Here’s a typical situation that happens in many couples after they have children.

(I’ve used the pronouns for the most common pattern in straight couples, but this happens in other ways too.)

Sex After Kids: Her Experience

The kids take up most of her energy.

She gets exhausted and loses interest in sex.

She feels resentful.

She feels like the mental load – everything that the kids and the house needs – has somehow become her responsibility.

She thinks she MIGHT fancy a shag, if only he would DO a bit more.

She wishes they could cuddle without him wanting sex.

She thinks of him as insensitive, because of how quickly he makes a move on her.

She tries not to kiss him for too long in case he thinks she’ll be up for it later.

When she isn’t feeling resentful, she feels guilty.

Sex After kids: His Experience

As for him, he’s feeling frustrated and lonely.

Sometimes he feels like he’s been displaced.

First, it was pregnancy, then recovery from birth, breastfeeding, feeling unattractive… it seems like she has been off sex for months, or even years.

He doesn’t just want a shag.

He misses his partner, and the closeness they used to share.

Sex vs. Intimacy… Reaching Stalemate

A pattern develops.

He initiates, she refuses.

He feels rejected and withdraws.

She feels empty, sad, and lonely.

She thinks he only wants her for sex, feels like she could be anyone.

They both blame each other, and think “if only s/he would…” things would be better.

They can’t find a pathway to sex through intimacy.

They can’t find a pathway to intimacy through sex.

They feel stuck.

As Barbara Cartland says,

“Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.”

Arousal: A Mismatch Between Men & Women

For many men, sex is the path to closeness.

When a man wants his partner’s body, he is often trying to feel close to them, the best way he knows how.

It’s can be hard for some women to understand this, or to feel it as a desire for closeness.

Motherhood can feel like it is all about meeting others’ needs.

So when men initiate sex, women sometimes respond as if he’s just another kid, asking something of her.

They don’t always recognise it as an invitation, an offering.

This can leave a man feeling desperate to feel wanted.

They crave seeing desire in their partners in just the same way they feel it themselves: suddenly and completely.

But most women’s arousal doesn’t work like that.

Many women need to feel the emotional closeness first, through talking and holding.

They need to connect to warm up, to be seduced.

As Isabel Allende says,

“For women, the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time.”

Desire Needs To Be Cultivated

When men (and women!) don’t understand how (most) women’s desire builds differently to men’s, they often give up too soon.

Men can sometimes feel personally rejected when their partners are not ready to go just like they are.

This can lead them to withdraw, when what she needs is for him to stay present long enough for the anticipation to build.

She needs time for an atmosphere to develop where she feels desired, desirable, and only then desirous.

Women often report feeling like their partners are monitoring their level of desire, when what they need is for him to cultivate it.

She needs to feel the intimacy first, to feel safe to be vulnerable.

Otherwise, she feels like an object, used for his release.

The pressure can be a massive turn-off.

Getting Back In The Sack

If you want to get the spark back, check out my sex after kids workbook, Back In The Sack.

It’s helped hundreds of people just like you to understand what’s really getting in the way of their physical and emotional connection.

Here’s an example of the kinds of things they say:

“Hi Catherine! I got our workbook last year. We hadn’t had sex since our youngest was born so I thought it was worth a try. I had never journaled so I wasn’t sure about that bit but it was soo helpful. We were 100% stuck in the “pattern” you describe. It helped me to be honest with myself about how much I hated that and just telling the hubs that changed things because he thought I didn’t care before. It’s much less than before with 2 young kids but we do have regular sex again now and are getting on better. I journal about other things sometimes now too! You can share this, it really was so helpful, thank you x”

You can read more about the Back In The Sack workbook and download it here.

You can also click here to get in touch, and click here to join my mailing list for regular updates on how to have a great relationship after kids.