Carla: Once again, Oprah has stolen our thunder. People’s Exhibit A: Monday’s show about the secrets of motherhood. I mean, didn’t we just talk about that?
So let’s try a new topic and see how long it takes for O to get her mitts on it and call it her own. I say we talk about sex. That’s right, sex.
Motherhood and sex are like orange juice and toothpaste–lovely on their own but has anyone figured out how to have one without it messing up the other? I have read a bazillion–at least–articles about how to liven up your sex life and while the advice always makes sense, it never seems to hit at the real reasons women with children so often have pitiful sex lives. From the lack of interest to the lack of energy to the lack of time, it seems like every women I know who has children and a husband enjoys being cuddled by one of those parties far more than the other.
So maybe the Revolution can get to the root of this whole sex issue. Maybe some of you have gotten back your mojo and can share your secret with the rest of us. Maybe some of you never lost it and can keep that to yourselves (kidding!). Maybe some of you have plenty of mojo and no “Joe” with whom to share it. And maybe some of you are like the countless women I know who love their husbands dearly and would be perfectly content if they never had sex with them again.
I know rest, time together, time to yourself, etc. all factor into this, but I also think there’s more going on than just a lack of sleep or time. So what is it? Why are we so disinterested in sex after we have children? Or is it just me?
Caryn: It’s just you, Carla. I’m sure the rest of us have no idea what you’re talking about…. But for the sake of argument (and because my brother and people I work with read this!) I’ll pretend I understand whatever you mean about this “dissinterested in sex” business. I might even—again for the sake of argument—take your “disinterest” and raise you an all-out “UNinterest.”
Why does this happen? Obviously, there are some big issues behind this. I’m sure physicians and psychologists could give us a litany of reasons. The quiver-full folks will just tell us its our sinful nature (which, as the resident Calvinist, I’ll agree with—on the point that were we not fallen, our sex drives would be fine and dandy, not because we’re denying the earth more of our children….). And our husbands or partners would give their own insights (I’m so praying my husband doesn’t catch wind of this post!).
You mentioned the lack of time and sleep. For me, honestly, it’s lack of SPACE. One of the biggest issues for me as a mom—and an at-home one at that—has been being constantly surrounded by people. I’m an introvert in and out. And the lack of alone time leaves me teetering on the bring of insanity nearly all the time.
Sex often feels like the thing that will send me over the edge (and I don’t mean in the good way that sex can send us over the edge….). When I’m desperate for alone time and space and the whole “recharge” thing, when I’ve just finished a day clung to by little needy people, the idea of a big needy person (no matter how much I love him or how sexy I find him) wanting to cling to me…. ugh.
And yet, the opposite is also true. When the house is quiet, when I’ve had time to myself, look out! (Let’s just say it’s a good thing my husband and I both work out of the house.)
So that’s my thing. I have no idea what you extroverts can blame this on.
Go ahead and steal this too, Oprah. But go ahead and take it one step further—have us on your show to talk about this. You need the Mommy Revolution. I, for one could be at Harpo Studios in probably 20 minutes flat.
Carla: What, no comment on my orange juice and toothpaste line? Come on! I have been saving that one for FOREVER!
I think as Christian women, we have another set of issues that impact our sex lives. For Christian women, sex is fraught with spiritual baggage. For those of us who grew up in the church, sex was something we didn’t talk about, weren’t supposed to think about, and ought to avoid until we were married. I once read a quote that put it all into perspective, “The church teaches that sex is dirty and wrong and that you should only have it with the person you love most.”
Christian women who didn’t grow up in the church inherit that message when they connect with a church. And anyone who fails to hold off until marriage is reminded at every turn that she committed a sin she can never really move past. I mean, when’s the last time you heard a woman say, “I spent a lot of time lying to my friends before I became a Christian.”? When women talk about the “before” and “after” it’s almost always about sex. Sex is held up as the primary way our sinfulness plays out.
So women who wait to have sex until they get married have to make a shift from “good girls don’t” to “good wives do.” Women who didn’t wait have to make the shift from “this is a mistake” to “this is what God wants.” So many of my friends who struggle with sex are caught in this battle with themselves–and I am too. We want to desire our husbands, we want to be comfortable with our sexuality but we spent 10-20 years fighting that desire and being taught that it was sinful. Sexual feelings are tangled up with shame, guilt, and an ever-changing sense of ourselves. We don’t know how to integrate our sexual selves with our Christian selves.
Motherhood brings all of this to the forefront. It’s hard enough to think of ourselves as sexy and Christian. It’s even harder to throw the mom identity into that mix.
Caryn: Carla, I believe you’ve heard this one before: “Oh, great. Another person blaming the church….” Honestly, your new revelation has some validity—though not so much in my own experience. I must say. But I grew up weird. And a touch wild. Let’s just say I rejected a bunch of the “teachings” I heard. When a lot of it didn’t make sense, I threw it all out. Of course, I do think some of my “past” plays a role in my present… But for different reasons that you cite.
This is already getting too long so I won’t go way into it. Plus, I really think we should save some of this for Oprah.
So what do you all think?