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Sex Life Dusty With Disuse?

  • It happens to even the best of us: After the birth of a baby, or a few years down the line, your love life hits the sexual skids. You know you should talk about it, or rather the lack of it, but how do you start -- and when? What do you say? And how do you say it so you don't end up bruising egos or booting one of you to the couch? Our guide helps you navigate this tricky territory: from the awkward opening words, to the overdue confessions, to the sexy pillow talk that's sure to result!
  • Just leap in
    Talking about sex can be awkward for any couple, but no one's died of embarrassment yet! Simply acknowledging how hard it is to talk about is an easy, effective way to break the ice.

    Choose the right place and tone
    Don't do it after (or in the middle of!) the act. Pick a night when nothing is planned, and wait until the kids are asleep. Turn off the TV and phone. Or, try merging your heart-to-heart with a low-stress activity you both enjoy -- talking while taking a walk, for example. This isn't an inquisition. It's an opportunity to reconnect, to steal an intimate moment in a chaotic life.

  • Acknowledge the problem
    This isn't the same as agreeing on the cause of the problem; it's just a way to get the conversation rolling. Begin by stating the obvious: "I know we haven't been having sex much lately." Naming this reality, without judgment, can bring you closer.

    Look forward, not back
    Agree to make a fresh start. Don't pull out old fights. Avoid generalizing and labeling: You never want sex!" or "You're a sex fiend!" won't lead anywhere positive. Also avoid comparing yourself to other couples. Stick to what you're feeling ("I feel sad that we have trouble finding time to make love") rather than making accusations about how you measure up.

  • Discuss the definition of sex
    Talk about what actually constitutes "sex" to each of you. Only intercourse? Or other kinds of touching? A husband whose sex drive is at low ebb may be delighted to find that his wife thinks him no less a man if he gives her a massage -- with or without "extras" -- instead of a more "demanding" service.

    Make it known that it's not him. Or you.
    Many factors mess with parents' love life: a light-sleeping child, hormones, shame about weight gain. Sometimes an article that explains what you're going through -- say, why it's physically hard for moms to have sex (sheer exhaustion, vaginal dryness) -- drives it home best, showing your spouse it's not just you or just him that's to blame.