“Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about sex.” -Salt-N-Pepa
Disclaimer: If you’re my mom or my dad or my mother in law or my father in law or any old person I look up to, promptly close the window on your screen and move along to Facebook or something.
I was in a self-help book club before we moved. It was glorious, full of intelligent, interesting, open-minded women eager to share their perspectives. There are certain requirements for a book club to be considered legitimate. One is books and the other is wine. I’m a rule follower, so naturally, our book club had both.
At around hour three, the wine bottles were usually empty and the subject matter had taken a surprising turn- to sex. This happened Every.Single.Time. We learned some interesting things about one another. I’m a classic oversharer. Especially when booze is involved. (You take that one bit of information to your graves girls. Y'all know which one I’m talking about.)
Anyway, this book club, coupled with the intimate stories told to a hairstylist, and tidbits from friends, have given me some insight about how much and what kind of sex everybody is having and how they feel about it.
From what I’m hearing, most of you just aren’t into it. Sex has become yet another chore, lifetimes away from the glory days of pre-wedded bliss.
Is this because the world is complicated and exhausting? Is it because your hormones are whack-a-doodle from the aforementioned exhausting life, coupled with pregnancy upon pregnancy? Is it because you feel like your hot factor has dramatically declined in the last half-decade or so? Is your marriage doomed?
The answer probably lies somewhere within all of those, except maybe the doomed marriage part (fingers crossed for you).
Most of us are gettin’ it on somewhere between 1-3 times per week, according to stats on The Google. But, realistically, word on the street (my street) puts it more at like 0-1 times per week. Zero times is a travesty, ladies. Sex is free, fun, and it’s healthy. And, it’s good for your marriage. It’s a win, win, win… win.
We don’t need to hold ourselves to the standards of a national average. Quality over quantity makes a difference. Five wham-bam-thank-you-mams in a week don’t count for much when it comes to emotional connection. Not every night is going to be filled with mind-blowing sex, but you gotta squeeze those in whenever you can. It’s a subjective necessity that varies for everyone. If once per week you’re having an intense session and everyone is satisfied, then don’t play the comparison game.
Let’s pick apart what’s going on for those of us that just aren’t feeling it. (These suggestions are predicated on the assumption that there aren’t additional emotional/ sexual issues to address for either party- we’ll address some of these in future blogs.)
If you feel like you’ve never recovered from the cray cray hormonal fest that is pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, you’re in good company. I’ve certainly been there. After 15 months of breastfeeding my second and third children, I had the energy levels and the libido of a cardboard box. Getting your hormones checked is a losing battle, because they fluctuate wildly depending on where you’re at in your cycle, so don’t waste any bucks there. First off, everyone needs to take Vitamin D3, Magnesium, B12, and iron (this one only if you’ve tested deficient). These vitamins are game changers for your energy levels and almost all of us are deficient (yes, even the healthy eaters).
Check out adaptogens, like ashwagandha and rhodiola. These aid stress regulation and hormonal regulation. While not an adaptogen, SAM-e helps with stress and depression. Read my article about Adrenal Fatigue. If it resonates with you, think about making the suggested changes.
Maca root powder, Evening Primrose, krill oil, and DIM are excellent supplements for regulating hormones in whatever direction needed. A lot of us (most of us) are estrogen dominant (read about this here) because of mass exposure in our environments. It’s important to avoid unnecessary exposure to estrogens- plastics, non-organic produce, soy, non-botanical cleaners, make-ups, and hair products, etc etc.
Cleaning up your diet, to support health and energy will do so much more than improve your libido. You’re worth it. Your family is worth it. Your marriage is so worth it.
Now that we’ve gotten the health stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the possibility of you just not feeling sexy enough to want to actually have sex. Your husband’s idea of sexy has more to do with your self-confidence, and his complete and utter love for you, than that extra 15 pounds you just can’t seem to shake. He doesn’t care. He’s not picking you apart the way that you do yourself. He wants you. Don’t deny yourselves that satisfaction and sense of connection because you want to keep your saddlebags under wraps.
Maybe things have gotten monotonous and the payoff isn’t feeling worth the effort involved. Good sex is a two-way street. It’s like that thing we always say to our kids - “bored people are boring.” Get off your back and have some fun, mix it up, dress it up. It might feel silly, but some sexy music and a pretty lil’ something can set the tone. I have a sexy time playlist on my phone. It helps take me out of my responsible, adult, list making head, and puts me in the mood. I’ll even listen to it during the day to rev myself up for the upcoming evening. I associate good times with those songs and enjoy thinking about that more than just when we’re in the moment.
If your husband still doesn’t seem to know what’s up with your body, nothing is going to change unless you share what you’ve learned with him. He doesn’t have a vagina, how is he supposed to know what to do with yours if you aren’t incredibly specific, down to the last detail? Everyone likes different stuff. You won’t hurt his feelings if you clue him into what works for you. Most men greatly appreciate the guidance. They love to see you satisfied. It makes them feel accomplished. (If your husband isn’t interested in anything more than his own needs, that’s a relationship issue that surely bleeds over into everything else, and most definitely requires intensive mending. Ditto if you’re not thinking about his needs.)
Guilt is another roadblock in allowing our partners to pleasure us. I used to make assumptions about what my husband did and didn’t want to do, or how he felt about spending time just on me. The truth is that he loves me and enjoys seeing me feel good. He thinks I’m worth the effort.
Some of us struggle with shame and embarrassment surrounding sex or nudity. It’s hard to talk openly and use all the anatomical words to describe what we want in the light of day. Some of us may not even be sure what we like or what works. There’s no magic bullet for removing programmed shame. It takes time and forced communication. The more you talk about it, the more you experiment on your own and together, the more desensitized you’ll become. Up until I was about 30, I struggled with discussing and learning my own preferences, relying upon various partners to teach me. Over time, through toeing the line of my comfort zone, it’s become a much easier and far more rewarding process.
If none of this seems applicable, and you’re just not into your guy, that sounds like a marriage problem, lack of sexual interest being a byproduct, probably accompanied by a host of other byproducts.
Assuming you’re in love with your husband, there are little changes that can make big differences.
Here are a few things that have proven helpful with maintaining intimacy in my marriage:
I go out of my way to really notice my husband, the way his arms flex as he’s making his breakfast, his cute lil’ butt walking around the house in his sweatpants (which I give a squeeze every chance I get). I pop into his office regularly to sneak more than a basic smooch and maybe pass a lil’ verbal foreplay his way. These things may sound silly, but they build tension and by day’s end we’re excited for more. It takes effort and mindfulness, but it’s minimal, reminds us of our pre-children selves, and it’s fun.
I know that we’re all spent by the time we’ve cleaned dinner dishes, herded a bunch of kids into the bath, gotten them to sleep, and then settled into the reprieve from parenting that is bedtime. I don’t think any of us are immune to that. Sex after a long day is like exercise, you have to motivate yourself to get started. Once you’ve done it, it’s almost never regrettable. Most of us have a laundry list of shit we need to do all day, every day, and often times sex just doesn’t make the cut. Wine on the couch sounds much more alluring. Making sex a priority can grow your relationship, and the extra strength it adds to our partnerships helps us handle the chaos of life and parenthood. It’s a fundamental part of marriage, a physical extension of the emotional connection that is imperative to a healthy, loving relationship. It’s not just about getting your husbands rocks off because men have “needs.” If you allow yourself to really be immersed in it and take the time to nurture that connection, so many aspects of your marriage and your self-image stand to benefit. If you’re not having sex, you’re roommates- you’ve removed an incredibly special and definitive piece of your marital relationship. Rewrite that list, move intimacy up several spots and see what happens, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.
Side note: I really want to emphasize that so many women have varying degrees of psychological associations with sex and current experiences are colored by past experiences. It’s not always a drive issue and definitely not always as simple as I’m presenting in this blog if your sexual history and upbringing are complicated. There’s help out there, and it's more common than you think ❤️.