Does having kids ruin your sex life?

Jay Dee

Does having kids ruin your sex life?

Dec 04, 2013

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

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Kids ruin your sex lifeIt’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?

Do kids makes your sex life bad

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 Experience

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.

Your Turn

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.

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31 thoughts on “Does having kids ruin your sex life?”

  1. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

    Nope. I ruined my sex life all on my own! And I’m like you–my sex life got dramatically better AFTER I had my two children. Because, as you said, I’m the one who needed to make some changes. I’m interested to hear how others respond, as I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago.

    Great, great advice, as always!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I had forgotten about that post. I linked it in your comment.

  2. happywife says:

    Honestly, I have no idea how we maintained a healthy sex life given that I was continually either pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the better part of 7 years. I don’t remember much in the way of detail, but we managed to keep things moving along in the sex department. I guess I we didn’t know that kids were supposed to ruin our sex life. LOL
    Every stage of life is going to have it’s challenges, but like you said, it’s a matter of making intimacy a priority.
    We are in the teenagers stage currently. While screaming sex at 8 PM isn’t really an option, at least you aren’t left exhausted trying to get a bunch of toddlers tucked in before you get to hit the sheets. We just say “good night!” and head to bed for a quieter sexual encounter. And if they don’t like what they hear, they have headphones. We also take full advantage of times when we have the house to ourselves. The upside to having busy teens. They are gone a lot! Just make sure to keep one ear listening for your teen’s car on the driveway while you are frolicking in the living room. Yikes.. we had one really close call!
    Honestly, I could give many reasons to let sex fall by the way side during this season of our lives, but we just choose otherwise. Sex is too important to us.
    We’re already planning our Friday evening… kids are all going to be gone. Yippee!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yep, we’re currently on year…oh 8 I guess of the constant pregnancy and/or breastfeeding marathon. The end is in sight.

      Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to remember them. I have half a decade to prepare and learn…

  3. Robyn Gibson says:

    “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.” –perfectly stated!!
    –the “headphone blogger” was me!! LOL
    –lots of things affected our sex life, mostly me. But never kids. We are pro-movie and television in our house for this very reason. (don’t get me wrong, there’s MAJOR censoring going on)
    –the biggest issue for us was getting our heads around the fact that it’s good for kids to know that mom and dad are having ‘red hot monogamy’ <– not my term. As they grew we sent them to the park, or a long, long walk with the dogs, or to go see a movie at the theatre.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks for reminding me who wrote about headphones.

      I agree, that’s a hard thing to wrap your head around: that it’s OK for your kids to know you have sex. Especially if you grew up in a household where the only evidence that your parents had any sort of physical relationship was the existence of yourself and your siblings.

      1. userdand says:

        It’s so sad that western Christian culture in particular is so resistant to acknowledging the purposeful existence of sex and that husbands and wives do it for more than just procreation. We are afraid to teach “sex” (whatever that includes) to our children because we fear they will become early adopters of its pleasures while ignoring its responsibilities. Is it possible that if the sex were taught in an age-appropriate manner with a one-flesh husband/wife perspective by the church that our children would regard it as being reserved for within marriage? When I say “the church” above, I mean both the parents as part of the church body and the church as an organization. It is not enough that the parents acknowledge the goodness and rightness of sex, but that the church also formally condones and encourages same. Dancing around this issue of not educating our children is not working. An accurate analogy would be driving. We don’t turn them loose without any driver training, examination or license. They are going to get hold of the keys to the car at some point. For their own safety and that of others, we educate them. Why do we continue to refuse to educate about sex in an adult and effective manner with them? Sexual activity of some sort is inevitable and we are shirking our responsibility as parents and stewards of their well-being simply because we have very long-standing hang-ups about sex. Instead of breaking the cycle, we perpetuate it. We won’t do it. The church won’t do it. We won’t allow the school system to do it. Where do we break the cycle? When do we adults accept that we were given poor or no teaching and that it was a mistake and we need to do better. What you don’t know but need to know to teach is in books and on the internet. I have four adult children so I know how uncomfortable it can be and how you feel you are possibly opening a Pandora’s box of questions you will wish they didn’t ask and, oh, my little Disney babies, didn’t even think to ask. Wishing it weren’t so and ignoring it is no longer an effective strategy and, in truth, never was. With divorce both in and out of the church at 50%+, we need to be doing a better job of preparing our children for marriage and parenthood. We need to stop sheltering and protecting them from many of the hard truths of life and lead by example. I readily acknowledge many of our examples will have flaws built into them. We teachers have been ill-educated also; but, it has to start somewhere. There are resources available. The church as an organization needs to step up to fill that education void. Church leaders, especially on the local level, need to educate themselves so they can teach and provide access to resources for their congregants. Provide learning opportunities through speakers, seminars and small group classes.
        We can do better. We owe it to those precious gifts of spouses and children God provided to us. No apologies for the rant against church ostriches.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Watch your stats. Divorce rate inside the church is not 50%. Divorce rates for people who identify themselves as “Christians” is 50%. Once you filter out those who never actually attend a church, that number drops closer to 30%.

          But, I agree, we need to start teaching this stuff to our kids, what God’s plan for it is, not just the physical mechanics as they do now in schools.

          1. userdand says:

            Thanks for the catch. I most likely mis-applied the stat. I don’t remember now, but it may have indeed said somehthing along the lines of “Christians” and I carelessly intrepreted that to mean church going Christians. Either way, it’s a bad Christian withness. As to schools and what they teach, they could also teach about relatioships and responibilites without crossing over the chruch/state line… like a little of that would hurt anyway.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Yeah, I agree, it still looks bad. And yes, there is still a lot of psychology research that can be separated from religion that coincides with God’s plan. Actually, it seems every month a new study comes out that contradicts the generally accepted scientific model of sex and relationships and points back to the Biblical model.

          2. Robyn Gibson says:

            ooops JD, careful 🙂 … I’m a disciple of Christ and I don’t attend church. Church attendance isn’t the definer of a ‘christian’. If that’s not what you are saying forgive my misunderstanding.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              No, it isn’t a definer, but it is the best proxy we have in surveys.

            2. Anonymous says:

              The church was ordained by God. Trying to be a Christian without it is dangerous ground and leaves you without support and necessary correction.

              http://bible-truth.org/whyatten.htm

              1. Jay Dee says:

                Ordained by God? I don’t know about that one. Jesus said believers should come together. Didn’t say anything about going to services.

      2. Robyn Gibson says:

        haha, that was funny, “…the only evidence… the existence of yourself and your siblings.” (and sad at the same time).
        –Darrell and I made a decision to do parenting very different than how we were raised – sexuality was one of those areas. It’s kind of been like, teaching our kids to fly, while at the same time learning to fly ourselves, and still adding into the mix, growing the very wings needed to do the task!! HUGE learning curve 😉
        –I have a guiding principle that I use (it might be too much for some to handle though 🙂 ) It’s Dr Ozs poop episode. He said we need to talk about it more. Our very health can be revealed by our poop, but if nobody talks about it openly …. how do we know? So we can discuss all about our poop, but we still want to be alone when we go into the bathroom. Same principle for sex in the house when you’ve got kids. Sex reveals the health of a marriage. It needs to explained, taught and discussed – sometimes quite deeply and explicitly (age appropriate of course); BUT, you still want to be alone when intercourse actually happens. I realize you can only take analogies so far, but this one seems to be serving us well … so far.
        –I just tell our kids that there is a big void of nothingness that we got from our parents and we’d rather be guilty of ‘overshare’ than ‘undershare’.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Yeah, I think we’ll probably do the same, though we haven’t explicitly discussed it yet. We have discussed that the way our parents did it didn’t work out well.

    2. happywife says:

      Ah yes, I forgot about using the TV to our advantage. Saturday morning was a great time to let the kids watch TV while Mommy and Daddy “sleep in”
      And I recall one time recently giving the kids our credit card and telling them the movies on us!

  4. userdand says:

    “Now, granted, these stats are pulled from a largely Christian, sex-positive community, so perhaps it doesn’t reflect the population.”

    But, since a largely Christian, sex-positive community is who frequents this blog, the stats are both accurate and applicable, though the sampling population may be limited. The stats simply say this is what going on in this particular segment. Readership here likely cares little about how the Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist world deals with the same issues so I wouldn’t worry about those “limitations.” Folks watching baseball likely aren’t overly concerned with the curling results. Sorry SR.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Actually, the “community” doesn’t make up the bulk of my readership. It makes up the bulk of my subscribers, followers, facebook fans, etc., but according to the stats, 58% of my readers come from search engines, so I do feel the need to clarify the sample data.

      And I happen to enjoy watching a good game of curling. It’s the perfect mix of strategy and precision.

      1. userdand says:

        So you can tell all that from your WP stats? I had no idea they were that detailed. It’s surprising they make that much information available to the author without a bunch of hoop-jumping. Thanks for the lesson on blog stats.

        And here I thought Robyn was the only one I would offend taking a shot at curling. It just figures. HA

        1. Jay Dee says:

          No, WordPress stats are good for simple things, but Google Analytics is where I got a better feel of the traffic patterns. It’s reporting engine is amazing.

  5. userdand says:

    An on topic observation: There is this: the act of creating the kids did a lot to enhance our sex lives at the time.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      We’re too fertile…that period was always very short lived.

      1. Megan says:

        LOL. Yep. That was a serious disappointment to my husband. One cycle. Both babies. He was all yay sex!!!! ~ and suddenly I was spending all my energy dealing with morning sickness. Serious bait and switch. ha!

  6. Paul H. Byerly says:

    While kids can certainly make sex a challenge at times, it’s not really the kids. It is the fact that most of us are far, far too busy. Kids add even more to our overloaded to-do list and that makes finding more time for everything including sex more difficult.

  7. J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) says:

    My marriage is one those stats where our sex intimacy took a nose dive with the arrival of children. There were numerous reasons for that, but in addition to the ones you list, I’d add postpartum depression…or even the “blues.” And it’s really hard as a new mom who’s supposed to be so thrilled with her “bundle of joy” to admit that she doesn’t feel joyous–she feels exhausted and moody and “off.” If I could have a do-over, I’d apply many of your wise suggestions, as well as talking very frankly to my doctor and my husband about how I felt overall.

    Studies also show that marital satisfaction overall goes down after the kids come, but I think that’s a culmination of more time demands, financial responsibilities, the general worry of being parents, etc. The good news is that it usually comes back up if you push through…and even better news, it doesn’t have to sink like that if you make your relationship and intimacy a priority and infuse your marriage with godly principles.

    Love this post!

  8. Mel Caldicott says:

    Having kids is exhausting and has a massive effect on libido. But it’s important to invest in each other. In fact this is actually a gift to our kids – one of the best things we can do for our kids is to have a loving marriage.
    Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays. Blessings.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  9. LatterDay Marriage says:

    I think any life change can impact your sex life if you let it. New job, moving to a new home, loss of job, anything. Either you take control and make it happen or you float through life at the mercy of other forces.

    We were expecting our first only a month after our wedding, so there isn’t much of pre-kids sex life to measure by. That first pregnancy sure killed our sex life though for a while, her whole first trimester was like 3 solid months of the worst PMS ever. No libido, angry with me for no reason, a very unpleasant time that almost put me off the idea of every having any more. Gladly the rest were not like that.

    Giving birth improved our sex life. My wife had a condition that made sex rather painful every time, and while she was in labor they spotted the problem and were able to fix it on the spot. I did find it harder to see her as a sexual being for a short time after but it didn’t last long. It was beautiful and moving to see her nursing our babies. She would do it right before we had sex, both so the baby would sleep and also so she wouldn’t leak all over. I missed the access and after she was done nursing she wasn’t aroused by breast play nearly so much, but it is coming back.

    Now with out kids older, the emotional bond between us forged in raising them is way stronger than it would have ever been if we never had kids, and that certainly has sexual dividends to it. I’m probably the one you are thinking of with the headphones. We do that and I have mentioned it a time or two in various places but I’m sure others do it too.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m glad to hear breast play is coming back. Honestly, that’s something I worry about. I miss that aspect of sex. We’re still in the breastfeeding stages, so that’s generally a “don’t touch” zone still.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        It took a looooong time to come back. We had 5 kids pretty close together, then after a few years we had #6. It wasn’t until about 6 years after the last one that it started coming back, but we didn’t try to bring it back before then either so it may be our fault it took so long.

        My wife had to deliberately choose to learn to enjoy it over again and now we are at a point where depending on where she is in her cycle it is either neutral to her, a turn on, or a turn off.

  10. MJK says:

    Having children changed our sex lives completely (temperarily)!
    I was completely exhausted all the time. I had no idea that I would be so tired without a break from being tired. When I look back at those years of having young children (breast feeding and diapers), I wonder how our sex life survived at all. It did. We still had sex almost every day, except for right after each birth. I am always in the mindset that if you don’t make love with your spouse, he might find it elsewhere. During my BC (before Christ) days, I had two long term boyfriends, separate times, who both cheated on me, while I remained faithful. I was determined NOT to have that happen in my marriage. So, I never refused sex, even while the children were young. Hubby said I refused twice. I don’t remember those two times. It probably happened, I was so, so tired.
    I remember that the type of sex even changed temporarily. I had no energy to have “fantastic mind-blowing, amazing” sex. It is a fact that, so often I would offer “log” sex. I had the energy enough “to just lie there” like a log. I would be so tired. We actually ended up laughing a lot while I was a log because it was not like me typically. It was one step down from a quicky. With a quicky, I would still be interactive, but it would be quick (20 minutes or less). Being a log, I would just lie there. It was not all the time, but often. I even remember that one time during one of those “log escapades”, I began to snore! That’s right, I fell asleep! He woke me up. I imagine it’s hard to make love to a sleeping spouse. I was so tired but did not want to refuse hubby. Every once in a while I would have “interactive” sex, but I remember being so tired.
    Does having kids change your sex life? Yes! Thank God the kids become more independent. During the years of breast feeding and diapers, don’t be surprised if you end up having many quickies where she turns into a log. Hold on, because once the kids get older, sex will go back to normal only quieter. It did for us. We don’t hide the fact that Mom and Dad love each other. The door is always closed at night. If our young adult children want to go down to the basement for awhile, it’s their business. We will not stop making love because we have kids in the house.

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