Having kids changes everything. And sex is no exception. With all the joy that kids bring into a couples’ life, most couples also fear how a growing family will affect emotional and sexual intimacy. This is normal! And the good news is that it is ok for your sex life to change after kids.
In the last blog post, we talked about how pressure and “shoulds” can affect sexual desire. One of the most significant barriers to a satisfying sex life after kids is the reluctance to allow sex and intimacy to change and be flexible throughout a relationship. I hear many couples comparing their sex life to what it was when they first met. Sex at the beginning of the relationship tends to become the “standard” for what we expect sex to look like throughout the relationship. The problem with this notion is that sex and sexuality are fluid and constantly changing! Although that may sound scary, it is actually very healthy.
People change. Circumstances change. We age. We go through periods of bliss and periods of grief. To expect sex to remain the same throughout all of the ups and downs and changes in life is unrealistic and can be very discouraging – which is an enemy of sexual desire! What works for you at 25 will most likely not work the same way at 68. What is pleasurable before pregnancy may not be as pleasurable after. But the good news is that sexual satisfaction can be available in every stage of life. The key is managing expectations.
When couples talk about their struggles with sex after kids, one of the first things I like to work on is normalizing change in the sexual relationship. Stop comparing your sex life now to the one you had 10 years ago. Even one year ago. It’s ok that it is different! Just because it doesn’t work the same way it did, doesn’t mean there aren’t other options for making it work now.
The second thing I like to do is work on managing expectations. If you are expecting sex every day after a newborn has just arrived, you are setting yourself up for a major disappointment! It’s normal to experience a lull after a baby arrives. It’s typical to experience periods of less sex sometimes in a relationship even without children! It doesn’t have to stay that way, but being flexible in your expectations about sex is vital. Allow yourself to be flexible and not resist changes in your sex life. Many couples are much happier and more satisfied when they can allow their sex lives to change with their bodies, life circumstances, and relationships.
We look forward to diving into this issue more in our upcoming workshop, Sex With The Lights On, coming Thursday, October 15th, 2020 from 8-9:30. Please bring your questions on this topic and any other topic related to sex!