Dear John: Child’s Birth Causes Death of Sex Life
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
My wife and I had our first child six months ago. Everything was normal. Her pregnancy, labor and delivery, adjusting to having a third member of our family (a wonderful son), everything. There’s only one thing that hasn’t gone well.
Ever since we first met, the sexual part of our relationship was always great, and with no effort. From the first time I saw her, I was intensely attracted to her, and inexplicably, she felt the same way about me. Our sex life has been exciting, uninhibited, just great, and I know she feels the same. But seeing her give birth has changed that, and I feel like a complete jerk for saying it. But it’s a fact. Watching her give birth was amazing, but it was also extremely gross, and every time I think of sex with her, that’s all I can think of. She doesn’t know I feel this way because it’s been easy to attribute our lack of sex to the exhaustion of caring for a newborn, our out-of-whack sleep schedules, all sorts of things. But things have settled back into a routine. It’s a new routine, and so far it’s a sexless one, but this situation can’t go on indefinitely, obviously.
So what do I do? How do we get back to where we were? I should mention, I still want sex. I just don’t want it much from my wife. (There’s that self-loathing again!)
Dear Turned Off,
You may have been turned off by watching your wife give birth, but all those other factors that cause new parents to have infrequent (if any) sex still apply – you ARE tired, your sleep schedules ARE out of whack. So it’s possible that you weren’t as thoroughly turned off by what you saw as you think and that these other factors are also playing a part. It seems like they almost must be.
If that’s the case (and even if it isn’t), I think it’s just a question of a little more time. Time to get accustomed to your new life with your son, time for the mental images you’re dwelling on to fade a bit more, and time for your husband-and-wife roles and identities to grow to include father-and-mother aspects. Six months is really not all that long.
So what do you do? First, forego any kind of sex that doesn’t include her – you may think that masturbating will give you some harmless relief, but it could easily become your primary sexual outlet at the expense of your marriage. So don’t do it. Then the next time your wife initiates sex or the two of you are in a situation that’s leading to it, don’t resist or start thinking, “Uh-oh, this is that thing that’s a Big Problem now.” Just go with it and see what happens. If that time doesn’t quite work, try it again. I think with a bit of patience, you’ll be right back to doing what got you into this predicament in the first place.
How come every guy I am friends with thinks our friendship means something it doesn’t and ends up acting weird – jealous of my other friends, or mopey and distant, or worst of all, trying to kiss me? Then when I say no (because I don’t think of these guys as anything other than friends), things get uncomfortable and we end up not being friends any more? I’ve always had lots of friends who are guys because I get along with them well and in some ways they’re easier friends than girls are (in SOME ways), but I can’t tell you how many I am no longer friends with because they had to ruin it. What can I do, besides saying, “Just so you know, we’re not going out” to every guy I meet? Because I feel like they’re getting that idea, but I know I’m not giving it to them. I’m never flirty, I don’t give them any reason to think there’s anything going on that there’s not, they just end up thinking that anyway. I don’t get it.
Dear Just Friends,
I think girls can be friends with guys a lot more easily than guys can be friends with girls. More often than not, guys seem to hope things can go from “friend-who’s-a-girl” to “girlfriend” while the girl in question is content with things staying just as they are. To a certain extent, I think what you’re experiencing is just the different way guys and girls look at friendships and relationships.
That answers your first question. But as for your second one, why should you do anything differently? You’re not doing anything wrong, so just accept that this is going to happen sometimes. The good news is two other things might happen as well: the guys who don’t screw up your friendship could end up being really great friends. And eventually, you could meet someone who does start out as a friend and becomes something more, which is a fantastic way to start a relationship (if a relationship is something you want).
Over the past few years, I have begun to notice an unsettling pattern to my relationships. I will become infatuated with a woman, fall head over heels for her, think about her all the time (almost literally), and do everything to show her how much I care and make her feel the same way about me. And then, when she does, that’s when I start to lose interest.
It’s had to happen a few times for me to even realize what I was doing. I used to think it was a natural process of growing apart. After all, people who were crazy about each other break up all the time. But if I’m honest, I know that’s not what I’m talking about here. As soon as my last girlfriend told me she loved me, I was aware, in the back of my mind, that it would be the beginning of a long, slow end.
What am I to make of this? Is this just what happens until you find the one that lasts – the one that was really “meant to be”?
Wish One Would Last
Dear Wish One Would Last,
You have to ask yourself what you want out of a relationship (besides sex, which is a given), and you have to be really honest about the answer. Do you want a girlfriend so the two of you can experience the world as a couple, delighting in each other’s triumphs and supporting each other when things don’t go your way? Or do you want a girlfriend simply to prove to yourself and the world that you’re worthy of a girlfriend? If the answer is the latter (which it usually is with people for whom relationships are all about the pursuit), then what you’ve experienced makes perfect sense: once you have your confirmation that you’re desirable to someone, you’ve reached your goal, and it’s on to the next one.
Does that sound like you? If so, what could account for your deep-seated conviction that you’re not all that attractive – and I don’t mean the way you look, I mean the person you are? These kinds of issues don’t usually resolve themselves; they just end up being expressed in various unfortunate ways. (For example, the need for further validation by the opposite sex is one reason so many married people have affairs.) If you see yourself in this, I think it would be a great idea for you to explore these questions further with a therapist.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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