dating

Time to fess up. What’s your number?

So… What’s your number?

After a few glasses of wine recently, a friend of mine bashfully admitted that she and her husband haven’t had sex for nearly two years. Two years! I was utterly flabbergasted. She went on to explain that while their marriage feels stronger than ever, between kids, jobs, housework and caring for elderly parents, it’s their sex life that has suffered. Majorly.

Later, I tried to recall the biggest drought that I’ve ever had. In my single days it was months, definitely into double digits, after I temporarily swore off men (and women). A self-imposed drought, I suppose. With my husband though, it was exactly six weeks, the time between giving birth and resuming normal programming following the all clear from my obstetrician.

If I’m being completely honest though, I wasn’t dying to leap back into bed after getting the green light from my doctor. Far from it. For me, sex after childbirth presented a sort of physical and psychological hurdle I needed to negotiate. In my mind, the longer I put it off the harder it was going to be. It was awkward and a little painful, but once we’d had sex and I realised everything still worked the way it used to, it was back on. And by back on, I mean in a sporadic, often half finished, exhausted, messy (leaking milk, anyone?) kind of way. At least for a little while. So I can understand, quite clearly, how having young children can be sex drought inducing.

Before the baby, our longest drought was around 3.5 weeks, pre-marriage, when I was away for work. Unlike the aforementioned drought however, this time I was dying to leap back into bed. Absence can equal great sex. Especially in the early, shiny stages of a relationship.

Sex has always been an important part of our marriage, something my husband and I both enjoy and prioritise. It hasn’t always been easy though. I’ve written previously about suffering from severe depression and the impact that it and the medication that was treating it, had on my libido and ability to orgasm. On reflection, it wouldn’t have been surprising at all if we’d stopped having sex altogether around that time, both of us becoming increasingly frustrated with the problems we were having.

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And yet there wasn’t a drought. I cried buckets, we talked, I sought medical advice and things gradually improved. Losing interest in sex was an alarm bell that something wasn’t quite right. Drought averted.

Sex droughts: what’s your number?

Even now, when things are a little out of sync sexually between my husband and I, it’s generally a sign of other issues: not feeling as emotionally connected, exhaustion, work stress. We try to use it as an opportunity to stop and check in with one another. A chance to reconnect as the couple we were before we became “responsible adults.” And parents.

Going without sex for more than about a week results in feeling as though there’s a gulf growing, something I know is idiosyncratic to our relationship because each couple has their own idea of what’s normal. Some of my friends happily have sex once a fortnight. Some once a month. A newly partnered girlfriend wouldn’t be happy with anything less than once a day. At the very least. I’m rather jealous!

I’ve had friends go off sex for months during pregnancy, others have endured droughts due to long distance relationships, illness, or stretches of being single.

So, time to fess up. What’s your number? How long have you gone without sex? What was the reason for the drought?

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