What If Sex is One-Sided?

Do you love a pregnant or postpartum woman?  I know it can be difficult.  Motherhood often changes a woman’s hormones from saying, “I want to jump your bones,” into, “Keep that baby alive!”  There have been periods when motherhood has turned my wife into a seemingly asexual creature. She still loves me, but she has absolutely no sex drive.

sex one-sidedAbove all, I want to love my wife and consider her needs first.  But after a while, being the only one to initiate sex can wear on a guy. I once told my wife that it makes me “feel like I’m clubbing my prey over the head and dragging it into my cave.”  That got a laugh.  But I worried that I was using her and I felt isolated and frustrated that she wasn’t interested in me.

So I talked to her about it. She explained that she’s not opposed to sex. She still enjoys it, but there’s just nothing in her saying, “You know what sounds like a good idea…?”

We have had many open, honest conversations about this.  One was particularly enlightening.  I was asking her to initiate sometimes so I would feel better, but she explained that this would counteract a big benefit of sex for her.  Although she had no physical desire for sex at this point, she did have an emotional need to be pursued.  Sexual pursuit was a way I could help fulfill that need.  That made me feel like I was actually doing some good and not just “clubbing my prey.”  I want my wife to feel valued and loved for the person she is, not just the body she has.

So what do you do if this is your situation?

First, know that it really isn’t you.  I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

Second, communicate honestly and openly.  Remember that the hormones that make her sexually uninterested also make her a caring and affectionate mother.  Here are a few ideas to get the conversation started.

  • Is she feeling supported?  Sex hormones are suppressed when women are stressed.  What can you do to alleviate that?  My wife is the type of person who needs to have the dishes done before she can think about relaxing.  What does your spouse need before she can think about sex?
  • Is your timing right? For my wife, it’s a really bad idea to get to bed late and then sneakily suggest that sex sounds like a good idea.  It might have been a good idea an hour ago, but now she’s really exhausted.
  • Is there something you can do to help her relax? A warm bath?  A back or foot massage?  A TV show?  A little can go a long way here…
  • Ask her how she feels about it. If you’re confused, ask.  You’ll probably feel a lot better after she explains that she doesn’t understand it either.  She still thinks you’re attractive and loves you, but it’s out of her hands.  It’s probably frustrating for her, too.

At the least, talking about our sex struggles helps me feel like I’m not just clubbing my prey, but more deeply discovering the woman that I promised to love and cherish in all seasons of life—regardless of what motherhood may be doing to her sex drive.

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  • And…. what, when the pregnant woman is saying the same things, except she’s struggling and it’s her husband who is “unmotivated”. Men?

  • Love this post as my wife and I are getting into these types of conversations because she’s pregnant. Great notes.

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