It’s a fairly common belief: the idea that kids ruin your sex life. We see it in movies, in TV shows. It’s so pervasive that it’s become almost accepted as truth. In fact, there are couples who decide not to have kids, because of this belief. Is it true? Does it have to be this way? If you have kids, are you doomed to have a lower frequency of the act that brought those same kids into the world?
Is it true?
A while ago, I ran a survey on spousal attraction, and while I didn’t ask this question exactly, I think there is some data we can use. According to the 260 respondents, couples where the wife has had a pregnancy (I know, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have children) are 13% more likely to be content with the level of sex currently happening in the marriage.
And in case your thinking it’s the women pulling that increase up, it’s not, it’s the men. When counting only husbands, that number increases to 17%. So, apparently kids, or at least pregnancies, are not ruining your sex life, at least not for most couples.
Now, granted, these stats are pulled from a largely Christian, sex-positive community, so perhaps it doesn’t reflect the population.
So, let’s spend a minute listing some reasons why having kids makes maintaining a sex life harder in a marriage.
Why might kids ruin your sex life?
Post pregnancy there are a lot of changes to adjust to. For one, the wife’s body has just gone through a fairly dramatic ordeal and needs time to heal. Second, the husband, if he was in the room, has to reconcile the idea that that area of his wife is dual purpose. That can be really hard for some men to get their head around.
Breastfeeding is another issue that can be hard to content with. For one, this brings low sleep and interrupted sleep, often for both spouses. Secondly, it’s hard to switch between breasts as erotic and breasts as source of food for the wife (and some husbands). Not to mention the sensitivity issues.
Young kids are exhausting. Anyone who has been responsible for young children for a day knows how tiring they can be. By the time they finally crash in bed, you want to as well. It’s hard to maintain that energy level needed to be fully engaged during sex.
Teenage kids come with a host of new issues. Things like worrying where they are, who their hanging out with. Boyfriends/girlfriends, drinking, drugs, sex! All of this is coming younger and younger these days. That’s a lot of stress on a couple. Also, they don’t go to bed early anymore. They want to be up all hours of the night. That’s makes waiting for the kids to be asleep a lot harder.
Of course, with there are some common issues with kids of all ages. Kids are expensive, leading to more stress over finances. Kids are a lot of responsibility, which is draining in and of itself. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think kids are amazing, I love my four children and would never even think about choosing not to have them. But we had kids knowing it was going to be work, it was going to come with stress, and stretching and sacrifices. But, we also went in knowing that sacrificing our marriage for our kids was a losing game. Kids whose parents are in a loving relationship are far more stable and tend to reach higher potentials. The option of “kids ruin your sex life” was not among the sacrifices we ever considered. Granted, when we started having kids, our sex life was already fairly ruined, but that was for other reasons.
How not to let your kids ruin your sex life
There is really only one way to handle this. It’s simple, but can be hard to implement. You have to realize that, in a marriage, sex is a need, not a want. That means you need to make it a priority. Now, unlike some other needs, there is no stabbing pain to alert you to the fact that you are ignoring a need. If you don’t eat for a while, you will get hunger pangs. If you don’t drink water for a while, you will get really thirst, your mouth will dry out. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll feel groggy, get headaches. But, when sex is not a priority, when it’s happening less frequently that the marriage needs, there isn’t always a direct pain associated with it, particularly for the low-drive spouse. You’ll often see “referred pain” in other aspects of your life. You’ll find you start snapping at each other. You are avoiding each other. You start spending more time working, or shopping, with hobbies, or friends. You drift away from being home-centric. You’ll find your communication starts to break down, your mood deteriorates, and a host of other issues.
So, what can you do? Take steps. Decide what priority your marriage is in your life, and realize that sex is a part of that priority. Make a commitment not to deprive each other of this need.
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:5
Find ways to continue to be intimate frequently. Send the kids to bed (even if they don’t need to sleep). One blogger (I wish I could remember which) bought her kids headphones and told them to use them if hearing their parents have sex bothered them. If need be, schedule sex to make sure that some minimum level of sexual intimacy is maintained.
My kids didn’t ruin my sex life. In fact, my sex life didn’t start improving until we had kids. I can honestly say that we have more varied, passionate and frequent sex than before we had kids. Now, there are a lot of reasons for that in the case of my marriage. And the reasons why are less important than the simple fact that you can have kids and still have a vibrant, healthy, sexually fulfilling marriage.
What’s your experience? Did kids ruin your sex life? Are they doing it now? Is it really them, or do you need to make some changes? Let us know in the comments.