A couple comes into my office seeking better sex.
After we make the tea and settle into chairs, the man, often with a pained and baffled expression, inevitably says, “Ever since we had kids…”
His wife shifts anxiously in her chair next to him. Because she knows the end of her sentence: “Ever since we had kids… she doesn’t want to have sex with me anymore.”
I understand because I am a mom.
I have experienced the post-baby libido meltdown when my sex life crumbled. Years later, I was still looking at the wreckage of my marriage, wondering just what happened.
It was this meltdown that inspired me to leave my job as a content writer for a start up in San Francisco and instead focus on teaching about sex. Now I teach women and couples to have the kind of sex women love.
When a couple comes to see me, usually one of them is eager to find a solution to their problem and “fix it,” while the other has quietly resigned themselves to the sexless life of babydom, chalking up her lack of libido to hormones, stress, or the inevitable decline caused by familiarity.
Once you’ve cleaned your child’s puke off of your spouse’s shoulder, it’s difficult to see them as a sex object.
Happily, none of these are the real source of the problem.
The problem new parents face when wanting to reinvigorate their sex lives is not so much that they aren’t having enough sex, but that they’re having a kind of sex that isn’t fulfilling—especially for women.
Have you ever thought about why “women don’t want sex?”
The feminine mind naturally defaults to: “There must be something wrong with me.” Or else, “There must be something wrong with him.”
Few of the couples I work with have ever considered that when a woman doesn’t want to have sex, it might simply mean that the type of sex she’s having doesn’t feel good enough for her to pursue.
Maybe we women and new mothers are not hormonally crazy or so stressed out that we don’t have time. Maybe sex-as-we-know-it just doesn’t feel all that incredible for us.
After all, humans are well-known to go after the things that feel incredible—sometimes to our own detriment.
So what’s really going on?
The way we’ve all been taught to have sex—from seventh grade sex-ed to porn to popular culture—isn’t based on how women’s bodies work or how we actually get fulfillment as a result.
None of us—men or women alike—have learned how to have the kind of sex that women love.
The great news is that through my own personal research—putting my sex life back together after children—I’ve discovered a new framework for sex that turns women on and feels great because it’s based on a unique feminine model of pleasure.
Why do you want more sex?
Often, couples come to me to revive their sex lives because they think having more sex signifies their success as a couple. They anxiously compare their sex lives to a hypothetical standard.
“Normal people have sex three times a week, right?” Or, “I’ll be damned if we’re going to be one of those couples who never do it!”
Couples wanting to reignite passion and connection don’t need to have more sex because “that’s what normal couples do.” In fact, this type of social pressure tends to backfire and cause women’s libidos, in particular, to decline further.
Having sex for this reason tends to produce relief that “we did it!,” but not true fulfillment or intimacy.
New parents (and all of us) don’t need to have sex because “that’s what normal couples do.” We need to have more sex because sex can be one of the most nourishing, renewing, and energizing experiences we can share as partners.
Great sex can be restful and relaxing. We have the chance to release the grip of our minds and return to the basic instincts of our bodies. Joy. Connection. Desire. Fulfillment. Under the proper conditions, we can let loose and feel uninhibited during sex. We finally get to let go of worrying about everyone else and, just for a few moments, get drenched in nourishment, adoration, and freedom.
This is precisely the sort of thing that sleep-deprived, overwhelmed parents need most: to let go, to relax, to connect with each other in a way that leaves us both feeling energized.
So if sex is so nourishing, why aren’t new mothers clamoring for this wonderful source of renewal?
The answer is simple: when women are having what I call “conventional sex”—the kind that doesn’t work for women’s bodies—sex does not feel renewing or energizing.
Instead it feels like work.
Sex feels like “another person to please” and “something else to keep together.” This is the last thing a new mother (or any woman) needs.
Everyone fails in the current model of conventional sex. Men don’t get the touch, connection, or dynamic pleasure they crave, and women feel exhausted, hounded, and further at their wits end.
Sex can be a source of rejuvenation and pleasure—no matter what age we are and how many kids we have.
Here’s where we can start, based on how I began to reclaim my libido and desire after children.
1. Stop trying to please your partner sexually.
Sex felt like “another job” for me because I was constantly worrying about whether my partner was happy or not. Was he bored? Was I taking too long? Was he happy or not? Did what I was doing feel good? These thoughts are often well-intentioned. After all, we want to be good partners. However, this constant managing of his experience is a real distraction from our own experience of sex.
When sex was about him and his needs, it was impossible for me to feel my own desire or interest in sex.
2. Put your attention on your own body in sex.
“What do I want? What feels good for me?” These are the questions I support my clients in asking themselves.
When I began putting my attention on myself and my own experience, I started to feel more pleasure. Oftentimes as women, we simply aren’t looking in the right places to feel our desires and sexual sensations. We have our attention outside of ourselves—on our partner, on our kids, on our work.
When our attention isn’t on our own body, our failure to feeling pleasure goes deep. We’re not even looking in the right place for it!
3. Understand that women work differently than men.
The first time I understood that men and women’s sexual responses are radically different, I cried. I cried because for the last several years I was certain that something was wrong with me and my sex drive. I felt crazy and broken.
Here’s what I learned: men’s sexual response is direct, while women’s is not.
Men get turned on and experience pleasure and orgasm according to that linear graph of “orgasm” we all learned in middle school. Arousal, excitement, climax—remember? Women, however, don’t follow this model. Our arousal and excitement, and our path to sexual fulfillment, are all constantly changing. What feels good for me is different every single time.
Once I stopped expecting myself to experience sex like a guy does, and embraced my wild and unpredictable sexual nature, I gained confidence and started valuing myself as a woman.
4. Make your sex life a discovery—not a destination.
Sexual fulfillment for women isn’t attainted by reaching a particular goal—be that goal intercourse, orgasm, or “doing it at least once a week.” While checking the box of “We did it!” might bring a temporary sense of relief, it doesn’t bring any of us the deep fulfillment and connection we long for in sexual contact.
How would you approach sex differently if there was nowhere to “get to” at the end?
Women’s desire meanders, unfolds, and takes many twists and turns along the way. The most fulfilling sex I know of is a discovery in the moment of what feels the best for me and my partner this time.