Oprah Steals From Us…Again!

Carla: Once again, Oprah has stolen our thunder. People’s Exhibit A: Monday’s show about the secrets of motherhood. I mean, didn’t we just talk about that?

So let’s try a new topic and see how long it takes for O to get her mitts on it and call it her own. I say we talk about sex. That’s right, sex.

Motherhood and sex are like orange juice and toothpaste–lovely on their own but has anyone figured out how to have one without it messing up the other? I have read a bazillion–at least–articles about how to liven up your sex life and while the advice always makes sense, it never seems to hit at the real reasons women with children so often have pitiful sex lives. From the lack of interest to the lack of energy to the lack of time, it seems like every women I know who has children and a husband enjoys being cuddled by one of those parties far more than the other.

So maybe the Revolution can get to the root of this whole sex issue. Maybe some of you have gotten back your mojo and can share your secret with the rest of us. Maybe some of you never lost it and can keep that to yourselves (kidding!). Maybe some of you have plenty of mojo and no “Joe” with whom to share it. And maybe some of you are like the countless women I know who love their husbands dearly and would be perfectly content if they never had sex with them again.

I know rest, time together, time to yourself, etc. all factor into this, but I also think there’s more going on than just a lack of sleep or time. So what is it? Why are we so disinterested in sex after we have children? Or is it just me?

Caryn: It’s just you, Carla. I’m sure the rest of us have no idea what you’re talking about…. But for the sake of argument (and because my brother and people I work with read this!) I’ll pretend I understand whatever you mean about this “dissinterested in sex” business. I might even—again for the sake of argument—take your “disinterest” and raise you an all-out “UNinterest.”

Why does this happen? Obviously, there are some big issues behind this. I’m sure physicians and psychologists could give us a litany of reasons. The quiver-full folks will just tell us its our sinful nature (which, as the resident Calvinist, I’ll agree with—on the point that were we not fallen, our sex drives would be fine and dandy, not because we’re denying the earth more of our children….). And our husbands or partners would give their own insights (I’m so praying my husband doesn’t catch wind of this post!).

You mentioned the lack of time and sleep. For me, honestly, it’s lack of SPACE. One of the biggest issues for me as a mom—and an at-home one at that—has been being constantly surrounded by people. I’m an introvert in and out. And the lack of alone time leaves me teetering on the bring of insanity nearly all the time.

Sex often feels like the thing that will send me over the edge (and I don’t mean in the good way that sex can send us over the edge….). When I’m desperate for alone time and space and the whole “recharge” thing, when I’ve just finished a day clung to by little needy people, the idea of a big needy person (no matter how much I love him or how sexy I find him) wanting to cling to me…. ugh.

And yet, the opposite is also true. When the house is quiet, when I’ve had time to myself, look out! (Let’s just say it’s a good thing my husband and I both work out of the house.)

So that’s my thing. I have no idea what you extroverts can blame this on.

Go ahead and steal this too, Oprah. But go ahead and take it one step further—have us on your show to talk about this. You need the Mommy Revolution. I, for one could be at Harpo Studios in probably 20 minutes flat.

Carla: What, no comment on my orange juice and toothpaste line? Come on! I have been saving that one for FOREVER!

I think as Christian women, we have another set of issues that impact our sex lives. For Christian women, sex is fraught with spiritual baggage. For those of us who grew up in the church, sex was something we didn’t talk about, weren’t supposed to think about, and ought to avoid until we were married. I once read a quote that put it all into perspective, “The church teaches that sex is dirty and wrong and that you should only have it with the person you love most.”

Christian women who didn’t grow up in the church inherit that message when they connect with a church. And anyone who fails to hold off until marriage is reminded at every turn that she committed a sin she can never really move past. I mean, when’s the last time you heard a woman say, “I spent a lot of time lying to my friends before I became a Christian.”? When women talk about the “before” and “after” it’s almost always about sex. Sex is held up as the primary way our sinfulness plays out.

So women who wait to have sex until they get married have to make a shift from “good girls don’t” to “good wives do.” Women who didn’t wait have to make the shift from “this is a mistake” to “this is what God wants.” So many of my friends who struggle with sex are caught in this battle with themselves–and I am too. We want to desire our husbands, we want to be comfortable with our sexuality but we spent 10-20 years fighting that desire and being taught that it was sinful. Sexual feelings are tangled up with shame, guilt, and an ever-changing sense of ourselves. We don’t know how to integrate our sexual selves with our Christian selves.

Motherhood brings all of this to the forefront. It’s hard enough to think of ourselves as sexy and Christian. It’s even harder to throw the mom identity into that mix.

Caryn: Carla, I believe you’ve heard this one before: “Oh, great. Another person blaming the church….” Honestly, your new revelation has some validity—though not so much in my own experience. I must say. But I grew up weird. And a touch wild. Let’s just say I rejected a bunch of the “teachings” I heard. When a lot of it didn’t make sense, I threw it all out. Of course, I do think some of my “past” plays a role in my present… But for different reasons that you cite.

This is already getting too long so I won’t go way into it. Plus, I really think we should save some of this for Oprah.

So what do you all think?

49 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carrie Shumaker on April 7, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Caryn, I’m an extrovert! Here are my excuses…

    Days I’m home with the kids, I feel like I spend all day meeting other peoples’ needs. Sometimes, sex feels like just one.more.need to meet. It loses its fun-ness when I can’t get it out of my head that it is just one more thing that someone is asking of me, and can’t everyone just give me a few minutes of peace so I can drift off to sleep?

    The other mojo-killer is breastfeeding. I don’t mean it turns me off or makes me feel un-sexy; I mean the hormones that are in my system from breastfeeding just really really make it difficult to enjoy sex.

    On the other hand, when I can get some time to myself, or spend some time hanging out with just my husband, I can work on getting my head back in the game and getting my mojo on. Honestly it helps me to plan in advance a little so that I can start warming up to the idea. That sounds so dreadfully un-romantic but it does really work. After I had my 2nd child I thought my sex drive would be dead forever. Not so!

    OK, no one tell my husband!


  2. Posted by Tammy on April 7, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Speaking of TMI, have you (or perhaps it is JUST my marriage, God forbid) addressed the issue of why the men are also less interested? It’s not just me here, it’s him too. And it’s not because we’ve fallen out of love, don’t feel attracted anymore, etc., etc. I’m not sure what it is, but the idea that we give all day long and just want to be left alone once the kids are in bed. . . that makes sense to me. I have nothing left to give. But what about him? Just curious. Surely, there are men who read this. . .


  3. Posted by Heather on April 7, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Okay. I just spent Sunday night sobbing to my husband about what a loser I am when it comes to him. I have failed him in so many ways. When he comes home from work, the house is a wreck (never mind that I worked from home all day with a toddler and preschooler), no one has clean socks or underwear, he hasn’t had any sexual intimacy in…a bit. I flat out said, “I really don’t know why you come home at the end of everyday to me.”

    That said, I talked to my sister about it for a while yesterday and then last night, in an attempt to be “creative” and “take initiative” (my quotes, not my husbands), ***warning! adult content!*** I bought a variety pack of condoms. In ten years, I’ve never done this, never looked at them, never thought about it…I don’t know if I knew there were different kinds! (the birth control is usually my ball game) Oh, and I also checked a book out from the library, “The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.”

    Doing both of these things in the past week were extremely embarrassing and I almost didn’t do either. (then I decided that I should not been feeling any shame for wanting to dig for that spark!) I don’t know what I expect the outcome to be…maybe nothing more than trying to wake up THAT part of my brain so maybe it will start talking to my body. I’m thinking, too, that maybe the fact that my youngest is fourteen months old and she’s the last for us, will have a positive effect on the bedroom (or kitchen or family room) life between my husband and I. We’ll see.

    Like others, though, most moments of every day, I couldn’t care less.


  4. Posted by anon 1 on April 7, 2009 at 11:59 am

    well…i usually comment here but for this topic i would like to stay anon, so foreseeing that prob some other women will be “anon” too, i named myself “1” just so we can differentiate. 😉

    so i have been having this struggle with my husband for a while, because his drive has ramped up tremendously in the last couple of years, and i was fine with just maybe once a week, maybe every other week, for the same reasons you mention: too tired, not feeling sexy, not feeling like i get enough just “him & me” time to be able to gear up to it.

    and lately, we have been having discussions (sometimes arguments) about how he would like to have it at least 2x a week. at first this just made me mad. i mean, more expectations put on me, like others have said already, where i am just meeting someone else’s needs?!

    and because i’m anon1 i can give TMI and say that most of the time my needs are met too, so that is one motivator. 😉 we had lots of talks about how to “get” that part of me, and it has worked, so i feel very lucky i guess.

    but back to the frequency: when there is a certain number of times, i start feeling like i *owe* it to him or something, and i hate this feeling. but then again, if it were left up to complete spontaneity, i might think about having it once or twice a month…so we are trying to compromise right now and say at least once a week but if it happens more then that’s ok too.

    and i’m trying to be happy that he’s so into me…i guess after having 3 kids and not feeling like my “old” self, wanting to lose those last 10 pounds, etc. etc. etc. i feel like if he still finds me attractive, still wants me like that every day, then i must be a lucky girl.


  5. Posted by Carrie on April 7, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    One of my friends told me recently she and her husband agreed to have sex on any day of the month divisible by 3. I thought that was hilarious. She said it worked really well; that way they have the same expectations.


  6. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Right now I have the mo-jo coming out of my ears. It’s the times like these that I need to remember when he’s the one who REALLY wants to, and I don’t. When I’m not in all my gestational glory (and basically unstoppable) I am like a lot of women and can go a couple of days without having a sexual thought.

    Generally speaking, if I climb into bed in a state that is conducive for prep-free intimacy, (I could be in flannel, but just making sure I’m showered, and whatever….) he is free to initiate without me having to get up and “get ready” which seems like it would take WAY more energy than I have. (As a mom of many, I have had lot’s of those low energy times.)

    But being available doesn’t make me interested.

    So, I’ve learned ask for something… it was tricky for me, and a little embarrassing, but not at all a stretch for my beloved to act upon and it’s this:

    I say, “Talk me into it.”

    That actually means, “I have zero interest, but I have confidence that you can make me want to. So, yes, but please take a few minutes to make me want to.”

    It was hard to start doing that… I had been thinking about it from *my* perspective. How would I feel if he said, “I am utterly uninterested in having sex with you”? But that isn’t what I’m saying. I’m saying, “Yes, I will have sex with you.” It’s music to my husband’s ears and answers his most pressing question.

    As for the request for “special attention” (which can be defined as whatever rocks your world) that was the embarrassing part; but I’ve learned that it’s just more music to his ears. And, oh my goodness, it’s a symphony to mine!

    It almost never takes more than two minutes before I am feeling like we should do this every day and I am a fully engaged participant. By now, we both know this is how it works. And he hardly gloats. 🙂

    Another really amazing thing is this: On those times when you might feel bad for the guy ’cause you can tell he really needs the release, but you can only keep your eyes open for like three more minutes… use those three minutes and take advantage of his physiology. You barely have to leave your side of the bed; and while it is no replacement of the real deal, it buys you like two days and let’s him relax. Again, this was hard for me to suggest, but he had NO problem with it, and couldn’t be happier having this generally rare “compromise” available to him.

    We are BOTH happier. I guess that’s the main message. It completely removes the adversarial aspects of sex. It allows us to be united, and not tempted to resent one another regarding this wonderfully vital part of marriage.


  7. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Oh, and the church never taught me that sex is dirty and wrong. I was taught that it’s great and is for married people.

    Telling a lie is as different from telling the truth, as fornication is from married sex.


  8. Posted by Emma on April 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I propose it’s because we were designed for monogamous relationships. Therefore, without having to think about it, I as a nursing mother (five-month-old son) cannot bear to think of sharing my breast with more than one fellow in a given year.


  9. Posted by DAVID F. on April 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Love the OJ and toothpaste bit. Does that work for orange-flavored toothpaste too? The topic of money & sex are the two argument biggies in a marriage. I know this from experience. There are many aspects of marital sex that can be discussed but it looks like we’re leaning on “frequency” here. But first….I feel like any part of marriage, it’s all about communication. Even after having children, a husband and wife still have the rest of their lives to learn about each other’s sexuality but their must be open communication. Once there is open communication there can be understanding. There needs to be some disclosure (for lack of a better word) of each partner’s history and expectations for there to be an understanding of what that person’s sexuality has been and is currently like. I’m not talking bout going into detail as to how many people you had sex with but moreso your perceptions of sex. It’s imortant that the your spouse knows what gets you aroused or in the mood, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about sex, what you like to do and how often you like to do it. We all know that most men and women are wired differently in the are of sex. Most guys can flip a switch and “be there” while most women are on something similiar to a dimmer switch. If my wife is feeling overwhelmed, overworked, exasperated and well, not close to me….then I know we are far from dancing in the sheets. I feel it’s up to me to do what I can to: help her feel loved, show her she’s not alone in tackling all the work around the house, make sure she’s gettin’ “me time” and “girl time” and most of all just talk to her. It seems odd to us guys but my wife feels closest to me when I just spend time with her and talk with her. Our yo-yo schedules are nuts. We both work full-time. We both take one day off during the week to be with our 2.5 yr-old daughter and we both desire each other. Sure, I would like to have more sex than I currently have but I’ve got the rest of my life with my wife and it’s a continuous learning process. If she’s feeling loved and getting her needs met, then sex will come and I’ll have my needs met as well.


  10. Here’s a good one–strip UNO!!! Works like a charm . . . the loser has to remove an item of clothing. The end result is the same no matter who wins or loses!!! I’m sure you catch my meaning : ).


  11. Between cosleeping, breastfeeding and being pregnant- since my son has been born, sex has definately taken a back burner in our lives. I will admit it. I will say, with shame, that we do it probably about once every other month!! Then, I think I should not be ashamed of that- it is just too hard (haha! I mean difficult.)

    The only time we have with each other sans children is after bedtime, and by then honestly I just want to go.to.sleep. Besides, he loves it at 3am, I am more of an evening/daytime person, so our “schedules” never match up. If I ever am desperate, I wake up at 2am, just to be done by 3 and get some more sleep before my son wakes up at 5. Really romantic.

    Besides, I feel like my body has been repurposed. I don’t look in the mirror and think I am sexy or hot. Sure, I am proportional, fit, and put-together… but sexy, noooo. It just feels like the va-va-voom fizzled after the birth of my son.

    However, I don’t necessarily feel like this is all a bad thing, to be honest. I have an amazing sex life when I am sleeping!! Wow, you should see the scripts that I dream! It would put some sailors to SHAME!! Besides, sleep sex has no guilt, usually the laws of physics don’t apply, and usually is uninterrupted! 😛

    Ok, just being really, really honest here. Sorry if that is TMI.

    About sex and Christianity, the only thing I ever feel conflicted about or guilty about is when I have thoughts of other men… I have a wonderful husband who deserves loyalty. The rest of it is fair game, I think, once you say “I do!”


  12. Posted by Amy on April 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    My husband and I went through that “dry” spell. Well, in our case, he did. I am always ready and willing. But he works a lot, and has a high stress job. It killed me when we went through this. I did not understand, was I no longer attractive? Did he just not “like” me anymore? I knew he loved me, but did he fall out of love with me? All these questions ran through my mind daily. I would try to talk to him about it, but he never had a good answer. Until finally we had a good heart to heart, and really, we both wanted to find some deep seeded problem as to why this was happening to us. And after talking and praying about it, we realized it really was JUST that he was tired most of the time. We have implemented many of the techniques talked about here, and a lot of what Dave said is what works best for us (except I am the one who needs to make sure he gets his “me” time etc…) I admit, I think about sex daily, hourly, a LOT! And my husband just has other things on his mind. But by taking care of one anothers needs and talking about what those needs are outside of the bedroom, it makes filling the needs of inside the bedroom easier. We are now back on track and both of us are extremely happy about it!

    Also, I always tell my husband, making love begins the moment we get up in the morning. I know when he is wanting and vice-versa because we begin the physical touch right away. Love taps, pinches, kisses on the neck through out the day. That wink when you mention getting the kids to bed ON TIME! All of that is helpful.

    I grew up in the CRC, and yes, the whole sex is bad until marriage thing, difficult to deal with. I have a 17 year old and I have made sure to tell him (even making him uncomfortable at times) that sex is meant to be for marriage, and it is meant to be AWESOME!! That the feelings before marriage are normal, and even if you act on them, God is forgiving. Not because of the sex, but because you went against his will. Like when Eve ate the fruit, it was good! But the point is God said no. I want him to be able to give that incredible gift to his wife. To think about the fact that she would be his only one. No one else could share in that. Sex is one of the best gifts God has ever given us!!

    I have so much more to say, but so many said it all.

    Great topic ladies!


  13. I love talking about sex… I wish it was a more accepted conversation topic within the church.

    For me, having realistic expectations has helped me chill out in this area. (Back to that expectations thing. Has Oprah done that show yet?) Expectations of how often, how romantic, how exciting, how passionate, etc., etc… I’m seeing sex as more of an ordinary thing now… This has allowed me to not be so worried about it, so I’m more willing to be intimate even if I don’t necessarily feel like it because I’m not expecting myself to be a super sex queen or anything (not that I have ever succeeded in that). 🙂 Sometimes I want to mix it up or make it more exciting, but it’s not a necessity. And, sometimes we have sex primarily because it’s been a couple of weeks & we think we ought to. Afterwards we always ask “why don’t we do this more often?” & totally laugh about it. Then we may have sex the next day. And the next. Or it might be another two or three weeks.

    I think married-for-11-years sex is awesome. We’re at a really good place relationally. And, I’m more accepting of myself & less insecure in general which I think impacts every aspect of our relationship–including sex.

    And, our kids are 6 & 4. That helps.

    When our children were younger–I think around 3 & 1, we asked a counselor about all of this. (We were in the midst of a pretty long dry spell.) He told us he knows very few parents of small children who have great sex lives. He encouraged us to hang in there & that it would improve because the other areas of our marriage were in a “good place.” He reminded us that being exhausted from work, taking care of the kids, etc. are legitimate reasons for things to be the way they were.

    I could keep rambling about sex, but I’ll stop now. I have to run & go pack up my kids for their trip to their grandparents’ house… They’re leaving today & will be back Saturday. Y’all know what that means… 🙂


  14. Posted by Robyn on April 8, 2009 at 10:14 am

    My husband doesn’t read this blog. I think.

    I would really like someone to tell me why I am disinterested in sex. I’ve heard all the theories, and I don’t really seem to fit them.

    The whole theory about thinking it’s wrong and bad and then having to switch gears… nope. I always thought sex was a good thing, even growing up in a conservative, evangelical church. I’m not sure why. And I was a horny teenager, too, without much guilt. Managed to stay a virgin, but messed around a whole lot and really was only afraid of pregnancy.

    Had a huge sex drive when I was first married. Horny teenager turned into horny twenty-something. I mean, we had sex almost every day for YEARS, even when I was pregnant! We didn’t even wait the six weeks after our daughter was born, that’s how horny I was.

    Fast forward 8 years married, with a two-year-old. Most of the time I could take it or leave it. It’s not particularly exciting or interesting. I’ve read about “spicing things up.” Yeah, try sneaking off to a hotel with racy lingerie, feathers, and chocolate dipped strawberries with two full time jobs, household chores, limited babysitters, and a toddler. Plus, how many “new” positions can there really be? I want sex a few predictable times of the month, which I am assuming has to do with hormones, but I make myself do it a couple times a week because I know it means a lot to my husband.

    Is there a “mom hormone” that kills one’s desire for sex? Is it just a “been there done that” that makes it unexciting? Something about turning 30? I REALLY WANT TO KNOW!

    The only thing that is quick and easy and gets me in the mood? Alcohol. Honestly. A glass of wine helps me relax, and somehow makes me more willing and eager.


  15. Posted by Robyn on April 8, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Here’s another problem for me: I don’t enjoy kissing. For some reason it just sort of grosses me out. This wasn’t always the case; it’s a more recent phenomenon. And, no, he doesn’t have bad breath or anything. I just don’t like having my mouth on someone else’s mouth. Disgusting. I have NO IDEA where this feeling is coming from.


  16. Posted by anon 1 on April 8, 2009 at 10:46 am

    ok, ditto pretty much everything robyn said. both comments. maybe not as strongly as she stated it, but the same. i’m fine with the 15 minutes it takes us both to be “done.” is that wrong?

    and although i comply about 2 times a week, i don’t like kissing much, even though when we were dating my husband and i had 3-hour makeout sessions. seriously. and i think he feels very rejected when i want to skip the kissing part and just get to it.

    the only time i’ve ever felt really free about sex, wanting it a lot, is when i lost a whole bunch of weight and was working out every day. and at the same time, i was also having a nervous breakdown. so i think, well, i don’t really want to go back to that time, because something good was accompanied by something really, really, really bad. but my husband just remembers that time period as blissful, when we were doing it “all the time, all over the house.”

    to me, that was a dark period, where i was not taking care of myself, but the weird thing was that i think i wanted it more because i felt so skinny and in love with my body for the first time ever.

    then that leads to: how do we work against the stereotypes we are fed as girls/women? how do we look in the mirror and be okay with our 30-something mommy bodies? i hate the way i look, to be honest, and i fight against those thoughts every day.

    alcohol is my friend when it comes to all this. i have even joked that i have beer goggles when it comes to myself, because after a glass of wine or beer, i can look in the mirror and think “whoa! you are so hot!” haha but i wish i could get to this place without having a glass of wine…


  17. Posted by Carla on April 8, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I love you people.


  18. Posted by Robyn on April 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Oh, we once went to the Improv and heard this comedian who was talking about the “window of opportunity” when his wife has been drinking. It’s that brief time when you are pleasantly buzzed and horny, quickly followed by either just wanting to sleep it off or the buzz dying. So, now, I have a glass of wine and say to my husband, “The window is open.” He responds by quickly getting me home and to the bedroom before it closes. If we can’t make it, I tell him, “Oh, I’m so sorry, the window is closing now.” And he gets so frustrated. It’s hilarious.


  19. Oh boy, always a fun issue. I love sex, but still deal with all these issues. For me it’s difficult because in theory I want to be more sexual, more open, and not deal with any of the lies and hang-ups. But most of that doesn’t translate outside of my head into reality. So i can write, and blog, and talk about how I think sex should be – but actually living that out is way harder.

    So yes – I have the “be guilty” about sex hang-ups and the “I’m not sexy” lie playing in my head a lot. I still feel guilty to go to a lingerie shop to get stuff to wear for my HUSBAND… and then I hate myself for feeling guilty. because that is not who I want to be.

    And yes, I am a huge introvert with a personal space issue. I hate being touched – and with two kids touching me all day, it’s hard to get past that. Similarly when I spend all day taking care of the kids, then making dinner, then putting the kids to bed and finally have an hour or two to get work done – to have to give that up is really difficult. Of course, it’s selfish but its hard not to be jealous of my husband who spends all day in class, reading books, discussing theology, and meeting with people – so it’s hard not to give the “you’ve got to be kidding me” response when he then wants to take away my hour.

    what has helped? Exercise – not only helps with the body image issues, but helps with the energy to be sexy part too. Doing stereotypical sexy things no matter how silly – wearing the “do me” heels, learning, um, exotic dancing, and of course a glass of wine or two to move me past the “I want to kill the kids” stress levels. Books like the one mentioned above – A Good Girls Guide to Bad Girl Sex are fun too, if only for an example of a less inhibited perspective on sex.

    But a big part of this issue for me is getting past the church lie that to “save” a marriage (i.e. make the husband happy), the wife must suppress all of her issues and submit to he husband’s desires. I’m sick of the lie that as long as the woman gives up her entire identity and has no personality or desires then there will be a happy marriage. Its not a freaking relationship if there is only one personality present. So I wish the church would get past that and start helping couple have healthy sexual relationships.


  20. Posted by anon 1 on April 8, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    i knew i liked you, julie, but thanks for putting it so well! yes, i agree, exercise works miracles. it really does. i can do yoga one time and be like, “oh wow, i feel 10 pounds lighter.” totally weird how that works.

    and i also stock up on undies at forever 21, because that’s where i have found the cutest, sexiest, *cheapest* ones…like $2.99 a pair. who cares if they get holes after wearing them about 10 times? they usually get those holes from…well… haha

    i guess as i think about this more, i do have a few tricks to help me, like exercise, alcohol, and undies. if i put on the undies, even if no one else knows i’m wearing them, it suddenly makes me feel like a sex goddess. so then we just have to figure out how to actually have sex before that feeling wears off because i look down and see that i’m covered in all sorts of baby/kid goo from the day…


  21. i love this thread… (robyn–the hormone comment below is for you. and others, i guess.) 🙂

    a few more thoughts…

    –i think someone mentioned how making love begins when we wake-up or something like that… (forgive me for not going through the comments to find the exact quote.) yes–i agree. being known by my husband in all areas & knowing him in all areas impacts my desire for him, his for me, etc. when we’re “off” in any area, i try to look at what else is going on in our relationship to see if there’s something obvious that could be a contributing factor. this is why i’m a fan of counseling (with a good gospel-centered counselor). it’s good to have another voice speaking into our lives. we haven’t gone in a while, but it’s good to know we have that option if we need it again. it’s also why i’m a fan of having some close friends who know me & my husband & aren’t afraid to call us on our crap. and why i’m a fan of the gospel, the Bible, etc.

    –hormones. long story but will try to keep it short. i had to have an emergency complete hysterectomy 2 years ago at the age of 32. i’ve been trying to regulate my hormones since then. a few months ago my gyn referred me to a compounding pharmacy for bio-identical hormones. been on them for a month. huge difference. some of my hormone levels have probably been abnormal since puberty. they affect sleep, weight, libido, etc. for more info go to http://www.wellnesshealth.com. these people are lifesavers. i think oprah has done some shows on all of this recently, but i haven’t seen any of them. (it’s a sad state of affairs when we have to watch oprah to get information on our bodies, hormones, etc.) i think there are a ton of women out there having issues b/c of hormone imbalances. if i hadn’t had my ovary issues/hysterectomy, i might not have addressed this until natural menopause kicked in in a couple of decades.

    –i agree that exercise makes a big difference. so does figuring out (and practicing) those other things that help me reduce stress–having alone time, eating a healthy diet (not in a psychotic way, but in a moderate way), writing, & singing along w/ & dancing to beyonce, usher, run dmc, the beastie boys, brandi carlile, patty griffin, lucinda williams, and many others.

    –i’m a fan of the glass of wine or two a few times each week to “gladden my heart.” not just for getting me “in the mood,” but also for just being nicer to others and nicer to myself in general. some friends of mine are having problems w/ drinking too much in order to escape real life, but i’m not at that point & i’m going to keep trying to be responsible about the whole thing.

    –and, kudos to those of you who are having sex two to three times each week. or maybe that’s part of the problem… i think once a week, twice a week sometimes, & skipping a couple of weeks here and there can be a healthy place for some couples/phases of life.

    –last thing. i promise. for me just laying in bed together in our pjs listening to music and not talking is almost as intimate as having sex. kind of like that song, chasing cars by snow patrol… “if i lay here, if i just lay here, will you lie with me & just forget the world.” or something like that. again, forgive me for not having the exact lyrics.


  22. Ditto Carla’s comment about loving you guys. Great conversation! Total yes to exercise and wine! And definitely we have to blame the hormones, I think. Being pregnant or nursing for nearly 8 years straight hasn’t been great for the libido.

    For what it’s worth, though: All this sex talk is making me a bit—er—in the mood. Don’t know quite what to make of that…..


  23. Oh, it has been so long since wine for me, but I love the fact that you guys pointed it out.

    For me, one or two glasses plus a hot bath really take me out of “mommy” and “nurturer” mode and put me into “wife” and “woman” mode. It “gladdens my heart,” as Charlotte says.

    However, that being said, it worries me. I may not feel guilty about sex, but I DO feel guilty when I drink. It is really effective (and cheap, since I am no wine conniseur!) but coming from a family with a long history of alcoholism, I feel like using it to change my mood or cope like that (even when in reasonable, responsible amounts) is bad. Like I should not need wine to step out of those roles, you know?

    Is it sad that it turns my DH on when I am a little buzzed? Seriously, he has NO INTEREST most of the time, but put a soft buzz over the evening and suddenly I am the most attractive woman in the world! 😛 So, it works. Undoubtedly.

    At what point, though, is it maladaptive to use alcohol in one’s life. Is it about the quantity we drink or is it assigning it a purpose that may make it bad?

    REALLY curious what you mamas have to say…


  24. Kristi–yes… it’s definitely something to think about.

    My non-professional opinion:

    I think everyone has to consider their own weaknesses… I’m of the camp where it’s OK to drink, but not OK to get s-faced. But how do you monitor it? Where is that line? It’s different for everyone.

    I’ve had a couple of friends over the past few years who realized they weren’t in a good place with the whole alcohol thing and they both stopped drinking for a while. They had friends in their life who talked with them about it and were “in it” with them. Another endorsement here for being in community…

    I think when we have a problem with excess of any kind it’s important to get to the heart of why it’s an issue in the first place. If we’re trying to cope or escape from something, we obviously have other things we need to deal with. And, it’s good to think about the other ways we escape if we don’t happen to struggle with excessive drinking.

    Again, I think it’s fine to escape a bit here and there. Life is hard, brokenness is real and evil exists. I watch tv so I can turn my brain off and take a break from myself and from reality. If I watched tv 5 hours a day, I would need to give it up for a while/figure out what else is going on there…

    Also, with regards to alcohol before sex… If I needed wine every time to get in the mood and have sex with my husband, I would consider that a problem that I would need to address.


  25. Posted by Robyn on April 8, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I have absolutely no guilt about the alcohol. But then, I grew up in a family of light to moderate drinkers and didn’t see alcohol abused. I’ve been drunk and it wasn’t fun. But the buzz sometimes? Yes, please. It’s not that I use it to *escape* so much as to turn OFF my brain. A lot of the time, I have three zillion thoughts running through my mind, most of them my to-do list, and I just cannot stop and focus on sex, which seems like just another thing to get over with so I can cross it off my list. A little bit of alcohol lets me focus on one thing: sex. I have one or two drinks once or twice a week. I would call that far from a problem. But, that’s just me. I know other people have a no-tolerance policy for alcohol, particularly those who know alcoholics (I don’t think I know any). And that’s fine too.

    And, Kris, people use all manner of things to adjust their moods. Chocolate? Good. Music? Good. Meditation? Good. Exercise? Good. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to try to change your mood and cope. If it was, we’d all be screwed. (Oh, pun not intended!) Sometimes we need a little bit of escape so we can deal with the real world. As long as we come back to the real world in a timely manner, I think it’s okay.

    So, I guess amount and purpose. Yes, both. But it’s something we have to examine and assess each for ourselves to know when it’s a problem. And hopefully we have people in our lives who love us enough to notice and ask if they think it might be a problem as well.


  26. Posted by Robyn on April 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    But I really HATE to “exercise.” Hate it. Find it boring as all get out. Maybe THAT is my problem. And, yes, I’ve tried all the “tips.” I just don’t. like. it. Probably why I’m overweight, too. Sigh. At least my husband loves me and finds me attractive anyway.


  27. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 8, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I always have two cents…. then I get started and it turns into twenty. In any case, I hope this is somewhat helpful. I think:

    Guilt is amazingly useful when we are doing something wrong. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you, He will be very specific.

    But Satan deals in vague generalities.

    I don’t know which it is that you are experiencing, but you do, right?

    Both are feelings we get, but the use of our Bibles and our logic can help us decipher where the message is coming from.

    And I’m confident that you already know there’s no objective measurement for determining when having alcohol is “maladaptive” (great word–had to look it up.)

    When you have a headache, you could lay down, or take a pain reliever, or massage a pressure point, or do nothing. Eventually, each will result in the headache going away. I guess I see the wine thing in that light. I don’t always take a pill, but if I do, I don’t stress over it; I’m thankful it’s there.

    So maybe it’s not that you “have to” use wine to get the mood. Maybe it’s just that every now and then you “get to.”

    Give thanks before you have the glass of wine (or two). Give thanks for how relaxing it is and for how it enhances the romance and how it tastes wonderful. And enjoy it and its “gladdening” effect.

    And BTW, maybe it’s not the buzz that turns your husband on; maybe “Relaxed Kristi” is just too irresistible. Maybe it helps him remember when he first fell helplessly in love with you. My husband loves it when he gets to go out with me and see me being a grown up with other grown ups and being chatty and full of light and life. I catch him just looking at me and smiling, and being delighted with me. That is so romantic to see him looking at me like that. Leads to my favorite kind of sex.

    Don’t lose your caution. Just lose your guilt, unless it’s from God. (Use your Bible and your logic to determine if it is. He didn’t leave us directionless.)

    Oh, and I despise exercise… except a really early morning walk alone with God.


  28. i agree. i bet he is attracted to relaxed kristi in a different way than he’s attracted to non-relaxed kristi. and, i just ran this situation by my husband. he agrees w/ that assessment.

    thanks, m. of m. for your twenty cents. 🙂 very helpful.


  29. A few thoughts:

    –I agree with what Mom-of-Many says about asking to be “talked into it.” That has worked for us. But that doesn’t always mean, “convince me to have sex with you.” I found out a few weeks after our son was born that what I needed wasn’t to be convinced to have sex, my husband and I just needed to talk. Period. Our first few tries at sex after parenthood were a little disappointing, because we just got right to it. But one night I knew my DH wanted it and I was not in the mood, so I said, can we just talk. After ten or so minutes of talking (and not about sex), I was totally ready. We realized that we missed each other.

    –I don’t think anyone mentioned this, and perhaps it will sound a bit strange, especially for those who grew up in the church (maybe it really is a bit strange?), but we found, even at the beginning of the marriage, before our son came along, that praying about sex helped a lot. Not just praying general prayers for our sex life, but praying in bed naked together that we would have a great experience, and that I would have an orgasm. And God has answered those prayers again and again! We’re not being super-spiritual, we’re being practical. God thought this whole thing up, so he can help us do it right and enjoy it!

    –alcohol helps too 🙂 A little buzz helps me relax and lose my inhibitions. For example, without the wine I might be thinking how late it is and how I have to get up early tomorrow. With the buzz, those things may be true, but they don’t matter as much.


  30. Caryn and Carla,

    I’m so glad you’re talking about this subject! We don’t talk about it enough in the church!

    The best thing we did for our sex life is we scheduled it! Put it right on the calendar (well not on the family calendar, you know!) It was so helpful to us that I wrote about it in my book “Is There Really Sex After Kids?” and you can find an article about scheduling sex on marriagepartnership.com!

    It made a big difference for us….maybe it will help someone else!


  31. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 9, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Hi Mindy! I think you understood me (and I love what you said about praying for your orgasm…. why not?! And about “missing each other.” That is really sweet.) But in case someone else might have misunderstood ….

    “Talk me into it” is just an expression, and I know it sounds like “convince me to do it with you” but actually, I’ve already agreed to sex at that point, regardless of how “into it” I can be brought. It’s actually just a yes, along with a request for him to get me to the point where I am eager, not just willing. He’s had “disinterested but willing” sex with me, and he prefers the other kind, hands down.

    By now (almost 16 years) he knows many secrets to success, so I do get interested really fast; but he has always been willing to put more time into the process in order to achieve the desired results. (I think it’s better for them when we are “ready”. Oh me or my, I’ve been SO graphic in these comments. I’M SO glad to be semi-anonymous—Carla, please don’t out me!)

    Anyway, if it was a conditional “yes” I would feel way too much pressure. And I think he would, too.


  32. Along with what the other ladies have already said (lack of time, energy, space, etc.), my other problem is this: When I married my husband I was a 21 year-old, aerobics instructing, svelte size 6. 10 years and 4 kids later, I am a sedentary, saggy, flabby size 12-14. I have never felt so matronly and un-sexy in all my life!


  33. Posted by A Dad on April 9, 2009 at 8:45 am

    “And maybe some of you are like the countless women I know who love their husbands dearly and would be perfectly content if they never had sex with them again.”

    Let’s stand this comment on it’s head.

    “I love my wife dearly and would be perfectly content if I never had to talk to her again.”

    Completely nonsensical.

    She has sex because it flows out of connection.
    He has connection because it flows out of sex.

    I never feel closer to my wife than when our naked glistening bodies are panting after having done something that I will never do and have never done with anyone but her.



  34. Posted by Kaydi Johnson on April 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I wonder what women from other countries think of this discussion? I am specifically thinking of my friends who have arranged marriages and got married very young. We are so ” Americanized” when it comes to sex. Me included, so I have only questions, no answers. Like; maybe we are coming at this all wrong. Sex is not about me, or how I feel, or how sexy I look. It maybe about something very different, because God made it and said, “It’s Good!”
    I am preaching to myself here, as I was “too tired” last night. I am wondering if loving my husband in ways I know HE would like and are not “sexual”, would make a difference in how I respond to him sexually. I am going to try that over the next week or two and see what happens. I wonder if anyone can come at this from a non American prespective?


  35. Posted by Anon 3 on April 9, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I am also going anonymous for this one. 🙂

    I love this topic. I also really love sex! I have to say I think it is really wonderful. Yes, our frequency has slowed after kids. We find the time and energy at least once a week. I think the “dirty” part may be slightly more of an issue for my husband – but it comes out more in the flirting than in actual sex. He isn’t always interested. We didn’t wait till marriage – and I think I felt most guilty about not feeling guilty. It was always wonderful to be with him. And I am not sure I regret not waiting because we got pregnant immediately after getting married so we had a couple great years of sex before that. Before kids I usually had more of a sex drive in our relationship than he had, but since kids it has equaled out more. I think we’d both say we are pretty happy with things right now.

    Things that are hard: finding the time with two small children, extra weight, a little PPD, and pregnancy (we just can’t quite figure it out after about 5-6 months).

    Things that help: a glass of wine (yes!), being rested, flirting throughout the day, and going on a date. This discussion has also made me a bit excited about the upcoming weekend. We seem to be too tired during the week – the weekends are great for us to recharge.


  36. Posted by Robyn on April 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    What Dad said has been proved true in my marriage at least. I need to feel connected BEFORE we have sex. My husband feels connected BY MEANS OF sex.

    It’s sort of a problem sometimes.


  37. Posted by Robyn on April 9, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    What “dad” says has proved true in my own marriage.

    I need to feel connected BEFORE sex.
    He feels connected BY MEANS OF sex.

    It’s sometimes a problem because I don’t want to have sex with him because I don’t feel connected to him. He thinks, let’s just have sex and then we’ll be connected to one another. Um, no.

    We have “willing, but disinterested” sex more often than I would like. Perhaps I need to start using the “talk me into it” line.


  38. Ok, SO…

    We have talked about sex and guilt with our DH’s.

    We have talked about why we have it…
    Why we don’t…

    And if it is ok to use alcohol to, mind the pun, loosen things up… (tee hee)

    So, here is the next element to the sex/marriage/God question:


    When is it ok?
    When is it not ok?
    Is it a sin?
    Is it healthy?
    Is twiddling the tinkler more or less sinful inside and outside of marriage?

    I am personally of the mind that it is not the masturbation in and of itself which is sinful, but the fantasizing about people outside the marriage.

    I am no scripture expert, but I think I remember reading about how if you sin in your mind it is the same as sinning with the body…

    So, if you fantasize about other men, women, scenarios, whatever- do you feel guilty? If you fantasize about your spouse, but doing things completely uncharacteristic of that person, is that still disloyal?

    I guess my question is that if the fantasy is what is sinful, do we have to have realistic, functional, sometimes boring fantasies too lest we sin?

    Oh, and Robyn, I totally agree- we need to feel connected to have sex. They need to have sex to feel connected. Men are weird! 😛 Just kidding.


  39. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 10, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    If we do it for ourselves, we won’t have that sexual tension build up in us that drives us to woo our spouses. Or respond when they woo us.

    It will all begin and end in our selves. It could stunt our sexual growth as a couple. Nothing I can do to myself can compare to what he can do to me. It wasn’t always that he made my eyes roll back in my head, and made me forget my own name. We got to that point over years. And if I didn’t “get to” during, he made sure I “got to” afterward.

    And I can imagine the feeling betrayal he’d feel if ever I was “not interested” in sex with my him, yet earlier I was interested in having an orgasm, but not bothering about his needs.

    That sexual part of me is something he is entitled to. That build up of sexual tension is something he is entitled to release and to benefit from.

    Where is that “Your body does not belong to yourself…” Scripture? I’d look it up, but they are waiting to start the movie in the other room……. and they keep coming in the room to find out when I’m coming in there, and I keep covering the screen and screaming at them to go away….



  40. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 12, 2009 at 7:13 am

    Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

    I found that verse:

    1 Corinthians 7:4
    The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (New American Standard Bible (©1995))

    I don’t claim this verse as having anything to do with masturbation, per se, but just to support the idea that he’s actually “Master of my Domain” as I am “Queen of his castles.”

    I don’t think the Bible is clear on it one way or the other. (It’s unappealing to me because of the self-focus of it and the diluting effect I mentioned above.)

    But the least that this verse could tell me is that I would want to be in agreement with my spouse, and submit to one another about it.


  41. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 12, 2009 at 7:14 am

    That was “Queen of his Castle” …. singular. 🙂


  42. Posted by Robyn on April 13, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Well, Kristi, I thought about going anonymous on this topic, but since you are the only one who knows me in real life, I decided not to. 🙂

    I don’t think masturbation is necessarily always sinful. I do think lusting after/fantasizing about someone other than your spouse is sin, and the bible is clear on that.

    But, I think there are times in a marriage when masturbation could be okay. For example, if husband and wife are separated by distance because of travelling or unable to have sex because of pregnancy or other health-related conditions. I think, in that case, it should be something that they discuss with one another and agree upon. And I think they can still participate sexually with one another even during the masturbation (“phone sex” or pleasuring each other without intercourse). This way, it isn’t a solo activity, but still part of the marital relationship.

    I do think that if it is done in secret, if one is fantasizing about someone other than one’s spouse, or if it takes the place of (and becomes preferable to) the normal sexual relationship that the couple is physically able to have, then it is a problem.

    That’s my 2 cents.


  43. Mom of Many

    I loved what you wrote, very helpful and accurate in my experience sans kids.

    I’ve been pregant and lost the baby so I don’t feel I ought to be weighing in on this discussion…but I want to ask how many of you felt that your mojo went WAY down with children, or, instead, if having kids illuminated or magnified what was already present in your sex lives?



  44. Posted by Mom-of-Many on April 13, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I am probably too present in this discussion, Jonalyn, but I’m sure you are welcome to join it. And I am very sorry for your loss.

    It’s easy to see how breast milk squirting out at the most inopportune time might dampen the mood, or how getting so much less sleep could siphon off energy that otherwise would have naturally been devoted to sex, right? And as the many wonderful moms here have attested, desire itself can just disappear…. for a season.

    But it isn’t like there can be no growth as a couple sexually during those years. There definitely can be.

    The experience of parenting together has grown us and united us in wonderful ways. It’s enhanced our regard for one another and deepened our relationship—and how this, in turn, has enriched our sex life is far harder to measure than any of the ways having kids has ever “interfered” with our sex lives.

    What we have gained can’t be compared to what we have ever—for a season—lacked in quantity or quality.


  45. This is my first time to your blog–love it! A few thoughts..

    Breastfeeding definitely did something to my hormones that made sex uncomfortable for a while.

    The second issue, which I am much more uncomfortable saying is that after our son was born my husband was about my least favorite person. I feel awful saying it but there were days I wanted to stick a fork in his eye (not really…kind of, but not really) I don’t know if it was sleep deprivation, hormones or me just being a jerk. He just got on my last nerve. That has all passed now. I am pregnant with our second and hope there is not a repeat of my craziness.

    Third, my husband and I have always had mismatched sex drives. Mine is much higher than his. Sometimes I feel like he would be okay if we never had sex again and that is an awful feeling. It builds self-doubt, insecurity and eventually a rage. It is hardly ever discussed out in the world—but the opposite is frequently talked about. There is such a stigma attached (guys are expected to “want it all the time”) so it is really difficult to have a conversation with him about it.

    I have other thoughts but this one is getting too long. Very interesting topic!


  46. Posted by O Girl on April 14, 2009 at 7:45 am

    But what is “sex”? If sex means giving my husband an orgasm, then it is, indeed, additional domestic work that involves being touched by a needy person. If sex means having an orgasm, then it becomes more desirable and relaxing. For me, orgasm and sense of humor are directly linked – if I’m having orgasms, then I approach the rest of life with more relaxation and humor. If I’m just having sex, then both the sex and the rest of life are more tedious and duty-bound.

    I’ve been frightened by my disinterest in sex and distaste for my husband since having kids (too many kids in too short a timespan — they are 3, 3, and 2).

    Once I move into the cycle of seeing my husband as the source of my orgasms, then I go to him more and more frequently and with more and more love. When I see sex as a touch-intensive responsibility that is about his pleasure and my duty, then it all heads downhill.

    If female pleasure takes the lead, male pleasure will follow. The reverse isn’t necessarily true.

    I can’t believe I’m writing anonymously b/c I don’t believe in that, but I have a public role with a Christian employer. And for some reason, not all Christians are cool with women discussing their orgasms in public.


  47. Great conversation, ladies. I have to agree–getting enough exercise, and having a little glass of wine, are both helpful.
    I’ve heard people say that guys use fewer words per day than women, and one reason it’s hard to communicate is that all their words are “used up” by the time they get home. I think moms of small kids have a limited number of “touches” per day, and by the time their husband wants to have sex, all those touches have been used up! It might help if you explain this to your hubby.
    For those of you with little kids–it will get better when they get older. (Mine are now teens) You’ll be less sleep deprived, you’ll hopefully (if you heed the advice about exercise) feel better about your body. But don’t exercise for him–you’ll never stay motivated. Exercise for you–because you want to feel good and take care of yourself.
    One way to connect, and exercise at the same time–play together. I have found that spending time playing tennis or sailing with my husband is a great way to connect.


  48. Posted by Becky on April 18, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Robyn said: “I need to feel connected BEFORE we have sex. My husband feels connected BY MEANS OF sex.”

    I know I’m jumping in on this late but just wanted to comment on this. I was complaining to a friend about this several years ago, and she encouraged me to try the “having sex to get connected” approach– she said it had worked (very counter-intuitively) in her marriage. And I decided to try, not really believing it would work. Much to my surprise, after the sex was over, I was laying in bed feeling quite intimate and connected with him. Now, this hasn’t been the case every time, but by and large, it has encouraged me to try to get over my initial reluctance due in large part to not feeling connected to him, and I’ve found that the intimacy comes. So, FWIW…


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