Q. I have a wonderful husband, but even though he works really hard trying to please me in bed, I don't always have orgasms now that we have a new baby. Then he gets hurt and frustrated. How can I get him to understand that for me, sex isn't always about climax, but about feeling close to him, and spending time as a couple?
Tell him! Most men seem to think it's their "job" to give a woman an orgasm, points out clinical sexologist Ava Cadell, PhD. And why shouldn't he think this way? After all, women on TV and in the movies seem to come at the flick of some secret switch, so he probably wonders why you don't, too.
The truth, as you already know, is that female sexuality is pretty complex. If we're tired, anxious, or listening for the baby, we might prefer a warm cuddle to an earth-shattering climax. That's perfectly fine, but you must reassure your husband that giving him pleasure and feeling close to him is sometimes more than enough to make you happy.
"Remind him that men shouldn't have to work at giving a woman an orgasm," says Cadell, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Oral Sex (Alpha). "You need to let your husband know that an orgasm is your responsibility."
Let him know that he's certainly not doing anything to hamper your ability to orgasm, and that you're still having a great time with him in bed. If he needs additional reassurance, gently remind him that your body has been through a lot of changes during pregnancy and childbirth -- a full nine months' worth of changes -- and it may take a bit of time for your energy and interest in sex to return full force.
But that certainly doesn't mean you're doomed to never getting what you want either. "Be very specific about your sexual needs," stresses Cadell. If you're feeling too tired or stressed-out to climax while making love, tell him exactly what you need to feel close. A hot shower together? Watching a favorite video and holding hands on the couch?
Or, if you really, truly do think you'd like to have an orgasm, help him to help you along. Would oral sex do the trick? Explain how you'd like it. Want to be on top so that you can control the angle of penetration more to your liking? Tell him so. "Carefully spell out what feeling close means to you," recommends Cadell. That way, you can honor your needs and spare your husband's feelings.
Holly Robinson, a mother of three, is a writer who lives outside of Boston.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2005.