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Tags: children | marriage | sexuality | counseling

Children's Effect on Loving Couples

Aline Zoldbrod By Friday, 28 July 2017 01:52 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It’s unfortunate, but true: Your children are the most anti-erotic force in your life. So what are you going to do about it?

If you don’t do anything, you’ll be perpetually exhausted, and your children will lock you away from your own sexuality and your emotional intimacy as a couple.

Most people seek and value an intimate romantic relationship. Once established, a cohabiting, marital, or romantic union becomes a defining feature of people’s lives.

And soon after that romantic relationship is established, most couples want to have children. But there’s the rub: Be careful what you wish for.

According to research, parenthood changes couples' relationships across multiple domains, usually lowering relationship quality, sexual satisfaction, and sexual frequency. This is true for gay and straight couples alike.

In my family’s younger days, I remember going out on a boat in the Boston harbor with my late husband and two children. The kids were having fun, the night was gorgeous, and the music was great.

My husband and I began dancing. We were being totally appropriate, mind you. “Ooooooh, Mommy and Daddy, stop!!! Stop dancing.", yelled my kids.

Larry and I were annoyed at this funny role reversal, so for a while we refused to comply. But our kids were so upset and were making such a raucous, public fuss watching us dancing that we eventually stopped.

The pressure on women to define themselves as good mothers is relentless, no matter what their other roles and obligations. This leads to husbands feeling completely pushed out of the mother/child bond.

The pressure to be a perfect mother leads to women feeling so depleted physically and psychologically that they have no energy to focus on feeling good, exercising, fashion, self-care, or anything else that might boost happiness, relaxation, or feelings of sexual self-esteem.

In my practice, I frequently see some husbands who feel they are number two or three in their wives’ priorities. Some deal with it in unhealthy ways —drinking, becoming angry, becoming cold and critical, splitting off psychologically, getting overly focused on work, using porn constantly, having affairs, or even seeing prostitutes.

Here is an example.

My family lives in the Boston area, where it is cold for two-thirds of the school year. My children are only 15 months apart. When they were going to nursery school, I had an interesting interaction with the nursery school staff.

There were two morning sessions of nursery school. There were spaces available for both my children to go to either of the sessions, the earlier one or the later one.

The school wanted me to put one child in the earlier session and the other child in the later session. That would leave me having my time chopped up five days a week, circling around and around from home to nursery school and back again.

If nursery school staff had their way, I would be dressing both kids in outerwear, putting both kids in the car, lifting them into their car seats (a back breaking normal event that mothers never complain about, but it’s hard on the body), driving to nursery school, taking both kids out of the car seats. Then I would walk into school, drop my son off for the first session, take my daughter back to the car, and drive her home.

Then, for the next session, less than two hours later, I would leave home, dress her in her outerwear, put her in the car seat, drive to nursery school, walk into school with her, drop her off, pick him up and drive him home. And take his outerwear off.

Then, in two hours, again, put on his outerwear, pack him into the car, get him out of the car, walk into nursery school with him,and pick her up, lift them both up and put them into their car seats, and drive them both home.

Since that was preposterous, I objected.

“Let’s put them both in the same session,” I said.

The head of the nursery school said, “Well, that’s what’s best for the children.”

“Well, the children are not the only people in the family,” I answered.

She looked at me stunned. How dare I advocate for my own quality of life and my own time?

So this is my advice: Resist cultural forces that are going to leave you without any time for intimacy with your spouse. Put a lock on your bedroom door.

Teach your children that their parents’ time together is important and is to be respected. No interrupting. No knocking on locked bedroom doors unless it is a true emergency.

And parental dancing and kissing is okay. Even in public.

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It’s unfortunate, but true: Your children are the most anti-erotic force in your life. So what are you going to do about it?
children, marriage, sexuality, counseling
Friday, 28 July 2017 01:52 PM
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