Saturday, February 06, 2010
Parenthood is a game changer for couples on the intimacy front, especially when they've spent years along together. Distancing patterns can set in soon after the birth. The husband feels left out, a third wheel, while the wife's primary emotion concerning her spouse is irritation at his lack of understanding for what she's experiencing. The dissonance is an underground burr, with both parties becoming more and more estranged. It's essential for couples to summon the energy to bring fresh eyes to the deadlocked situation. Putting aside an evening to reminise about the past and recall amorous nights and romantic holidays can be a springboard to creating a blueprint to carve out "alone time" on on ongoing basis.
Family life and mind-bending sex are not easily compatible. After years on your own timetable, suddenly you can't attack each other with abandon in every room of the house. Additionally, parents should guard against becoming too inhibited to role model for their children what a health sexual partnership can look like. This isn't about recommending blatant shows of affection in front of the children, but you want the young'uns to have role models for passion and parenting.
Couples must make a real effort to remain enthuiastic sex partners lest they devolve into being co-parents and nothing more. This means doing things that don't involve the children - anything from enagaging in volunteer work to enrolling in dance classes. And learn new sex tricks together - buy videos and toys, read erotica together (more Anais Nin than Penthouse), have a night of prolonged foreplay. These tricks do necessitate having a lock on the bedroom door!
Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW, is a couples therapist at Washington Square Institute in New York City and author of THE COMPLETE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR: Relationship-Saving Advice from America's Top 50 + Couples Therapists (Adams, Jan. 2010). Her website is www.marriedfaq.com.