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Sex after children

(135 Posts)
Johnsfour Mon 12-Nov-12 13:27:53

I know nothing is "normal" in anyones relationship.....

My wife/partner is off sex. Two children quite close together. First one 2 and six months. Second, just one. In calender 2012 we have made love twice......in the year before, ( after first, then pregnant with second), possibly 5 times ( including the conception of number 2).

Both natural births, both pretty quick, no major complications. Now, no libido, no interest, excuses ( tired, just do not feel like it) and specific reasons; "everything just feels different down there".

Not an easy question to ask friends: "how quickly did you get back to occasional sex, yet along regular sex ?". I have been as understanding and patient as I think I can be. The current position, is no sex, no sex envisaged for the indefinite future.

I should add, before marriage three years ago, we made love keenly almost every evening we spent together. Regular, enjoyable ( for both of us) and initiated by both of us.

It has become a taboo subject between us, and I am not keen on getting pushed away ........

what to do ? Advice ? How quickly do other couples get back to occasional sex ?

dibs78 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:00:32

Charbon- yes you're right, it is isn't it?! I guess the lack of sex makes me feel quite unloved and uncared for. I really did think the op sounded loving and kind but really he was being a 'normal loving husband' wasn't he. Blimey, that's made me think!!

LordCharles Tue 13-Nov-12 01:10:06

OP - I'm another bloke in the same situation, but for me it's been five years, she wanted two children, as soon as the second was born - end of any intimacy other than maybe once a year ( can't work that out).

Loads of good advice here and my advice would be to really do something about it otherwise you will find yourself in my position, five years down the line without many options and very soon you will simply become housemates with a mutual responsibility for the children ( like we have).

I have tried to talk, given space, not mentioned serious weight gain, I am responsible for most of the child rearing duties ( she works full time and I work whilst the children are at school), I do all the cooking, washing, ironing etc - it is not unusual for her to be watching TV, whilst I am cracking on with jobs around the house. I'm not looking for a medal, it has to be done, but the notion that increasing one's "contribution" to household chores has not worked for me - it simply meant that my wife can watch more TV - and it has built resentment and anger. With this breakdown of the romantic relationship and partnership came the nagging and criticism, the "walking on eggshells".

We are now no more than flatmates and she is the worst person I ever shared a house with because she expects that because we are still techniclly married, that I should do what she says ........ so I went on strike and started a hobby that I gave away when I was young and deeply regretted giving up ( she threatened to destroy my kit at one stage !) - now I no longer see myself as a sexual person, that part of my life has ended and reaching that conclusion was strangely liberating.

That could be your future unless you act - and just talking ain't acting.

So it is important to get to the real cause of the matter, rather then simply start doing stuff. I think it is unfair for anyone - male or female - to realisitically expect their partner to enter a life of enforced celebacy and indeed perhaps poor self esteem etc. I didn't notice that bit during the wedding vows. Sex is a natural part of any romantic relationship and for men (and indeed Maslow) it is the basic building block. As another poster mentioned, withdrawing that intimacy, without any thought to working to restore it, is a form of emotional abuse. Would she withdraw affection from the children and become like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations - maybe your wife is trying to weaponise sex??

I would also mention that your wife runs the danger of harming the children - they run the risk of living and observing a dysfunctional relationship - why would she do that to them? Would she harm them in any other way - almost certainly not, so why is she prepared to harm their Father in front of them?

The thing that most folks forget is that 2 year olds grow up to be 25 year olds with opinions - they will work it out.

So my advice is to follow their advice and do something about it because time is not on your side in these situations.

Best of luck - but it might not end up like a movie plot - some of us just get unlucky and the myth that women are all more emotionally mature than blokes is just that , a myth. Frankly ( and I may be flamed for saying so), but your wife needs to grow up and work out her problems.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 06:54:37

Lord Charles - I find a lot of your post really uncomfortable. You know you can't put all those things onto your wife don't you? You are also responsible for what the children learn about relationships, you can't just say "she doesn't want sex, her fault". She is entitled to not want sex, you could reasonable expect your partner wants sex, you could also reasonably expect to be able to talk about changes together. Deliberate withdrawal of sex to harm is abusive, not wanting sex is not.

I also don't think it is good enough to make assumptions about why this has happened or say "this'll happen to you if you don't act". It is interesting that you both are very bothered about sex and both display a feeling of being entitled to it and angry if it isn't provided whilst dibs is feeling powerless and dejected. I think this can only be socialisation, i have what may be described by some as a "male" attitude to sex - I use it for stress, I use it to build intimacy, without it I find it hard to be intimate in other ways, I want a lot of it, I fall into a pattern of feeling angry when I don't get sex etc

I can see why intimacy would be withdrawn along with sex if intimacy was expected to always lead to sex on the one hand or if intimacy was only provided when you were having a good sex life. Ultimately for all of you I think the best thing is stop focusing on your partner, feeling powerless or angry, you need to communicate and if you can't communicate properly then leave. Don't make it all about sex either, it is the intimacy that is the thing.

WaitingForMe Tue 13-Nov-12 08:31:02

I'm not convinced it is ok to not want sex. When DH and I got together I said I believed romantic love should have a sexual element and that if he went off sex and wasn't actively working on remedying that then at some point that'd meant he'd lost love for me and not loving me as much would probably mean the relationship was nearing its end. This attitude came from a first marriage where my ex withheld sex.

I don't think its really fair to talk about men/women not being entitled to sex. Of course nobody should have to have sex if they don't want to but if they don't want to then the onus should be on them to be working on it. To think it's ok not to work on it is far more entitled and disrespectful than wanting sex.

aven Tue 13-Nov-12 13:33:38

First post here.
Can i just say that i am having this problem with my DP. I am the one with no sex drive and we have not been intimate in a year maybe more. It started about a year or so after my DD was born. She is now 5 and things eventually came to a complete halt. I cant get my head around why i feel this way. My poor DP has been so patient and tried to talk to me but i cant even bring myself to discuss this with him. I think now i have pushed him to far though. This has caused problems in every other part of our relationship and 2 weeks ago it came to a head and he left. It is only now that i am realizing that i have a major problem and have ruined the one thing that means the most to me. i love him so much but can seem to convey that to him. He is so angry with me and i understand his reaction completely now, i haven't for so long though and i really do feel there will be no going back now. i never before looked at it from his point of view and just felt it was all about sex but it's not, it's about intimacy and closeness. Making him feel wanted. I have made such a mess of things because i was stubborn and wouldn't listen.

I hope you manage to fix this issue for the both of you.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 13:40:50

No it is not, it is just coming from a perspective that no-one is entitled to sex from you for any reason, relationship or not, and that preserving a relationship with someone else does not override bodily (or other) autonomy. It is perfectly fine to not want sex, what is not ok is lying and manipulating over it and abusively withdrawing it or not allowing your partner to make their own choice over it by refusing to communicate about it. It is also perfectly fine to leave a relationship where you are unhappy with the sex, it is never ok to feel entitled to sex from your partner, or to absolutely refuse to communicate about it with them and i find it hard to see why rather than leave a situation you are unhappy with, you would behave abusively in order to maintain it by any means whether that is avoiding discussing breakdown of intimacy/loss of sex life or pushing for sex you feel entitled to/cheating. You could reasonably expect sex in a relationship or even that everybody should be entitled to have a sex life but neither of those things are the same as being entitled to sex from your specific partner. Not wanting sex is not always some illness which needs treatment and even if it is then treatment or therapy needs to be sought by the person not pressured by the partner. A partner is perfectly valid in feeling they aren't able to cope with the situation and leave and it isn't being a bastard. Threatening "I'll leave if you don't have sex" is bastardy though. I think pressurising for sex is always wrong, no-one has rights over anyone else's body and fundamentally I do think it is more of an issue for women in heterosexual relationships because women are entered, men do the entering and this makes quite a big difference to things that shouldn't be forgotten. I'm not saying men are bastards btw, just think there is actually a mechanical difference that needs to be recognised.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 13:44:10

And I'm posting from a perspective of most of the time feeling angry with dh about quantity/quality of sex/intimacy and sometimes feeling tempted by the idea of cheating as well as having had a period where I absolutely refused most intimacy and all sex.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 13:45:33

Basically fine to not want it and not want to work on it, not fine to trap your partner by refusing to explain/discuss that's how you feel.

Sorry, dont want to hijack, but unsure what the hmm is about me.

I didnt tear, I didnt have much locia/loss at all, and we were horny after 4 days so why not?

I wasnt advised against it. They just said use contraceptive, as its not uncommon for women to go to their 6 week check already up duff.

FastLoris Tue 13-Nov-12 22:34:14

Offred - I don't really get what you mean about it being "fine" to not want sex or about people feeling "entitled" to it.

Surely it's just a question of wanting different things from a relationship. Of course it's absolutely fine to never want any sex at all, in terms of your life as an individual. That's not at issue, and I very much doubt most people would be concerned or judgmental about someone single who had simply decided to never have sex because they have no desire for it.

But in a relationship, things are never as simple as that because everything you decide about how to live your life has an effect upon your partner - and that partner has every bit as much right to decide they DO still want sex. So sure, not wanting sex and not being prepared to do anything about it is fine, as long as you're happy to end the relationship (with all the responsibility towards children etc. that that may entail). But that's meaningless because when people raise these kinds of issues, it's usually on the assumption that they want to continue the relationship, or at least explore the possibility of doing so. In that case your person who is determined to stick to their right of no sex has to either give their partner their blessing to shag around (if that's a solution for them), or presume some right to enforce lifelong celibacy upon them. Fuck that (or not, as the case may be).

Similarly this thing about "entitlement" is just a judgmental way of referring to men wanting sex as part of their relationship. But it's not a question of being entitled in any absolute sense to sex from another person - it's just a question of some kind of sexual connection being a necessary condition of being in a relaitonship with that person. This is something that most people - both women and men, including many of both on this thread - seem to feel is a dealbreaker for a relationship, so what singles it out as "entitlement" in some peoples' case and not others? It seems to just be entitlement when men do it and something else when women do.

I can see how an attitude of entitlement could be a factor leading to problems in the sexual relationship. But as for the fact of entitlement or lack thereof - it's surely just a description of what people consider necessary to be in a relationship, isn't it? It's not more sinister than feeling "entitled" to have your partner do the washing up, play with the kids, pay their share of the bills or whatever. You're not denying your partner's right to never do any of those things again, if they simply choose to divorce you instead.

Offred Tue 13-Nov-12 23:12:33

But clearly missing the point that if this is a point of conflict that actually not all people do consider sex an essential part of a relationship. Although it is reasonable to.

I don't get why you are saying "entitled" is an insult against men. It isn't. Entitlement puts pressure on people, it is sinister to feel entitled to sex because it is essentially a feeling of entitlement to someone else's body, not their behaviour etc.

FastLoris Tue 13-Nov-12 23:23:08

Of course not all people consider sex an essential part of a relationship, and when those people are in a relationship with each other then there is of course no problem. But that doesn't change the point.

In a nutshell: How does "considering sex an essential part of a relationship" (which you admit is reasonable) differ, in actual practice, from "feeling entitled to sex" within a relationship. They both involve insisting that some kind of sexual activity is a necessary condition for the relationship to continue; and at the same time they both allow for the autonomy and right of the other partner to go off and be celibate on their own if that's what they prefer.

What's the difference, apart from arbitrarily different value judgments about two things that are actually the same?

likeatonneofbricks Tue 13-Nov-12 23:50:45

unhealthy entitlement would mean demanding sex when a partner has physical or psychological reasons to have a break, IF they communicate to their partner (therefore show respect) - even if this communication isn't easy or immediate, entitlement is not an expectation that sex will be part of marriage if it was not denied/absent previously - it's not 'rights to someone's body' but expectation of intimacy and acceptance within marriage as these things define marriage/ltr among others, of course with some dry spells allowed for (but talked about).
FastLoris puts it well!

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 00:31:31

Did you read my previous post? I differentiated between reasonably feeling sex is an important part of a relationship and feelings of entitlement to sex from a specific partner.

Your differentiation is different because it is more conceptual but I still think feeling entitled to sex in a relationship generally is different to feeling it is an essential part of one and it is because entitlement means at best having a claim on someone else's body which is often asserted as a normal part of a relationship but is something I fundamentally disagree with.

Are you also making a mistake in assuming because I'm female I'm not the one who wants more sex? I explained that already too.

FastLoris Wed 14-Nov-12 01:07:45

OK so you're talking about the difference between one's attitude to relationships generally, and one's actions in regards to a specific relationship and partner. I suppose that makes sense.

I think one major area of confusion is that we're not talking about one person's right to have sex with another person per se. We're talking about their right to consider having a relationship with that person to be contingent on the existence of such sex. So noone's saying that a person is entitled to another person's body - only that they're entitled to end the relationship and express their sexuality elsewhere, if their partner unilaterally decides that they can no longer express it within the relationship.

To deny a person that right would seem very odd indeed: you'd basically be saying that if one partner in a relationship suddenly decides they want to be celibate, the other partner HAS to be celibate for the rest of their life too, and there's nothing they can do about it.

I think I have trouble seeing why sex is so different from any of the other things that people WANT in a relationship. People enter into and then remain in relationships because they enjoy being with the other person, they have similar ideas about the kind of life they want together, and the other person makes them happy. If the other person suddenly decides to radically change some aspect of how that happiness is shared - whether by stopping all housework, going out alone every night or refusing all sex - then the question of whether the other person is happy in the relationship with change. Sometimes that'll be a minor change that can be accomodated; sometimes it'll be a dealbreaker. Complete withdrawal of sex is often the latter - I don't see why it signals "entitlement" in the other partner any more than any other dealbreaker.

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 01:50:22

IMO, it's not the lack of sex itself that is the thorniest issue - at least not for people who respect a partner's bodily autonomy and feel no entitlement to broach that autonomy. The sticking point is that a partner has no desire for sexual intimacy in the relationship. Emotionally healthy people of either sex have no desire to have sex with someone who doesn't want sex with them, so it's not the absence of sex per se, it's the absence of repricocity and mutually enthusiastic desire that is felt as a loss.

When I try to define the term 'entitlement to sex' I reference people who want sex with unwilling or unenthusiastic partners, who do not want sex with them.

Darkesteyes Wed 14-Nov-12 02:28:39

Lord Charles i am in a similar situation to you and you had me nodding until i hit the sentence "not mentioned serious weight gain"
Women arent stupid. They know whether someone is turned on by them or not. All it takes is one contemptuous look or for it to show in your attitude.
It doesnt actually have to be vocalised. Just because you havent actually verbalised to her how you feel about her weight gain doesnt mean that she doesnt know.

Darkesteyes Wed 14-Nov-12 02:36:33
Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 06:46:05

Loris it is like you are not even reading my posts.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:01:28

That's the whole point, the wrong isn't singular often though.

A partner who insists on their right to a sexual relationship but will not leave expects either to exercise a claim over their partner's body or to seek sex outside the relationship. A partner who is entitled to decide they don't want sex is not entitled to trick, manipulate or stonewall their partner over it in order to keep them in a relationship. Monogamy is not more important than respect for autonomy.

The reason for the disparity between the words is that at it's most benign entitled means a claim, no-one ever has a claim on someone else's body. They could reasonably expect their intimate partner wants sex with them someone does very much have a right to assert their claim over their own body. Both sides are entitled to have personal feelings about the importance of sex in a relationship.

Entitled is not interchangeable with reasonable expectation in any context though.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:07:05

And, even though it is me in my relationship who is given to feelings of anger and frustration about a lack of sex/infrequency I think it comes down to entitlement again, sometimes you can't help your feelings, however you aren't entitled to be angry and frustrated at your partner, only to make a decision about yourself.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:16:18

Maybe in the op's case to see that it isn't loss of the sexual relationship but a reduction in frequency and to change how he thinks about the situation to reduce the pressure on that one aspect of their relationship and also to work on communication rather than panic about sex - easier said than done and hard to understand if you are in it but it is related.

Offred Wed 14-Nov-12 07:17:21

He needs to establish what he's dealing with so he can make a proper choice.

Leafmould Wed 14-Nov-12 10:03:25

Fascinating thread. Perhaps there are others like it, but I think is should be put in relationships, so it stays in the archive a bit longer. What do you think?

Leafmould Wed 14-Nov-12 10:04:01

Derrrrrr I thought it was in chat for some reason. Just ignore me I am stupid.

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