Synchronizing Sex

Having a child throws off this couple's love life.

Q. Time is so crunched since we've had a baby that it's nearly impossible for my husband and me to both be in the mood at the same time. Either my husband is raring to go and I'm wiped out, or I'm feeling hot and he's got other things on his mind! How can we get our sex life back in sync?

A. One step at a time. Pregnancy and childbirth have put your body through a dizzying array of chemical and physical changes. Yet that's nothing compared to the emotional roller coaster as you and your husband take on the exciting and exhausting challenges of new parenthood. You're tired and distracted, and so is he. And research shows that marital sex is significantly less frequent when couples have a baby or young child, compared with couples with no children. But couples who have children 5 to 18 years old report a higher frequency of intercourse than all other couples, according to recent research by Janet Hyde, PhD.

To put it another way, it's perfectly normal for the two of you to be out of sync right now. But that doesn't mean that you're doomed to wait five years for sex. You can try to create an environment where you'll both be in the mood more often.

Treat your husband like a new lover -- and ask him to do the same. "Begin your foreplay in the morning," says Donna Adkins, a marriage and family therapist in Phoenix. "Leave sexy voice mails at work, or send notes or e-mails and ask him out on a date." That way, instead of expending energy on worrying about whether you two are in sync, you'll be putting it toward being playful and creative.

At home, focus on making your relationship -- including the sexual part -- a priority. If you're wiped out by day's end, try setting the alarm for an hour earlier than usual, and "make love when energy levels are higher," suggests Adkins. Or make the most of those hours right after dinner. Put the baby to bed, leave the dishes undone and the TV off, and spend time with each other -- time that may or may not include sex, but will prove valuable in renewing your relationship just the same.

Holly Robinson is a writer outside of Boston.

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