Ummm, so........Are we ever gonna have sex again? The dreaded but so pertinent question, that we all deal with. First of all, how to you gather up the gumption to ask this? Talk about a novel reason to get punched in the balls. How the hell do you word this? The example above is probably not the best way, I know that. It's no secret that sex is a part of a relationship before you have a child/kids. It is a huge upside to a relationship, and it is definitely important in two people bonding. Feeling close to your person, married or not, is a physical and emotional experience. If you take one of these away, it's logical that you would have a large problem.
After birth there is a definite healing period for mama. There are a few months where it's just not safe to be knocking the boots. As a man, I was learning about this whole situation for the first time. I learned that it is both physical and emotional. I really had no knowledge going into having our first child. I just waited for my wife's ok before I ever made any moves.
We are now pregnant for the second time. So clearly we got over the hurdle of having sex after our first child. And to be real honest, sex is better than it was before. Although it is a journey to go through. Not only do we feel closer to each other now that we have a child together, but we both have learned more about each other and it shows.
I recently had a convo with another dad, who is not in the same boat. He said that he and his wife hadn’t had sex since their baby was born. Mama was just not in the mood, and hormones were not working in this direction. At this point he and I were just sharing stories in hopes of learning from each other. We had reached a real stale mate. Each experience was the opposite of the other. But you could tell, that more was needed from this convo. Its just neither of us had any more to say, nor did we have any solutions.
You see, the woman holds all the cards in this situation. If she says no, Papabear has no recourse. What can he say that will hold any weight, to “I just pushed a human out of my vagina.” So he just waits and has no moves. But here is where I think the conversation needs to begin.
In a relationship both people need the intimacy of the other. If not, what is the relationship anyway? Men lean towards the side of preferring this in the sexual sense, although this by all means does not encompass all relationships, but you get the point. Women tend to need both physical and emotional intimacy as well, in varying degrees. So we can agree that the relationship is more fulfilling if both sides are getting their rocks off if you will.
Having a child definitely shakes things up. Bodies change, and emotions come up. On the other side of having a child, the game is new and it is different for both parties. But this does not automatically mean it is worse. It doesn’t mean that people’s feelings for one another have changed.
If sex stops, how does this intimacy thing work? The agreement that once was is now abruptly different. What does one do to rekindle this? I am not really sure. I know that the person to talk to is right there with you. They are the only one that can fix this. Just because things have changed a bit, is not an impasse. Intimacy is not just sex. There is much more to this word. But sometimes you have to clarify what intimacy means to you, and how you prefer to receive it.
As a man, I have to ask my wife about the things that make her feel my intimacy, and those things I work on. Because it isn’t just the simple answer of sex. Granted that is part of the equation. It matters how I feel about her, it matters to her that I make her feel sexy, it matters that I take her out. I pick my wife up (like drive up and honk, at our house) for our dates. This is just part of the gig, and to be honest, I love it. But I had to ask.
Has her body changed after having a baby? Yes, but I think she is sexier than ever. Has my body changed? Yep, and she still calls me sexy. Does this throw a wrench in our relationship? Well, if you don’t talk about it maybe. We have fun with it, and talk about our bodies all the time. To be honest, the imperfections are our favorites.
If intimacy isn’t there, you gotta figure out a way to get it back. And you have to be open to listening to each other. What happens when a woman tells her man she doesn’t want to have sex? Same thing that happens when a man tells his wife he doesn’t want to have sex. The other person is put off. What the hell? Why Not? You are my 1 person of 1. This thing, this relationship, takes participation from both sides.
I have a friend that said it ever so well. He said that he and his wife think of their marriage as its own entity. They both have to put forth concerted effort for this entity for it to have life. The have to breath life into this marriage, because a couple rings and a piece of paper doesn’t keep the fire lit. A good part of this breath is intimacy. You need to put it out there. If you are not feeling sexy, or if you don’t want to have sex, well think of another way to show intimacy. Its only fair that both sides are working for the good. I think a very honest conversation can hold all the keys to figuring this situation out. But you have to be willing to have it.
2 years later commentary
Without question intimacy and sex have come to a whole new level since having our second. She just turned 2 for those of you counting. I still am amazed at the whole experience of birth, and the strength of a woman, especially my woman. Recovery is a very real thing and to reiterate the earlier points its emotional as well as physical. Being a man, this struggle was not common knowledge to me. Nor was it something I was ready for. Asking questions and being available both in the emotional sense and physical sense helped immensely. Inevitably each of us have had our lows and times when we didn't feel our own mojo. Its in these valleys that its so important to love each other. Intimacy or In-To-Me-See is much about knowing the other person, and being in tune with them. Knowing when they are struggling, and helping each other get through these times. Its not always sex. Foot rubs, massages, and spooning-life have done wonders for us. Its about being close physically and emotionally.
The one thing I would caution you is to be aware of numbing yourself. Stay in touch with feeling things. You know the moment when you feel someones struggle and you feel the discomfort flow through your body. Its almost like you want to cry for them, or you feel empathy surge through you. Or you could think of the other side, the moment you saw your bride walk down the aisle. The glory in that moment. The overwhelming surge of love that came over you when you held your child for the first time.
Careful of the things in your life that numb you to feeling. We all have them. Vices populate this category. There is a very long list of these things. And they pull you away, they pull you away from the things you love. The worst part about them is they creep up on you. I have spent lots of time with vices creeping up on me, and by the time you realize it the damage is done. And there is no going back.
Our wives, our children need us to feel. We need us to feel. Empathy and connection are things we thrive on. Feeling is not easy, nor is it light work. Its challenging to feel vulnerable, its stressful, and it doesn't always feel good. But I can tell you this. Feeling the range of emotions, is much better than feeling the empty cold chill of regret. Strength truly is born in Vulnerability.
We have this opportunity before us as men. We have this chance. Stay available, be accessible, immerse yourself and thrive. I think we all could tell stories upon stories of those that have made us feel unimportant. Don't be that person to your family. Be the person that makes them unstoppable. Be the person that builds their self worth, and confidence so high that they thrive.
And hey a quick note. Bodies change, but don't let this be an excuse to just let it all go. Age makes us better. Laugh at yourselves, have some sex, share your life and be intimate. Love the hell outta your children and celebrate them. Fall in love with your wife again and again. But most of all don't ever give up on yourself. It starts with you. This relationship, this union, needs to be fought for. Its a 2 way street.