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Six tips to help parents improve their love lives

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

Even the busiest parent can take steps to improve their love life, which will improve their relationship as well. It’s win/win.

According to a recent survey, 75 percent of married women say agood sex life is “important or very important” to them. Good toknow. So why aren’t we having more of it?

An informal poll of my fellow mom friends revealed thatmost are like me-struggling to carve out time to “get busy” withour husbands. And even if we manage to find the time, it’s not thateasy to get in the mood.

“After a long day of running around, taking care of thekids, and finally getting them into bed, the last thing I want todo is have to think about my husband’s needs, too,” admits one ofmy girlfriends, who insists on remaining anonymous. “Now that wehave two kids, we have sex maybe once a month.”

She shrugs.

“But it’s not high on my priority list rightnow.”

My friend should rethink those priorities, says DebraHerbenick, Ph.D., a research scientist at IndianaUniversity.

“Sex is important as it helps people feel connected,” saysHerbenick, author of Sex Made Easy: Your AwkwardQuestions Answered-For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex(Running Press, 2012). “It’s a way to have fun with yourpartner, to see a side of them that no one else gets tosee.”

If you’re not happy with the quantity or quality-orboth-of your sex life, don’t despair. Even the busiest parent cantake steps to improve their love life, which will improve theirrelationship as well. It’s win/win.


Ditch the guilt

First step: Forget about feeling guilty.

“Sex is important, but at the same time, I hate whenpeople beat themselves up over it and have such high expectations,”says Herbenick. “Completely forget about what everyone else isdoing. There’s always that one friend who talks about how muchgreat sex they have or how they sneak into bathrooms at parties todo it. Let go of the idea that that has to be you.”

By letting go of the guilt, you’re less likely to have sexonly to please your partner, which doesn’t necessarily address theproblem. “Focusing on the quality is much more important,” explainsHerbenick. “When people focus on the frequency, they try to fit itin 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 trulyconnected-that really helps strengthen your bond.


Share your feelings

A better sex life may not start between the sheets, but atyour kitchen table. “If you’re feeling bad about a low sex drive orlow sex frequency, talk to your partner,” says Herbenick. “Ifyou’re worried about it or disappointed, they probably wish theywere having more sex or better sex, too.”

Simply bringing it up can help-maybe the two of you canbrainstorm some ways to have more time alone, or agree to make it abigger priority.

“Most couples don’t talk about sex when they’re not havingit and that’s not good for the relationship or their sex life,” sheexplains. “If you’re not having sex, let your partner know it’s onyour mind and that it’s important to you, too. Your partner maythink you’re not in love or attracted to him anymore, or thatyou’re having an affair.”

That level of honesty can help get through the roughpatches when sex may be the last thing you crave.


Share your desires

If you’ve been together for years, you may just take thestate of your sex life for granted. Maybe it’s time you probed alittle deeper, pardon the pun.

“Start by having an open conversation with your partner.Talk about what turns you on. Share your secret fantasies with eachother. Discuss the things you’ve always been curious about trying,”says Steph Auteri, co-author of The Good in Bed Guideto 52 Weeks of Amazing Sex (Good in Bed Guides, 2010).”Use this conversation as a jumping-off point for a new, sexy to-dolist of things you’d both like to try.”


Make a date

Auteri also suggests couples schedule sex. “Just as you’dschedule a date night to maintain your sanity and yourrelationship, schedule sex in order to maintain your intimaterelationship. Schedule it in just as you’d schedule in a yoga classor that Mommy & Me music class. Otherwise, it will continue tofall to the bottom of your to-do list.”

That’s what happened to a local mom we’ll callMelissa.

“My husband told me, `My favorite thing in the world is tohave sex with you and it makes me sad that we’re not doing that asmuch as I want to,'” she says. Her husband had a solution. “Hesaid, `My idea is that on Friday nights it will be abring-your-A-game-110-percent-full-blown sex night. And then I’llwatch the kids in the morning the next day so you can sleepin.'”

Melissa wasn’t sure how the standing sex date would workat first, but months later says she looks forward to every Fridaynight. “I know it’s coming, I know it’s going to happen, and it’skind of exciting,” she says. “The expectation is fun, and it makesit more special-We know that at least once a week we’re going tohave this connection.”


Involve your senses

One simple yet amazing way to improve your sex life is tofocus on it in a way you probably don’t. Pay attention to all fivesenses-smell, touch, sight, sound and taste-and really noticewhat’s happening. “Being more mindful and aware contributes tobetter sex and better arousal,” says Herbenick. “We’re seeing newdata from a new study on sex, and in America a lot of people aren’treporting a lot of intimacy in sex-staying present and in themoment makes sex much more intimate.”


Try something new

One simple reason you may not be that interested in sexmay not have anything to do with being tired. You may just be alittle too used to each other. “It can be tough to keep thingsspicy when you’ve been together forever,” says Auteri. “Trying newthings-even nonsexual things-can raise your endorphin levels, whichin turn can raise your libido.”

As for what you do beneath the sheets, use yourimagination. Maybe Fifty Shades of Greyhas given you some great role-playing ideas. Ask your partnerwhat he’d like to try. And, “embrace the quickie!” suggests Auteri.”Parents can oftentimes only steal several minutes away from theirkids. This makes long, languorous lovemaking sessions nearimpossible. So become the masters of quickie sex. Allow the urgencyof the situation to turn you on.”


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