“Have kids; it’ll do wonders for your sex life,” said absolutely no one ever in the history of the world.
Like most parents, maybe you’re finding yourself in a “rut” sexually with your partner. Or maybe you’ve decided to pop a tent in said rut, roll out the welcome mat, and call it your new home.
It is totally normal to feel like you’ve lost your sexy and/or desire for sex when you’re knee deep in potty training, laundry, meal planning and holding down a job. Connecting sexually with our partners slides to the bottom of our to-do list and without a game plan, it can stay there permanently.
I didn’t write this article to scare you with statistics on sexless marriages or guilt you into having more sex because getting it on is “important for relationships.” What I’m here to do is to offer you a shift in perspective, and of course, some helpful tips to get you back in the game. Because even though you may be sidelined right now, you are totally capable of getting back at it. Not because you have to, but because you want to. And that’s where it all starts.
Decide it Matters
If you have no desire to bring the sexy back, then your sex life ain’t gonna change. But if you want to change, if you seek sexual satisfaction or even conjugal connection, then that’s when things can really heat up. Bringing awareness to areas you want to improve is step number one. However, you have to identify WHY it matters. It can’t matter for your partner or for your relationship. It has to matter for YOU. Otherwise the changes you’re making won’t last because they won’t be connected to what’s important to you.
Action step: Journal using this prompt-why does connecting with my partner sexually matter to me? Why has it not mattered in the past? Why is this time different?
Identify your Hangups
Let me first say that if you’ve had a sexual trauma or survived sexual abuse, that’s not a hangup. That is something much deeper, and I highly encourage you to seek professional help so you can heal from that. Repressing or ignoring this trauma will not make it magically go away. Our bodies remember, so please know that you are worthy of healing from this.
Even if you haven’t faced sexual trauma, you may be struggling with issues of shame around sex, your body, your sexual history, etc. Shame and guilt are desire killers. It’s hard to be present and enjoy receiving pleasure if you’re worried about the fat roll on your stomach. You will be distracted (and limit your ability to be desired) if you’re embarrassed to be seen naked.
Action step: be honest with yourself about your hangups. Write them out and see how you can feel just 10% more confident in those areas. You don’t need to go from hating your body to suddenly loving it overnight (because let’s be honest, that’s unlikely to happen). But you could go from hating your body to just acknowledging that you have a body (more of a neutral position), and perhaps eventually you can move that to just kind of liking your body. In all honesty, most of these hang ups need professional guidance, but identifying them and where they came from can seriously help.
One of the biggest killers of desire are the overwhelming demands we face. Pack the lunches, make sure the t-ball uniform is clean, take the dog for a walk, bake cookies for the church brunch, turn in that TPS report by Friday…it can feel like we face demands at every turn we make. And when we’re focused on meeting these demands, our desire for sex slowly dies.
Action step: delegate. That may mean that you have to say “no” when asked you if you can coach softball this season. That may mean that you have to ask your partner to pitch in so you can carve some time for yourself to get mentally ready for sexy time. As someone who’s worked with hundreds of couples, I’ve never heard the higher-sex drive partner complain about decreasing the demands of the partner who has the lower libido. They are more than happy to help here, so utilize them. What I do see happen is the person who struggles with delegating usually has hangups around asking for help. If that’s the case, see the above section.
Shift from Performance to Pleasure
When you see sex as another thing you have to perform at, it’s going to drain your energy. It’s hard to become aroused when you’re limping into bed every night from exhaustion. Mainstream media does not help with this matter. Shows and movies are filled with couples climaxing together and rolling over to fall asleep in each other’s arms. That’s not reality.
If that’s your experience, fantastic. But for most of the individuals I work with, they struggle with being authentic in their sexual relationship (ex: faking orgasm). If the goal of sex is to orgasm, then there’s a pressure to perform. If the goal of sex is pleasure and connection, it removes the need to climax. Additionally, when we’re so focused on performing, it takes the fun out of things. When was the last time you laughed during sex or flirted during foreplay? Sex doesn’t need to be serious. It’s meant to be fun!
Action step: shift your perspective of sex from performance to pleasure and connection. Communicate with your partner that this shift is important to you and allows you to show up more authentically sexually. Also, find ways to make sex fun.
The most important ingredient for increasing physical intimacy in your relationship is being intentional. None of these tips will really take root unless you’re committed to cultivating connection in your relationship.