The Family Therapist is In
Put the Sizzle Back in your Bedroom
April, 2008 - Issue #42
Most new moms truly believe that their love life will return to normal "after." It's the "after" that's the sticking point: after everything heals from childbirth; after I lose the few thousand extra pounds I put on during pregnancy; after I figure out how to live with sleep deprivation. After, after, after... Any time you talk with new parents, both the mom and the dad usually agree that after they had the little darlings their intimate life changed, and not for the better. Unfortunately, if we don't make our love life a priority it will soon disappear, down the drain just like the baby's bath water.

In fact Murphy's Law says: Sex makes little kids and kids make little sex. Believe me, I can relate. I raised two boys and then at the grand ol' age of 45 offered to babysit my new grandbaby afternoons and nights while my daughter-in-law went to school. By the time the dinner dishes were done, baby fed, burped, played with and changed I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to find my way to the bedroom, let alone contemplate anything more exciting than pulling back the covers and falling asleep.

I truly didn't feel like doing anything else even though I dearly love Grandpa. Not in the mood for romance is a real feeling. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, encourages distinguishing between feelings and actions. This is his answer to the age-old question: "Isn't it hypocritical to be intimate with my spouse if I don't actually feel like it?" If you express an act of love that is designed for the other's benefit or pleasure, that is a choice. Mr. Chapman says you're distinguishing between love as an action and love as a feeling. You're choosing to do something unselfish for the other person's benefit which is making love an action.

Okay, you say, I understand that making love needs to be a priority; it helps my spouse and I stay bonded. But I still need a little boost!

First, some facts about sex that may surprise you:
It's good exercise. You can burn the same amount of calories with sex that you would burn in a brisk 20-minute walk and you don't have to leave the house.

It's good medicine. According to a study done by Glamour Magazine, a woman's pain threshold rises during sexual activity. This means chronic conditions like arthritis, lower back pain and PMS may be helped.

It improves skin tone and color by increasing blood flow.
Sex stimulates endorphin release. That will help you to sleep more soundly.

It's a great cardiovascular workout. Your heart rate may reach 130 beats per minute during intimacy.

How to reclaim the "oomph" factor:
Think about it. You can make it a priority if you have it on your mind, on your fridge, on your calendar or on a reminder sticky note. A woman's number-one sex organ is her brain. We have to think about it to make a priority.

Change up time and location. Maybe the romantic late evening just isn't going to work for you. Try first thing in the morning when it's time to get up. Try an early morning shared shower. Try middle of the night before the baby wakes for the 2 a.m. feeding. Try right after dinner while the kids are watching a movie - any time you have more energy.

Quickies are okay. Give yourself and your spouse permission to not have the whole romantic, everything's-about-the-big-"O" intimacy.

Swap babysitting with another couple. Swap Friday or Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon babysitting. Your kids go to their house and you stay at home for that long romantic interlude minus the little ones. Then you return the favor next week.

Insist on adult time-outs. Talk it up with your spouse. Sound excited and enjoy the anticipation. Go out somewhere fun and don't talk about the kids. Look into each other's eyes, hold hands, cuddle. Remember, this is your time out to refresh yourselves.

Don't forget to laugh. Parenting is tough, tiring and thankless for the most part. Make sure that you keep your sense of humor close at hand. Everything is temporary and everything is fixable. Laugh about it together. Grabbing intimacy is a challenge when your children are underfoot. Also remember that what works one week might not work the next. Laugh and let it be okay to change things up.

Have sizzling suggestions you can share? E-mail Kim at
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