When Megan Tietz asked about hosting a post for Spirit-Led Parenting, the book that she and Laura Oyer wrote together about the baby’s first year, I wasn’t sure, because I don’t often write about parenting on my blog, and my first-year parenting days are well behind me. But when I saw that there was a sex chapter, I jumped at the opportunity to host a post about THAT.
Shortly before our book was released, I was talking with my mother on the phone and she mentioned that she planned to send a copy to my 93-year-old grandfather.
“Okay.” I replied. “Oh! Oh. Um … just so you know? There’s a sex chapter.”
Yikes. I mean, I’m not uncomfortable talking about sex, per se. I’m totally fine with it in conversation with friends. But the whole “Hello, strangers! And also elderly relatives! Could I tell you about my sex life?” thing produces slightly more anxiety.
Ultimately, though, Megan and I feel this is a topic that just isn’t addressed enough, and is one area of life where fear of certain doom is often held over the heads of new parents and parents-to-be. We truly believe that because God intends every aspect of our marriages to be healthy and vibrant, this is another part of the first year of parenthood where following His lead out of fear as we care for our children can open the door to deeper levels of fulfillment.
So, in Chapter 7 of Spirit-Led Parenting, we decided to go there – speaking frankly about some things that have made a huge difference for each of us in our marriages. And the core of our message once again is an invitation and encouragement to walk in freedom.
Freedom to get real
It’s impossible to over-emphasize the importance of communication when it comes to intimacy. In other words, talk with your spouse about sex – clearly and often! This can be really difficult at first, particularly for those who were brought up in an environment where any discussion of this subject was taboo. But as we were drafting this chapter and gathering thoughts from other mothers, the importance of these conversations was confirmed time and time again by women who pointed to talking it out as the number one key to better sex during parenthood.
Communication can go a long way in navigating the realities of life with baby that could naturally lead to relationship roadblocks. Some women deal with intense physical discomforts after giving birth that make sex more difficult for a time, or struggle with new insecurities about their post-baby bodies. Men can feel thrown by the weight of responsibility that comes with fatherhood, and wrestle with rejection as their advances may more often be rebuffed. The ability to get through the weirdness and start a conversation about each other’s anxieties and needs, what’s working and what isn’t, can make a huge difference in staying on track together.
Plus, intimacy lends itself to intimacy, right? The more vulnerable we are with our partners, and the more we allow our inhibitions to melt under the warmth of deepening trust, we will find that new freedom carrying over into our romantic encounters. And … well … that’s just plain fun!
Freedom to embrace creativity
As someone who doesn’t enjoy seeing her tidy plans go awry, I will admit that the most difficult aspect of sex-after-baby for me was the need to develop a more flexible attitude. It was so frustrating in those early months of parenthood to have spark-filled moments interrupted by a feeding request or diaper-related need from the newest member of the household. And my grumbling, pouty mental dialogue took time to relax into a perspective that could more easily roll with those detours in our plans.
Once I adjusted my mindset, though, I discovered that a flexible attitude in our sex life turned out – surprisingly – to eventually bring more vitality even than before. Embracing new times of day (hello there, morning rendezvous!), different locations in the house (depending on where the baby was dozing), and the anticipation that came with winking at each other until naptime, all served to bring new spontaneity and excitement to our relationship.
Freedom to ditch the fear
You will hear some people assert that sex after kids inevitably becomes – at best – a shadow of the past. Others will claim that unless specific infant-parenting methods are employed strictly and right away, this part of your relationship will undoubtedly suffer the consequences. We disagree.
Preserving a vibrant sex life is not dependent upon the parenting methods you decide to follow, but rather in the mindset you keep. Choosing, no matter the season of life, to make romance a priority. It takes time, it takes adjustment, and it takes commitment.
- Spirit-Led Parenting, page 142
There are very real adjustments to deal with in every area of life as children are added to a family, and the bedroom is no exception. But if we can communicate about our anxieties and needs, foster a flexible attitude while staying creative, and take time to pray about this part of our marriages (awkward alert! but it really helps!), it’s very possible to build a sex life that is even stronger and more enjoyable than before.
And really – who wouldn’t want that?
Will you share your thoughts here today? Did you – or do you still – fear a decline in physical intimacy upon entering parenthood? Where did that fear come from? How comfortable are you in talking with your spouse about sex? And what are some ways you’ve found to keep the sparks flying after becoming parents?
Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.