When you’re newly married, making time for one another is simple. It’s just the two of you. But once you add children to the mix, things can get a little more complicated. Your whole worldview changes once you start having children. And more so, your view of your spouse changes too.
When your kids are really young, in the 6-months – 3 year range, maintaining quality intimacy with your spouse can be a challenge. For most men, having children doesn’t diminish their sex drive. But for a lot of women, having children completely wipes the drive for sex out. Between work responsibilities, the stress of taking good care of your kids, and being exhausted from it all takes a toll on intimacy.
The male sex drive, although strong, is also fragile. I’m no expert, I’m just the owner and operator of a strong drive for sexual intimacy. Many men find themselves between desiring a close, intimate connection with their wives and not being able to have that desire fulfilled as often as they would like due to the demands of raising children. When men are told no to sex, especially from someone as close as their wife, it’s hard to quell the feelings of rejection. There’s something deeply rooted inside a man that combines sex and masculinity together as one neat package. If his sex life is in a healthy place, generally everything else is clicking along nicely as well. From success at work to self-confidence in all other areas, the way a man views himself sexually impacts everything.
In the last year and a half, my wife and I added twins to our family. Having three kids already, going from three to five took courage. It also knocked the wind out of our sexual relationship. My wife was on bedrest for months before the babies were born, and there was a strict no sex policy set in place by the doctor during that time. Once the boys were born, the exhaustion rose to threat level red. If one baby is tiring, two are nearly impossible. Simply put, the time for sexual intimacy was not only slashed but taken off the table entirely.
Getting back in the habit was hard. My wife always has babies attached to her. There is rarely a time where she’s not nursing one–even at night. Although they enjoy being with me, there is no replacement for mom…and often. She’s their lifesource. They have a connection with my wife that they will never have with me. So when there’s a moment of reprieve from the demands of motherhood, my wife is looking at being alone rather than jumping under the sheets with me. She’s not being cold or mean or withdrawn when she says no. She’s taking care of herself mentally.
And I don’t mean to indicate that she’s unaware of me. She’s greatly aware of me. And she doesn’t always tell me no. But this last couple of years from bedrest to present with one and a half old twins, I’ve learned a few things about myself and intimacy I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
I’ve learned that intimacy and sex, although partners, are not one and the same. Intimacy, really, is the stronger partner. It’s not just release I crave. It’s closeness. It’s the feeling of being one with the person I’ve chosen to spend my life. Sexual intercourse has become a by-product of intimacy.
I’ve also learned to appreciate my wife whether we are running off alone together or not. I wouldn’t have known that I sometimes ignore her unless I want something from her had we not had this lull in our sex lives. “You’re more touchy when you want sex,” she told me. And it stung because it was true. Rebuilding our sexual intimacy has allowed me to be mindful of touch at all times. Stroking her back when I’m walking by, a light kiss on her cheek just because, a quick shoulder rub with no strings attached are a few touches I’ve learned to perfect. Touching my wife and not expecting her to take her clothes off for me has helped both of us appreciate each other more.
And I’ve learned that with or without sex, I’m still in love with my wife. I’m glad the twins came last because maybe we wouldn’t have made it…or maybe we would have many more bruises and battle scars on the body of our marriage had we had this sexual lull in the beginning of our union. I’m more mature now. And my love for my wife is stronger and more pliable today than ten years ago.
I’m not saying that I came to the revelation that sex is unimportant. It’s still just as important, and I still desire it just as much. But the expression of my desire is different now. I’ve come up with a list of four ways to strengthen intimacy after children that I think will help the common average joe. An intimate connection with your wife is important. Don’t let things get to the point where you’re both angry. Communication and strategy are your best tools. Remember: it’s not okay if both partners aren’t happy. Compromise and understanding will go a long way.
Communicate Your Desires
There is nothing wrong with gently telling your wife that you need sex this week. There’s no reason to be cryptic or shy about it. When you were newlyweds and there were no children running around the house, there was plenty of time to make your spouse connect the dots and read smoke signals you were flashing in the air. Now you have work and kids and a whole mound of chores that need done.
Talking about your intimate needs is okay, as long as you don’t whine or get angry. Don’t be apologetic about it. She’s your wife. There’s no shame in wanting to fulfill your most intimate needs with her. I’ve told my wife, “I’m not going to apologize for thinking you’re hot and wanting to jump into bed with you.” You belong to one another. It’s not unrealistic to want her to meet your needs as long as you’re not acting like a caveman demanding sex and spouting vulgarities.
Make a Plan
I didn’t write, Plan Sex. I wrote, Make a Plan. Have a plan in place where you’re going to spend fifteen or twenty minutes alone together. This is special time where you aren’t doing laundry, no one is talking about the kids, and in fact, no one is talking unless it’s loving and gentle words to one another.
This isn’t a date. You don’t have a ton of time. This is twenty minutes to be close. If you have older children who can keep an eye on the younger ones for a short burst of time, it’ll work out perfect. Plan to lock yourself in your room together and spend some focused quality time with each other.
Give your wife a massage.
Cuddle with your clothes on.
Cuddle with your clothes off.
Do the deed!
But be focused and kind and most importantly, relax!
About cuddling with your clothes off…
Achieving climax is important for both of you. Having that kind of powerful release together is healthy and necessary, but don’t get stuck in the rut of always needing to get that release right away.
When you’re…um…in the mood…you’re more focused on each other. You tend to go out of your way for one another and you notice everything about them. Doing some skin-on-skin spooning, maybe dozing off for a few minutes, and then going on about your day is good! Not only will you be more focused one another and appreciate each other more, but when you do come together again it’ll be just that more rewarding.
And likely it won’t be long at all before you’re in bed again. Because cuddling with nothing in-between you was so intimate, you’ll both be ready to make finishing up a priority.
Re-make the Date Night
Everyone talks about date nights. It’s the most basic go-to when trying to reconnect with your love. But when you’re trying to reconnect together intimately, dinner and a movie won’t always cut it. Instead of spending that $150 plus on a night at a restaurant and a babysitter, spend that same money differently. Get onto Hotwire and book a last minute hotel room in town. Often rooms on Hotwire will be the same price as dinner out. Then head over to your favorite grocery store and pick up picnic supplies and take them to your hotel room. While the sitter is at home with the kids, you and your love can have a quiet picnic on a hotel room floor. From there, anything goes. There’s a hot shower and a clean bed only steps away. Use your imagination.
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