I was tempted to title this post “When My Sex Life Sucked (and Not in the Good Way)” but decided that my junior high locker room humor probably didn’t need to take main stage. After all, this is a serious subject.
If you’ve read even a few of my blog posts, you know that I am highly in favor of marital intimacy. I flat out love sex with my husband. I desire it. I welcome it. I sometimes initiate it. I revel in it. I thank God for it.
But lest you think that my marriage has always soared in the shake-your-groove-thing department, I will burst that fantasy bubble today. There was a time in my marriage when our sex life was gasping for air like a silent movie actress in a death scene. I had almost no sex drive, and he became very frustrated with my lack of interest.
When and why? It was around the pregnancy, childbirth, and infant years. That time was so hard on me and my body that I didn’t have anything left for the sex area of my life. In hindsight, several things should have happened. In this post and the next one, I will share the lessons I gained in hopes that another couple might learn from what we through. The first set of lessons here involve what the wife can do to sustain, or even improve, physical intimacy in the marriage. In the next post, I’ll speak more generally to couples.
Actively pursue personal health. When I was carrying babies, bearing babies, nursing babies, and caring for babies — better known as the alien invasion years — my body did not feel like my own. It was me, of course; however, my body had been irrevocably changed.
I’m going to interrupt myself and admit that I don’t know whether all of the changes were due to pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones, or other issues such as sleep deprivation and stress. Having only gone the biological route, I don’t know any other. I would presume that adoptive mothers can have the same challenges with an infant in the home.
For myself, however, my body was low on estrogen and likely testosterone as well. I should have told my doctor how I was feeling and asked to have a blood test checking for vitamin and hormone deficiencies. I might have even considered an anti-depressant during the most overwhelming months. Perhaps that seems extreme; yet a temporary boost of energy to make it through those tough months might have done wonders for me feeling better about myself as a mom and a wife, and I would have been more available for my husband and my child.
Continue to emphasize your role as wife. For the pregnant or new mom, almost all of your body’s energy seems to go toward children. After having my hands on my child all day, and my child’s hands on me, the last thing I wanted was for anyone to touch my body. Multiple children means that there are multiple hands on you — some days making you feel like an octopus’s plaything. When you finally tuck those sweet babies into bed at night and listen to their surrendered breathing, and then your husband comes from behind and grabs your tush, your brain may scream, Get off, get off! Having another set of hands can feel like another set of demands.
But intimacy with my husband isn’t a demand; it’s a command from God, a way of being close with your spouse, and a sweet pleasure in its own right. I should have made more time and opportunity for those moments. I should have remembered that I was not only a mother, but a wife.
Let me be clear: I am not saying to ignore your parental duties. But I didn’t let my first child cry for a full minute before I was in there taking care of my little one. My infant always had my attention first. Looking back, it might have been okay to shove in some ear plugs, have a fun quickie, and then go get the fussy baby out of the crib. It’s easier to put off your husband’s needs since he is less likely to wail like a banshee for attention like your kids. But the need to be intimate doesn’t go away merely because you now have a tangible, physical result of intimacy.
Make sure your “Me Time” includes rejuvenating activities, not merely escapism. I took breaks from my kids, but the activities didn’t necessarily energize me. We all have activities that give us a respite from our daily ho-hum, and others that make us feel alive. Those two things are different. Escaping with a good film is fun, but for me reading and writing light a fire in my belly. Attending musical events and singing enliven me. Spending time in nature and dancing make me aware of my senses and surroundings.
But as much I love my scrapbooks, attending scrapbooking crops were social gatherings that I enjoyed but they didn’t refresh me. They drained me more and kept me in mom-baby mode as I slapped on picture after picture of my precious little ones. I wish I had taken piano lessons or joined a book club or started this blog back then. Of course, scrapbooking may be just the thing for you, or karaoke, or roller derby. The point is to find something that energizes you outside your role as mom. You’ll always be mom, but you are more than that as well.
Do things to make yourself feel sexy. It’s hard to make that mental transition from Mommy with the children to Hot Mama for the husband. I wish I had taken more time to have a bubble bath, get a massage, find pretty lingerie to fit my differently-shaped figure, or have a glass of wine or herbal tea now and then to tune into my body. I now know how important it can be to find those activities that trigger feelings of sensuality and self-confidence.
Despite the changes that happen in a woman’s body from childbearing, she is usually still very sexy to her husband. In fact, some husbands find their wives even more appealing after having seen the miracle that grew in her body. The female form is beautiful, and young moms may need some extra time to reconnect with their sexiness so that they can feel good about themselves in the arms of their husband.
It can feel selfish to indulge in these ways. After all, you don’t want to neglect your children just to luxuriate with Calgon. However, your children will be blessed by having a mother who has a great sex life with their father. And you are still totally hot! Tap into that and enjoy it.
Ultimately, all of these suggestions are about taking care of yourself. The responsibility of caring for a tiny little one (in and out of the womb) can be overwhelming for a woman. Your whole life is changing in a way that rivals an Extreme Home Makeover episode. Forget that. It surpasses tearing your home to the ground and rebuilding it. It is big.
It’s also wonderful in the long run to be Mom. However, as easy as it might be to get consumed by parenthood and lose yourself in the role of mother, you will have a child in your home for eighteen or so years and a husband in your home for hopefully many more. (I’m going for golden anniversary. How about you?) It is not selfish to prioritize your health, your personal identity, and your marriage. In fact, if anything, you will be a better parent for adding mother to your roles but remaining the fabulous you that you already are.
How well are you doing in balancing motherhood and self-care? Do you still feel sexy to your husband? Have you struggled with physiological changes?
21 thoughts on “When My Sex Life Sucked – Part 1”
After our daughter was born, I had absolutely no desire for sex. I didn’t care if we ever had sex again. It had dwindled down to once a month, and even then it felt like a chore. My husband started feeling like he was no longer desireable, when I was feeling exactly the same way but for different reasons. I was starting to see how my lack of confidence in myself and my new body was affecting him. After some contemplation and prayer, I stumped across a book called “Sheet Music” and I found this blog and I started really looking into intimacy in marriage and what it meant to be intimate, and not only in the physical aspects. When I started to initiate some of the things in this book, our relationship began to change and we started getting closer again. And then, before you knew it, our sex life was back to where it was pre-baby.
Now, I still struggle with my body, and feeling sexy, but my husband is so wonderful about making me feel sexy that in the moment, I don’t even think about it 🙂
Sheet Music by Kevin Leman is an excellent book. I’ve read quite a few on sex from a Christian perspective, and I liked that one in particular. I have another one from him (Turn Up the Heat) in my to-be-read pile.
So many of us struggle with our bodies. Thankfully, most husbands really are supportive. They don’t expect us to look like Angelina Jolie or even like we did at age 20. They appreciate that we are beautiful and we are theirs. Revel in that, Sara!
Great post! Thanks for sharing-this is exactly the stage of life we’re in right now and we are working to keep our sex life exciting! Question, though: (I’m guessing/hoping you would say this is pretty normal?) We have a toddler and I’m 8 months pregnant with our second child. I love how my breasts grow in this season, and I love my husband looking at them and touching them, but after all the breast-feeding I’ve done and am about to jump back into, there just doesn’t feel like there is anything sensual or attractive about his mouth on me there anymore. Will that change back? How do I change my mind? I used to like it, but, well, they’ve just become so functional and less sensitive…any thoughts?
Cat – I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying “9 months up, 9 months down” meaning that it takes the same length as a full pregnancy to get your body back. They lie. Most moms I’ve talked to say that they get much of it back within a few months, but they don’t feel entirely themselves until a year or two after childbirth. If you’ve breastfed on top of that (and I did too), your nipples can become as callous as a leather shoe sole. Sensitivity is what causes breast stimulation to feel good, so if your breasts are all about baby right now, you will likely experience a decrease in satisfaction from that activity. As long as it doesn’t hurt you, let hubby enjoy himself and then find other ways to sexually arouse you. The baby years really aren’t all that many of your life, and you will have that sensitivity back sometime.
Well, this blog is really about being honest with one another, and bless my heart, my brain to mouth filter isn’t really all that great anyway, so here goes…
After having four kids, I was 40 lbs overweight, exhausted, and my breasts essentially looked like golf balls in pantyhose. (I know, that’s gross, right?!) So, when the youngest was around 5, I decided something had to give. Our sex life was mediocre, and frankly, it was MY fault. I just felt yucky. I joined weight watchers and dedicated myself to losing that 40lb tube I’d been lugging around and blaming solely on childbirth. (because it had nothing to with eating junk…right!) I began an exercise routine that was realistic…let’s face it, I’m never going to be built like Giselle and I’ll have to live with that. I called a plastic surgeon and made my appointment to put the breasts that had fallen to Texas back up around Illinois and also began a much better routine of skin care, and basic things that I’d been ignoring…all in the name of being a mother. I found that not only did my sex life improve, but so did my day job of being a stay-at-home-mom. I was energized from the exercise and weight loss, but also because I was doing something that was about me. I counted, too! I struggled with deciding if this was “godly”, or not. Eventually, I came around to the conclusion that God didn’t care if I was “happy” with how I looked, but that He most certainly does care if I’m a good wife and mother. For me, the outside affected how the inside felt and therefore affected my marriage and sex life. We could argue the merits of that all day…but, all I really care about is that it worked. I feel better, I’m healthier, I’m happier,I’m a better mom and our sex life is ROCKIN!!! Mission accomplished!
You are my kind of gal, Kristi. I laughed out loud at the golf balls in pantyhose and breasts that had fallen to Texas comments (perhaps because I can relate?). Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is inspiring! I’m so glad that you pursued good health and got the great benefit of looking and feeling better and rockin’ it in the bedroom. 🙂
I am not a mother yet :)But I love hearing from women who are.
You made me laugh so much Kristi.
Thanks for making my evening..
My wife just turned 60 and is interested the moving the girls from Texas back to Illinois. You seem to have had a satisfactory outcome. I was wondering which procedure you had and did you experience a loss of sensitivity, permanent or otherwise? She is highly sensitive in that area and gets a lot of pleasure that an anchor or other longitudinal or radial incision could destroy. Any observations or caveats. I am happy with things the way they are, but if it helps her come to terms with body image issues, I want her to be informed about the options. I don’t think she would trade bouying up the girls for a loss of nipple or aereola sensitivity. Hope that’s not too specific. Hard to be adequately descriptive without being precise sometimes.
Personally, I have submuscular silicone. Choose your surgeon wisely! That’s the most important factor, in my opinion, for how satisfied you will be. No sensitivity loss at all (and I was worried about that presurgery too). Best wishes!
This comment doesn’t completely relate to your post, but I don’ get to always ready my emails as often as they are received and figured after two hours of reading all your past posts that I needed to catch up on, that I would just comment on the most recent one lol. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for writing these blogs like you do and for being such an encouragement to all of us readers out here keeping up with your blog. I know when my husband and I first got married, majority of the people at the church we attended made us feel like we were horrible people because we were Christians and really enjoyed sex & intimate activities with each other. I’m not sure why they acted like that, nor did I believe that they were right, but it is nice to have someone who on a regular basis assures us that we aren’t crazy for being so ‘crazy’ about each other in the bedroom 😉 and for writing about & explaining very helpful topics that we might have otherwise not known the answers or solutions to 🙂 thanks for all you’ve done and will continue to do!
Thanks so much! (Why did I not respond to this right away when you left the comment?)
I got SO much out of your “Me-Time” escapism vs rejuventation point… wow, revelation! I have one son, 19 months, and think I’m taking time to myself at the very end of the evening when I half-heartedly watch a movie while I’m still doing chores (and mentally beginning for the next day). I’m constantly thinking about efficiency and saving money and ways to earn more money – we’ve had a difficult decade of finances. Before I got off on a tangent, just saying you gave me something to really think about. All the things I feel I love that really enliven me either cost money or are dependent on my husband to fulfill – namely DANCING! *sigh* He hates it as much as I love it. I feel like life is just dragging us behind it. Hear me – I’m SOOOO grateful for an abundance of God’s love, amazing husband, marvelous son, good friendships… what am I saying, I just feel lost as to the deeper purposes and fulfillments of life. Love to all you fellow mommas out there and all the work you do. Praises to God for understanding our trials and comforting and encouraging us through these difficult, priceless years.
I am Really sad
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I appreciate this post, as these are indeed busy years around our house, and intimacy has been a subject of tears and prayers. However not it the way that you address. Pregnancy hormones made me desire my husband more, once we got the the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. After being home all day, rather isolated and in a foreign country, I just wanted to be comforted and desired sexually. And he was tired. He is a magnificent, intuitive parent – but if those kids needed something, they come first. Even if it was my food! And sure, I was in yoga pants, without makeup and prob’ly not lookin’ so hot, but it was devastating to always need to initiate sex. To wait ten days, two weeks and he didn’t even realize it had been that long, while I was ready to pounce on him! To show him new lingerie and have him say, yeah that’s cute. Go take it off and we’ll watch a movie. (duh, I’m not just showing you a new purchase!) Through the years, we have had good conversations, worked through and I have learned the art of subtle initiation. A gym membership for him, makes him come home mentally rested and raring to go. He’s following his dream profession, which we hadn’t before for the sake of family – he’s passionate and alive about what he’s doing again. A massage or suggestive short-shorts may be me starting something…or is it? I just wanted to comment, because I know this is something that some women face – of having the inequality of desire fall not fall on their side. And it hurts. Good grief, girls – if he wants you, go for it! 😉 Thanks for posting good counsel on this delicate subject.
Indeed, Noelle! Thanks for addressing this. Quite a few marriages have higher-drive wives, and that’s often not acknowledged and addressed. I especially appreciate you telling your story of actions you two have taken to help him feel better and more involved with you. Many blessings for your marriage!
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