“Sex after kids is the best sex,” said no one, ever.
That’s not to say kids themselves have any control over their parents’ sex lives, but I think we can all agree that it’s pretty easy for libido to morph into libi-DON’T once the pitter patter of little feet begins to fill the halls of our homes. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s just reality. Certain stages of life lend themselves to sexual intimacy more than others, and the early years of parenthood is most definitely not one of those stages.
Let’s face it, moms of littles: we’re tired. We wake up tired and we go to bed tired, and all day long we physically pour ourselves into manhandling tiny, tiring humans. By the time bedtime hits and we sit down on the sofa next to our men, sex is the last thing on our minds. I used to tell my husband, “I want to be with you right now, but I don’t want to be with you. I want to sit next to you on this couch mindlessly watching a television show because I want to know you’re near, but I don’t actually want to talk to you. Or touch you.”It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. I was so depleted by 8:00pm that I couldn’t see straight, and the thought of physically engaging with my husband was often too much to take on.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it on, though, my sisters. We should. But we should also have realistic expectations about what sex after kids looks like, at least in the early years of parenting.
For example, gone are the days, for the most part, of "Energizer Bunny sex." You know, the “it keeps going, and going, and going” type. Don’t get me wrong—it can still happen, but it probably won’t happen often. Taking its place is “get-er-done” sex, and in this season of life, I truly believe quickies aren’t anything to apologize for. Sex is a vehicle for connection and relational intimacy, and even the quickest physical connection can do wonders for our relationships with our spouses.
Then there's this gem (if you don’t know this already, let me educate you): the law of parenting that says when we do muster up some energy and attempt to “get-er-done,” at least one of the children will wake up and need something ridiculous at some point in the process. It’s like their spidey-senses kick in as soon as we lock our bedroom doors. In my home, we’ve learned to laugh about this, because if we don’t laugh we’d probably punch a hole in some sheetrock instead. Keep a robe handy and be prepared for disruptions, because they will happen.
Several years ago, when my children were small and I was perpetually exhausted, my husband and I decided late one evening that we’d…uhhh…work on our budget together…in the shower. And by “work on our budget,” I mean, well…you know. We got in the shower and…worked. We did a lot of…working, and we had some very lively discussion as we…worked. After we had finished our…budget, we finished showering, and I pulled open the shower curtain to grab my towel. I immediately screamed at the top of my lungs and almost fell backwards in the shower. Sitting directly outside the shower curtain on a stool was my then-five-year-old daughter, elbows on her knees, head in her hands, staring at me with big eyes.
“Mommy,” she said, with a question in her eyes. “What are you and Daddy doing in there?”
“Uhhh...Daddy and I were just…we were just, um, having a meeting. A shower meeting. Like a business meeting. It’s business time. I mean, NO! We were, uh…we were just talking.”
She looks at me with a puzzled expression. “Why did you have to have your meeting in the shower?”
“Because…uhhh…Mommy and Daddy were very, um…very dirty.” My husband facepalmed behind the curtain while simultaneously attempting to stifle his laughter.
“Well, Mommy,” replied my daughter, “I needed you and I came to tell you that, but you and Daddy were talking very loud, and you told me never to interrupt adults when they are talking, so I waited. I was very patient, wasn’t I, Mommy? Aren’t you proud of me?”
And that, folks, is the epitome of what sex is like in the early years of parenthood. It’s fast. It’s interrupted. It’s sometimes awkward, and sometimes you laugh in the middle of it. Other times you might fall asleep. And it’s okay.
The truth is, sex is meant to connect two people, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We can’t neglect this connection with our spouse simply because we’re tired, because it really does matter, but we also can’t beat ourselves up when we feel we don’t have anything left to give.
Sex after kids requires grace in massive doses. It requires grace from your partner, an empathy and compassion for your current depleted state of heart and mind. It requires grace from you, an empathy and compassion for your partner’s physical and emotional needs. It requires a mutual commitment to foster intimacy within your relationship even when you feel like your energy has been sucked dry, and it requires patience in the times you just can’t “get there.”
The good news? It does get easier.
My kids will be seven, nine, and eleven this year, and my husband and I are able to enjoy some great “Energizer Bunny” sex, and often. We’re rarely interrupted, and we have the mental and physical energy once again to take our time. That said, we still live under the umbrella of grace, and some days it’s harder to engage than others. We’re still learning and we’re still parenting and we still get tired, and that’s okay. Real marriage is messy. It’s a fight for connection in a disconnected world. It’s loving each other and serving one another even when we’re depleted. It is constant exchanges of understanding, compassion, and grace, and this must reach all the way into the sexual side of a marital relationship.
If you find yourself feeling like this all sounds good but feels impossible, be encouraged. God will give you and your spouse what you need to maintain a healthy sex life because He cares. Simply invite Him into the struggle and ask Him to restore and repair this part of your relationship. He is faithful, every time. And remember…grace upon grace upon grace upon…you get the idea.
Also, always lock the door when you’re having business meetings in the shower. #TrustMe
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