Is There Sex After Having Kids?
Is There Sex After Having Kids? How to Preserve Emotional and Physical Intimacy After Having a Child
Wisdom passed down about how to successfully transition from couplehood to parenthood is surprisingly sparse. We all hear with excitement and trepidation, “A baby changes everything”, but we don’t exactly know what this means until we experience it. Even then, most of us are still in need of a guidebook on how to honor our relationship as a couple after our baby arrives. Instead, with all loving intentions, we are so focused on being the best parents we wish to be and feel pressured by society to overly sacrifice our couplehood and personal needs that we can lose our connection as a couple and neglect our own emotional and physical health. I like the analogy of comparing an intimate relationship to a garden. If we ignore our gardening tasks, weeds can take over versus we continually tend to our garden and not only will beautiful flowers bloom, but also by taking care of each weed as it comes, they don’t overwhelm us or prevent our garden to grow.
I finally came across the guidebook I was looking for entitled, And baby makes three by John and Julie Gottman, the marriage experts who run the “Love Lab” in Seattle! In this book, the Gottmans solve the mystery about why 67% of new mothers report dissatisfaction with marriage and 33% sail through the transition unscathed! The answer: Husband/Partner experiences the powerful transformation to parenthood along with his wife/partner (or gets left behind). In other words, instead of the husband or partner who did not birth the child to allow distance to develop between him and the biological mother resulting from the new mother’s metamorphosis, “he has to follow her into the new realm she has entered. Only then can their marriage continue to grow. In marriages where the husband is able to do this, he doesn’t resent his child. He no longer feels like only a husband, but like a father too” (Gottmans, 2015, p. 219). The task: Expanding your sense of “we-ness” to include your children and you will become a better team and jointly experience “a love like no other!”
If you’re thinking, “this all makes sense, but when are you going to answer the question, Is there SEX after having kids?” The answer is, Of course! It’s just going to be different, but it can still be sizzling as the Gottman’s describe in their book. Check out my Powerpoint presentation link below for the Gottman’s “10 Secrets of Couples with Kids Whose Sex Life is Sizzling!” and my own list generated by my social network called “Tips from Everyday Parents” in increasing emotional and physical intimacy. For a Christian perspective, you may want to look at Jill Savage’s book entitled, Is there really sex after kids? Two other supportive religious perspectives are “The Muslim Sex Doctor” (radio show) by Imam Alyas Karmani and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, The kosher sutra (for a Jewish viewpoint).
If you are a busy parent and need answers right away, feel free to skip to Powerpoint slides 9, 10, 13, & 14.
And if you feel you would benefit from a therapist creating a safe space for you and your partner to have this conversation, contact Lana for a couples therapy session.
My husband and I learned through experience almost five years ago when our son was born (before I discovered And baby makes three). Fortunately, we were “in it together” as evidenced by my husband doing 2AM feedings and talking about breastfeeding as if it were a shared experience 😉 This helped our marriage thrive. Also, after a few months of being in the trenches with a colicky baby, we decided to take up our friends’ (also new parents) offer of childcare swapping so we could each have a monthly date night. We appreciated that monthly date possibly more than any other date throughout our relationship, and we loved returning to our baby at the end of the night as well.
And baby makes three provides practical advice regarding our partner’s emotional needs, such as reminding husbands/partners to be compassionate and flexible as the biological mother’s body is healing from the birth and she is adjusting to the significant physical and emotional changes of becoming a mother, in addition to being sensitive to Dad’s/partner’s needs too. This guidebook equally provides practical suggestions for maintaining a zesty sex life, and perhaps most importantly links the two by identifying “one of the most important ingredients for satisfying to great sex lives is remaining close friends” (Gottman).
If you would like support in preserving intimacy in your relationship, Contact Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, Certificate in Marriage & Family Therapy at 720.432.5262, [email protected] to schedule your free consultation or session.