By Sandy Hemphill, Contributing Writer, BabyMed
One topic that often weighs heavily on the minds of parents of a newborn baby is sex. Questions of when, how, and how much may seem too intimate for discussion but open and honest communications are the key to getting back to the pre-baby sexual intimacy that created the baby in the first place. A return to the pleasures of courtship may be just what new parents need to spark the flame of passion once again.
Psychotherapist Esther Perel urges new parents to expand a “narrow definition of what sex is” at this turning point in life. Perel, affiliated with New York University Medical Center and Columbia University, promotes the concept of Erotic Intelligence in her book, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence (2006) and in TED talks that followed.
There’s more to sex than the ultimate act itself and Perel suggests that four crucial elements of intimacy that flourished during courtship and life before baby may get set aside as the demands of a baby consume a growing family. “Connection, pleasure, aliveness, vibrancy” can get lost during the transition from free-spirited lovers to parenthood.
New parents often redirect elements of their intimate lives on to the baby, without leaving any available for each other. When this happens, getting “eros redirected” in a more balanced way is all newest parents need to perk up a sex life interrupted. Redirection, according to Perel, involves four “ingredients”:
- Playfulness — Playing with the baby is irresistible but playing with his other parent can be irresistible, too. Remember?
- Novelty — Everything about a baby is a novel experience. What a great time to explore novel adult experiences, too!
- Looks — The baby doesn’t care what you look like but looking good for your intimate partner shows him/her that you care about them.
- Curiosity — Don’t limit curiosity to how many toes, how many fingers, how many smiles from the baby today. Revisit the joy of being curious about your life partner, too.
- Touch — While lavishing love and affection on the baby, don’t forget to lavish it on the adult who’s helping you raise it.
The Value of Adults-Only Private Time
Perel and other relationship experts agree on the value of time spent in the company of each other, without interference from the baby. Think of baby’s nap time as your time to play intimately together. If both partners aren’t ready to return to sexual penetration, there are many other ways to share erotic experiences. Remember the days when you were first falling in love, exploring? There was a lot of conversation, touching, longing gazes, laughter, and other lovers-only displays of affection. It’s just as valuable now as then.
Date nights, adults-only weekends, and vacations for two are highly recommended for a healthy break from family routine and to keep the romance alive. Plan these events together and stick to the plan. The anticipation of a date during courtship heightens the excitement of the date itself. Planning dates and other intimate moments together is still more than mere scheduling. “It’s about assigning value. It says it’s important,” says Perel.
- Howard, Michael. "How To Get Your Sex Life Back On Track After Having A Kid." Fatherly. Fatherly, 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
- "Sex and Intimacy After Childbirth." SexInfo Online. University of California, Santa Barbara, Oct. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.