If you're not happy with the quantity or quality-or
both-of your sex life, don't despair. Even the busiest parent can
take steps to improve their love life, which will improve their
relationship as well. It's win/win.
By Kelly James-Enger
According to a recent survey, 75 percent of married women say a
good sex life is "important or very important" to them. Good to
know. So why aren't we having more of it?
An informal poll of my fellow mom friends revealed that
most are like me-struggling to carve out time to "get busy" with
our husbands. And even if we manage to find the time, it's not that
easy to get in the mood.
"After a long day of running around, taking care of the
kids, and finally getting them into bed, the last thing I want to
do is have to think about my husband's needs, too," admits one of
my girlfriends, who insists on remaining anonymous. "Now that we
have two kids, we have sex maybe once a month."
"But it's not high on my priority list right
My friend should rethink those priorities, says Debra
Herbenick, Ph.D., a research scientist at Indiana
"Sex is important as it helps people feel connected," says
Herbenick, author of Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward
Questions Answered-For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex
(Running Press, 2012). "It's a way to have fun with your
partner, to see a side of them that no one else gets to
First step: Forget about feeling guilty.
"Sex is important, but at the same time, I hate when
people beat themselves up over it and have such high expectations,"
says Herbenick. "Completely forget about what everyone else is
doing. There's always that one friend who talks about how much
great sex they have or how they sneak into bathrooms at parties to
do it. Let go of the idea that that has to be you."
By letting go of the guilt, you're less likely to have sex
only to please your partner, which doesn't necessarily address the
problem. "Focusing on the quality is much more important," explains
Herbenick. "When people focus on the frequency, they try to fit it
in and try to do it so they can check it off the list and think,
`now my partner's not going to nag me.'"
It's intimate sex-where the two of you feel truly
connected-that really helps strengthen your bond.
A better sex life may not start between the sheets, but at
your kitchen table. "If you're feeling bad about a low sex drive or
low sex frequency, talk to your partner," says Herbenick. "If
you're worried about it or disappointed, they probably wish they
were having more sex or better sex, too."
Simply bringing it up can help-maybe the two of you can
brainstorm some ways to have more time alone, or agree to make it a
"Most couples don't talk about sex when they're not having
it and that's not good for the relationship or their sex life," she
explains. "If you're not having sex, let your partner know it's on
your mind and that it's important to you, too. Your partner may
think you're not in love or attracted to him anymore, or that
you're having an affair."
That level of honesty can help get through the rough
patches when sex may be the last thing you crave.
If you've been together for years, you may just take the
state of your sex life for granted. Maybe it's time you probed a
little deeper, pardon the pun.
"Start by having an open conversation with your partner.
Talk about what turns you on. Share your secret fantasies with each
other. Discuss the things you've always been curious about trying,"
says Steph Auteri, co-author of The Good in Bed Guide
to 52 Weeks of Amazing Sex (Good in Bed Guides, 2010).
"Use this conversation as a jumping-off point for a new, sexy to-do
list of things you'd both like to try."
Auteri also suggests couples schedule sex. "Just as you'd
schedule a date night to maintain your sanity and your
relationship, schedule sex in order to maintain your intimate
relationship. Schedule it in just as you'd schedule in a yoga class
or that Mommy & Me music class. Otherwise, it will continue to
fall to the bottom of your to-do list."
That's what happened to a local mom we'll call
"My husband told me, `My favorite thing in the world is to
have sex with you and it makes me sad that we're not doing that as
much as I want to,'" she says. Her husband had a solution. "He
said, `My idea is that on Friday nights it will be a
bring-your-A-game-110-percent-full-blown sex night. And then I'll
watch the kids in the morning the next day so you can sleep
Melissa wasn't sure how the standing sex date would work
at first, but months later says she looks forward to every Friday
night. "I know it's coming, I know it's going to happen, and it's
kind of exciting," she says. "The expectation is fun, and it makes
it more special-We know that at least once a week we're going to
have this connection."
One simple yet amazing way to improve your sex life is to
focus on it in a way you probably don't. Pay attention to all five
senses-smell, touch, sight, sound and taste-and really notice
what's happening. "Being more mindful and aware contributes to
better sex and better arousal," says Herbenick. "We're seeing new
data from a new study on sex, and in America a lot of people aren't
reporting a lot of intimacy in sex-staying present and in the
moment makes sex much more intimate."
One simple reason you may not be that interested in sex
may not have anything to do with being tired. You may just be a
little too used to each other. "It can be tough to keep things
spicy when you've been together forever," says Auteri. "Trying new
things-even nonsexual things-can raise your endorphin levels, which
in turn can raise your libido."
As for what you do beneath the sheets, use your
imagination. Maybe Fifty Shades of Grey
has given you some great role-playing ideas. Ask your partner
what he'd like to try. And, "embrace the quickie!" suggests Auteri.
"Parents can oftentimes only steal several minutes away from their
kids. This makes long, languorous lovemaking sessions near
impossible. So become the masters of quickie sex. Allow the urgency
of the situation to turn you on."