Will your sex drive take a nose dive when your kids go back to school?
Back to school time — yes, finally! For the past several days (okay, weeks), my mom friends and I have been excitedly, exhaustedly, waiting for school to start.
Crazy, right? Just about ten weeks ago my household was buzzing with excitement as the school year ended and summer was starting. I was looking forward to waking up later, not having to make lunches in the morning, some low-stress times.
But lately reality has taken hold. With the camps over and non-stop food required, the past week or two have been complicated, to say the least. With no structured activities planned, screen time has reached new highs — and so has sibling conflict! Just in the nick of time, school is about to begin to bring structure and order back into our lives. And the waking hours that school and homework don't consume, well, after-school activities or sports will chew those up without blinking an eye. In just a few short days, all with be right in the universe, so we can all live happily ever after, right?
Would you still be so excited if you knew your mojo was about to take a nose dive?
More Than You Bargained For
Sorry to be the buzz kill, but there is a downside to this coming flurry of structured activities. With school (and fall activities), our house turns into the equivalent of the 2-minute offense that NFL teams run at the end of a game when they are down by just a few points.
Every second seems precious and we have a lot of territory to cover. After school, everyone needs to be fed, driven to activities, allocated time for homework, maybe a shower, maybe a few seconds of family time and then put to bed. In between, I'm thinking about shopping, laundry, planning for tomorrow, my job, organizing carpool and about five other odds and ends. When my head hits the pillow at night, my conscious mind is still racing trying to keep all this straight, making sure tomorrow goes off without a hitch.
And while my brain is focused on all that, what it's NOT thinking about is sex. Nope, not even a little. Makes sense, right? Will getting laid help me do anything that I need to do in the next 24 hours? Probably not. Okay, definitely not. So my brain is smart enough to put certain emotions and desires on the back (way back) burner for a while to let me get through crunch time. Maybe this is good. Maybe evolution has made us this way?
But what happens when crunch time lasts from late August through June?!
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens to so many of us moms. While the school year gets the kids physically out of our hair for seven or eight hours a day, the mental burden of making sure everything gets done night in and night out is taxing — often so taxing that we have precious little energy left for ourselves or our partners. Bye-bye, mojo.
This is the dark side of back to school. Our minds are preoccupied, our libido goes into hibernation, our bed is used only for sleeping and then the stress starts to build. I am tired and frustrated. He feels ignored. I feel guilty. We both get resentful. Libido goes deeper into hibernation. Sound at all familiar? (Or am I the only one? Please don't let me be the only one!)
Your Marriage Needs Physical Intimacy
So why does the scenario play out like this? Because many moms (myself included) fail to truly understand the role that physical intimacy plays within a healthy long-term relationship. Simply put, we all need sex (enjoyable sex, not just going-through-the-motions stuff) on a regular basis.
As for our guys, whether or not they will admit to it, physical intimacy is an important form of communication for them — it is needed to help reinforce the stability and security of a relationship. And while during busy or stressful times women can become indifferent towards sex and capable of going days or weeks (or maybe the entire Fall) without sex, more than likely our partners cannot. And his unmet physical and emotional needs will become a tremendous source of stress in the relationship. Ouch!
As hard as it might be to muster the energy, loving him in the way he wants to be loved can be a big first step. Reconnecting physically might just open the doors to reconnecting emotionally, on your terms, the way you want to be loved.
Again, I hate to be the buzz kill, but while back to school time might be good for your sanity, it can be an unexpected challenge to your relationship. Try not to get too caught up in the short term and remember that your marriage still needs support and attention too. Good luck!
Dr. Suzanne Olds is the founder of After Nine Tonight and creator of the one-of-a-kind Rekindle video series designed to quickly and tastefully get busy moms in the mood. She is dedicated to strengthening relationships by helping couples to understand and overcome desire discrepancy. You can follow her at www.afterninetonight.com, @after9tonight, or www.facebook.com/afterninetonight.