Sometimes you need to be reminded that you’re not just a soccer mom or a hands-on dad. You’re also an erotic adult in a potentially passionate partnership. Here’s how to keep the sexual spark alight despite the dampening demands of parenthood.
When you become a parent, you don’t stop being a lover. Or rather, you don’t have to. This is one of my most important and frequently delivered messages to the couples I work with. Why? Because it’s one of those unavoidable issues that come up all the time.
“I just don’t feel sexy any more – especially when I’m standing in the kitchen spattered with baby food.” “I really miss that liberated, just-us feeling.” “We simply don’t have time for sex – and when we do have the time, we’d rather get the extra sleep!”
To each and every comment I offer the same response: when you’re a parent, you don’t stop being a lover! It’s that simple. It’s that important. This is because a post-parenthood sexual slump can ravage a relationship and destroy the connection you’ve worked so hard to create. And, when you don’t get what you want or need at home, one of two things will happen: either you’ll go looking for it elsewhere, or you’ll shrug it off and shut down the beautiful, sexual part of yourself. Either way, you’re not helping the situation or building a happy, lasting relationship. But there are other options for parents (and lovers) looking to resuscitate a struggling sex life.
Read on . . . it’s worth it.
1 Playtime for parents
A fulfilling relationship takes effort, time and energy – I often compare it to pursuing a hobby or being successful at work. But when it comes to sexual fulfilment you don’t need to work more, you need to play more. The single biggest sexual problem in long-term relationships is boredom. And the single most effective antidote is playtime at bedtime. Playing means allowing yourself to do and feel freely – like children do. It means allowing yourself to experiment and explore new things. But most of all it means enjoying the process. Sex isn’t meant to be hard work. It’s meant to be fun and playful and mischievous. In fact, sex and sensuality are the ways we play as adults. So stop looking at sex as another chore to squeeze into your schedule and tick off your to-do list. Instead, start mentally reframing it as private time for you and your partner to kick back, let loose and have fun together. This is the first step. Just by changing your thinking you’ll go from stressing about skipping sex to making time to have a lot more.
2 Set a date
A major complaint for most sex-starved parents is the lack of time for loving. With work, kids, school lifts, gym, shopping, cooking, cleaning and checking homework, by the time they get into bed they’re exhausted – too tired for anything more than a quickie, maybe. But good sex – in fact any sex – won’t happen on its own. You have to make time for it. Your best option is to make one night a week your “date night” (à la Barack and Michelle Obama). Or rather, your “hot date night”. Every week, on that special night, you clear your calendar and make sure the kids are looked after or asleep. And then you play. Seduce each other, enjoy each other. You did it once – maybe a long time ago – this is your time to recapture the charm, the excitement, the anticipation of your early days as a couple. Play with different roles and costumes. Try out your secret fantasies and hidden desires. Erotica can be a great turn-on; read a sexy story to one another or watch something arousing and talk about what turns you on. You’re allowed to be outrageous, out-of-character, raunchy or ridiculous. Just remember the crucial key words: “play” and “fun”.
3 Forget goal-scoring
In the long term, sensuality is as important – if not more important – than actual sex. So start shifting your thinking and focus on the journey as opposed to the destination. Sex is not all about orgasms or achieving a goal. And it’s not all about penetration. Learn some beautiful, sensual massage techniques. Play with and explore each other’s bodies to discover new ways to touch and new places to excite. Watch your partner touch him or herself – or pretend you don’t know your lover’s there as you lie in a candlelit bath with the steam moving off the water, your eyes closed as you pleasure yourself . . . Whether you’re using your hands, your mouth, new positions or toys, a great deal of sex is about technique. So spend some time learning the tricks of the trade. There is so much information out there – you could try books, the internet or attend workshops.
4 Make a plan
Initially, most couples complain that planning compromises sexual spontaneity. Yes it does, a little. But what does waiting for spontaneous moments generally get you? Nothing. So, in addition to setting “hot date nights”, start scheduling “mini passionate encounters”. What this kind of planning gives you is the excitement of knowing what’s coming. Extend this to include the idea that sex doesn’t need to happen at night. You have a mutual gap at 11 am on Thursday morning? Meet at home, or a hotel, have a quickie and then get on with the day with a big smile on your face. You’ll feel naughty and free – you’ll forget you’re sensible parents. The first few steps may be shaky and feel strange, but the more you do this, the more you’ll want to.
5 Make the mood
To keep the sexual fire smouldering, you need to feel sexy. For most men this is easy – a little stimulation and they’re ready to go. But women are different. They can’t just be turned on in a few minutes – well, sometimes they can, but generally they need more time. This is so important for men to hear. Feeling sexy is an internal state. Often it has nothing to do with how she looks, but everything to do with how she feels about herself – and about you. Remember that your woman needs to feel loved, wanted and desired from the heart. Then the body’s there. As her partner you can help this process by starting the lovemaking long before you get physical. If you plan to meet for sex one afternoon, tell her how excited you are in the morning. end a suggestive SMS or e-mail later in the day: tell her you’re thinking about her, what you’re going to do later, and how much you’re looking forward to it. From a woman’s perspective, take a little more time for yourself in the morning. Have a warm bath or shower; pamper your body with sensual body lotion and slip on some beautiful lingerie. Take time to feel like a woman – not just a mother or wife – a sexual woman going to meet her lover.
6 Beat boredom
Avoiding boredom, even when you’re having regular sex, takes imagination and effort. Why? Because if you’re doing the same thing every time (even more frequently) it’s eventually going to lose its sparkle. The good news is there are so many things you can do – literally an endless array of possibilities. But you’ll need to keep exploring and learning to have a scintillating sex life in the long-term. Understanding the benefits of exciting, fulfilling and frequent sex may help you to make it a part of your life. Firstly, your relationship will flourish. Secondly, if you’re having loving sex, your body and mind reap the rewards. You sleep better. You have more energy. You laugh more. You have more patience. Your digestion and immune system work better. You’re more relaxed. You smile more. You love and are loved more. In short, you’re a better lover. But you’re also a much better parent.
Jonti Searll is a Johannesburg sensualist who teaches sensual and erotic massage. Visit his Tantra Evolution website for more info. You can also check out Jonti's blog on Health24.
(Photo of sexy couple from Shutterstock)