Forget Romance. Bring Back the Fire!

Tips for Saving Your Sex Life after Becoming a Parent
By Annette Benedetti

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Great sex— it’s what got you into this whole parenting situation in the first place and now it’s gone and abandoned you. Immediately after your children arrived, you and your partner transformed into bleary-eyed zombies moving through your days handing off the kids, heading to work, making meals, and trying desperately to keep the house from falling into complete disarray. You could barely muster enough energy to brush your teeth at the end of the day much less go for a roll in the hay. Now, time has passed and you’ve gotten your groove down, your energy has returned—heck, even the urge to get it on has come back—but the fire is nowhere to be found.

Since realizing bringing sexy back isn’t going to be as easy as Justin Timberlake makes it sound you’ve done your due diligence and read hundreds of online articles regurgitating the same “romance-saving tips”: make date night a priority, keep communication open, make small gestures. While all of these things are helpful, they aren’t heating up your time in the sack together and frankly, you’re beginning to understand how Fifty Shades of Grey became a hit.

According to Andrea Aragon MS, QMHP, LPC Intern and therapist for LifeWorks NW, couples cite a variety of reasons for sex becoming “not-hot” after kids. Some of the most common reasons include stress, fatigue, and body changes after birth. “Women who feel empowered by motherhood tend to have fewer problems…” says Aragon. “Positive self-esteem, genuine self-love and individual happiness are truly the answers to hot sex in any stage of life.”

While Aragon acknowledges that accepting body changes and recovering from depression aren’t simple tasks, she does believe that basic self-care and self-esteem work are the best steps anyone can take towards improving their sex life. “Get exercise, have a passion outside of your partner and children and make time for it,” says Aragon. “Do one thing everyday that makes you feel good about yourself.”

Some additional relationship tips that could help your
sex life move in the direction of recovery include:

  1. Be supportive and understanding of your co-parent: It’s ok to have separate interests and hobbies that take you away from each other; it only gives you more to talk about when you are together. Really give each other space, support your partner in their personal endeavors, and make the more limited time you have all about appreciating the other.
  2. Let go of specific outcomes: If you say, “let’s have hot sex” and it doesn’t happen, that’s ok. Hot sex happens naturally under all the right conditions and after kids, all the right conditions come together less often. Accept that instead of putting pressure on the situation.
    Commit to judgment-free communication: Everyone has fantasies and they can be hard to share for fear of being judged, even when sharing them with your lifetime partner. Create space and time for judgment-free communication.
  3. Commit to listening to each other’s fantasies and interests without judgment. You might be surprised to find that you and your partner have more in common than you thought. If you do find that you have similar curiosities and interests, then you can explore with each other. If, on the other hand, your interests are not the same, your conversations will still give you an opportunity to understand your partner better and connect on a deeper level.
  4. Consider getting kinky: Sex games can be sensual, take the focus off the act of sex, and create an environment of extended foreplay, which can put everyone involved in a heightened erotic state. This kind of sex play looks different for different couples depending on what works best for their unique needs and interests.

There is no quick fix for your sex life. It takes time, a lot of personal work, and a whole lot of experimentation. There will be ups and downs and plenty of awkward moments along the way, but one thing is sure—in the end the pay-off is big and you might find that it’s better than it ever was before.

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