Sex after marriage
Where did the love go? Or to be more specific, the sex? Sucked away by the sleep devourer you spawned, your own bed-sharing, snuggling, infant contraceptive device.
Or by the daily grind of making packed lunches, fretting about the mortgage and contemplating everyone's dirty washing. If this is you, then here's the lowdown from Mumsnet on sex after marriage.
Things to remember if sex is non-existent
- No one's bits will wither and fall off if they don't have sex, even for what may seem like ages
As one Mumsnetter, OrangeHat, says: "What I don't understand is this idea that we are all supposed to be at it 24/7 like horny teenagers at all stages of our lives and if we are not there is something wrong with us. Surely it doesn't take a genius to see that a sex life, like everything else in life, has its peaks and troughs and highs and lows. And over the space of what will hopefully be decades in a marriage, it will vary."
- Many (not all) women with tiny children don't feel like any sex at all for quite prolonged periods
Mumsnetter ShowOfHands explains why: "I didn't have sex with my husband until my daughter was nine months old and even after that it was infrequent. I was breastfeeding an awful lot, I hated my body, and I felt utterly touched out. I couldn't even wee in peace. My daughter needed constant stimulation, was always clutching at me, feeding, clinging, crawling on me or physically needing me in some way. When my husband showed any interest it just felt like somebody else physically demanding something of my body when it was already knackered and craving space."
- Long-term lack of sex and physical affection may eventually erode a relationship unless both partners have the sex drive of earthworms
A strong relationship should be able to survive some even quite extended dry patches. But it does need talking about. Your partner needs to understand why you don't feel like sex and that constantly bringing it up isn't helping.
Reviving your sex life
- If he has turned into a sex pest, you need to talk to him about how to change (this is sometimes the other way round, so change genders to suit). Sometimes the less libidinous partner becomes less and less affectionate because any physical contact is leapt upon by the more desperate partner as a possible precursor of sex. You need to agree limits to what will occur during the early stages of re-establishing intimacy and maybe some clear signals as to when you might be up for something a bit racier.
- Find ways to look after yourself so you feel good about your own body: exercise, decent food, some pampering.
- Try to find things to like or lust after about your partner. In the early years of parenthood it is easy to forget almost everything significant about your pre-baby life.
- Try to put away that small, or maybe quite extensive, pile of mouldering grudges. If your life together has become a kind of functional coping, practise some small kindnesses. An affectionate note, a small favour, a cup of tea may reopen the springs of kindness in your partner, too.
- If what is putting you off is that he is smelly and fat and run to seed, he may need some tactful encouragement to care for himself. But not carping and insults.
- Try have a meal together without electronic distractions. Do something non sex-related you both enjoy. Remember why you liked him enough to utilise his sperm.
- Some inventiveness may be in order, if you have not grown hopelessly squeamish and sewn yourself into a winceyette nightie for the winter. Try a bit of random nudity if that's the kind of thing you both like. (NB: Don't cook naked if using hot fat.)
- Get away from him sometimes - he will seem fresher and more appealing.
- Make sure you feel comfortable about your contraception. Worrying about an unwanted pregnancy is pretty anaphrodisiac.
Sometimes you need to tackle other things that are awry in the relationship. Studies regularly show that men who do more housework get more sex. But not if they follow their women around saying, "Look, here I am washing some mugs, isn't that getting you hot?"
Inequitable distribution of domestic work is a passion-killer more devastating than those cycling shorts which offer the wearer's gut up like a Mr Whippy on a cornet.
It can just seem awkward and weird having sex with someone after a long spell of not doing it. For some the gradual, romantic smelly candle and massage approach works best.
For others, just getting on with it is the answer.
When you do it can also have a bearing on whether sex actually happens, post-children. As Mumsnetter wonka says: "We find if we leave having sex until bedtime, it never happens; mornings and sneaky early evenings ensure we still have some intimacy before the tiredness and drudgery of post-getting the kids to bed sets in."
• Sex after childbirth
• Talk: relationships
• The Mumsnet Guides to Pregnancy, Babies and Toddlers
Finally, if your libido is long-term missing in action, consider a trip to the GP; lots of perfectly treatable conditions can kill your sex drive - underactive thyroid, vitamin deficiencies, hormone issues and so on. And allow for some ebb and flow.
And if you want a full and frank discussion about your sex life or lack thereof, Mumsnet Talk is available 24/7 for reassurance, advice (and a lorra lorra laughs).