Healthy Relationships

Kids Change Everything, But Your Sex Life Is Salvageable

March 13, 2020

As long as there are children, there will be thirsty parents longing for the thing that got them into that predicament. Kids: so needy, so underfoot, so utterly disrespectful of anyone else’s desires.

The harsh reality is that a post-kids sex life, especially while the kids are young, has little in common with your honeymoon era, or even your least active few months before you became parents. There’s no answer for that short of a time machine.

Still, intimacy after kids can be . . . really, really good. No, really!

The time will never be just right

You now have more distractions than you’ve ever had, and that includes the stressors from any previous milestones like buying a new house, filing taxes, or singlehandedly organizing the Olympic winter games. You’re tired and overwhelmed, and the house is a wreck. How could you possibly focus on sex?

Because you value your marriage. In a widely watched TEDx talk, marriage and family therapist Michelle Weiner-Davis says that many couples look at this stage as something to endure while they focus on the kids. The kids deserve attention, but so does your marriage, which she says is a living thing just as worthy of nurturing. Humans need touch. Sex bonds a couple emotionally and physically, she says, and waiting around for the right time for intimacy is futile. There’s not going to be a just-right time, and you deserve to prioritize your relationship. The adult one.

You both deserve some alone time

Your spouse can seem like one more person stealing time that you really crave for yourself. When you’re depleted, it’s even harder to consider what your relationship—or your spouse—needs.

We can practically hear you rolling your eyes. How can you possibly shoehorn in time for yourself? A weekend at a spa may be overshooting, sure. Carving out 20 minutes of quiet time while your partner handles the kids, though? Doable under most circumstances. Make sure it’s not time you spend folding laundry or catching up on dishes. It’s time for you to do you stuff—reading, meditating, taking the long, uninterrupted shower you’ve been craving.

Even small doses of relaxation count. It’s not as if you have to get an hour massage to relax (although don’t turn one down); even ten minutes where you don’t have to worry about anyone but you can help lower your stress level. And that, in turn, is a great step toward finding the energy for your partner.

Recognize the positives in your redefined sex life

Different is neither good nor bad. While you adjust to your new lifestyle, keep in mind that within your redefined relationship lies a lot to treasure. A Channel Mum survey provides some refreshing perspective: Of the 1,118 couples who participated, 83% said they focus more on quality than quantity since becoming kids, and 45% of parents said that their relationships were closer since they had kids. Focusing on the positives—whatever they may be—within your relationship goes a long way. How your heart warms when your partner reads a book to your child or how incredible it feels to settle in together on the sofa after the kids go to sleep. There are a zillion ways to be intimate without having sex (and a whole lot of ways to have sex that may be different from your usual). Appreciate all the moments and types of intimacy within your relationship.