Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week: What do you do when sex with your spouse is starting to seem like just another chore? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
My sex life is in the toilet. It isn’t that I don’t want to have sex with my husband, and I still find him desirable, but I’m just so freaking tired at the end of the day that it almost seems like just one more chore on my to-do list. I find myself brushing him off so often that it makes me feel guilty. I know he wants to have sex more often and I wish I could be more available to him in that way, but I lack the energy and motivation and it’s so frustrating for both of us. Please help!
Remember when the two of you were dating and couldn’t keep your hands off of each other? Well, don’t, because it’ll only make you feel guilty about the horny young thing you used to be.
Seriously, though, things have changed a lot since then. You likely have a ton of stressors you didn’t have before, like bills to pay and schedules to juggle and kids to parent. It’s enough to cool down even the hottest of sex lives. So let’s get that out of the way right now: it isn’t your fault.
I know it sometimes feels like false advertising — he married a woman who was happy to slide between the sheets for more than just sleep, and now that active sex life has dwindled to “Okay, but make it quick.” But chances are he’s also changed since settling into married life; he probably didn’t poop with the door open and leave beard-or-toenail trimmings all over the bathroom back then, so you’re both different people.
And you’re not alone in that exhausted, touched-out feeling. I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of moms reading this are nodding in agreement. So what can be done about this (very common, very relatable) problem?
First of all, an equal distribution of labor goes a long way in boosting the ol’ libido. We joke about how sexy a man looks with a vacuum cleaner, but in all actuality, ain’t it the truth?! There’s just something so appealing about your partner taking something off your overloaded plate. If you feel like you’re doing the bulk of the work around the house, of course you’re not going to have any energy left to devote by the time you’re done.
The patriarchy has long fed us the belief that a man’s job is to, well, have a job — and the woman does the housework and takes care of the kids. But that doesn’t fly in this day and age, and those are stereotypes better left in the 1950s. If your man is coming home and relaxing while you take care of dinner, and dishes, and bath time, and laundry (and, and, and) … it’s time for a discussion. Let him know that the less overburdened you are, the more likely you are to have some motivation left over to do the fun things.
Secondly — and this is important to remember — you don’t have to be horny. You don’t have to want sex. There is zero obligation to have sex with someone on a set frequency just because you are married to them, mmkay? Sexual desire and drive ebbs and flows with age and circumstances, and that’s just something that our partners have to accept. Your wedding vows did not say “to have and to hold and to have sex with at least three times a week,” so guess what? NO. OBLIGATION. Just putting that out there in case you feel like it’s your “wifely duty.” Because it isn’t.
If you do want to be in the mood more, and increase your libido, and you’ve already ruled out the distribution of labor thing, I’d start with a visit to your doctor. There are sooooo many factors that can affect your sex drive: hormones, medications, breastfeeding, physical conditions like vaginal dryness. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what physical or physiological barriers might be holding you back.
And of course, there are also things you can do in the bedroom to make the thought of sex more appealing. There are so many fun toys (that you can order in a discreet package from the internet if you’re not on board with visiting an adult store IRL, though that can be fun too) and even card games to spice things up. Sometimes just changing things a little, or experimenting with things you’ve always wanted to try, can make a huge difference.
Once you pinpoint the problem(s), a solution won’t be hard to find. And I bet your husband will be a very willing participant in fixing the issue, if it leads to more sexy-time in the long run.