He’d like our sex life back, but I feel no desire.
Q Brett and I (early 30s) have been together for 6 years, and have two children (3 and 1). Brett’s a wonderful guy who works hard, is great with the kids, and is loving and supportive of me. He’s been very patient about my lack of interest in sex, but I know he’d like our old sex life back. I love him, but feel no desire. Help.
A You are going through one of life’s most profound transitions. Regardless of age, becoming a parent changes you as fundamentally as adolescence did. Your hormones and your lifestyle have been disrupted. Things will never be just as they were, any more than Brett is likely to rekindle his passion for Spider-Man, nor you, for princesses.
Our youth-centered culture uses the high intensity passion of young love as the benchmark of relationship success. This is misleading. You can enjoy hot sex for the rest of your life, but a lot depends on how you negotiate the next couple of years. Instead of looking back, wistfully, at how things were, look forward, with anticipation, to future possibilities. You might feel that life is over, that you are trapped by obligations, and that everyone else is having more fun than you. That story is a destructive lie.
Embarking on parenthood is like entering, at night, a maze that is built over an obstacle course. If you are to have any hope of coming out the other end together you must stay connected, but you cannot do an obstacle course holding hands. The connection between you can be stretched to the point that you lose sight of each other, or it might feel as thin as a strand of silk. So long as the connection holds, however, you can follow it back to one another eventually. Commit to keeping that thread intact, no matter how tenuous it feels, and regularly check the connection.
I used to feel infuriated when older people said that childhood passes quickly. The days can seem interminable when you have babies, but try to see this time in the context of a lifetime. In 20 years, your children will be adults. You might be going through menopause, and Brett could be noticing some issues around erectile function. Many believe that sex is over at 60, yet we can stay alive and healthy for decades to come.
Why am I telling you this? I used to participate in a programme for women experiencing menopause, run by The Royal Women’s Hospital. In the session on sexuality a doctor would outline the physical issues that might arise, always concluding with the observation that the quality of your sex life after menopause was largely dependent on the quality of your sex life beforehand.
I believe that this is a truth that needs to be communicated to younger people. What is the point of learning this when your sex life is already dead and ‘The Change’ is already under way? Now is the time to build the foundations of a lifelong, fulfilling and evolving sex life.
Be mindful of keeping sexual intimacy on the agenda. It is the mortar holding things together, and is just as important as working on your career, paying the bills, and giving your children the best opportunities. Keep giving, and receiving, affectionate touch. To make this possible, you both need to agree that enjoying a hug or a kiss is NOT a sign that you are willing to proceed to a sexual encounter.
Do not engage in ‘Mercy Sex’, but do try to negotiate some level of sexual interaction, such as mutual masturbation, as a gesture of love. Sometimes, you might start to feel aroused, but agree to stop if that desire passes.
Have fun together. Regularly get time alone. Be kind, thoughtful and respectful of each other. Offer words of appreciation, perform gestures of affection, and never take one another for granted. Avoid blame, negative criticism, resentment and self pity.
About Last Night
About Last Night Blogs are written by Maureen Mathews, published by Fairfax media. Maureen is the original owner of Bliss for Women. The current Bliss Team is excited to Maureen share her knowledge on our new site. It is fantastic to have Maureen as one of our regular expert contributors. If you wish to ask Maureen a question you can can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org using About Last Night in the subject of the email.
We were founded in 1996 by one of Australia’s most respected sex columnists, Maureen Matthews. She wanted to give women of Melbourne a place where they could explore pleasure and sexuality without the sleazy, without the gaze of the male-dominated sex industry of the time. Maureen’s determination for change was inspirational. This drive for change continues today with the new generation at Bliss.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide and overview of the subject matter. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions. Seek advice specific to your situation from your medical professional or mental health professional.