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Ask Dr. Sears: Intimacy

Q. My husband and I share a family bed with our 13-month-old. Recently, I find that I'm feeling self-conscious when my husband and I get intimate, even though our baby is usually sound asleep. I'd like to continue co-sleeping, but how can I feel more comfortable making love with my husband?


A. As parents of eight children, my wife Martha and I have learned to juggle lovemaking and bed-sharing. It's certainly not a problem making love next to a sleeping baby. But, as your child becomes more aware of what's going on, and is no longer sleeping through the action, you may find yourselves feeling less amorous and more self-conscious. Here are three Sears' family bedroom strategies that might help your intimacy get back on track.

1. Move the baby

Suppose all three of you are in the family bed and the mood hits. When spontaneous lovemaking begins, move the sleeping baby into another room. Keep in mind that you run the risk of waking your sleeping baby and ruining your plans. Or, if you like to plan ahead, try putting the baby to sleep in his own separate bed, and then welcome him into your bed after you've had your couple time.

2. Try a change of scenery

The master bedroom is not the only place for lovemaking. Every room in the house has potential, and a change of venue may lead to more creativity in your sexual relationship. Some ideas: walk-in closets make for an intimate love nest, or if you have a room with a fireplace, consider making this your love chamber.

3. Work on your timing

Day's end and before-bed sex is not the only time for couples to be together. In fact, it's often the time when busy parents are too tired to enjoy more than simply holding one another. Time your intimacy appropriately. You may find that morning sex is more enjoyable—especially on weekends, holidays and other non-working days. Weekend mornings are an especially convenient time when your child gets older, since there's always the old standby: "Go watch cartoons!"

Many kids ago, Martha and I learned that what children need most is two happy parents. Embracing and showing affection is healthy in front of children of any age, and the love between parents can't adversely affect the product of their love. Having a satisfied love life is part of the whole parenting package.

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