One of my bucket list items is to improve and expand the knowledge base available for young men facing life’s challenges as represented by relationships with women. There was so much I had no clue about prior to my stepping off into the sexual swamps, having but a narrow and ill-lighted path to follow through a myriad of pitfalls. I hope to hang another dim lantern into the dark branches blocking the murky light for those who follow before I kick it.
We don’t usually get too close to reproductive issues here at Spawny’s, except to warn young men about the legal traps awaiting them if they make poor choices. But even the most carefully-considered and researched attempt leaves a young man ill-prepared for the changes that can enter a relationship once parenthood occurs.
A common complaint launched by new fathers is that their former lovers aren’t interested in sex now that they are mothers. But I’ve not seen anything which explains in some detail why this is.
I guess Huffington Post reporter Catherine Pearson noticed this as well, and actually asked 10 new mothers why. I found their answers to be most illuminating.
To qualify myself, I am the father of four now-adult children. I’ve been through this scenario more than once. I have earned my Dad Stripes and wear them proudly. And while I’ve posted about the issues I’ve had with Mrs B regarding sex over the years, few of these problems offered here entered my life with any duration. Once things healed, we rapidly got back to the original problems we faced prior to pregnancy. That isn’t always the case for some. The quotes I offer are the ones I think young men need to know about, for some will face the problems the comments reveal.
My birthing classes did little more than touch upon the possibilities that things “might” be different post-partum. I don’t have any reason to believe things are much different today, unless a couple has a very good pre-natal instructor.
One thing which the classes do touch on, but don’t really explain much, is that many mothers-to-be don’t sleep well. They can’t get comfortable, and the baby does move around more toward the end. And those kicks! I got to feel one of my kids launch a World Cup-class boot. Nocturnal indigestion is nothing in comparison! So once a new mom has delivered, she’s going to be more interested in sleep for a while. This should pass in about 4 to 6 weeks under normal conditions.
This quoted post offers up comments from some mothers who had good experiences resuming sex:
It was like riding a bike. Just feeling that closeness to my husband, and connecting with him again in that way was incredible. Yes, I orgasmed.
There was no way we were going to make it six weeks anyway.
We had sex two and a half weeks after my son was born, and two weeks after my daughter. I wanted to! It was soon after giving birth, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t bleeding anymore (and I wasn’t wearing pads) and I wasn’t in pain. I felt I was actually feeling much closer to just being me than I had in a long time. It didn’t feel painful, maybe just a bit of burning. Deciding it was OK to take 20 minutes to have sex and relax and just feel like, “this is still normal life”, was very therapeutic.
See? It’s not ALWAYS hopeless! NANMALT! So, it is natural for young fathers to expect the resumption of sex post-partum. If this didn’t happen for the majority, there would be volumes spoken about what to do about the problems which cause it. But, the “rare” exceptions aren’t deemed common or important enough to have more than lame platitudes ready to offer, leaving a young couple to work things out for themselves.
Let’s start with a basic issue of the mother, and one which I think plays a large role in those women who never get back to an active sexual life:
I kept thinking, ‘A baby came out of my vagina, and now my husband wants to put his penis in there?!’
I was a mom. My breasts weren’t for sexual pleasure; they were for breastfeeding…
My skin was for providing warmth and comfort for my child. I pushed a baby out of my vagina. Now my body was supposed to be used for sex, too?
This new mother has a completely different view of her physical self now that she’s a mother. She has changed her focus toward nurturing her child, which is normal and necessary. But there is an element of hostility toward the physical actions which repurposed her to maternalism, a hostility which indicates that she isn’t in any hurry to change back to being a lover. These are the rocks upon which many relationships founder, as the male partner discovers he’s no longer welcome to be with his woman. He likely won’t know anything about what just hit him in a very sensitive place. He’s never been prepared for the possibility that it could happen to him.
I’m posting some additional quotes which I think apply as partial explanation of the mother’s incentive to feel this hostility before I comment further:
The angles of my body seemed…off.
Everything had been so centered on the baby. But just like the birth didn’t go the way I’d hoped, and breastfeeding was harder than I’d thought, sex was so different. It hurt, and there was more dryness than I expected…I really thought, OK. Maybe it’s just always going to be painful and different now. And I remember thinking, how are we ever going to have another baby now that I hate sex?!
I knew the first couple of times would be painful, but I did not expect to experience discomfort for that long.
Sex the first few times post-delivery was terrifying for me, like I was re-experiencing the emotional trauma of childbirth. I felt the same kind of suspense and fear of the unknown I felt when having the baby. It felt so destructive to be inviting something into my body at the same point where my beautiful baby girl had just come out of eight weeks earlier. Physically, it was painful around my G-spot…for about a year.
My first baby was removed with forceps, and at my 10-week checkup, my archaic OB told me to have some wine and relax — sex would be fine. But everything hurt. Sitting was terrible. Standing was terrible. At that postpartum checkup, the doctor inserted a speculum and I thought I was going to die.
When we did have sex, I remember it feeling kind of like a sharp Hot Pocket was being inserted into my vagina. It sucked. It hurt. Nothing about that area wanted to be messed with…it took close to a year for the ache to go away.
Men view sex as a means of closeness, while women tend to see closeness as a requirement for sex. But if sex hurts, and if things don’t get better for a long time as attested by these new mothers, it’s possible that reconnection isn’t happening. Mothers who see themselves as baby nurturers and not lovers could convert this temporary pain into permanent trauma, driving a persistent wedge into the relationship which made them mothers, and severing connection with the men who chose to be a parent with them.
Even those who should know more than most of us don’t necessarily expect to have troubles:
“I’m a family physician, so I understand how the body changes postpartum, but I was still surprised.”
I have two children, and the youngest is 12 weeks. With my first, the whole leave was kind of a romantic time. We were cuddling, we were handsier with each other, so I thought, “We’re going to have sex and it’s going to be awesome”. It wasn’t. My vagina was a bit dryer, so we had to use lubrication…
Everything took longer for me. It took longer for me to get aroused when we kissed. When we were getting intimate, it felt hard for me to orgasm. I felt like my breasts were off limits, because I was breastfeeding, so that was a big part of our sexual relationship that was off the table.
A man faced with such a situation eventually has to make a decision. Will he wait for her to change back – if ever? Or will he come to see no future remaining in this relationship and decide to move on? Considering that few men have any clue how long this healing process might take, they have no concept of how long they need to be patient and understanding – especially if they have partners who have no desire to satisfy their men by alternative means of sexual expression. After all, even if they were willing, that would be slutty! No self-respecting mother would EVER act like a tramp! What would her child think?
And what of the new father’s relationship with his child? Immature men can come to see their own offspring as an interloper who stole his lover from him, especially if he’s left to his own devices, to care for his own needs, because mom no longer sees him. And the world is filled with such kids, separated from their rejected fathers who should have “just understood and been patient” over something they had no inkling was coming to confront them.
This next quote from a mom illustrates how a mom often thinks. She at least recognized that a problem existed, and worked out a solution:
Willing to have sex, but can’t focus with baby in the room
We had sex for the first time about a month and a half after my baby was born, and throughout it I was looking in the other direction — at where my baby was sleeping. I thought I would be OK having the baby in the same room, so we could keep an eye on her and take as much time as we wanted. But I couldn’t enjoy it. My eyes were constantly on her, thinking, please don’t wake up; please don’t feel cold; please don’t start rolling all of a sudden. My body was doing one thing, but my mind was completely on her. After a couple of attempts, we decided to do it in the other room.
Too many new parents might not HAVE another room, a problem which, over time, could prove insurmountable. A mom so focused on her baby after a while can’t see her partner as anything but another demand upon her, and another relationship dies when she gets to “When will he grow up and leave me alone”.
Baby illness might be the cause of problems. This couple produced a child with cystic fibrosis, and caring for such a child takes a lot of time and energy. Parents who might want more children would struggle with the probability that they could have another, and the fear of this could seriously inhibit sexual activities. This couple sought professional assistance, and managed to work through their fears:
It wasn’t until after all of that [worked out] that I finally felt like, OK. I think it’s safe to have sex. But we still had to talk through it. We had to say to each other, “This is safe. It’s going to be OK. And it’s OK for us to have our time back.” The sex, that first time, was really emotional. It felt like such a relief to have that part of our relationship restored, and to know my husband wasn’t scared of me — even after knowing a big baby came out of there, and everything we’d been through.
Yet there are some who never get back to “our time” due to special needs children. A closely-focused mom will only ever see her sick child. Once a mother, always a mother. But once a life is enough!
Keep these examples in your minds, young men! That cute hottie you’re pursuing just might experience these things if your relationship with her gets to that point. Are you ready to deal with it? Or is this something you know you aren’t up for? Be certain you are willing to take this on if you don’t end the game and move on before things get complicated.
You’ll thank me later when you watch your friends get divorced.
If Rory Banwell wants the photo removed, just ask. I’ll take it down if you wish.