No Time for Sex
Does having kids dampen your sex life? It doesn't have to.
Rediscover Each Other
After kids are born, spouses can become so wrapped up in their parenting roles that they lose sight of all else, says Pepper Schwartz, PhD, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington and past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. "People stop seducing each other," she says.
To rediscover each other as lovers, rather than parents, spend 10 minutes in bed after waking up and before going to sleep, suggests Kate Wachs, PhD, a Chicago psychologist and relationship expert. During these times, she says, "be positive and dedicated to your partner, just in conversation." It doesn't have to include sex, though these 10-minute appreciation breaks may lead to sex.
Schedule a Regular Date Night
Once a week, experts advise, get a baby-sitter or lean on your friends and get out together as a couple. "Couples need a date night to be by themselves," Wachs says. "Find friends with whom to rotate child care and date nights. Arrange sleepovers at each other's houses so you can take turns having date nights. And don't feel guilty about hiring baby-sitters. You're not just a mom, you're a wife and lover. When you become just a mom, that's when you start telling your husband what to do all the time, just like you tell your kids. You have to switch modes."
During the date, Wachs says, you shouldn't talk about home, work, or kids. Instead, talk about goals, dreams, and other fun topics. "Think like you did at the beginning of your relationship," Wachs says. If you had a passionate, romantic relationship before, you can reignite it, she says.
Consider a Weekend Away
One weekend a month away without the kids is an ideal goal, Wachs says, although finances or work schedules may make that impossible for some parents. The weekend away doesn't have to be expensive, as the Powers know.
"This past weekend, our daughter went to my sister-in-law's," she says. And they acted like newlyweds. "We were laughing [after having sex]," she says. "We could be noisy and we could be leisurely and not rush it."
Regular sex keeps couples more light-hearted, more affectionate, and less argumentative, Wachs says.
Dierdre Powers, for one, has enjoyed the changes in her life since she and her husband started making more time for sex. "I always feel too tired to have sex, but it's just a matter of getting out of the starting gate," she says. "Once we get going, I realize, 'Hey, this feels great. We should do this more often!' "
Elaine Marshall is a freelance writer living in Reno, Nev. She also reports for Time magazine and teaches at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.