You were overjoyed when you became a mother to your precious baby—and for good reason. But now that you’re back at work juggling parenthood, your career and home life, there’s something not quite right in your relationship, the sexual intimacy.
Too often I hear the professional parents I work with complain they are too busy, too tired, or too stressed to have sex. But, really, there’s more to it than first appears.
Reduced sexual intimacy is a common area of conflict for many new parents, particularly working parents, so you’re not alone. It’s possible you and your partner are expecting different things when it comes to sex, and this can cause resentment, confusion and feelings of insecurity for both of you.
As a new mother you may be saying, ‘I have nothing left to give’, however, what you mean is, ‘At the end of the day, there is nothing more I need’. You and your baby share so much touch, eye-gazing, and so many kisses and cuddles that you often don’t need any more affection or intimacy from your partner. You likely feel satiated by the intimate bonding with your baby.
The first step to reconnecting
Firstly, it’s important to understand and acknowledge this dynamic. With so much focus on your child, plus the realities of juggling work and home life, you and your partner may lose sight of each other while your relationship takes the back seat. Rather than assign blame or feel resentful of one another, discuss the issues and ensure you make time for your relationship.
If you and your partner can maintain a healthy and loving relationship, you create a safe, warm and nurturing environment for your growing child. Best of all, you’re modelling an excellent example of a healthy relationship for your child.
Here are some tips for getting your sexual intimacy back on track:
Ask for help—Like the old saying, it takes a village to raise a child. But the adults involved also need a village to help keep their relationship on track. Have friends and family lined up to give you adult alone time on a regular basis. And if you have to invest in a babysitter, it’s money well spent.
Have a dedicated flirting channel—Create a private messaging channel to communicate with each other through the work day or any time you’re apart (a private email address used only for the two of you, or a WhatsApp channel can work well). This channel is only to be used for flirting and writing love notes to each other to nourish your erotic life. Don’t use this channel for discussing the housekeeping matters of life—you can do that elsewhere.
Stay out late once every six to eight weeks—Remember what it’s like to have fun, be silly, feel naughty and rebellious? This is precisely the kind of novelty and excitement you want to redirect as erotic energy into your partnership.
Prioritize alone time for each partner—While you need alone time together, you also need individual alone time. Work as a team to have some alone time while your partner covers you and holds down the fort. Enrol in that class you’ve wanted to do, catch up with friends, or just have a beauty treatment.
Break your routine and plan couple time together—When it comes to planning, have one partner cover all the logistics of the couple time together (booking the activity/restaurant/accommodation/movie) and have the other partner cover all the kids’ logistics. Work as a team to divide and conquer and then focus on having a great time together.
Date night—We’ve all heard of date night, but you need to have some rules while you’re on date night. No talking about kids or the fact you’re lacking sexual intimacy (somehow this never works in helping you to have more sex). Dinner and movie are fine, but also be creative. Include mystery, anticipation and novelty where possible on your date nights because these pump life into your erotic connection.
Schedule sex—It might sound unsexy, but once you get over the fact you’ve scheduled sexy time, the feelings of pleasure and enjoyment are no less than when you spontaneously have sex (which never happens with new parents!).
If you’re struggling with reconnecting after a baby, also consider working with a couple’s therapist. A good couple’s therapist will help you discover your strengths as a couple and help you build a more resilient relationship than you ever had before.
Written by Clinton Power, relationship therapist and founder of Clinton Power + Associates.
Clinton is a relationship therapist in private practice in Sydney, Australia. In 2003 he founded Clinton Power + Associates to help singles and couples move out of relationship pain. Clinton regularly comments in the media on relationship issues and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald and ABC Radio. Clinton’s book is available through his website; click here 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship.