In recent years, since I became a mother twice over, and despite many changes to my body, I’ve embraced my sexuality more than ever before. What is my trick, my magic approach to having a great sex life with my partner?
I confess I’m selfish in bed. I’m greedy. Self-centered.
After giving birth, your health care team may give you one set of advice, your body may tell you something else, and your brain might have other ideas. Oh, and I’m sure your partner has ideas too! After my first pregnancy, I got caught up in what I “should” do and I didn’t want to be “one of those women” who waited forever and got confused about sex after baby. So, after some time off while I let my body heal and I adjusted to parenthood, I fell into a sex routine with my partner. It was fun sometimes and I gave enthusiastic consent but the truth is, scheduled sex ended up feeling like an obligation. If the number of times a week is a measure of a good sex life, I had one. But it felt lacking.
I realized that that spark of lust wouldn’t just magically happen. The first step I took to regain my interest in sex with my partner was taking control. Not in a dominatrix kind of way, although, if that’s your thing, embrace it. It’s just not my thing… right now. (Can’t ever rule anything out, eh?)
My body felt “okay enough” and kids, work and other life obligations got all of my time and energy. Deep down I knew something needed to change but I didn’t know how or what.
Homework and experimentation
I did an unsexy thing first: research and homework. I read about how couples enjoy and maintain a healthy sex life in general and after especially kids, and how this process of relearning sexual attraction can be different for everyone. Some people find that scheduling sex days is best for them because there’s less awkwardness or dance of expectation between partners. As long as there are still opportunities for spontaneity and changing plans, I can imagine that scheduling sex totally works. I didn’t think that would work for me, but we tried it for a time. We tried a few other tactics too such as adding in toys, dirty talk and role play but nothing seemed to end up making me feel any differently. It was all… meh.
Making myself a priority
One day, a powerful thought entered my mind. I don’t know where it came from. Maybe my brain had been working slowly through the articles and other content I was consuming. I thought,
I need to prioritize my pleasure.
I need to be selfish and control when, where, and how sex happens.
Orgasms and connecting with my partner are important parts of my sex life but they aren’t everything. Overall, the more subtle parts including my comfort, needs, and desires had been ignored. Mostly by me.
That night, I didn’t share my eureka moment or my “plan,” I just went for it. And the sex was great. For me. I have no idea if it felt different to my partner. And frankly, on that night, I didn’t care. I felt good in my body. I felt great in my body. In my lumpy, scarred, had-once-been-a-home-to-growing-humans body, I felt amazing.
I don’t have a formula. Sometimes, we have sex every day. Sometimes, there are many days or even weeks without sex. But, when I continue with my plan, I continue feeling good. Life, health, schedules, and many varied stressors or obligations can get in the way, but by making my pleasure a priority in my life and my marriage, I’ve made sex a priority.
I admit that it is really easy to let small disagreements and petty tit-for-tat slights get our sex life out of whack. But when I take sex away from my husband, I am also punishing myself. When I put my needs first, I find that I am less likely to withhold sex from my husband.
When we have regular, satisfying sex, we get along better, we are more patient with each other, we are more likely to help each other, and we are better as parents and spouses. It’s not the only way to keep our marriage on track. We work hard on communication and other forms of self-care, too. Back to me- regular sex with my husband helps my anxiety and makes me feel confident in my body.
In some ways, I wish I had better advice to share. I wish I had a system that was fail-safe and could work for anyone. But at the same time, I do believe that anyone can take on the work of improving your sex life after kids. Prioritizing myself and being “selfish” has completely revitalized my relationship. With myself. And my body. This is something to be celebrated.
After our bodies are profoundly and possibly irreversibly changed due to pregnancy and childbirth (oh, and lack of sleep and stress due to raising the tiny humans) enjoying sex feels revolutionary.