5 Rules for a Satisfying Sex in Marriage
Relationship advice for married couples from sex therapists, relationship experts, and moms who put the spice back into their love lives
When was the last time you and your guy got busy together?
(And not busy as in assembling Ikea bunk beds or doing your taxes.) Still thinking? Cheer up: You are so not alone. The majority of parents don't resume a "normal" sex life for years -- and even then not without a little work. "When a couple starts a family, their whole life changes. There are diapers everywhere, and then toys, and then science-fair projects and carpooling and summer-camp applications. It's hard to feel sexy in that environment," says Lori Buckley, Psy.D., director of the Center for Relationship, Marriage, and Sex Therapy in Pasadena, CA. "Couples with kids are no longer just lovers, they're parents, and they tend to identify more as the latter. Sometimes making the shift back to being lovers happens organically, but for most couples, it requires intention and effort."
That said, you know you're still a hot mama (how'd you end up with those kids, after all?). Revive your drive, and your whole relationship will be better for it. Take it from Lisa*, a mom of three who lives in New Jersey. "When my husband and I go without sex for too long, it can get ugly: strained, snappy, and worse," she says. "In our case, sex is cheaper and more effective than therapy." So is spending the next ten minutes reading this article. It doesn't include instructions for performing the "Crab" or the "Mare's Position " (you'll have to check out The Kama Sutra for that!), but you will find some basic truths about putting more va-va-voom into your love life from sexperts and moms who've managed to reclaim their own.
You're six weeks postpartum and your ob has given you the green light to have sex. This doesn't mean you necessarily want to. You may be healed, but you're still sore and exhausted. And yet, for your own sake as well as your husband's, find some time for just one simple romantic act: locking lips. There's actually a biological explanation for why it works, says Stella Resnick, Ph.D., author of The Pleasure Zone: Why We Resist Good Feelings. Giving your kids all the cuddling they require (even grade-schoolers need plenty) increases your levels of oxytocin, a bonding hormone. This makes you feel totally close to them -- but it also decreases testosterone, which plays a huge part in revving up your sex drive. Since women tend to spend more time with kids than men do, and have less testosterone in the first place, their levels of this horny hormone tend to drop even more after children come along. The result: By bedtime, the last thing you may feel like is even more physical contact. Men usually don't get this, though, and may feel petulant, pissed, bewildered, or way too determined to try to bring you around, brushing up against your boobs at inopportune moments, for example, which can make things worse.
Kissing -- like clockwork -- may be a tonic. Swapping saliva is a way to increase testosterone and bring your bodies into sync, says Resnick. It's something you can do every day, and not just when you're having sex. So pucker up with pleasure. "If you only kiss as a part of intercourse, then intercourse will become just another chore on your to-do list," she says. "Eye contact is key, too. Lock eyes with your spouse, smile at him, maintain a few seconds of contact, take a few deep breaths at least once a day." And when your body is off-limits no matter what, gently and lovingly say so -- then offer him a little thrill. A hand job here or a blow job there will go a long way toward keeping him physically satisfied and the pilot light (for both of you) smoldering.