I just don’t want to have sex.
No desire. Low desire. Resentment. Exhaustion. Disinterest. Distracted.
Many moms use these words to describe their sex lives. In our closed Facebook group for moms we’ve been discussing the guilt and resentment that grow when you feel like the only sex you are having has become a chore. We’ve also discussed the worry and stress that come with not having sex.
Moms do a lot of chores. Sex shouldn’t be one of them. (Check out what I’ve written about when sex feels like a chore.)
It’s difficult, because while you love your partner, love sharing a family with him or her, you know the importance of a healthy sexual relationship, and to be honest, you’re just not feeling it…
To be clear, having sex occasionally because your partner wants it, when you aren’t in the mood, isn’t a bad thing. There are many reasons this happens—because you love your partner and want to feel close, because you want to give pleasure, because you know he or she really desires sex and you are okay with participating.
However, as Debby Herbenick, PhD writes in her book Because it Feels Good, there can be long term consequences to only having sex you don’t feel like having.
She calls it the “cycle of dread” where women end up not only dreading sex, but eventually dread affection from the partner who wants to have sex with them. This happens when women have sex “over and over again when you don’t want it, thus setting yourself up for sex that doesn’t feel good.”
Plus, the sex you want to be having is the sex you want to be having.
So what can you do about it?
Start with yourself.
Remove the pressure of sex with another person. Love on yourself. Caress yourself. Use the approach called sensate focus therapy (used for couples) on yourself, where you explore your body with your hands or an object like a feather. Relish what feels good. Bask in it. Feel your breath as it goes in and out. Close your eyes.
Feel the sensual power within you.
Exercise your most powerful sexual organ, your brain.
Are you a woman who expects her partner to turn her on sexually, and when that doesn’t happen, do you think something is broken in your relationship, or something is wrong with you?
Guess what, there is a different way. You actually have way more power and control over your sexual arousal than your partner does. And it is all tucked away in your brain.
It just requires practice, patience, and openness to try new things.
You begin with just thinking about the possibility of sexual intimacy. Women who think about sex are more likely to want to have sex and enjoy it.
Now imagine what excites you. It is okay, and very normal, if you are not imagining your partner right now. Remember, your mind is your erotic playground, and the possibilities are endless.
Read books and watch movies that expand this erotic playground. Practice role-plays or invent fantasies that excite you. Share these with your partner if that excites you.
Just remember, you are the owner of your own eroticism. Learning to explore and expand it will help you have a long and vibrant sexual life.
Make time for intimacy.
Nothing is wrong with you because you don’t feel like having sex at the drop of a hat. I know the least sexually appetizing time I can think of for intimacy is late at night, after a full, long day, in a dirty bedroom, on the rumpled sheets everyone in the house plus the dog have slept on.
Again, nothing is wrong or broken about your sensuality, when this isn’t the sex you feel like having. You need a different perspective, some intentionality, and creativity. Here are some ideas:
Get a lock for your door.
Use your child’s bath time for some alone time with your partner.
Use your own bath time for alone time with your partner in the shower.
Use any other room other than your bedroom, use any other surface other than your bed.
Get a babysitter and have a date just for sex. Rent a hotel for a couple of hours.
Put sex on the calendar and think about it all day long so you aren’t taken by surprise.
Find a lunch break one hour a week or month you and your partner can have intimate time together.
Mess around in your laundry room/closets/shed/backyard/car. Be creative. Just don’t get arrested for indecent exposure. You are parents after all, and that is the stuff of lifelong childhood trauma for your kids 😉
Be intentional, strategic, creative, and patient with yourself.
Remember how you used to do stuff behind your parent’s backs? Mess around with your partner and relish the fun of hiding it from your children.
Buy helpful products
Purchase a lube you love. You may need to experiment. Some water-based lubricants evaporate quickly so you can try silicone-based lubricants or oil (no oil with condoms, though) for longer-lasting effect.
Buy sex toys for yourself. Try them out by yourself first, especially if you feel too embarrassed to try with a partner. Masturbation is an excellent way to fire up your libido and there are many health benefits that come from regular masturbation. (Stay-at-home moms of young children, this is something to look forward to when they go off to school.) Some women masturbate or use a vibrator before they are intimate with their partner.
Just being willing to try different things is a step towards finding your libido again. Be patient and loving with yourself. Share your fears and worries with your partner, and keep trying different approaches. Trying something is better than trying nothing. This is a life-long journey and what you learn will help you build a dynamic sensuality your whole life long.
Get help/Use resources.
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Written by Sarah J Swofford, MPH. sarahjswofford.com. Sex educator for moms, author, mom of two.