Parental sex is something we just don’t talk about, isn’t it? Or is it just me? To be honest, it’s a wonder I’ve ever even had sex considering how utterly impossible I find it to talk or write about it. I can’t even talk to N about sex. I rationalise this by telling myself “sex is something you do; not something you talk about doing”, but I did once have this boyfriend with whom 75% of our relationship consisted of exchanging filthy text messages. The other 25%, however, was made up of not actually doing the vast majority of the things we had been texting about because, frankly, they involved a lot of effort and there was also a pretty marked height disparity between us, which would have rendered some of them impossible anyway. And I’m blushing furiously now, so I’ll leave that there.
I don’t know about anyone else, but sex isn’t something that happens very often for us these days. I suppose I should have known that this would happen, given that it took me 10 weeks to get back on the horse after O was born. When you’ve spent weeks grimacing every time you sit down, you really don’t want anybody poking around down there once things finally start to feel better. Eventually, I realised I’d just have to woman up and get it over with or risk developing such an aversion that we’d never actually have sex again. Now it’s not fear of discomfort getting in the way. It’s not even lack of libido. It’s the fact that I’m just so fucking TIRED.
The thing is, once we’re in a position where sex might be a possibility i.e. in a quiet house with children either sleeping or not present, I start to think about how late it is or how the kids could wake up any second and wouldn’t it be awful if we were in the middle of something if they did? So I tend to grunt something approaching a negative, N sort of sighs like “ah, this neurotic shit again” and goes to sleep and then I’m lying there in the dark, awake anyway because I’m fed up and frustrated because this just feels a little endless sometimes.
I have this “quality not quantity” approach to sex as a general rule. Like it’s better to have one really mind-blowing encounter every couple of weeks than sex that is just a little bit meh every few days. So I’ll pull this one out for N every now and again and he’ll nod and then say, somewhat sadly (possibly for effect), “That’s true, but I don’t bloody remember anymore because it’s been five fucking weeks.”
Well. At least no one’s counting.
When you’ve been married for a while, people must assume that this kind of thing happens because they’ll start telling you how important it is not to “let that stuff go”. Which actually makes me really uncomfortable, to be honest, as if I must look like a person who hasn’t gotten laid for a while. But, infuriatingly, these over-familiar individuals are not wrong; sex is an important tool for keeping couples close. I’ve noticed that N and I get much more easily aggravated with each other when it’s been a while, and I don’t think it has much to do with anything as basic as “sexual frustration” or whatever; I think it’s because it can feel sometimes like our connection has come loose. Like we are just roommates who happen to have shared custody of small humans. And sometimes it’s been so long that I actually don’t know how to get things started up again, which often strikes me as incredibly weird because… well, because it shouldn’t be that difficult.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that when N and I first met, a lot of our interaction was physical. Of course there were times when we would just sit on the sofa together and talk, but we would always be physically connected somehow. My feet in his lap, his hand on my thigh, my head on his shoulder. We made an unconscious effort to be close to each other because it felt natural to us then. But now it’s different. Now there are nights when I will go to bed and realise that we haven’t hugged or kissed all day. Now he sits at one end of the sofa and I sit at the other. We don’t cuddle in bed because ugh! I’ve had kids climbing all over me all day and I just want my personal space back so can you just Go. The fuck. Away. Please.
I don’t say this to him. It’s an internal monologue, but he generally gets the point when I wriggle away and create a duvet buffer in the middle of the bed.The thing is, it’s not that I don’t want to have sex with him. It’s really not. It’s just that… It’s a lot of effort, isn’t it? Clothing to remove, some kind of prelude, the thing itself and then that godforsaken clean-up operation (speaking of which, if you haven’t read this thread about the “penis beaker”, you really should). Maybe you don’t mind falling asleep in the wet patch, but I absolutely refuse to. Eurgh. NO.
I’ve actually heard about parents who schedule sex one or two nights a week, and I don’t mean to be dismissive because hey! If that works for you then that’s awesome, but doesn’t scheduling nookie kinda take the fun out of it a little bit? I can just imagine how that would go in our house:
N: “It’s sex night.”
Me: “I know, but I’m tired and I don’t really feel like it.”
N: “But it’s sex night. It says so ON THE CALENDAR.”
Me: “We need to get a new fucking calendar.”
I think that this is just going to be how it is for a while. A relationship counsellor would probably start talking about “making time for each other” and “nurturing your relationship” – GAG -, but we’ve been on the brink of divorce before and I genuinely don’t believe we’d let that happen again. It’s fine to not have sex for a few weeks at a time if we can still remember to appreciate each other. It’s completely unnecessary to get my knickers in a twist over this.
My knickers haven’t seen a whole lot of action other than twisting lately.