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Infertility and Parenthood have Left Us Sexless

QUESTION: My partner and I experienced eight years of infertility. This resulted in very scheduled sexual encounters for the purpose of conceiving, rather than to fulfill any sexual desire. Fortunately, I did get pregnant. My son, now two-years-old, does not sleep by himself. One of us has to sleep with him. As a result, we have had sex six times since he was born. What can we do to bring back the passion?

ANSWER: You had not yet recovered from the intrusion of "sex on command" when parenthood further challenged the intimacy in your relationship. Although spontaneous sexual encounters had been dampened by eight years of trying to conceive, sexual "dates" were still a priority, which went by the wayside when you had your child. Perhaps it is time to start these dates up again, but with a new and different purpose!

Your experience in dealing with infertility can be a strength in coping with the adjustment to parenthood. You have been able to make time for sex before and you can do it again. But this time, you will be not be harnessed by the worry of conception. Instead, you can use the time to focus on one another, rediscover your bodies and renew your sensuality.

First, talk with your husband about a plan to change your son's bedtime ritual. Perhaps you have both wanted a child for so very long, that you have been happy to ignore the limits you need in order to ensure a healthy relationship with one another.

There is some loss involved in the process of infertility that often goes unrecognized. Perhaps the many years of lost pregnancies have had the effect of creating a more anxious parenting style than is necessary.

Your son benefits from the nurturing you give each other. Do not wait for your husband to make suggestions. Instead, let him know that you feel it is time to help your son adjust to a shortened bedtime ritual which will allow you some time in each other's arms.

Schedule a weekly date to spend time together. Whether it is going out to dinner, taking a bath together, or an afternoon hike, refocus your attention on each other.

You already know how to direct your energies toward sex for the purpose of conception. As you spend time together, consider ways to redirect your attention on sex in the service of your relationship! Reconnect to your sensuality with warm bodies bathed in water and candlelight, music, massages and private time together.

Remember that your relationship is the garden in which your child grows. Your son depends on the two of you to nurture the love and passion that makes your marriage strong. Credit your husband with the best intents of fatherhood and the patience of a saint. But let him know you are ready to rekindle the fire!


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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