After having a child, the new mother has a very complex hormonal cocktail in her system, which is very different from what’s going on with the father of the new baby. It would take a whole book to describe this difference. But for the purpose of this short article, I’ll focus on one of the many aspects – postpartum sexuality.
The female chemistry at this point is geared towards milk production and elimination of a possibility of another pregnancy, so the new baby has enough resources to thrive. Thus a woman, normally, does not feel the need in sex for a while after giving birth. There are always exceptions to every rule, but I’m not discussing exceptions right now. When a new mother holds her baby, she is flooded with dopamines, her needs for intimacy, connection, love are met on every level, from primal to highly spiritual.
What is happening with the new father at this point? Physiologically, hormonally, his body didn’t go through a huge transformation. Also, most of the men in our civilization didn’t have good role models in the area of postpartum literacy. For a while, a man is giving it his best (in the best case scenario), but as the time passes and his wife remains completely focused on a child, he simply starts feeling left out. Not in regards to any particular issue, but in regards to feeling loved by his wife. The mother gets her intimacy needs met while nursing, cuddling, being connected with the baby hormonally, neuro-biologically, etc. The man’s need to feel loved is mainly, if he is a healthy male, is addressed sexually. He KNOWS, of course, he is loved when the children come, and he wants to help! But ‘knowing’ something and ‘FEELING’ it – are two very different experiences, not always connected with each other within the cognitive function of the brain.
Sex IS the way a healthy man feels loved. He can get a lot of mileage out of his spiritual, moral and soul-full commitment to his family, out of his sense of responsibility, respect, love for the children. But he has needs, too. He needs to feel loved, and that he still matters! Male hormonal and neuro-biological landscape translates abstinence as the absence of primal connection and love. With children, how much of the wife’s attention is he, personally, getting? Male doesn’t have the same volume of physiological rewards from holding a baby as a female. He can go on only this far on his sense of responsibility. Then it will become a withdrawal or an aggression (passive or active), if a woman ignores him and his sexual needs. I am working with families for 32 years now and accumulated enough evidence that men are left without any sexual attention for an average of 4 years after having a baby.
Ladies! If you wish to keep your man, take good care of him! It doesn’t have to be a full on encounter, no, no, no, if you are not ready. But make yourself willing to offer something, if you are interested in maintaining your connection with him. There are so many simple and sweet treats you can enjoy, too, without compromising your boundaries and needs, which will sufficiently deliver the message of love to your partner. I know, sleep deprivation is not on your side. But, I’m sure you still do all the other chores that you don’t feel very passionate about doing, right? Pick your battles, ladies! Choosing your priorities, after all, is one of the biggest challenges in parenting. It’s another issue, if you don’t really see this man as your partner in your future, but I’m not talking about that right now.
Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m the last person to recommend you ‘forcing yourself if you are not in the mood’! Absolutely NO! I’m just sharing my observation about how to keep peace in your family. The main thing to remember: Your mood is not ‘you’. There is a ‘YOU’ that has a ‘mood’, so that ‘YOU’ can be in charge if you wish. Or you can go with a popular scenario of not becoming a master of your life and let everything slide down.
It’s basic common sense: if we want to maintain something, we need to invest our energy into maintaining it. If I want to have clean dishes for the next meal, do I always wait for a passionate ‘mood’ to do the dishes from a previous meal? If you want to have a friend, is it always only about what you need? Do you ever go out of your way to help someone out? If a woman cares to develop deep intimacy with the father of her child, she has to consider that simple fact – he has needs too. If she doesn’t really care about maintaining a real connection with him, it’s a different issue,- do nothing and it will dry up on it’s own. It ‘dries up’ in hundreds of millions of families, – in my estimation 95% of women don’t return to fully enjoying sex after having a child, for many reasons. It takes some women years to come back to their sexual senses. Of course, every rule has exceptions. If someone came back to feeling sexy right away after a baby, they are an exception, not a ‘rule’, and it still doesn’t help the other 95% . It’s a majority of women… This is exactly why we have such high divorce rates! I believe it’s time to start talking about it.