by Jeremy Martin-Weber
This post is a partner post to one Jessica wrote, 16 points about sex after baby, on beyondmoi.com as part of a giveaway celebrating Valentine’s Day and expressing love beyond one day. Find the giveaway information and widget to enter at the end of this post.
Running the risk of sounding like Cosmo, or Marie Claire, in honor of Valentine’s Day and all the men out there making strategic plans, hoping that their romantic equations will guarantee that they’ll get lucky, I’d like to offer a list of my own. I don’t claim to be an expert, but my list is the product of 17 years of trial and error with my wife, and I can personally attest that as long as I stick to it, she simply can’t get enough of me. Seventeen years and six children, and sex just keeps getting better, and we both want it more than we ever did before.
You too can have a better sex life; it’s not over just because you’re parents. If you’re looking for ways to make her (or him) want to drag you to the bedroom, rip your clothes off, and have hot, steamy, sex with you all night long (that’s how those magazine covers read, right?), then this list is for you.
1. Help around the house… but not for sex
Everyone loves a partner who is involved, who takes time to help out with household duties. Way back when we were first married, I first heard the notion that if I took the trash out, my wife would find that act so sexy she wouldn’t be able to help herself and would have to have me right then and there. I thought that sounded rather strange and hadn’t noticed that effect on her before, but I really started paying attention the next few times I took the trash out, and here is what I noticed: she appreciated my help, but didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. And that made sense. But I also noticed that when we were both paying attention to the ways the other was helping out, we both appreciated the other person for doing so, and we felt closer for noticing, and feeling closer can easily lead to sexual feelings. See how it works? But it won’t work if you help around the house just to have sex. There is no magic there. My advice: do the dishes, help out with your kids, fold and put away the laundry, by all means take the trash out, and for extra credit, thank your partner for those same things and all the other tasks they do. They may argue that they don’t do it for you, and don’t need to be thanked, but they’ll still appreciate you noticing. Noticing is sexy.
That first tip isn’t just for parents, I admit, but it may be more relevant to parents because prolonged lack of sleep so effectively scrambles your brains that even very simple relational things can get sucked into that black hole (or driving your children to all of their extracurricular activities – that can scramble your brain too over time). It’s very much the same for this second tip.
2. Get physical… but not for sex
Touch your partner. Often. Every day. We can get so determined to get it on that we forget the thrill of simple touches. You know how physical relationships are compared to a baseball diamond, each base representing more intimate acts of physical expression, ultimately culminating in sexual intercourse when you get to home base? We can be so goal-oriented, or sexually frustrated, that all we focus on is getting to that home plate. When Jessica and I were first dating, even the simplest of touches was thrilling because it carried so much meaning. Caressing each other’s hands communicated love and care, romantic intention, and sexual desire all rolled into one. A kiss was a gesture of commitment, a desire to be close, to be real and vulnerable. Sure, at other times, a kiss was an expression of sexual desire, full of passion and wild abandon. But that’s exactly the point. Physical expressions weren’t all just a means to a steamy, naked end. Because of their variety, their commonality was clear: a communication of love. And when I feel loved by my wife, I feel safe, trusting and sexy. And I know she feels the same way. And do you know what that leads to? Great sex. My advice: kiss your partner at least every morning and evening, wrap your arms around her, hold hands, maybe even take a few dance steps together, and savor each of those physical moments for their simplicity. Because touching to communicate love is sexy.
3. Distance makes for sexier reconnection
Now that we’re all ready to touch our partners more, I offer a word of caution: it has to be the right moment. Unfortunately, most of us have to find out through trial and error; that’s for both partners. Jessica and I have both had to learn about ourselves how and when we like to be touched, let alone what our spouse likes. If you try to touch your partner and you are rebuffed, don’t jump to the conclusion that they just don’t like your touch or don’t want sex (touching just for that end is already a big libido killer anyway). Pluck up your courage, control your urge to scream and cry (if you actually have feelings, of course), and ask your partner about it. The way our schedule works, one of us is often home with children most of the day while the other goes out and works at a coffeeshop. It doesn’t matter which one of us it is, some days at home leave us wanting to find a dark, quiet, corner where we can hug our own knees and twitch for awhile as our brain tries to reboot, and our body relaxes from being touched all day long. It’s not that we don’t love being home with our children, it’s that it’s not the easiest job in the world. If you walk in the door and see a frazzled, bleary-eyed partner with a blank expression on their face, that is probably not the time for dipping your partner and a fervent I-missed-you-so-much-wasn’t-today-great kind of kiss. If ever you’re unsure, I have the simplest solution: ask. And follow it up with an offer to give them some space. Ask how you can help before jumping in. And then, by all means, jump in! Find ways to give your partner a break on a regular basis. Sometimes 20 minutes is all it takes to center ourselves. Sometimes it may take a whole morning, or an entire day, but trust me on this: sex is way better with a centered partner. Because getting time away is sexy.
4. flirt more… but not for sex
I think that every healthy, sexually mature human being likes to feel sexy. One way to feel sexy is to get a good idea of what real sexy people look like by gazing at magazines, watching music videos, or checking out the latest blockbuster film, then looking in the mirror and saying to yourself: “Damn I look good!” If I just described you, then this whole post probably isn’t for you at all. For most of the rest of us, feeling sexy is deeply tied to feeling desired. When Jessica gives me a sultry “Hey sexy” I feel a boost in confidence, my day gets brighter, and I feel sexy. Granted, I have to fight off the destructive voice in my head giving me a 5 reasons why you’re not on the sexy list, and just trust that my wife is calling it likes she sees it. This takes practice, but when I do it regularly, that vile voice in my head gives up and must go into hibernation or something. I’m sure I don’t have to tell anyone that when you feel sexy, you’re more inclined to have sexy thoughts, and… you know. So my advice to you is to give your partner a reason to silence that voice in their head. All the time. Okay, don’t be obnoxious about it, or you’ll come across as pushy. Flirt, wink, do the Magnum P.I. eyebrow thing (if you don’t know what that is, well, then, never mind), make subtle suggestive comments; whatever communicates to your partner that they are desired, and desirable. But don’t have your heart set on sex. Because flirting is sexy and is an end in and of itself.
5. Spend quality time together… but not for sex.
Developing togetherness has been foundational to our relationship and affects every part of it, including our sex life. I realize that this concept may definitively put me in the hapless romantic category, but I don’t care, I am an unabashed hapless romantic who has great sex with his wife of 17 years so there. We have this notion that relationships are living things, and they are constantly evolving, just as each person in the relationship is growing and changing daily. This means that being static (not changing) is not possible. You are either growing closer together and developing stronger bonds, or you are slowly drifting apart – unless you are a stone statue of a couple, and even then erosion does take its plodding toll. So we intentionally find ways that bring us closer together. There is no reason why you can’t still be as into each other as when you first got together. Actually, we believe that you should cultivate your relationship keeping being into each other as a worthwhile goal. Find common interests, and/or try new experiences together. Play games together. Make music together. No, those aren’t references to sexual activities. Cook together. Hike or bike together. Visit museums. Go out for coffee or a fancy dinner. Any activity that you will enjoy together, preferably with lots of eye contact, and with no electronic devices or screens (after you’re done reading this you should try it). Because when you spend time being into each other, you end up wanting to explore all the ways you could be into each other. (that was a sexual reference, by the way…).
6. Talk more… and I don’t mean about sex (and I don’t mean talk dirty more)
Spending time together, being more and more into each other, involves a lot of communication, and most of that will be through actual conversations. With words and sentences and all that. If you’re really getting into each other, developing that sense of togetherness that I mentioned in the previous point, then you’re going to want to communicate that you care about your partner’s life, about their day, every day, and that you’re interested in the details, the little experiences that you missed out on. This may seem obvious, but you’re going to want to communicate that you missed your partner. Because being missed is sexy. And giving a damn is really sexy.
7. Help get the kids to bed, and again after midnight.
So finally a practical tip! I suggest that you don’t gloss over the relational mushy-gushy stuff that I took nearly 2,000 words to write about. That’s the stuff that really leads to more, and great, sex. The practical logistics of making sex happen won’t cut it by themselves. Getting obnoxious distractions (i.e. children- only obnoxious when you’re hoping to make some whoopie) out of the way is essential to hooking up with your partner. Bed time can be exhausting and time-consuming, and, depending on the age of your children, can burn a parent out and render them huddled in a dark, quiet, corner, hugging their knees, etc. Or fast asleep before the kids. It’s much better with two parents. That way you communicate that you give a damn, that you want to do this together, that you’re willing to help, not to mention demonstrating to your children that you are there for them and their other parent. Ways to make it more fun: text each other once the bedtime routine is finished but your haven’t extricated yourself from your children’s arms and legs. A fun texting game we’ve played is where one of us sends the other a random emoticon, and the other has to guess what it’s supposed to mean. Oops, now everyone knows: we’re dorks. Dorks that flirt and have great sex. This may or may not lead to sexting, by the way, which is always fun but possibly awkward and ill-advised if you’re still helping kids settle. Getting kids to bed once may not be enough. You may have to commit to moving a sleeping baby, 1 or 2 or even 3 yr old back to their bed after they have sweetly sought out your comforting cuddles around midnight and fallen asleep in the bed where, damn it, you were hoping to have sex (or just cuddle with your partner, or sleep on separate sides of the bed, depending on how grueling the bedtime routine was and how long you each need to huddle by yourselves in the dark, etc.). Because a kidless bed with just you and your partner is sexy. (This isn’t to say cosleeping damages sex lives, it doesn’t and we do cosleep, we just also have a “bed” for the cosleepers that they visit for us to have alone time in our bed. And, if you don’t have teenagers around, there are plenty of other, though less comfortable, places in a house to utilize.)
8. Change the sheets!
Those of you who have known us for a little while know what this means, so feel free to skip this tip. For those of you who don’t, I’ll let you in on our little secret: clean sheets are sexy. Clean sheets are so sexy that my wife has this irresistible urge to sleep naked in them. If it weren’t for the sheer logistics of children seeking cuddles, 8 of us in a house with one washing machine, and having to work and feed our family, I would probably wash our sheets every day. Quick disclaimer: I have learned that just because my wife is naked in bed does not guarantee that we will have sex, or that she is logically interested in having sex. You would do well to heed these words. That being said, clean sheets may increase your odds; they certainly increase mine! Also, mind-blowing as this may sound: sleeping naked together is sexy, and an end in and of itself.
And finally, if you’re still with me, the #1 thing you can do to have more sex as parents:
9. Stop asking for it.
There is nothing quite like a whiner to kill a mood, or destroy any chance of there even being a mood to get into in the first place. Asking for sex, or demanding it, damages your relationship with your partner. Asking for it communicates only one thing: you think you have to have sex, that you deserve it, or that it is some kind of need. It is not a form of flirting, it is not flattering, it is not sexy, it doesn’t communicate that your partner is desirable, it does not bring you closer together, it does not communicate that you care, or give a damn about anyone but yourself, and most of all, it communicates a lack of love and respect. It is gross. Even if the sheets are clean. And if you helped around the house, and you flirted, and did your part in getting kids to bed, and spent time listening to every little detail of your partner’s day, and watched whatever stupid movie they wanted to, and this somehow means that you deserve sex, that they owe you sex, then you know nothing about what a healthy relationship looks like, and I would further venture to say that this is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to an abusive relationship. Talk about it but in a carefully, respectful, and concerned conversation. “I miss having sex with you” means a lot more than “We never have sex any more.” And if you mention your sexual needs, like it’s some kind of basic human need, you should be slapped. A basic human need is one where the human is at risk of dying if that need isn’t met. Like eating, or drinking water. Are you at risk of dying if you can’t have sex? No. And if you’re that horny and you feel like you just can’t keep it together without a release, then I’m sure your partner would appreciate you using your capable hands, rather than pressuring them or guilting them into letting you use their body for your own pleasurable end. Because guilting your partner into sex is NOT sexy. And pressuring your partner into sex will not lead to more and better sex, before or after baby. Also, consider getting therapy. Therapy can be sexy too.
There is one thing that effectively sums up my 8 tips to having more sex after baby (because that last one wasn’t really a tip, was it?): focus on your relationship with your partner. All the rest will take care of itself. And no, that’s not a sexual reference.
~ The Piano Man (aka: Jeremy from BeyondMoi)
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Happy Valentine’s Day!
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1. Due to the varied shipping restrictions of our many, generous, sponsors, this giveaway is for US participants only. We apologize for having to leave out our international followers. We just can’t figure out how to better manage a giveaway of this magnitude.
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