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My Postpartum Love Life Has Been Nonexistant. What Can I Do?

Question:

I had a baby over a month ago but ever since i was pregnant my boyfriend has lost interest in me and its more focused on TV or other things. sometimes i feel like when we are out he is looking at other woman, like he is ready to trade me in or something. I tried to be romantic with him but its all a joke to him or he doesn’t want to, he’s got better things to do. I am so depressed at times because I will try to throw myself at him and he doesn’t know i exist. What can I do to get the physical parts back? I want him to touch me and kiss me like he used to do.

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Answer:

You’ve asked a specific question and unfortunately, I do not have a specific answer for you. What I can do is to talk about the issue of sexuality in the aftermath of having a baby, because this is a problem for many couples. I also have a book that I will recommend you read.

Having a baby really messes up many couples sex lives. The reasons for why this is so are varied, but a few themes show up time and again. The first issue has to do with the physical demands of having a newborn baby to take care of. The benefits of breast feeding are emphasized these days, and many women do what they can to breast feed their infants, who need to eat eight to ten times a day around the clock! Even when a baby is bottle-fed, and the mother and father can take turns feeding the baby, there is still a need for one of the parents to handle middle of the night feedings. All of this means that it can be hard for the parents, and especially for the mother to not to be exhausted. And when you are feeling exhausted, often the last thing you want to do is to have sex. From what you’ve written, it doesn’t sound like you or your boyfriend are suffering from the exhaustion problem. But something is up.

Some men find that pregnancy and childbirth radically changes how they feel about having sex with their partner. Often, this has to do with men’s attitudes towards sexuality and motherhood. Some men see maidens as sexy, but can’t see mothers as sexy. Probably there are religious ideas such as the separation between Madonna and whore at work here (regardless of whether the man is particularly religious). Once a woman is a mother, there just seems to be something creepy about having sex with her for such men, as mothers are holy and supposedly nonsexual.

Some men have no trouble with the idea of having sex with a mother (which has become very popular lately in the culture which has started to see phrases like MILF enter common usage), but they turned off to sex with a mother for other reasons. Some men only want pristine youthful bodies, and are turned off by how women look during pregnancy, and by changes that may occur post pregnancy such as weight gain and stretch marks. Some men have a fear of womens bodily fluids which extends to lactation (beyond just the relatively common desire to avoid menstrual fluids). And some men have no particular problem with how their partners look, but are frightened by the new responsibilities that the facts of their fatherhood place upon them and go into a denial of that fatherhood of sorts, rejecting the woman they have had a child with for other women who now represent "freedom". There are other fears and concerns that men may have as well.

You can read your boyfriend’s body language well enough to know that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but you don’t know the nature of that problem. So you have to have a talk with him and try to draw him out. Until you do this, you will be guessing as to why he is rejecting you, and will not have any useful idea whether there is something you could do to help him get past his difficulty.

A lot will depend here on how willing your boyfriend is to work on improving the relationship, and even how willing he is to acknowledge that something has gone wrong. If your boyfriend insists that the problem is in your head and that he is blameless, or if he blames you for his loss of interest in you, there is a real problem then that may resist your best efforts to fix. Some boys just won’t grow up and become responsible men. Hopefully, your boyfriend isn’t one of those Peter Pans, and will ultimately rise to this occasion.

Psychologist John Gottman and his wife Julie Schwartz Gottman have written a book you might want to read, "And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives". Dr. Gottman is a highly respected marital therapy researcher and scientist. In this book, the Gottmans are more or less focused on helping people to understand the situation you find yourself in – where relationship intimacy has been disrupted by the birth of a child. As the title suggests, they offer a plan for how couples can help themselves get through the crisis.

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