Sex after baby: How to keep your marriage hot when you’ve got a third wheel

Before I dive into the specifics on this post, I want to dispel a major marital myth, which is that: if you’re in a great and happy marriage then your feelings of love should remain strong and unchanging.

WRONG!

This is not only untrue, but it is just plain unhelpful. The reality is that many things will impact how we feel about our partners and our closeness—job stress, crises, losses, long working hours, work travel, multiple moves, house renovations, family and in-law challenges, arguments, illnesses and YES BABIES!! That’s just how this life-thing works.

It is more realistic and hope-inducing to EXPECT babies to imbalance your relationship especially your sexual relationship.

In other words, it is NORMAL to have times of ABNORMALITY in your marriage.

I want you to know and be reassured that having a baby SHOULD change your feelings toward each other and WILL impact your sex life, even if it’s just temporarily.

Ok, so let’s dive in shall we. Let’s talk about sex after baby!

sex after baby

In my relationship course, LINKS for Couples, I explain my Relationship Attachment Model (or RAM for short). In my model, there are five up-down sliders (looks like a stereo equalizer) that represent five major bonds in relationships: the extent that you know, trust, rely, commit, and touch a partner.

At the beginning of my LINKS course, I use a chart of the RAM and ask the couples in my class a question: What are some of the normal experiences you will have over the course of your marriage that will alter the levels of the five relationship bonds in your marriage? One of the first answers shouted out every time from the couples is… “kids!”

I then ask for a volunteer to come up and move the levels on the chart to show the class how a baby impacts your marriage. Both men and women come up and the first slider that they move is the one representing the level of “touch” in their relationship. It’s always so funny to me that if the volunteer only moves it down a couple of notches, then members of the class begin shouting out, “Farther!!!”

I remember one woman coming up to the RAM and knocking the slider off the chart onto the floor. Another time, a husband came up and took the slider off the chart and put it in his pocket. He looked at the other couples and stated, “That is where touch went… and I am still trying to figure out how to get it back into our relationship.”

These similar reactions from couples in hundreds of classes clearly establish the shared experience that having a baby will definitely impact your sexual relationship.

So here are my four suggestions for how to have great sex after a baby!

1) Men, a little sensitivity goes a long way

After giving birth, couples are advised to not have sex for around 6 weeks. Men, you’d be wise to be understanding of the changes that happened to your wife’s body over the course of the pregnancy and during delivery. My daughter has said to me before that it takes a long time to feel like you recognize who you see in the mirror after being pregnant and giving birth…if you ever truly do again. So while men, we don’t totally get it, know that there are a lot of things that women content with after having a baby…not to mention the sheer exhaustion.

2) Women, same to you!

But wives, listen up, it is important for you to be sensitive to your partner’s needs and desires. As you start to feel better, look for ways to get it on other than sex! You should try and look at some of these limits on your sex life as an opportunity to MIX-UP you sex life.

It is completely normal for a woman’s sex drive to drop after having a baby…especially if she is breastfeeding… it’s mother nature’s birth control in action. So, while it may be difficult at times, it is really important that you’re intentional about sex after the baby is born.

3) Talk about sex

Couples, take some time during the pregnancy to talk realistically about what you expect and want in your sex-life after the baby is born. Husbands, work to remain respectful and sensitive to your wives’ process. And, wives, know that you may not always be in the mood until you actually get into some foreplay.

4) Put it on the calendar

A good rule of thumb for your sexual relationship in marriage, especially with having and raising children, is to keep a balance between spontaneity and schedule.

Of course, it seems more romantic for a couple to just naturally “fall” into bed with no planning or discussion. But, it is wise to plan for “sex-dates” in addition being spontaneous.

The thing is that when couples aren’t intentional, planning times of sexual closeness, then hurt and neglected feelings can creep in. I have counseled husbands who felt jealous of the time their wives devout to the children because they do not see enough interest paid to them, especially in the bedroom.

The demands of a newborn can be so exhausting. So, it is important that couples have an appreciation and understanding of the toll that this has.

To sum it up…

Try to enjoy the wonder of your new child, support each other and work together to take care of the child… and keep a high priority on rebalancing your relationship, rekindling spontaneity along with intentional planning for romance and sexual time together, then you will find that your feelings of love and closeness keep coming back with greater depth and meaningfulness over the years of your marriage.

 

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About the Author:

Founder of Love Thinks and creator of all of the Love Thinks programs, Dr. Van Epp, is a relationship expert and the brains behind all of our content. He travels the world training Love Thinks instructors and fantasizes about having loads of free time to hole up and write books. Dr. Van Epp has dedicated the last 20 plus years to his mission of helping individuals, couples and families have healthy relationships. Also, Dr. Van Epp and the Love Thinks concepts have been featured in Time Magazine, Psychology Today, O Magazine, Cosmopolitan and the Wall Street Journal; and he has appeared on the CBS Early Show, the O’Reilly Factor, Fox News, and Focus on the Family.