Prince Edward Island can get stormy, with the wind and ocean whipping at your doorstep, but Christine and Fred, parents of three young kids, are keeping warm.
"We have a special spot in the basement where we go," Christine laughs. "The kids can't find us there." Christine and Fred are just one of many couples who face the challenge of trying to keep a healthy sex life after the kids arrive.
When pregnancy halts libido
Sex can diminish in frequency even before the kids arrive. Pregnant women can find that lovemaking becomes more difficult because they are larger. Then, after a baby is born, intercourse can be uncomfortable. Scott, 30, a Toronto computer programmer recalls, "It took at least four months for my wife to heal. We tried it once or twice and it hurt too much."
A woman's sex drive can also decrease if she is breastfeeding. Dr. Pierre Assalian, the chief psychiatrist at Montreal General's department of psychiatry, warns that breastfeeding women produce prolactin, a hormone that can kill libido.
The stresses of parenthood
He also warns that an exhausted woman won't be a responsive one. A new mother who washes dishes and laundry, and puts the kids to bed every night probably won't often be in the mood. Their partner has to pitch in.
Differences of opinion over child rearing can also be a strain on couples. Claire Maisonneuve, a Vancouver-based clinical counsellor says, "You don't feel like being sexual when you've just been told, in front of your kids, ‘No, you don't have to do what Mom says'."
The evolution of a relationship
An important element to re-energizing your love life is to be realistic. Lovemaking sessions may not be as frequent or spontaneous as they once were. In the rush of planning family activities, couples may have to schedule time to be intimate. Men, in particular, can feel they have to express affection physically, but Maisonneuve says they should love with their hearts instead of just other parts of their bodies.
Going on a rendezvous
Escaping the kids for a weekend may seem like the answer to reclaiming your passion. "Couples who have a good intimate relationship, kids or no kids, have a passion continually explored in a close relationship," Maisonneuve says. "You don't need gadgets and expensive hotels, although there's no doubt sometimes it is better to get away."
When you're feeling romantic and the kids are younger, it's easy to sneak into the other room during nap time. As they get older, a lock on your bedroom door allows more privacy.
There's no concrete formula to achieving a good sex life after having kids. But if you work at building intimacy and passion, a lifetime of great sex can await you.
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