Wifely Obligations?

“Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.” –Albert Einstein

If you’re a parent, see if this scenario sounds vaguely familiar:

Prior to having kids you and your spouse were carefree. Weekend trips, spontaneous vacations and a whole bunch of sex. When you found out you were having kids, you knew some things would change. Namely things like the spontaneity and the vacations. But the sex? If you’re a guy, I’m willing to bet you didn’t think the frequency of sex would be much of a factor. But in the weeks, months (and even years) after a child is born it does change. Big time. Actually strike that. It changes for her, but not usually for him. Men still find their wives as attractive as ever. Men still crave physical intimacy. Men still need sex. But women often don’t.

I thought of old Albert’s quote recently after an in-depth online discussion that encompassed marriage, sex, kids and specifically what to do when your marriage is strained because you’re not having any sex after having kids. It was actually very eye-opening and I discovered that in my extremely unscientific extrapolations, a lack of sex after kids arrives on the scene and is prevalent in 95 percent of couples.

So the question is what, if anything, can/should be done about this?

First of all, men understand that in the immediate aftermath of child birth sex isn’t a possibility. And we also understand there can be postpartum depression and other factors that play into a woman’s decreased sex drive. We know that if we pressure you for sex at these times, it’s our own fault.

But what if it carries on? What if it’s no longer a medical malady, but just a case of her simply not wanting sex?

I guess I can understand to a point. Maybe she’s a stay at home mom and has one or two kids clinging to her all day. She does housework all day and by the time hubby gets home she’s understandably at the end of her rope. And after having a toddler scream and stick to you all day, the last thing you want is for your husband to be all over you. Or she works all day and then comes home to the myriad of household chores and childcare duties awaiting her. By the time everything is all done it’s inevitably time for bed and passing out from exhaustion sounds a whole lot more appealing than getting your freak on.

But here’s the thing: that just doesn’t fly.

A man needs to pull his weight in the marriage and family. If his job is to work full time and make money, he has to do that during the day. If it’s to stay at home with the kids, he needs to do that too. If he is working outside of the home, he needs to realize he’s not off the clock when he comes home. The work continues. He needs to do dishes, laundry, help clean up, change diapers, etc. I honestly think most men fall into this category, I know I do.

But if this is the case and the husband and wife share a 50-50 partnership, the woman (or however unusual the circumstances, the man) should not be able to use “I’m tired” as a valid excuse to go weeks or months without any physical intimacy!

You know what? All parents are tired. It’s the nature of the game. But you cannot be so tired that you avoid keeping your marriage fresh. And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, having sex is a CRUCIAL part of a successful marriage. Traditionally men show their feelings in a more physical way than women. In most cases it was fine before kids, and most couples say they had a healthy sex life. So if a guy is getting some 3-4 times a week prior to kids and then that number drops to 1-2 times a month afterwards, that is a genuine problem.

Yet all too often men are made to feel like we’re the insensitive ones when/if we bring this up. But we’re not the ones who changed a major component of our relationship. Why shouldn’t we be concerned?

So in an effort to try to get our wives back to the bedroom, we try different methods. Maybe we bring home some flowers, send her sweet e-mails and texts during the day or write a poem. But more than likely, we do things like increase our share of the household chores in order to give her a break. Take the kids out for an afternoon so she can go to the spa or get her nails done. Are we doing this because we’re thoughtful and we love our wives and want them to be happy? Yes. Are we doing it in order to increase our chances at some romance later on? You bet your ass!

But in my discussion online with a group of mothers, I found that even that doesn’t work. These women were reporting loving, supportive husbands who take care of the kids, the house, the bills, etc. But even though these women claim to be happy with the distribution of parental responsibility and still very much attracted to their husbands, they say things like “I’m just too damn tired for sex.”

Unacceptable.

I guarantee if a guy is doing his damndest to make a woman happy yet it’s been months since they slept together, trouble will begin brewing. Maybe he starts wondering why she doesn’t find him attractive anymore. Maybe he wonders if she’s interested in someone else. Maybe he starts to look around at other women. Whatever happens, the potential outcomes are overwhelmingly negative.

I think it is the obligation of the person in the marriage not wanting sex, to suck it up and get it on.

I know I’m going to catch shit for this, but I don’t care. I’ve been honest with all you guys up to this point and I’m not going to stop now.

Many of the moms in my discussion said this is the route they take. And they admit they’re not always in the mood at first, but most report that when things start getting hot and heavy, so do they. Yes, they’re making a sacrifice (if you can really call sex a sacrifice) but that’s what marriage is all about. You don’t think guys make sacrifices? You think he really wanted to go to that art museum or watch the latest crappy Sandra Bullock movie? Hell no! He did it to make you happy. And if you’re on the verge of finding yourself in a sexless marriage, you need to make one too.

Personally, I’m attracted to my wife like you read about. Ideally we’d make love every single day of the week. MJ had some PPD and other medical issues after Will was born, so I understood the lapse. Are we back at what I call a “sustainable level” of 2-3 times a week? Nope. Am I frustrated with that? Well, I’m writing this post aren’t I?

But in talking to moms and dads with kids around the same age as Will, I’ve found I’m far from alone. And that’s too bad. Because if men are being good dads and husbands and moms don’t have any medical conditions holding them back, then there’s no excuse for not knockin’ the boots. Physical attraction is a huge part of what brought you together in the first place for God’s sake. So that aspect of the relationship, along with all the others, should be nurtured just like everything else.

It is the obligation of both people in the marriage to make sure of that.

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21 thoughts on “Wifely Obligations?

  1. Screw that noise. I was counting down the days until we could have sex again after my kids were born. Shamefully, I even argued with myself that maybe if we were in the shower with the light off it would be ok, lol. Sadly I couldn’t get past my own disgust with the idea enough to even present it as an option. Even now, when I’m “out of commission” I actively take part in my mans….handle on his handle. I also firmly believe that just because the bottom floor is flooded, doesn’t mean the top floor don’t work. (not sure if thats a metaphor or a euphemism but you catch my drift)

    I think it’s self perpetuating. It’s a fact, not an opinion made up by sex crazed men, but an actual medical fact that sex releases hormones that trigger happiness, intimacy and affection. It has also been shown to cure headaches and migraines in some women. Some chicks even turn to chocolate to provide a similar serotonin kick that sex gives. I swear half the depression people suffer is from a decrease on hormones directly linked to their shitty sex lives.

    And, in conclusion, screw that noise.

  2. I have to say, even though we have a healthy amount of sex (4-5 times a week) even with a toddler, I am guilty of being one of those moms who is too tired. But I have found exactly what you said is true. Every time we start up I get really into it. And I KNOW that I am absolutely unbearable to have around if I haven’t gotten off in a while (crazy woman hormones!!!). My brain clears and I feel more sane and happy every single time I have sex. It helps me sleep so I am even more rested (so even though we may miss an hour or two of sleep, we end up even more rested because of it). However, my real problem is not that I don’t want sex, but rather that when we go to BED I don’t want sex. Because I lay down and my tired body says, “ohhhh yes.” But if nookie gets started on the couch, in the kitchen, in the shower, or in any other place before bedtime, I am MUCH more likely to go for it. Sometimes we even wake up in the middle of the night for it (this works best if we get into things before I am really awake because if I just wake up to my husband trying to wake me up, I can get mighty cranky.)

    I think it is a shame if you are really in a relationship with one person not wanting sex at all though. I can’t imagine that at all. I think you’re right that its crucial. But its hard to think of really not wanting sex and feeling obligated or even forced. That would make me resent it, hate it, and put way more strain on the relationship than before. I think you’re on the right track trying to do things to get her happier, and I feel like she needs to do her part to get aroused and get back into it. But the idea of it being obligated? I dunno. The whole thing sounds unpleasant, and I don’t envy you. Good luck.

  3. I wasn’t going to comment. I felt uncomfortable. But when I just read what Teresa wrote, I felt better. When I had my son, this NEVER stopped me from wanting sex. I LOVED IT!!! To me, this makes me feel as one with a person. I couldn’t keep my hands off my son’s father. Being a mother, never stopped me from being a lover. But, also to let you know, I had a babysitter and came home around 5:30. So I had the energy – as my husband did. This is the only area I cannot relate with ‘stay at home mom’s’. But Teresa pretty muched nailed it. Good Luck.

  4. Made for an intriguing headline! ;-)

    But to be fair, I said in the post it’s a MARITAL obligation. After all, would you have gotten married if your husband/wife had told you there would be no sex? Or sex once a year? Granted this is hyperbole and I’m exaggerating for effect, but you catch my drift.

  5. I actually found that I wanted to be with my husband MORE after we had kids, despite the extra work that comes with them. My husband is a great father and watching him with our kids made me fall in love with him all over again. Also, sex has always been a big stress reliever for me so being tired and stressed only makes me want it more. I’m always baffled by people who are too tired for sex since that’s about the only thing I’m NEVER too tired for. In my (ever so humble) opinion, whenever someone is frequently “too tired” for intimacy with a spouse then there is probably something else going on under the surface. But what do I know? :)

  6. seriously, what is wrong with me…oh, maybe it is the fact that my Husband is NOT helping out. I get up at 4:30 in the morning and get ready for work. I get my son up at 5:30, get him changed, etc., and off to my mother-in-laws and SHE watches him during the day. I’m on the bus for my commute to work by 6:30 and arrive at work at 7:45. I work all day, get back on the bus at 4:30 to pick up my son at 5:45 to then arrive home at 6:20 to make dinner, play with my son, get laundry done, give my son a bath and get him to bed at 8:30…which usually doesn’t work, so I get him back up at 8:45 and he goes back to bed at 9:30 – THEN, I get to eat a cold dinner and get my shower, which means I’m not in bed until at least 11:00 – only to get up and start all over again in a few hours. MEANWHILE, my Husband has had too much of a belly ache to work that day so he stayed home, couldn’t run the vaccuum cleaner, carry the towels upstairs or start dinner, or get a gallon of milk to replace the one that he finished earlier that day. EVEN when he decides that he’ll work (he works for his dad so it’s not like he has a “boss”) he leaves at 6:30 in the morning and is back home by 2:30 which is about 4 hours before I get home. When I say I’m too tired to “give it up” – yes, I’m too tired…I’m tired of doing it alone and I’m just plain exhausted. Flowers won’t help, a great dinner (unless I don’t have to cook it) won’t help etc. IF he wants sex more often, then HE needs to help a little. I am just too tired and perhaps no one understands that. Even on the weekends, he figures he can get it then…nope, sorry, I’m too pissed off and exhausted from the rest of the week to worry about making sure you are satisfied. He has accused me of not fufilling my duties, but I’ve told him when he starts fulfilling his as a HUSBAND, we’ll talk about my wifely duties because right now I’m carrying the full load. I love my son and wouldn’t change anything – I will do whatever it takes for him but my husband has GOT to be kidding me if after a day that I have he expects action at 11:00 at night! Maybe I’m just a bitch?

  7. SLM: No question he’s not pulling his weight and that’s not right. If everything you said is accurate he’s barely entitled to oxygen, nevermind sex.

  8. Thank you – I’m glad someone sees my point….like I said, I’m not withholding because I’m punishing, I wish I had the energy to enjoy but geeze…get with the program buddy and you might get “rewarded” – I miss it but I’m really enjoying my sleep. Thanks for sorta agreeing with me. ;)

  9. SLM: I fully agree with you.

    I hope I’m being clear that I’m not saying all women owe sex to their husbands all the time. My point is it’s my personal, humble opinion that sex is mandatory for a successful and happy marriage. So therefore without it, things tend to deteriorate or fall apart.

    And the title of the post is “Wifely Obligations?” because 9 times out of 10, it’s not the man who doesn’t want to have sex or has a decreased drive.

  10. A suggestion:

    Try an occasional (brief) backrub, footrub, cuddle that DOES NOT lead to sex and maybe it actually will!

  11. If only it were that simple Oh, Please. And keep in mind, this isn’t necessarily specific to my situation. We’re talking about married couples in general. And as such a couple I can tell you that barely ever works. Mostly because I like my wife’s feet. Maybe a little too much!

  12. Seriously? There is probably something hormonally wrong and she needs to see a doctor. I dont know how old your wife is, but after 30 in women is really when their sex drive kicks in. This is a very common problem with women, especially if they are taking certain medications. You are right, it IS a problem. And its a medical one if you are indeed carrying half the load of course. (I know that always varies from week to week). My advice is to have her see her GYN. Because there is something that can be done for the lack of sex drive.

    That said, I am divorced, and during the last year of my marriage I didnt sleep with him ONCE. I resented the hell out of him for being such a douchenozzle. (he is still a douchenozzle lol, I made the right choice).

  13. douchenozzle…………Ahahahahahahaha!! I hope that doesn’t have a copyright because I’m using it the first chance I get.

  14. It always worked on me…maybe I’m just easy :)

    Jee–Check out Diamond in the Rough’s bog…she has used the term douchenozzle!

  15. It takes more effort than before, but like you said sacrifices must be made in the name of sex. I think everyone should agree that sex is a very important part of a relationship. That type of intimacy cannot be found elsewhere. I hope your frustrations ease.

  16. Interestings posts. I am in a similar situation, only it is both of us who are not interested. I had some issues after the baby was born that took longer for me to heal. Then I found out my hubby had done something that produced major trust issues for me which made me to never want to do it. Since the baby, my hubby won’t touch me, compliment me, or hardly look at me. He is a great dad, helps me out with chores, cooking, etc, and we are great friends but really lacking in the physical area. You know the saying that a man needs to have sex to feel loved but a women needs to feel loved to have sex? Totally true! We are in a never ending cycle of not doing it. We talk about it, we say we need to just start doing it and maybe it will come back to us, but when the time comes neither of us are interested. We know something needs to be done to keep our marriage going, just don’t know how to go about it.

  17. I hear you: That’s rough. I don’t have any sage advice for you because I haven’t been in that specific situation. But I hope you guys can find a way out of it.

  18. GREAT post! Hey, just don’t do what my EX husband did. We had NO problems with frequency however he felt it necessary to inform me that after we had children (and I was already preg) that if he didn’t get it at least once a week he’d get it somewhere else (he is very romantic).

    So what did that little threat do? Well my dear friend…it made me take the frequency from 2-3 times a week to one and only one. Then I shortened the timeframe b/c I had other things to do. Yep. It worked great for both of us. It introduced me to spite and made me realize I was married to a class A Tool.

    Again, I was already pregnant with Misch so nothing I could do. The writing was on the wall and I didn’t have the foresight to fix it. Therefore the snowball started rolling with that one comment. Aaahhh…the romance!

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