In our last column (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/sex-talk-women-...), we viewed sex and present hedonism as well as sex and past negative/past positive through the eyes of a 17 year old and 87 year old, respectively. As one astute reader noted, both were more negative than positive experiences.
We’d like to conclude sex and time perspectives through the eyes of four women with the positive sexual experiences of a young career mother as well as a middle-aged mother of a disabled child. (Click here to read previous columns in our sex and time perspective series: Want a Better Sex Life? http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/want-better-sex... and It’s Time for Sex! http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201303/its-time-sex.)
Maintenance Sex (Future-oriented)
Imagine being a young, athletic, extremely intelligent, successful attorney with a husband who is a doctor. Although you work 50 – 60 hours a week, you still have time for a run after work, the gym three times a week, as well as socializing with friends, hiking, kayaking, beach days and intimate dinners with your husband. Oh, and plenty of hot sex -- surely on weekends, and occasionally when you play surprise games, where one or the other of you is the Dessert. You and your husband are future-oriented, forward thinkers and had planned to have a child right about now - so you do. You return to work after a couple of months to a reduced work schedule (35 hours a week). You and your husband settle in and adjust to your new life as parents. Then you discover you are pregnant again. And now you have a fresh toddler and a new infant. You have just imagined a slice of Michelle’s life. Michelle came for therapy on an unrelated matter, but her intimate relationship with her husband came up in discussion and she graciously agreed to share her thoughts about her sex life.
“Gary and I had the perfect life before we had kids. We are both professionals and love our chosen fields. We are also best friends and did everything outside of work together. We are a very active couple – we love the outdoors and working out. We had a rich social life and an even richer sex life. We viewed being physical – especially having sex - as our way of maintaining our strong bond. We had special date nights but we were also spontaneous. In a way, sex for us was the most fun way we exercised together.” I asked Michelle how having a baby affected her sex-life. “Well, having a baby changes your life for sure. But Gary and I researched how having a child would affect us – we are very close to our parents and talked to them. We also talked to friends with children. We planned for a child and we were ready. After I healed, we started having sex again. It took me a little while to get back in the groove, my hormones were in flux and we were both tired most of the time. But we re-instituted date nights and everything was great; so great, in fact that I became pregnant again after a few months.”
With a toddler, a newborn, a tired husband and a job, I asked Michelle how she juggled everything and if she and Gary had time for sex. “Well, I worked hard to become an attorney; and I love my job so I am back at work. Gary and I are also very fortunate because we have great relationships with our parents. Our parents are retired and both sets live nearby. They are so excited to have grandchildren; they take care of the babies. We are truly blessed.” And your sex life? “Right now, what with waking up and nursing the baby twice a night, expressing milk for the baby to have when I’m at work and checking on the toddler – I’m exhausted all the time. Sex isn’t what it used to be – at least twice a week, sometimes much more - on date night and whenever we had the urge. I think about those days fondly – but that was a time in our life. Now, Gary and I manage to have sex about once a week – it’s usually a quickie. We call it maintenance sex. We know it’s important to maintain our physical bond as well as keep ourselves in shape sexually while we get our bearings. We’ve talked about starting date nights again in the near future. I am really looking forward to it. We both know it won’t be this way forever…we want to enjoy our babies as much as possible but we also can’t wait for them to get a little older!”
Michelle is future-oriented and has chosen as her mate a fellow future-oriented person. Their past positive sexual experiences carry them through the lean times they are currently undergoing. They know that in a relatively short time, they’ll be back to being physically intimate more often, but in the meantime they continue to maintain a strong bond as a sexually active couple. More importantly from my perspective is maintaining a romantic bond, which binds their hearts in tender ways.
The Best of Times (Selected Present Hedonism)
Elsa is a friend I have long admired, who, along with her husband George, has kept the bedroom fire burning since they kindled it over 20 years ago. No small feat in any lengthy relationship, but to top it off they have a severely disabled son who requires care 24/7 and a small business they have been struggling to maintain. After watching Elsa and George unabashedly partaking in PDAs (public displays of affection) at a recent social gathering, I took her aside and asked if she’d share her secret with the rest of us. She was more than willing to give us some tips as long as she got to choose the home page photo for this week’s column (see the guy in bed reaching out who looks like George.) “I’ve been with my husband for over 20 years now. We’re very busy keeping our business going in this tough economic climate – and we are trying to start another one. And then there is our son…But George and I make it a priority to take time out for being intimate; time to get totally wrapped up in each other.”
Respect for each other is perhaps the most important aspect of Elsa and George’s relationship. “We’ve had a very healthy sex life and sex keeps getting better and better for me. George is forever telling me he feels the same way; his mutual admiration is so sexy! All these years I’ve watched George take care of life situations with grace, honor, dignity and a healthy dose of humor and it makes me want him more and more very day. I cannot get enough of him.” I mentioned the PDAs and asked her to dish. “We’re all over each other about 5 nights a week. We don’t have any specific nights planned, it’s always spontaneous. It’s important to mix it up and try new things too. Be adventurous!”
When asked if she noticed a difference in her sexuality due to menopause, Elsa said, “I’m 50 years old and when I started going through menopause I heard from other friends that I was going to dry up DT (down there) and not want to have sex anymore. Hearing that really made me apprehensive; I wish I had never listened to them because although that may have been their experience it certainly hasn’t been mine. In fact, not having periods anymore has given us more freedom.”
Elsa and George practice selected present hedonism in the bedroom – or shower – or under the stars. Although they may appear to be totally spontaneous, they always make sure their son is taken care of before they take time for each other. Their relationship is paramount to both of them and they make sure they each know it by being respectful, affectionate and reinforcing their bond frequently.
In our next column, Phil Zimbardo weighs in with Part II of time perspectives, men and ideal sex with your erotic dream mate. (That will sum up our series of time perspectives and sex; unless our readers demand more.)
Take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory at www.thetimeparadox.com to discover your personal time perspective.
Visit our website, "http://www.timecure.com/" \t "_blank" www.timecure.com, to view a free 20 minute video - The River of Time; you’ll learn self-soothing techniques as well as how to let go of past negatives, work towards a brighter future, and live in a more compassionate present.
See The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective Therapy "http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/psychotherapy" \o "Psychology Today looks at Psychotherapy" Therapy (Zimbardo, Sword & Sword, 2012, Wiley Publishing); for strategies to reduce stress and improve communication, visit "http://www.timecure.com/" \o "www.timecure.com" \t "_blank" www.timecure.com and "http://www.lifehut.com/" \o "www.lifehut.com" \t "_blank" www.lifehut.com.