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LIFESTYLE / NOV ‘2016

“I used to think it meant I didn’t love my partner when I desired another”

Let’s talk about Sex baby! Or, alternately let’s talk about the lack of sex parenthood seems to inspire. Let’s examine the factors creating such a dismal correlation. I’ll go first  – with my full and diverse life filled with nappy changes, school runs, regular incidences of one of my three children vomiting or urinating in my bed at midnight, and amusing myself each day with an enduring mountain of washing, could it be related that I find my libido is a wasteland? Cue tumble weeds and a haunting whistling wind.

Words ANN MARIE BRADSTREET

I love when he's kissing of me neck

Aside from clearing my spam folder every now and then, and driving past SexyLand en route to the supermarket (Yes – That is the real name of the adult shop in my town), I’ve been completely estranged from my sexual self. I have relegated sex to another chore on my to-do list, hardly a rousing aphrodisiac. Suffice to say, my husband of 10 years is tearing his hair out, grasping at straws and other metaphorical behaviours I shan’t elaborate on. Understandably, he is becoming less enamoured with the pity shag of predictable narrative that is allocated a two-minute window on my domestic schedule every blue moon, in the conscious pursuit of staving off extramarital affairs – just joking, well, sort of, I’m a little bit serious.

Let’s just conclude that my sex life is scant at best and for the public record (I’d also like to avoid divorce) IS NOT DUE TO MY HUSBAND’S LACK OF TRYING. His dedicated campaign of trying, however, has had a disappointing run of counterproductive results. It is a conundrum in need of urgent resolution – the answer, however, seems to continually elude our fatigue-addled brains.

Sensual young couple in the romantic place

“We usually put on a two-hour long movie and spend that time pleasuring each other, the actual intercourse is only minutes but that’s not necessarily the fun part.

So, I decided to put a whole lot of fatigue-addled brains together to see if I could find an answer by consulting my online secret mother’s group. The response and suggestions I received from this cherished community, where all and nothing is sacred, were as varied as the spectrum of sexual appetites in a vintage Dutch porn movie. Help was at hand!

Previously unbeknown to me, open relationships appear to play a key role in keeping the sex lives of some couples robust. As someone whose relationship values rely heavily on loyalty and fidelity, and the fact I am struggling to rally enough enthusiasm to have sex with just one person, I can’t see it working for me, but am fascinated enough to ask a lot of questions.

Kara, who is in a long term open partnership writes, “My libido does die down when things become stagnant, which can be attributed to motherhood, but things get spiced up again when one of us takes on a new sexual experience; sometimes a kiss is all it takes from somebody new.”

On querying which rules applied to keep the relationship intact, I was surprised to find there were none and learned the relationship relied on open, honest, communication. 

“Nothing is hidden and nothing is judged, we just communicate and respect each other’s ever-changing boundaries. Just because we have no limits doesn’t mean we reach them, it just means we never feel trapped by each other. My partner is bisexual and we’ve always had an open relationship but since having kids he’s only been with a few guys and I’ve had a few drunken make-outs.

“I used to think it meant I didn’t love my partner when I desired another but I discovered when I spend time with someone and drown in their pheromones I come home and my partner’s pheromones are brand new again. I feel like we have a perfect partnership and wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone is different though, it works for me because freedom is the most important thing to me in a relationship.”

Even though an open relationship is not for me, I envy the intimacy and safety that exists in the way Kara and her partner communicate, and despite having the same pressures of family life, they make a conscious effort to spend time together.    

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Polyamorous blogger, Angie Becker Stevens, writes about her lifestyle choice and explains that she is equally committed to, and deeply in love with, both her husband of seventeen years and her boyfriend of two and a half years.

“We usually put on a two-hour long movie and spend that time pleasuring each other, the actual intercourse is only minutes but that’s not necessarily the fun part. We do this about twice a week and take advantage of time when the kids are tired and fed, it’s rarely uninterrupted and that’s generally why it takes the whole movie.”

Kara does admit that her sex life has improved since she stopped working full-time, and prior to that there were times she was just too tired to bother. It is somewhat comforting to find that fatigue snatches the romance from even the most sexually dedicated.

Lucinda practised an open relationship with her husband Sam in the past with varying success, and admits that jealousy got in the way. However, she is currently interested in the idea of polyamory, which on a quick Google search I discovered can be described as, rather than having casual sexual encounters outside of a traditional partnership, a polyamorist engages in loving committed relationships with more than one partner and sometimes even a network of people, all respectful and aware of the situation.

Lucinda writes, “Sam and I still haven’t found something we are totally happy with. At the beginning of motherhood, I was so not into sex and so I encouraged him to welcome any advances at gigs that he played. When he told me about it I actually found him more attractive, zero jealousy. He came home to me and I relished that somebody took interest. When Sam thought we could do ‘open’ I felt really free and happy although I didn’t sleep with anyone. But he changed his mind and said he couldn’t do jealousy.

Many described how intimacy on all levels erodes when a kiss is deflected or a massage declined in case it is misconstrued as an invitation for sex.

“Now I am beginning to believe in polyamory, in that every relationship is consensual and meaningful and not just about sex. I want someone in particular and the chemistry took me by surprise. It’s not about avoiding or fixing anything in the relationship as Sam and I are probably happier than we’ve ever been right now but I feel I want something to do with this other person as well. Sam and I chat about it and it’s a work in progress to me. We have books to try and understand how it works for others and a jealousy workbook. Anyway, I don’t really have answers as far as an outcome goes – it’s definitely a work in progress.”

Polyamory doesn’t stand out as a solution in sprucing up my sex life, but nor do I think it is meant to. Polyamorous blogger, Angie Becker Stevens, writes about her lifestyle choice and explains that she is equally committed to and deeply in love with both her husband of seventeen years and her boyfriend of two and a half years.

I have no judgement in consenting adults structuring a love life that brings no harm to others, but it does seem an increase in workload in my view. It may be a stretch to split my two minute blue moon shag between multiple slots, pardoning any unintentional puns, especially if I have to make everyone dinner and listen to their problems.       

The forum did reveal many mums with very young kids and babies, or with children who had special needs, found themselves too tired for sex with their partner. Many described how intimacy on all levels erodes when a kiss is deflected or a massage declined in case it is misconstrued as an invitation for sex.

Mums with older children and others whose younger kids sleep well did offer hope that things can get better. Two key points kept arising from those that were getting some. Communication, openness, honesty, and prioritising time for each other to allow intimacy to grow, whether it’s a date night (that can be attempted at home with the kids in bed with a nice meal if babysitting or finances are obstacles), sending a sexy text message or email to your partner at work and allowing something to simmer and build over several days, or allowing the sensual kiss to happen without feeling pressure to go further – whatever it is that sparks the romance.

“I’ve let myself succumb to his sexual desire of me and we have been rocketed to a new depth of passion.”

Sexually-fulfilled Casey sums it up best when she writes, “It goes to show that what may work for one won’t work for another, but communication is the most important factor. Sex is extremely important to my relationship with my husband. We rarely go a week without it, excluding post birth and my cycle. We have a very strong chemistry but we have had to work on it. Talking honestly is important as is my husband’s patience and understanding.”

“I struggled (sex) drive wise after my second and third child and there have been periods when being touched has left me feeling annoyed because he was only doing it to get some head and I found that selfish but post-bub number four I’ve been open about these issues and we’ve found a new spark.”

“I’ve let myself succumb to his sexual desire of me and we have been rocketed to a new depth of passion. Our youngest is 13 months and we just try to grab each other when we can. Foreplay is generally a build up over a couple of days and I guess this keeps things exciting….”

If communication is the most important factor, then – Let’s Talk About Sex Baby! You owe it to yourself and the one you love, or ones if you happen to be polyamorous.

Footnote….it appears that communication is the remedy, my husband and I are back in the sack, let a conversation take you all the way to SexyLand!  *all names in article have been changed to protect privacy.    

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