Intimacy after the babe arrives? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-01-2005, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a topic that has been on my mind for the past few days and I would love to hear what all of you experienced mamas have to say.

My DH and I have a very strong and close relationship, physically and emotionally. We have (I think) above-average communication skills, and we make our marriage our priority. But it seems like lately, I've been hearing from all over the place (media, friends, etc.) about how drastically marriage changes after the birth of your child to the point that closeness and intimacy are a thing of the past. And, that the mothers don't miss it at all!

I was talking to a very good friend of mine who has a 13-month old, and she said that she recently went to her OB for her 1-year follow-up appointment, and her doctor asked about her sex life. She said it's non-existent, and the doctor said that is totally normal. She went on to say that when her DH comes home from work, she doesn't want to be touched or hugged or kissed. She said, "I tell him, don't even look at me!" She then hands the baby over to him and goes to read in another room. Now I must qualify this by saying I'm not sure they had the strongest marriage before their daughter came, and I also want to clarify that I am not judging her and that I totally think both parents need time alone too. But the whole conversation just left me feeling kind of...sad. I don't *want* to get to the point where I don't want to share affection with my husband! Even going through this first trimester was kind of emotionally difficult for me because I did find myself wanting MUCH less intimacy, and at the same time missing our usual closeness.

I also watched a recent show on Oprah about marriage after kids, and it seemed that the resounding feeling of most of the moms was that they were just so exhausted all the time that they didn't have anything left to give their husbands and they basically resented their husbands for having needs at all.

Well, after thinking about this and kind of putting it all together, I have come up with a hypothesis, and I wanted to see what y'all think. (And admittedly, I am now pregnant with our first, so I am TOTALLY naive about all of this.) My feeling about the whole thing is that what keeps women from wanting intimacy is *not necessarily* the exhaustion of being a mom - but more the resentment about how much parenting they have to do and how much is demanded of them. A lot of the women on the Oprah show and even my girlfriend say that their husbands don't understand that after a full day of nurturing and having a baby (or multiple children) attached to them, the last thing they want is another person making physical demands of them. This makes sense to me.

What I'm wondering is whether these women, and moms in general, would be more open to intimacy and closeness if they felt that their husbands were helping them parent more AND - probably more importantly - if they felt that there husbands were interested in "giving" instead of "taking" from a physical intimacy point of view. For example, would intimacy be facilitated by the husband offering a foot or shoulder massage, or offering to take a bath/shower together, or making dinner....or something else nurturing to the mother? It just seems to me that what is missing in most of these cases is the husband taking an active role in replenishing the mother's physical and emotional needs. As partners, I think that is one of our most important roles to each other!

I had a long talk with DH about this yesterday, and we are both committed to trying to avoid this cliche of marriage. What I am hoping is that some of you mamas who have been through this will be able to help me come up with ideas, strategies, and inspiration! What helps you feel close to your husbands? What makes you welcome physical contact and intimacy?

(PS: Of course I mean after a few months, not like immediately after birth!)

Thanks Mamas!!

Ever-evolving mama to my beautiful Brynn, and my little dimple-face Noah .
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Old 05-01-2005, 12:32 PM
 
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yes, yes, and yes.

First, I agree that a major, major factor is how much your DH is willing to give in terms of housework, foot massage, cooking, etc. I read in one book that a man doing the dishes when you have kids is like the best foreplay ever. I have to agree. A lot of men think that if their wife is staying home, then she should be responsible for everything despite having to take care of a new life! I have to admit that I've fought against the whole 1950s housewife model very agressively. And if you can avoid "falling" into it, then you'll be better off for in IMO.

I had an initial surge of intimate feelings towards DH immediately after birth. Then I wasn't really interested in sex again for honestly two years or so. Not that I didn't have the occasional horny day here and there, but it was like once a month or less vs. our pre-kid several times per week. Some women aren't willing to have sex without being interested, if YKWIM. I was, so it kept DH going through that period. So that's a drastic change seen from the viewpoint of DH. After DD was 2/2.5, it began to increase to back to about 1-2x/week.

Emotionally we went through some adjustment too. You really have to work to remain close, i think. And when you're exhausted from caring for a baby, you just don't have it in you sometimes to even talk things out. You just want to sleep or read or have 5 minutes to yourself. Eventually though, the baby gets a little older and you do regain energy for your marital relationship.

Part of the changes that happen are hormonal, not emotional. The after birth hormone crash is like a heroin addict going cold turkey. It takes a while to adjust both homonally and emotionally.

I think it's great you're talking about it beforehand. Most couples don't. But dont' expect things to stay the same. They will change. It's more a matter of *how* they change than not changing at all.
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Old 05-01-2005, 02:21 PM
 
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I didn't have much sex drive for about a year after J was born, but I definitely wanted to hug, kiss, snuggle, etc. J's dad and I broke up when he was 11 mos. old, and I started dating my current partner. There has been nothing but love and intimacy between us for the year and a half we've been together, and it does help that he does the cooking, half of the cleaning, and some childcare stuff (like getting up with J in the AM so I can sleep in).
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Old 05-01-2005, 03:36 PM
 
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I think its a mix of biology and mental stuff. Moms exhausted and thanks to hormones is not interested in sex. Its natures way of spacing out our children. If you pay attention you'll notice the BF moms interest in sex comes back around a year whereas FF moms interest in just a few months because there not getting that constant oxytosin (sp?) rush that makes them less interested in sex but FF moms body doesn't realize they have a baby to care for since there not BF to get that rush and the sex drive comes back early. JMO. Your relationship will change in ways you cant begin to imagine, after the baby is born you will realize your DH is an adult and can fend for himself, this sweet little baby needs YOU and only YOU for quite a while weather you like it or not

Seriously?
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Old 05-01-2005, 03:52 PM
 
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I never lost my drive (well except now cause I am puking all the dang time). I've always been the more horny one and it was the same way even after I had my son (we did wait until after 6 weeks to DTD just cause I bled for a long time and was healing from an episiotomy, etc).

I think there are ALOT of factors. My dh had to go back to work the day after I had Jevin so I was pretty much on my own but when he did come home from work he would help with cleaning or whatever needed to be done.

Certainly children change things because your time is more limited but I think you can make it work if you want to. I also never had post partum depression or anything. I'm sure that makes it harder on new moms.

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Old 05-02-2005, 12:54 AM
 
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I'm sure that how much DH helps may contribute in some cases, but honestly, I do believe it's mom exhaustion and hormones to blame for most of it. We didn't have sex for 6-7 weeks after birth with both of my children, but I didn't feel distant at all towards him. There was alot of understanding between us and discussion of expectations. I think that's what is important, that even if sex isn't happening as much as it used to the lines of communication stay open and you're still close. We have sex about twice a week. Sure, it was more than that before we had kids. But what we've settled into is just fine with both of us. Nursing a baby on demand can really overstimulate you sometimes, and that's why some moms just don't want to be touched at the end of the day. You spend all day touching someone, and the release of oxytocin from breastfeeding is similar to the release of oxytocin after sex. My husband is a wonderful partner, helps me out tremendously, is there for me emotionally and my best friend. Even though sex has waned, our relationship is made much deeper after the birth of our children.
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Old 05-02-2005, 10:38 AM
 
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As much as I HATED it how often people said "you'll see" with that all knowing smile when I was pregnant for #1, I have to say you'll see. It's a strange thing. I truly beleive that my husband and I have a very rare and wonderful marriage - we are every bit as in love now as we were when we met...more really. But things change. Babies change everything. You made some great points - and I don't really have that much to add. I will say that I did have days when I just felt totally touched out by the time my husband would get home from work. And on those days I did hand Jake over to him and retreat to a bath, a book, whatever for a little while to regain my sanity and my feelings as a person / wife separate from being a mom. And then I was able to emerge from the bath or whatever feeling soooo much better and ready for more touch. So I guess my point is just to say - yes, you can maintain a great and healthy sex life etc. But allow yourself to need space. If / when you do, it doesn't mean that your marriage is going down the tubes. It doesn't mean that you're falling into a bad pattern. It means that you are being honest with yourself and your husband about what you need. And let him be honest too. Maybe he will need an adjustment time to get used to seeing you in your mommy role before he can meld that in his mind with your wife role. Who knows - just don't set up "perfect marriage means no change" expectations. Perfect marriages change constantly.
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Old 05-02-2005, 10:56 AM
 
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selazenby - i agree 100% with your post. it is very much a "you'll see" kind of thing. i love my husband and we have a fabulous marriage. but for a while we had one that didn't include a whole lot of sex. it just wasn't something I was able to really get my head around for a long time. i was (and still am) nursing our DS, i was feeling touched out, etc...for me, the strongest part of our marriage is the fact that it is adaptable. we did expect it to change, and we rolled with it. honestly, my sex drive still hasn't really returned to "normal" and now i'm pregnant again (obviously) so...we'll see. i've learned that if your marriage is based on little else other than physical intimacy (i'm not saying anybody's here is, just talking in general), you won't survive kids. LOL
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Old 05-02-2005, 11:56 AM
 
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As someone mentioned above, post-partum depression is defintely a factor as well. I had severe PPD with DD. It set in around 5-6 months. Along with it came daily thoughts of divorce, which, you know, doesn't lend itself to doing the nasty .
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:59 AM
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thanks for this thread, everyone. as a first time mom this is something i'm terrified about. i love our marriage, and we have dealt with a lot of changes (job issues, moving, etc.) in last year, so i know we can deal with change, but i don't want anything to upset things so much that we can't find our balance again. I'm not trying to sound too rigid, but i just can't imagine what's going to happen, how it will look. I do hate people saying "you'll see" though....this friend of mine gave me a long talk about how it's just natural that i and DH are both going to feel closer to a baby (than to each other) b/c it's actually a part of us, something we created. Is that true? Is there a way to avoid these kinds of feeling without being distant/unloving towards the baby???
K
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:51 PM
 
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I think some people make this out to be a bigger deal than it is. I mean, couples have been having children throughout earth's history and marriages have survived just fine. New dimensions will be added to your relationship, bonds will be deepened- this is not just a matter of what's 'being taken away' from your relationship. The changes will come, and if you're a strong couple you will weather through them and evolve just fine as you find your way. I know it's easy for me to just say "don't worry about it", but really, it's going to be okay.
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