Sometimes we make assumptions about the couples around us. Sometimes they make assumptions about us. I remember when were still in our sexless phase, we managed to have two kids. We seem to be a very fertile couple. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s a blessing. We know a few couples who can’t have kids. But when you’re having sex less than monthly, and then you get pregnant on the first attempt … it doesn’t feel like a blessing.
I remember men coming up to me when we announced the pregnancies, or when the babies were born. They’d say things like, “I know what you two have been doing!” I also remember thinking “Not as much as you think.”
1. You can conceive a child in a “sexless” marriage
As I said, two in our case. Clinically, a “sexless” marriage is a marriage where sex occurs less than 10 times a year. A little less than once a month.
I think this happens a lot more than people realize. In fact, I know it does because I get a lot of husbands, and some wives, lamenting over the fact that it’s happening in their marriages. I wish we’d talk about this more, that people would be more willing to say “You know what, no, we’re not having sex.” I wish I had said something when that was our marriage. But, I was young, dumb, and had a lot of social pressure to shut up and play like we had a good marriage. The same social pressure we all have. That’s why we’re often shocked when we hear of our friends getting divorced. It shouldn’t be shocking. We should be helping them through the struggle, hopefully helping them out. If it does end in divorce, we shouldn’t be surprised. We should have seen it coming a mile away.
So, when we see a couple who are newly pregnant or have a new baby or a bunch of kids, don’t assume they have a good sex life. And don’t let others assume it about you. If you’re struggling in this area, get help, talk to people. Help change the culture.
2. Having a child will not fix your sex life
The corollary to the first point is that having a child will not improve your sex life. I don’t think anyone really thinks it will, but here’s what happens.
You have a couple who has some major structure issues in their marriage. Those issues might be bad communication, selfishness, or mistaken theology regarding sex. Or anything else. Whatever the cause, the couple isn’t having sex. So, their intimacy is also lacking. But, there is still this desire to be intimate in some meaningful way. It’s not just about sex, it’s about intimacy. We all want to love and to be loved. Often women, but sometimes it’s men, feel a strong urge to have a child. To fill the gap. Something is missing, so we’ll fill it with a child. They believe it will make them happy. But it won’t. It just delays the issue.
You have a child, and then the focus of the marriage shifts to the kid. If you make the mistake of putting the children first, then you are undermining your marriage from the core. Eventually, the kids grow up, leave, and there’s nothing left of your relationship.
Having a child might buoy your relationship temporarily, but it’s a sinking ship if you don’t patch the holes.
I get a lot of husbands terrified to “give” their wife another baby because the first one seemed to damage the marriage so badly. In truth, the child didn’t damage the relationship, it’s merely a catalyst which sped up the damage that was already occurring. Children do that. They’re neither good nor bad for a relationship … they’re a multiplier. If you have a bad relationship, the child will make it worse. If you have a good relationship, the child will make it better. It’s not the kid who is doing it. They’re just adding more potential conflict material to the marriage. A lot more.
The problem is, often this is conveyed in a bad way to the spouse. Often it’s the husband speaking to the wife. What often comes out is “No more kids until we have more sex.” Which is technically not quite wrong, but it’s relaying symptoms, not root issues. The truth should be expressed something more like this:
We have some serious structural issues in our marriage that should be addressed. I think we should do that before we make a huge life change that will add more conflict, less sleep and less time for us.
I’m not saying your marriage needs to be perfect, but I wish someone had told us not to have kids until we fixed our massive communication problems. Because if you have major structural issues, kids are just going to make them even more dangerous. It’s like sharpening your juggling knives when you’re still catching the blade instead of the handle half the time.
I don’t want you think that you can’t make it if you don’t fix your issues before having kids. We did. We managed to pull out of that nosedive. But, we see a lot of couples around us who don’t. I’m just saying it’s much harder to do after you have kids.
37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex
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