Then God may show his sense of humor by throwing a baby into the mix. If you’re fortunate enough to have babies, you will have a major upheaval in your sex life. God repurposes the woman’s recreational and waste disposal area to grow another human. Soon after you conceive the little nipper, the changes start, bringing about wonderful and dreadful consequences.
Sex during pregnancy can go from little change (other than morning sickness) to some logistical challenges (i.e., how to work around a beach ball-sized protrusion under her shirt). Mood swings for a pregnant woman vary from minor to scary. Sexual desire can go from none to greatly increased.
You’ll both be running that gauntlet without an instruction manual. Pay attention to the “I feel fat” vs “I feel beautiful” matrix. It varies from woman to woman and from day to day. Husbands should show some extra love and kindness here. This is only one of many things going on during pregnancy. Here are a few others:
1. Female genitals swell around the fourth month, which often produces constant lubrication and sometimes more desire for sex.
2. You can’t get pregnant...you already are.
3. Female orgasms can be more intense (and multiple).
4. Male orgasms may also be more intense due to swelling female genitals (and the increased level of love that’s developing in you).
5. Breast tenderness may occur. Men should “Wax On, Wax Off” with coconut oil.
6. When the man wants sex and the woman doesn’t, the man should consider “Waxing Off” in a different way.
7. Get a zippered mattress encasement to ease concerns about leaking urine and other fluids. It protects against bed bugs as well, so just do it.
8. Don’t worry about hurting or annoying the baby, he or she will have plenty of years to get back at you.
9. If your doctor does tell you to refrain from sex, ask why, for how long, and what’s included in prohibited sex. You get the health care you accept.
10. Pay attention if the soon-to-be Mom wants more touch or less touch during pregnancy (and what kind of touch). Perhaps she will want less intercourse but more romantic touching. Or she may desire to masturbate more. Or it could be something completely different. Just pay attention to touch needs and wants.
Then the baby arrives. Wow! You really didn’t believe it actually worked like that, did you? Try to bond during this amazing experience, as plenty of stress to your bond will hit you soon. For example, consider having sex after the baby. Generally, a woman’s libido drops to record lows right after giving birth. Unfortunately, this doesn’t usually happen to men. Lack of sleep may also play a major role in sexual negotiations.
This time in life, which can last years, often becomes sexually stressful for both spouses. You’re tired and you often don’t like each other...and sometimes you’re not so sure about the baby. Don’t freak out about it. Most folks have gone through it without ending up in jail, and you can too. One tip that will help you succeed in the baby wars is to talk about sex before the little tax deduction arrives. Here are some questions you could ask each other:
1. What do you think our sex life will be like right after the baby is born?
2. How about a few months in?
3. What do you think our new normal will become?
4. What do you want it to become?
5. What if the baby is colicky or I get postpartum depression?
6. Her: What if you see me as a mother instead of a lover and aren’t interested in me? What if I look different?
7. Him: What if I’m ready for action and I feel guilty asking you because I don’t want to put you on the spot?
By the way, a good answer to this last one may be that we agree for this special time that it’s always ok for the more sexed-up partner to ask and ok for the less sexed-up partner to say no. Learn to think of a trip to the shower as part of the Fruits of the Spirit.
Finally, make a plan to get out on a date on a regular schedule. If you don’t plan, it won’t happen. Keeping your friendship and romantic love alive will bless your baby more than anything else you do.
The Teen Wars
The early school years aren’t simple, but they tend to be a breathing break between the baby years and the teen years. As your children struggle to become adults—or independent at the least—you will encounter conflict. The more that conflict bothers you, the more it will affect your sex life. Hopefully you and your spouse learned to work together as a team when the kids were young. Kids are masters of the “divide and conquer” strategy. Parents need to hang tough as a team, even when one spouse says something that drives the other crazy.
Debby and I found parenting in the teen years a tremendous challenge, but God used this time to help us draw closer. This “us against them” time made us stronger as a couple. We loved raising our kids and thought we’d hate when they left home. The teen wars helped with that. By the time they were ready to leave, we were ready for them to be someplace other than home. We actually looked forward to having an empty nest.
When the Chicks Fly the Coop
When our last child left home, we found energy to reconnect in a much less stressful manner. We took the time to learn to enjoy each other again without the constant stress of teenagers. We started building the foundation for the rest of our lives together.
But some folks divorce soon after their kids leave home. What drives one couple one way or the other? Look at your relationship trend through the baby and teen wars. Have you been getting closer as you worked as a team through the struggles, or have you split the tasks and drifted apart?
When the last kid leaves, are you waking up the next day with someone you don’t like very much or with your best friend? If you’re waking next to your best friend, you’re going to love the empty nest, and more adventuresome sex can follow more available time and energy.
On the other hand, if you wake up with someone you don’t like, you need to take up a realistic view. There has probably been a process of withdrawal on the one side and ignoring the withdrawal on the other. Many couples now divorce after 50, often around the time the kids leave. Unfortunately, it often takes one spouse by almost complete surprise.
Planning can help prevent this ugly surprise. A few years before you’ll reach the empty nest, initiate conversations about what you want your “no kids at home” life to be. Just like business planning, make a strategic plan for your marriage future. Discuss your marriage strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Dream about what you’d like to have and do with each other. Make an action plan that moves you in the right direction.
Make sure that action plan includes spending time together as a couple. Even if you find you talk about the kids most of the time, get in the habit of spending regular and special time together. Consider the emotional and financial costs of divorce; work to avoid it if both parties are willing to try. As my accountant says, “Divorce is too difficult and costly; it’s better one of you should die.”