Dear Touched-Out Mama,
I feel you, sister. You’re breastfeeding a baby or have a toddler or two climbing all over you all day long. Your preschooler has decided that clinging to you is the only way to make it through this life. You’re being woken up once, twice, six times a night for feedings, bad dreams, wet beds, or other forms of nighttime parenting torture.
You’ve been pawed at, sucked on, hugged, snuggled, kissed, and otherwise physically loved. All. Day. Long. The last thing that sounds good is a roll in the hay at the end of the day.
Oh, yes. I feel you. I’ve been you. My libido took a serious nosedive after our first baby was born. We managed to have two more kids without trying, so it’s not like there was nothing happening at all, but more often than not during those early years, it was pity sex on my part. I had no desire for any physical intimacy 90% of the time. Okay, 97%. It was a lot.
It was hard. I felt terrible constantly putting my husband off. He was very understanding, but it was hard for him to fully grasp the depths of my not wanting to have sex. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t really in the mood. I actively didn’t want to. Like, the thought of having sex was repulsive.
Some people’s love language is physical touch. I love physical touch up to a point, and then I’m done. Just done. Like, get the heck away from me, I’M DONE. And with three kids, there’s a lot of touching. Our youngest two in particular are little snuggle bunnies. And I love that. I really do. Right up until I’m done. Which, during those early years, was right around 5:00 p.m.
It was hard for me—and for my husband—to reconcile my not wanting to be intimate with the fact that I felt totally connected to him emotionally. It’s not like our relationship was suffering in any other way. I felt just as loving and intimate, emotionally, as I always had…but my body wanted nothing to do with it. Being touched at the end of the day made my skin crawl. I was touched out. Physically done.
I was also so freaking tired. By the time the kids were asleep, I was ready to just chill. For my husband, sex is a way to unwind. For me, it requires energy. And as enjoyable as sex is, the thought of putting any energy into anything, no matter how mind-blowing, was just not in the cards. No, thank you. I’d rather sleep.
But I’m here to tell you—it can and does get better. My youngest is 6 now, and I’m happy to report that my mojo has been back for a couple of years. Yeah, baby! I wasn’t sure if I’d ever feel the actual desire for physical intimacy again. My doctor said it was normal during those early years—life changes with a baby, breastfeeding hormones, sleep deprivation, etc., etc. But I wondered if it was more than that—if something was wrong with me.
Turns out, nope. I really was totally normal! Phew! It’s good to know that now.
There were a few things that helped me during those years that might help you as you try to balance your needs with your husband’s:
Schedule it. I did better if I could mentally prepare myself for “business time.” So as unromantic as it sounds, it helped to schedule sex ahead of time. Don’t scoff. Scheduling trips to Funkytown is a highly underrated tool during slumps. It also helped me not to forget about it altogether, since the thought of having sex wouldn’t even cross my mind otherwise. Hubby would mention that it had been a week since we last did it, and I’d be like, “NO, it has not.” Keeping to a schedule—or even a certain number of days a week to shoot for—was helpful in keeping the fires from fizzling out completely.
Communicate. My husband and I talked a lot about our needs and desires—how often would feel okay for him, how often felt like too much for me. We met somewhere in the middle, and we weren’t always both happy 100% of the time. But we also knew this was something we both needed to compromise on, and try to figure out during a rough life stage.
Show love in other ways. I explained to my hubby many times that my lack of desire had nothing to do with him, but that was hard for him to really internalize. So I tried to make sure I showed my love and affection for him in other ways, through words and kind deeds and as much non-sexual physicality as I could muster.
Just do it. Sometimes I would just do it, even if I wasn’t in the mood. Sometimes the act of getting going actually got me going, and sometimes it didn’t. I’d try to save my out-and-out rejections for when the thought of it made me ill. If I wasn’t really feeling it but it didn’t repulse me, I’d force myself to try for hubby’s sake. I knew that it was part of his love language, and it was important to him, even if it wasn’t to me.
Remember that this, too, shall pass. I can’t predict or guarantee that you’ll be back in the saddle again soon. But I am living proof that low libido is often just a phase of life/parenthood/marriage, and that it does get better. Sex won’t always sound like more of a burden than a blessing. And believe it or not, you will probably even initiate sex again someday. (Yes, really!)
You’re not alone—lots of women deal with low or no sex drive after kids. Be patient with yourself and hang in there, mama. You’ll have your mojo back someday, too—and it will be glorious.
A Mom Who Finally Got Her Groove Back
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