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Intimacy after Children

May 9, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

The perils of neglecting your spouse.

Infants are very demanding and very delicious. There is a temptation for the new mother to give all her attention to her baby and take the father's love and devotion for granted.

But taking anyone's love for granted is always a mistake, particularly in a marriage.

No matter how tired, no matter how distracted, you must make time for your spouse. Let's start with getting dressed (that old milk-stained housecoat just doesn't show you off to advantage). A little makeup. A smile on your face. A little attention.

Yes, you're tired. No, you're exhausted. And there's nothing more fascinating than your newborn. But you must work hard to maintain interest in your husband's life and the life of your marriage.

Babysitting is not a luxury. Parents need time to reconnect and recapture the romance.

While ideally children are the ultimate bonding experience, it is not always so. Having a new child, with all the inherent excitement, is also one of life's major stresses, and has unfortunately put a strain on many marriages. I've counseled numerous couples whose relationship is in trouble because the husband feels like the third wheel, unnecessary except when he is needed to change a diaper or relieve a mother's tired arms.

Although most of us live on tight budgets, babysitting is a necessity, not a luxury. Parents need time for themselves. Parents need to reconnect, to "date," to recapture the romance. And I suggest you leave talking about the baby off your list.

There is a famous story about a poor family with many children. Someone brought them one egg. The mother hid in her room and ate the egg herself, not sharing it with any of her hungry children. At first glance this story seems to be one of selfishness. But a second look shows us the reality. This mother knew something very important. Her children were looking to her and counting on her. And she needed to be strong for them.

Your infant and all your children need you and your husband to have a strong marriage – for your sake and for their's.

A Strong Marriage Comes First

Finding time for physical intimacy after childbirth is a separate and challenge. You're tired, your body has changed, the baby is making many demands on you, and crying at the most inopportune times. Nevertheless, it is crucial not to neglect this area of our lives. This is the opportunity for our most intense connection with each other and with our Creator.

Intimacy brings not just physical satisfaction, not just emotional closeness, but the Divine Presence into the home. It is a joyous mitzvah which is crucial to the strength of our marriages. We must set aside the time to give this aspect or our married lives the attention it deserves.

Intimacy With Adolescents Around

When your children reach adolescence, a whole new challenge presents itself. The physical demands have relaxed (although you may still have sleepless nights!) but the emotional demands are much greater, much more distracting, and therefore much more prone to threaten marital intimacy.

On top of that, these kids never want to go to bed! They have homework, they're on the phone, they need to check their e-mails, etc. etc. etc. How do you find those private moments? And once you find them, how do you relax and get into the mood?

A Few Practical Tips:

  • Set the atmosphere. Music, wine, and candles help to block out the noise and thoughts of the world just outside the bedroom door.
  • Focus on the pleasure.
  • Focus on the importance.

The secular world treats physical intimacy casually. We recognize it as a cornerstone to a deeper understanding of ourselves, of each other, and of our relationship with the Almighty.

We recognize that the love, the giving and the pleasure are all vital elements of a stable, lasting marriage, which in turn is the best gift we could give our children, at any age.

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