If you're like every parent of a small child I know, you find it pretty difficult to set aside couple's time with your spouse. And then you have this niggling fear in the back of your brain that you will grow apart, become distant and when the kids go to college, you will blow this popsicle stand. Well, that fear is well founded, since 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce. And, as a couples therapist, I can tell you that a great majority of unhappy relationships contain at least one partner that is angry and hurt about lack of sex.
But put down that Xanax, grasshopper, I am here yet again to save the day. You just need to think outside the box, as I have said before.
1. Do you want to go another two weeks without having sex? Possibly, but your spouse doesn't! So, suck it up and TURN OFF THE TV. Yes, that's right, and no, I am not crazy. Go for three nights without allowing the TV on once (except when you need it to preserve your sanity while parenting). You probably end up going up to bed earlier, and that is where the magic (and indeed it is magic to make the time and energy for sex) will happen.
2. Get sitters more frequently. Sign up with Sittercity or another site and book someone to come hang out with your kids every other Saturday night. Whoever actually books the sitter shouldn't also have to plan what to do, so tell your husband to get his thinking cap on, in a less infantilizing way. Here are some ideas: dinner somewhere new, a concert, taking a walk together, getting a hotel room. That last one is serious. Wouldn't that be a surprise for your husband? Maybe if you did more stuff like that, he would act less like an ass. Well, it's worth a shot, friend.
3. Stop looking like crap. Yes, I too look like crap when at home a majority of the time. I'm not telling you to look less like crap for your husband's sake, because I am a feminist just like you. But how happy do you feel when you are wearing a shirt with spit up on it and you are 15 pounds overweight and you didn't get your hair cut for 5 months? Probably not that happy, unless you're a lot more self-actualized than me. For that matter, how great does your husband feel when he hasn't worked out since the baby was born and most of his work lunches consist of three slices of pizza and no women look at him on the street unless he accidentally bumps into them, possibly on the way back from the pizza place? It may be time to sit down with your husband and say, "I think we might feel more attracted to each other if we looked and felt less like crap. Let's join a gym and throw out some of our college T-shirts." Your husband will protest until you show him this diagram. You can print it out because it is very complicated: Looking less like crap leads to feeling less like crap leads to more sex Just kidding, it's pretty simple.
4. Get the kids sleep trained. If they are always up and down and you never know when you will have to run in, you can't relax enough to have sex and women need to be relaxed to have sex. (No, this isn't just you. Go tell your husband.)
5. Go to a hotel with a Kids' Club when you travel so your vacation can include sex.
6. Schedule sex. But, so it's not a one way street, also schedule some stuff you're really excited about too. Like, conversations or nights with friends, or time to work out, or time to scrapbook or whatever gets you going. This may involve getting a sitter, so see #2. If you're happier, you will feel more sexual. All of the above are ways to get sex back on the schedule, and if that doesn't sound romantic to you, then you should probably pay attention to your professor and stop reading this blog. Get it? I'm saying only college kids or younger ought to think it's unromantic to schedule sex. This is real life with young kids and life is not a tango through the violets.
However, you also may be thinking, I have time, but there is still something stopping me from wanting to have sex. In this case, be open with your husband about your feelings and what's getting in the way of being intimate. This can be anything from exhaustion to anxiety to feelings of resentment that he gets time away from the kids and house and you don't. Be direct but speak in a non-attacking way.Your husband, intelligent though he may be, may have no idea about the connection between your emotions and your sex drive. For a lot of guys, anxiety or depression does not impact their sex drive at all, and it may be news to him that it's different for you. Also, an open conversation may yield some team-oriented solutions. For example: If he is made explicitly aware that you can't relax enough to have sex till the house is clean, he may be more motivated to clean the damn house. Win win.
Till next time, I remain, the Blogapist Who Cares About Whether Your Relationship Lives or Dies.
For more, visit Dr. Rodman at Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook and Twitter @DrPsychMom.