Do you remember the good old days? Those endlessly long, summer days when you first met your partner? The evenings filled with fun frisky dates and the nights when sex came easily (yes, that is a euphemism).
Those days? They were filled with the mystery of someone new and the excitement of exploration.
These days though? There is nothing new left to explore, except perhaps that receding hair line or that
wrinkle laugh line that appeared 18 months ago. As for mystery, that was delivered with the placenta and has long since departed.
Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo discuss parent sex on this week’s episode of This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.
It’s not that the love between you has dried up (yep, that’s a euphemism too). It’s just that the frission of anticipation which felt permanent when you first met, is now fleeting at best.
Many couples go through a time during which their libidos are mismatched and most people will go through a stage of low sex drive.
There’s no doubt that having kids can throw a serious spanner in your hanky panky works. For example, Reddit user Throwaway2016dad says that kids, and the way he and his partner have chosen to parent them has mean that sex has all but stopped.
He writes; “I’m almost at my wits, it’s been quite a while without sex and I don’t know what to tell her or do. We have a lot of fights because of this.”
Often times, the hormones associated with breastfeeding can lower a new mother’s sex drive (helping to space pregnancies out.)
Many parents, many mothers, report feeling ‘touched out’.
Stress, mental illness, age, medication and lifestyle factors can also affect your libido.
So what's the solution for tired couples?
Schedule it. Say, 9pm on a Thursday night is sexy time.
At least, that's the first response on Throwaway2016dad's Reddit post.
Schedule sex, put it on your to do list, make it a standing appointment (or should that be lying appointment) in your diary and take care of business. That does not sound romantic at all. And yet, it can be.
Helena Powell, a UK based published relations consultant wrote for the Daily Mail in 2014 about how sex with her husband had taken a back seat while her children were still very young.
"We had three children of our own fairly close together. All this meant there was at least three years when we hardly slept at all, never mind had sex."
Helena details the frustration between them, how she was worried about children bursting in on them, how frustration lead to fighting and bitterness.
But a late night text message from her husband changed all that. He asked her to meet him in the apple orchard at the bottom of the garden.
"I crept out while the children slept. There was Rupert, waiting among the apple trees, and a romantic tryst followed that lasted about an hour. We hadn’t even technically left home, but it felt illicit and incredibly exciting. As we clung to each other, I wished we’d thought about making a date with each other more often.
"From then on, we decided we would do our best to recreate that evening every week.
"And so every Wednesday at 10pm we would make sure our children were cared for while we slipped outside to the orchard."
Sydney based sex therapist, Matty Silver, says the idea that sex should be spontaneous is a straight up myth. In a column for The Sydney Morning Herald she writes, "Sex doesn't just mysteriously happen; if you want to have good sex you have to create the time and space to get in the mood and look forward to it. The best way to do that is planning or scheduling sex, which can be as romantic and enjoyable as other pleasurable planned activities."
She goes on to point out that at least on one level, even so-called spontaneous sex is often a planned on one level.
"Often women tell me they have to be in the mood, they have to feel sexual, it "should just happen". I explain that they may have to wait a long time because feeling sexual and wanting sex need anticipation and mental foreplay. I remind them of the early days when they were dating, when they would wash the sheets, shave their legs and wear sexy underwear to make sure they would look good, just in case! Wasn't that also some sort of planning?"
Silver is not alone in recommending making plans for regular intimacy and sex between couples. There are countless pieces from sex therapists and couples counsellors all recommending the same thing.
They all suggest that couples, especially parents, have to make time for each other and have to prioritise their relationship.
It makes sense. They say you have to work at a marriage, and consciously setting time aside for each other is part of it.
We don't all have an apple orchard at the bottom of the garden. Put your phone away and light a candle. Look at each other, listen to each other, touch each other, and think about the old days.
Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess below. Or subscribe in iTunes and listen to Holly and Andrew discuss the glorious mess that is family life every week.
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