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How I Learned To Feel Hot Again

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man and woman in kitchen
How one stay-at-home mom got her groove back.

Recently, my friend Catharine told me about a book her friend wrote based on her blog, "Formerly Hot"—a phrase, I thought, that aptly described me. Well, maybe "Hot" is a stretch. But after three kids and seven years of marriage, I'd come to categorize myself as "Formerly Good Enough."

It wasn't that I'd passed 40 like the blog and book author; it was that my tricks for attraction, like half shirts, no longer sat right on my newly pillowy midriff and had found a new home at Goodwill. My ability to be demure was supplanted by my desire for help, and a lot of it: bedtimes, night wakings, feedings and fits. I missed that raw chemistry that once had existed between my husband, Matt, and me. Why Married Sex Is The Best

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Your chemistry is part of what pulls your desire for one another through those effects aging has on your body: the wrinkles, the grays, the slight bulge of baby fat time and exercise do nothing to shrink. But Matt and I knew too much of each other now. We brought so much into our shared moments: our hopes, our fears, our resentments and a slew of what ifs. We'd lost the ability to get lost in a moment, become over-swept by euphoria, allow some primal urge to bring our bodies together. I couldn't separate how I felt about Matt's parenting with how I felt about him. And some days I felt he saw an undone task list before he saw me. 10 Ways To Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

And then, one day, a friend gave me a picture she'd taken before I'd had a chance to wake up. In it, I wear an old sweatshirt that had belonged to my mother, and I'm eating out of a bowl while standing up. My hair is parted down the middle. I look awful. So horrible, in fact, I put it straight into my garbage. And stomped it down. 3 Secrets To Exuding Sexy

What she gave me was a snapshot of my life. I realized what bothered me weren't the physical aspects of my appearance in the photograph: the uncombed hair, the shapeless sweatshirt, the inability to sit down for a full meal while raising three children. Those are parts of yourself you show when living together. Unfortunately.

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It was that I lacked energy, fire, focus, direction. I was worn down and run out. And I didn't know how to feel alive again in the most human of ways. Because I wasn't the person I was before children, physically or mentally. I'd shed those romantic notions of helplessness and vulnerability I'd had while single. But it's tricky to reinvent yourself while in a relationship; you can only hope your marriage is strong enough to sustain it.

First, I had to free myself, to realize it was okay to put myself first sometimes, that I had a right to life too. "Can you watch the kids tonight?" I'd ask Matt, slipping on earrings, off for a night out with girlfriends. Soon I started dressing better during oppressive Minnesota winters; thinking more; feeling engaged mentally even when I wasn't. As my peer group stretched, I got support, ears to listen, voices that identified; I didn't depend solely on Matt for validation or appreciation. And through that I found my voice.

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