As a sex and couples’ therapist for the past 20 years, I frequently see couples who are looking to increase the frequency and/or quality of sex in their lives. I also lead groups for long-married women to teach them about Sex Esteem, the confidence and empowerment program I’ve created that can lead to increased desire in monogamous relationships. Perhaps the frequency of sex which these couples or women are having has gradually dwindled to once a month, or once every four months or perhaps it’s just that the once every week is not enough for them or their partners. They also complain about the quality of the sex which has become routine, robotic or frankly, boring. Many of these couples have children and are in the throes of active child rearing. I add the word active because this type of involved parenting sometimes viewed as “helicopter parenting” is much more emotionally and physically demanding in our generation than in previous generations.
Perhaps this active involvement in their children's lives is due to a commitment to a‘re-do’ of their own childhood that may have lacked in emotional closeness or connection. Another reason may be due to the anxiety parents are currently feeling regarding their children’s eventual college applications and career opportunities in this unstable economy. Add to this mix the fact that more women are in the workplace than in previous generations so that both the parents’ work life and the children’s school/extra-curricular life become heavily scheduled during the week and on weekends. So who bears the burden of seeing to the many details of family life so that all these goals can be met? Some of the moms who I treat in therapy are working full-time or part-time jobs outside the home but are still responsible for more of the housework and more of the executive planning. While there have been many studies researching the housework gap between married couples, I haven’t been able to find a study that inquires about all the executive functioning that is utilized to: plan a birthday party, order invitations, remind the kids to send thank-you notes, make a shopping list for Easter, order new soccer shoes in time for the playoff game, call another parent to arrange for a carpool, etc. For the moms who are working full time as homemakers their job includes meeting with teachers and/or volunteering for the PTA in addition to the myriad of details, chores and responsibilities of home life.
The wives/mothers in the couples I see complain of a lack of desire, they guiltily admit to “putting sex on the back burner”, “the bottom of their list”, feeling like “it’s the last thing on their mind”. Many of their husbands wonder what happened to the hot sexy vibrant woman they were dating before marriage or kids came along. They themselves miss the freedom and fun they felt in their twenties. Due to the tremendous amount of testosterone that men produce naturally, their ability to switch channels from putting out the light in their kids’ bedrooms to feeling frisky and reaching out to grab their wife’s derriere as she does the dishes does not take much transition time. In addition, he usually is not thinking about the 10 family/life chores still on his wife’s mind to take care of before she gives herself permission to collapse into bed. Wives need a lot more time to switch hats from the role of dependable, patient mommy to insatiable, hot, horny lover.
So what do you think these moms want for Mother’s Day? They want a day or two off, thank you very much!! Most moms would feel too guilty to say this because “good moms” in their minds should want to be with their kids on Mother’s Day, right? They would want to be woken from their much needed sleep (when was the last time they slept in till 10?) to eat a high-calorie breakfast sitting in bed (while their inner goddess is dying to get to a yoga class), and spend the day going to the zoo (for the umpteenth time) while oohing and ahhing over the necklace she received from the kids. Of course moms want to show their appreciation for gifts and kind efforts however, what my clients do articulate to me is that they want to be taken AWAY from their homes, so they can get all those to-do lists out of their consciousness and focus on their own needs for a change
The recent SNL Mother’s Day skit expressed what most moms secretly want. They really want to spend a night or two in a hotel or spa (knowing their kids are well-cared for at home) alone where they can catch up on their much-deprived sleep, take a long bubble bath, have someone massage their whole body with lavender oil (who’s not pressuring her for intercourse), eat a meal that is healthy, luscious and frankly far from “kid friendly” without interruption and get a pedicure. After a day or two of this, she then might be ready for someone to slowly and gradually flirt with her, tell her how sexy and irresistible she looks, light a bunch of candles, turn on an iPod with the sexy music playlist already created, and then have someone touch her sensitively and sensuously while being seduced and surprised emotionally and physically. Just like Christian Grey would do in Fifty Shades of Grey . If this someone could be her husband or her partner instead of a fantasy figure, she has gotten EXACTLY what she wanted and deserved for the BEST MOTHER’S DAY EVER! So moms, ask for what you really want, and dads, give her what she’s longing for. More help on this in the next blog.