Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Sex

Font Size
A
A
A

Keep Your Sex Life Alive Post-Kids

Tactics for reigniting your romance after the children arrive.
By Chris Colin
WebMD the Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Julia (not her real name) was no stranger to motherhood -- her first child was 14 months old when her second was born -- so she wasn't expecting any real surprises when it came to her sex life. It would subside for a while, she figured, then gradually get back on track.

Instead, Julia discovered a strange arithmetic followed the arrival of baby No. 2: Fatigue, stress, and general chaos somehow increased by a factor of 10. Was the rumor she'd heard true? Do kids obliterate their parents' sex life forever?

Recommended Related to Sex & Relationships

How Do You Find Time to Do "It"

"I tell my kids, a locked door in the morning means Mom and Dad are having time together. And sometimes my husband and I schedule to take time off when the kids are at school just to share some special moments; then we really steam things up!" — A.L., 46, Columbus, NJ "When my son was young, he hated naps, so we'd let him play in his room while Mom and Dad 'took a nap.' He never knew what we really did." — J.Y., 53, Sodus, NY "My husband and I set our alarm early and make love before...

Read the How Do You Find Time to Do "It" article > >

No doubt about it: Where parents of one child outnumber their offspring, a second baby shifts the whole dynamic. "The balance changes," says family therapist Carleton Kendrick. Or, as Julia puts it, "The couple should be the pillar of the house. Instead the house becomes a giant toy room."

Usually, by the time a second child arrives, the first is old enough to be somewhat independent -- and a handful. Nursing the new baby is hard enough, but add a kid in the "terrible twos" and the workload more than doubles. Meanwhile, the consequences are real: On average, parents with kids spend just 20 minutes a week being intimate, according to Anne Semans and Cathy Winks, co-authors of The Mother's Guide to Sex.

According to Kendrick, the solution is in seeing these issues as opportunities for a new kind of intimacy: "In my experience, sex is actually better for couples with kids, after a little work."

Tips for Keeping Your Sex Life Alive

Redefine. "Make sex mean slow kisses in the morning," says Kendrick. "For husbands, this might be a few minutes of stroking your wife's hair. You start reconnecting in this new way, and then the other ways aren't such a leap."

Reconnect. "Don't talk about the kids all the time," Julia says. "It's tempting, but you have to avoid it. Talk about whatever it is you used to talk about together. Keep those conversations alive."

Get creative. Babysitters can take kids on l-o-n-g walks around the block, Kendrick notes. In general a couple would do well to revisit adolescence: "Get in the car, park somewhere. Or run off into the woods for an hour. I don't mind saying that that worked rather well in my own life."

Be spontaneous. Rediscover the living room. Julia and her husband often exported their sex life to the couch, she says.

Be realistic. Finally, don't be afraid to declare a hiatus from sex; your body may insist. Removing that stressful question mark from the bedroom, experts note, is a positive first step toward harmonious evenings down the road.

Julia agrees that her sex life ultimately experienced a rebirth, so to speak. In some ways, motherhood actually made her a better and happier lover. "I'm more in touch with different parts of my body," she says. The evidence seems to support this assertion: Last year she gave birth to her fourth child.

Originally published in the September/October 2007 issue of WebMD the Magazine.

Reviewed on August 04, 2010

Today on WebMD

flowers behind back
Article
Upset woman sitting on bed
Article
 
couple kissing
Article
Exercises for Better Sex
Video
 
Life Cycle of a Penis
Article
HIV Myth Facts
Slideshow
 
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Quiz
Couple in bed
Video
 
6 Tips For Teens
Article
Close-up of young man
Article
 
screening tests for men
Slideshow
HPV Vaccine Future
Article