Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I need help!
My husband and I have been married for less than two years. We have a two-year-old daughter, and our sex life has become obsolete.
When we first got together, we were passionate and adventurous lovers. Once I got pregnant, that all went out the window.
I have ZERO sex drive and don’t even want to be touched.
He doesn’t force it, and when he tries to be intimate, I push him away. I feel so awkward!
I know he thinks it’s him even when I tell him it’s me. I love my husband, and I want to fix this! Please HELP save our sex life.
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You are not alone. This is a common experience for people of all genders after having a child. And it’s even more common for the partner who was pregnant and gave birth. Since that’s you, I’m going to focus on that.
There are multiple factors affecting sex drive after having a child.
The first couple of months (let’s be real; it’s the first couple of years, especially with your first) bring sheer physical exhaustion, a lack of sleep. If you’re breastfeeding, there is the release of prolactin (which can lower your libido), not to mention other hormonal changes, and this can be coupled with getting used to the changes your body went through from pregnancy and childbirth.
It’s A LOT to process — emotionally and physically. You mentioned that you didn’t want anyone to touch you; I could soooo relate. When you have a little one on top of you, nursing, needing to be held, all the time, it’s understandable that you want a break from physical contact. So cut yourself a little slack. That said, it is frustrating for your partner.
What’s great is that you want to fix this.
You love your husband. You are clear on that.
The first thing I’d suggest is seeking some counseling. I’d start with you. Having a place to unburden yourself from the mental and physical exhaustion and changes that come with being a parent to a therapist can be extremely helpful for your sanity. Sometimes we need someone who is NOT our partner with whom we can unpack all that parenting stress.
Secondly, you may want to see a marriage counselor together. It can be helpful for both of you to be able to process what you’re going through as a couple, together, but with an objective third party. Then leave it there, in their office, keeping your home out of the fray.
Make the time to reconnect, to be emotionally intimate, without the pressure or expectation of sex.
When we put a lot of pressure on ourselves about sex, it can take all the fun out of it. One way to get back on track is to plan intimate time with your husband that doesn’t involve sexual contact. Get a babysitter and go to a hotel for an afternoon of lounging around, ordering room service, talking, reading side by side, maybe a bubble bath, but no sex (and NO PHONES). For a more cost-effective date, wait until the toddler is asleep and have a midnight picnic in your living room with your favorite gourmet treats.
Someone told me about an idea that I have yet to try, but absolutely love — a two-person book club. Put aside twenty minutes, or even ten, each night to read to each other. You can pick one book and take turns, or two books and divide up the time. There is something delightful intimate about lying down and having someone read to you.
Schedule alone time, and by alone time, I mean time solo time, just for you.
For me, when I have felt like there was something off in my sex life, it was often because I didn’t have any time that was just for me. Planning that time into your schedule is invaluable. You and your husband can take turns. Allow yourself an hour, or an afternoon, or even a night away in a hotel for a solo staycation (if that’s financially feasible). Having that alone time can be so reenergizing and make you feel more like you, which is something that is challenging after we have kids.
Don’t lose hope. You both want this to work. Your sex life may never be what it once was, but it can be even better. You just need to reorganize how you approach intimacy.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Vivianite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my newsletter, which contains a behind-the-scenes look at STRUNG OUT and the publishing process, exclusive extras and book giveaways only for newsletter subscribers, recommendations to get you through the week, extra Ask Erin content, and more… XOXO