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It’s 9:37 p.m. and all of the kids are asleep, or at least, in their rooms with the lights off.
You climb into your bed, only to be met with your man inching closer, wondering if you have any energy left. As women, we usually don’t—we’ve spent more than our share of emotional energy comforting one of our kids or listening to a coworker.
Sorry, guys, but sometimes sex feels like a chore, even when it is usually a good and satisfying experience because we are too depleted to take it in. It is perpetually in the “obligation” category, like paying the bills or watering the plants. Most of us tiptoe quietly away from obligations, hoping we can make it out of the room before anyone notices.
Statistically, women are much less likely to initiate sex with a long-term partner. And women with children, even less so. Part of it is biology and part of it is the load we carry and the relationship we have with our partners.
So what’s a husband to do when his deepest desire is a relationship with lots of sex?
There are actually some practical remedies, if you are willing to put in the work and fulfill your own set of obligations.
1. First, the biggest sex killer for women is feeling drained. Anything a partner can do to take over aspects of the nighttime routine and give their wives a meaningful chunk of time to decompress will help create favorable conditions. Better yet, if you can, take the kiddos out to the playground and dinner, stay gone for a few hours, and let her relax without hearing “mommy” 30 times in a minute. Or, if you don’t have kids, clean the apartment and let her take a nap. Try to make this a regular thing.
2. Second, stop putting yourself into the “child” category. You are a husband, a fully formed adult. Full stop. If not necessary, don’t ask where your socks are. Don’t bring in a giant chocolate bar you found at CVS half an hour before dinner. Don’t lose your patience with your sassy preteen, creating more drama in the household. Don’t play video games on the couch while household tasks go undone. As soon as you act like a child, your wife’s brain might think of you as someone who needs to be taken care of, which could kill whatever sex appeal you still have.
3. Third, prime the pump with nonsexual touch. If you want to have sex on Friday, start on Monday by offering her a foot massage. On Tuesday, give her a long hug where you sync your breathing. Wednesday, see if she’s interested in receiving only. Try to make it all about her if you don’t have other obligations. Thursday, put on a couple’s yoga video and try to do some of the positions together. By Friday, sex may just creep into her awareness, and if not, try another few days of connecting physically, but not sexually.
4. And lastly, let her take the lead. I think it’s beneficial to stop asking about sex. Try not to walk in when she’s in the shower or goose her butt as she walks by. When women feel safe and not sexualized, their own sexual desires have a chance to simmer and bubble to the surface. Confident men who seem completely okay without sex may become all the more attractive, taking away the dreaded sense of need or obligation.
Sex in a long-term relationship, especially as co-parents, takes some negotiating.
It is often a mismatch of needs, but one that can be managed with effort and communication.