By Brandee Contributor
I’m going to do that thing where I make you all uncomfortable for awhile. That is just sort of my calling in life; when there is something awkward, strange or potentially uncomfortable to talk about, I am the most likely one to bring it up. Around here, I’m probably the one with the least amount of shame and most personal transparency, so I thought I should be the one to talk about that thing we’re not really supposed to talk about. You know, SEX?
I think most relationships follow a general pattern. We all start off hot and heavy, making out on the couch, having sex whenever and wherever the mood strikes you, and never having to think about when you and your partner got naked last. This seems to carry on for awhile, and then things shift. You fall into your routine, the shine wears off, and before you know it, your once hot and heavy relationship is something a little cooler.
At least, this is how it is for many people I talk to.
Trying to get pregnant is often the catalyst which causes you to revisit those hot and heavy days; and then comes pregnancy. This goes one of two ways for people from what I gather. However, regardless of how things are when you’re expecting, things are going to be a whole lot different when the baby arrives.
I don’t need to go into all the details about sex after a baby; every single parent knows all about that. How your relationship was affected by the arrival of your child isn’t relevant here; just that there was a change. You are now responsible for another life, and things will never be the same. Not to mention you’re sleep deprived, lacking shower regularity and trying to figure out if that smell is poop or sour milk. Bringing baby home means adjustments in every area of your life, and sex is usually quick to be pushed aside, especially in those early days.
It’s what happens in the later days that starts to matter.
As time goes on and routines start to emerge, it can be easy to fill any new found “me time” with family tasks. What used to be an evening of cuddling on the couch followed by a passionate sweaty romp in the bedroom has now become a fight over the remote while you negotiate who has to fold the socks. While “going to bed early” used to be code for “I have something new and dirty I want to try with you”, it is now just literally, I am going to bed early.
For something so incredibly important to your relationship and your family, it’s amazing how easily it can be pushed to the side.
I get it, I totally do. After a long day of work, book ended by toddler wrangling and topped off with dinner making, chores and errands, it’s a wonder you can even walk yourself to bed let alone be expected to perform some sort of kama-sutra act. Parents are touched out, talked out and worn out, and the bed is calling to them to crash out until morning. Whether you work out of the home or not, by the time you and your partner are alone, you’re damn tired. The whole thought of getting naked seems daunting.
This is where it all starts to fall apart; the thinking.
Never in my life have I been half way to the Big O and stopped to think “man I wish I were sleeping.” Not even once. I have, however, thought to myself during the day, “Maybe I should jump my husbands bones later,” only to have that derailed by, “Wow am I ever tired I can’t even THINK about getting naked right now,” thoughts.
Here is the thing; the blatant, honest, probably too much information thing – my sex life isn’t always great. For all the reasons stated above, and 1000 more we all experience on a regular basis, finding time to have sex with my husband can be a challenge. We have things to do, separate interests and of course a child. Sometimes when things get going, we hear someone cry-out “MOMMY DADDY’ across the baby monitor, and even if she doesn’t actually need us to go to her in the night, we aren’t feeling that sexy anymore. Sometimes I just can’t wait for my husband to come to bed before I pass out, and sometimes it has just been so long since we had sex, that we’re all awkward and weird about it, and it can be hard to move ahead.
I often find myself thinking what does it really matter anyway? We’re married, I know we love each other and of all the problems we could have in our relationship, not being totally in sync sexually doesn’t seem like the end of the world. And it really isn’t, until it is.
Sex is extremely important. It’s what makes a marriage or partnership different than any other relationship out there. When you strip down your relationships with other people, they are all the same at the basis, and a lot of the time I could swap my friend out for my husband without a lot of repercussions in my life. When I’m having a hard day, I know a number of people to call for comfort. When I need help, there are friends and family members. When I’m looking to go out and have some fun, I can pick from a large group of people. However, when I want someone to make me feel good and loved and sexy and womanly, there is only my husband. He is the only person on the planet I am this connected to, and there is something about that connection that I need to survive. Without it, life starts to stifle me.
When you lose the sex, you start to lose the love. That isn’t to say you stop loving each other, but you stop being in love. The seemingly innocuous pet peeves you have, the fact that your husband has no sense of urgency or ability to pay attention to you when you speak, become deal breakers. Quirks and annoyances that used to simple frustrate you in passing start to plague the relationship on a continual basis. Feelings of inadequacy are validated instead of being rebutted, and before you know it, the resentment starts.
My husband and I call this the vicious circle. It always starts on a high; somehow you manage to have a good night and reconnect and things get better (this is usually fueled by wine). You maintain the rhythm, vow to never let sex fall by the wayside again, and make promises to each other you have full intention to keep. Then life gets in the way. You throw in a toddler cold, a work deadline and 27 required social activities and before you know it, so much time has passed since you have been intimate, you start to forget how. Each person is feeling it; both feeling rejected, alone and bad, and neither one of you is ready to make the first move. You get awkward, more time passes, the perceived rejection turns to resentment and the bickering starts. By this point, you’re so frustrated that it’s been so long, you don’t even want to have sex anymore. And so on and so forth for however long you ignore the problem.
Then one of two things happens – one of you decides to be the adult and put an end to the stupidity either through talking or groping, or you just plain fall apart.
This is what I meant earlier when I said sex is important to your relationship AND your family. It isn’t just about feeling good for a night; it’s about developing and maintaining an important connection. It’s about feeling loved by your partner, and allowing them to feel that way, so that no matter what else is happening in life, you know you can deal with it together. Without sex, you lose intimacy and without intimacy your love starts to change. Before you know it, you’re raising a family with a glorified roommate who shares expenses but get’s on your last nerve.
As a working mother, I struggle to find time for me, time for my marriage, and time for my family every day. I know these things are all equally as important, but is can be so easy to deny myself the connection I need with my husband, in favour of doing something for someone else. I put my daughters needs above everyone else’s, and sometimes that means being run ragged and exhausted, or feeling like I’m out of time. I don’t doubt my husband feels the same way. Having sex should come easily and naturally like it used to, but as we pile more stuff on, finding time to be with each other becomes increasingly difficult. We can be so quick to give up sex for something else, but I’m trying really hard to not make that an option.
I am trying to remember us when things were a lot more simple; when we were young, hot and sexy, like when we got married:
When you think about it, sex doesn’t take that long. We have been married long enough to know what to do, and sometimes a quickie can be just as fun and can reconnect us just as well as a long romantic night. So we need to work at it. We need to stop pushing it aside and putting it in the optional category. Sock folding is optional, doing nasty, terrible things to one another is not.
What do you think? Do you and your partner struggle to find time to connect, or have you fallen into a routine that works for you? Are we the only ones who suffer that vicious circle? And if you’re not someone who struggles to keep the fires burning despite all the things going on in your life, what advice do you have for those of us who do?