“I’m exhausted almost all the time,” a mom of two told me the other day. Another mom of two agreed: “I think the demands on a couple are enormous—children are requiring a great deal of love and attention and work is requiring focus.”
Sound familiar? I know it does for me. In one week, from dawn until bed, some of us moms are running nonstop. I know my routine is often solely focused on just getting things done quickly: breakfast, packed lunches, school drop-off, school uniforms, managing school pick up, managing the babysitter’s activities, playdates, working full-time, laundry, dinner, shopping, clean-up, bath-time, etc. And somehow, yes somehow, I’m to find the energy to work out (typically for me it now only means walking the dog) and to get “in the mood.” It’s so hard to switch gears and actually want sex these days. Most nights I’d rather have a bubble bath and read a good book once our son is in bed. One highly regarded sex therapist told me that a couple who goes two weeks without sex is in a state of emergency as orgasm releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone that keeps couples connected. (See: Post-Baby Sex? Yes, it’s Possible!)
This news can certainly upset those of us who do go beyond two weeks at a time—which after an informal poll, all moms of two or more children admitted to.
“If it’s after 11:00 p.m., you can just plain forget about it, you’re just too tired … I know there are times when we’ve gone over two weeks (without sex) without realizing it. Well I’m sure my husband has realized it, and he actually points it out to me—but I think mothers and wives are overwhelmed. I don’t think marriages are in a state of crisis when this happens, I think sometimes it just does,” said Jana Smith, a mother of three from Atlanta.
Mom of two, Hilary Rifkin, who lives between New York and London agreed with Jana.
“None of us should be made to feel inadequate or in need of therapy because fourteen days have passed without intercourse. What if we have cuddled? Nuzzled? Kissed? Spooned? Doesn’t that kind of intimacy count for something as well?”
Luckily, oxytocin is released when you touch—so cuddles, kisses, and spooning counts! But this doesn’t solve our main problem—that of exhaustion draining all the passion out of our relationships. While experts may tell us to get more sleep and work-out daily to garner more energy, it’s not easy to always implement as life happens. We lead messy lives with work projects requiring late night work, or a child who is sick.
So, for the best advice, I turned to real moms who must struggle every day to find the energy. I’m always in awe of those moms of two, three, or four children and how they juggle work and family and where intimacy lies in the mix. For that reason, I reached out to several moms for advice on how they stoke the fires of passion in their marriages. Often, it seems, we are weekend warriors. The weekend brings workouts, sex, and help around the house. Many women said they scheduled weekly sex dates with their husbands. While that doesn’t sound terribly passionate—in the end, it’s a more manageable approach. But just because you schedule it, doesn’t mean it has to be humdrum, as Jana pointed out.
“You have to make an appointment and commit to it no matter what. Yes, it’s a real drag to schedule sex, but when you both work and you have three kids, you have to schedule it. What I usually do is that I call my husband from work in the morning when I know I can get away for at least an hour (from work) and ask if the afternoon delight cafe is open for lunch. I try and do this once every couple of weeks—since the kids are in school, it’s easier for us to have some intimate time in the afternoon.”
Afternoon delight sounds dreamy—but not always attainable for couples who work far from their homes. In those instances, couples have to go the baby-sitter route and plan some fun. But even if finances are tight, couples can find ways at home to get a bit of passion back.
Michelle Schlansky, who has been married thirteen years, has found a way to relax and stay connected to her husband.
“We take a shower with each other every night (after the kids are in bed) to relax and unwind. Of course, after a truly stressful day it doesn’t always help us relax together. Sometimes my husband’s (or my) stress permeates the relaxation state of things,” she explained.
For those who do have help with a nanny or babysitters, or with family nearby, it may be worth it to leave the kids for a romantic weekend retreat. In fact, Hilary said she plans six weekends away a year with her husband. Other ideas? Have the babysitter take the kids to a movie and spend a Saturday afternoon in bed with your hubby.
We all know that us moms are amazing planners—between planning our children’s school and activities and planning menus and planning our work demands, etc. So all we have to do now is throw sex dates into our planning schedules! Let me know how it goes. Share your ideas on how you find the time alone with your partner.