She's Not Getting Sex
Q: I'm 22. I met my boyfriend when we worked together 2 1/2 years ago. We moved in together while he was going through a very long divorce, and lived together for three months before I got pregnant. The sex was great at first but when I found out about the baby, the sex stopped almost completely. He said he was afraid he would hurt the baby or me. After the baby was born, we only had sex a couple times in the next few months. And here it is now, 2 1/2 years later and we don't kiss anymore, we don't hold one another, and we don't go out on dates together. I feel like a maid and a mother figure with a roommate. What can I do to make things get better? I'm ready to give up!!! -- Tami
Dr. Susan: Don't give up, Tami. I recall my own ex-husband, when I was pregnant with our first child, thinking he might hurt the baby somehow. That sort of ignorance sure puts a damper on your love life. But what's past is past, so let's see what you can do about the present and future of this deteriorating marriage of yours.
First, you are a full partner in this relationship, so act that way. Suggest ways to spend time alone together with your husband, even if it doesn't occur to him or he doesn't agree on how important that is. Many marriages never fully recover from the birth of a baby. (And you're not even married, which suggests to me that your -- or his -- level of commitment might not be high enough to get you through this rough period.)
When a man and woman are new to one another, the sex is natural, spontaneous, easy, and usually hot. By the time the "honeymoon" is over, after a few months or a year or two at the most, it can take some conscious planning to get everyone's juices flowing regularly. Sounds like you two got out of the habit and never found a way back.
Sit that boyfriend of yours down right now and advise him that you have no intention of letting the bond you had with one another slip away so thoughtlessly, especially now that you've created a child together. Ask him what's up. Is his libido shot or have the two of you merely drifted apart since the baby came along? The less you share, the easier it is to forget how much you cared about one another a short while ago. Nothing is going to change -- except to keep going in the direction of alienation -- unless you make some serious efforts. Show your partner lots of affection, even if you're a bit annoyed with him. Eventually that should warm him up. Tell him why you're annoyed with him (for treating you like a maid and so on), but use clear I-messages without criticizing him. Stop waiting on him and doing things for him that he can do for himself. In other words, you may be a mom, but you're not his mom, and don't let either of you forget that.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.