As we know, affairs are truly a symptom of an unhealthy and unfulfilled marriage. One way to help inoculate your marriage against affairs is to keep your sex life and physical intimacy a priority. For some couples, sex is not even on the list after having kids.
Dr. Michelle Golland: I was not surprised by the 2006 Newsweek article that reported that 15-20% of us are in "sexless" marriages. The article defined this as couples having sex less than once a month, or on average, 10 times a year.
In my therapy practice, sex or lack thereof is often a big complaint. What I usually quickly discover is it really is not about "sex," but about the overall lack of physical connection a couple is experiencing. Sex with our partner quickly goes to the back burner when we feel overworked, overcommitted, and simply overwhelmed by familial life.
1. Put your kids to sleep early. Too many couples keep their kids up too late for a variety of reasons, but if you can do the initial work of getting a solid bedtime between 7-8 o'clock, this will allow some quality time between you and your spouse. Feeling recharged is key to avoid the depleting experience of raising kids.
2. Use babysitters. Time alone as a couple is not a luxury as much as it is a necessity. If you can't afford a babysitter, then do an exchange with a friend or join a co-op sitters' club in your neighborhood. Dates don't need to be during the evening. Drop your kid off at a friend's house for 3 hours and go home and get back in bed together. An afternoon delight can be the best way to enjoy each other.
3. Sex starts in the morning. What I mean by this is be kind to each other. Make loving gestures. As an exhausted working mom, I know there is nothing sexier than my husband doing the dishes after dinner or giving the kids a bath. Couples make the mistake that our relationships are built on "big moments," but really it is the small loving gestures that inoculate us from disconnection and resentment.
4. Keep in touch during the day. Check in on each other. How is he feeling after the baby was up all night? Is he tired at work?? Call your wife and just tell her you love her! Again, this is about being kind and giving, even when you're tired.
5. Pleasure without intercourse. Yes, I mean mutual masturbation. Sometimes we are just too tired for the whole shebang! We don't need to have intercourse to experience sexual pleasure. Give massages, rub feet, take a bath. Learn to satisfy your partner without sex. Realize you both don't have to reach orgasm each time you connect. This doesn't mean it was a "bad" time or incomplete. We need to redefine our sexual lives after having kids. All of these gestures will increase the possibility of intercourse occurring more often.
6. Last but really most important of all, TALK to each other. As a couple, you need to talk and connect everyday. I give homework to my couples. Three times a week or every other night, sit alone and let each of you speak without interruption for 3 minutes about how you are feeling or what is going on at home, work, or whatever.
If sadness and resentment have become too entrenched, then see a therapist. Couples that seek counseling for problems early on are in therapy a shorter time because they have less buildup of hurt and resentments that have never been addressed.
Many couples avoid therapy because it is expensive and takes time away from the family. But I suggest you call a divorce lawyer and you will see what expensive really is.
Always remember that our children look to us for what it means to be in a relationship. We are showing them what it means to be a "husband" and a "wife." We model how to love, to disagree, and when to know to get help.
Sex in our relationship is just one piece of our connection that must be tended to, but it is an important one.
|Dr. Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and wonderfully exhausting two children.|