Does having kids dampen your sex life? It doesn't have to.
May 22, 2000 -- When Dierdre Powers, 37, gathers with her moms' group each week at a park in Marin County, Calif., its members have lots to talk about. One of the more popular topics is sex, or rather, the lack thereof. "It seems to be a common lament," says Powers (not her real name). "Ever since children came on the scene, we don't have time for sex."
It wasn't that way when the Powers were newlyweds five years ago. At that point, Powers recalls fondly, she and her husband were having sex two or three times a week. But soon after the arrival of their daughter, now three, Dierdre simply felt too exhausted.
By Kimberly Goad
As Amanda Clark, 33, a caterer from Boston, walked down the aisle toward her fiancé, wearing a $15,000 gown and a 7-carat ring, she felt nothing but dread. I don't want to go through with this, she thought, with each step toward the altar.
Just two hours before the ceremony, Clark had gone for a dip in the ocean with her two sisters. When it was time to get ready, Clark wouldn't budge. "I couldn't get out of the water," she says. "It was like knowing you have a work meeting...
The baby's schedule and their usual lovemaking time didn't jibe, which complicated the issue. As newlyweds, Dierdre says, "we made love in the morning. But the baby wakes you up in the morning, and there goes the opportunity. Now, she comes into our bedroom and says, 'Mommy, Daddy, get up.' We have friends who park their kid in front of the TV in the morning and get in some romantic time. But that's not an option for us. My daughter needs breakfast as soon as she gets up."
The Powers' situation -- as well as that of other parents of young children -- may sound hopeless, with some bleary-eyed but sexually frustrated parents wondering if they'll just postpone sex until they send the kids off to college. But experts say there's a way to salvage your sex life as new parents. Powers agrees. Over the course of the last few months, Powers, who is expecting another baby this winter, has worked with her spouse to infuse a lot more romance into their lives.
Talk About It
It sounds obvious, but the first step to improving your sex life is to admit it's not great, experts say. Of course, there's a productive and a not-so-productive way to do this. On the not-so-productive list: a 40-something father of two toddlers who mentions frequently to friends and neighbors that there's not much action at his house these days. Saying that in front of his wife -- who works full-time and tends the kids most of the time -- won't exactly boost his sex appeal in her eyes.
Instead, experts suggest, sit down and talk about the gigantic changes in your life and how you can still find time for sex.
Dierdre Powers and her husband decided they would try to stay up an extra 15 minutes to have sex at night. The strategy works, she says. She and her husband also agreed to give each other permission to "push the point" if one felt like having sex and the other did not. That meant, says Dierdre, that if her husband was "feeling frisky" and she wasn't, he could keep pursuing her after she initially declined. She could do the same with him.
But the pursuing partner had to try to get the other in the mood (give him a back massage, tell her she looks great) and to stop if the one pursued really wasn't up to it. Sometimes, Dierdre says, it just takes a little extra cajoling, trying something like, "Oh, sweetheart, are you really sure you're all that tired?"