crepes after sex. We often look around the restaurant and wonder who else is there as part of their after sex ritual!

  7. Leah

    Our after-sex preferences change depending on mood or time of day. I usually go to the bathroom pretty quickly after sex. Sometimes it’s sex and then we go on with our day or evening. Sometimes we snuggle and talk. A lot of times it’s bedtime after. 🙂 we like to change it up apparently!

  8. Don

    Oddly enought me and my wife sometimes argue after sex. We talk about key issues and have opposing views about them. But the sex is great..

    Most of the time, she lays on my chest with my arm (s ) wrapped arou d herand she goes to sleep. I like it. It bonds us.

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