Sex isn’t everything. But when it’s not going right — or barely going at all, as is the case for one in three American couples — there’s trouble. You lose the wonderful, playful connection that inspires romance and intimacy, compassion and forgiveness, and that chases away sadness, loneliness, and conflict.
But sex is tricky for Cooperation stage couples. Pushed and pulled by the demands of children, jobs, maintaining a house or apartment, and meeting community and religious obligations, this treasure often falls to the very bottom of the priority list. In a national survey of 2,514 Americans, 88 percent said kids changed when and where they made love, 34 percent confessed that parenthood left them too tired for sex, and 30 percent confessed that sex was less romantic with kids in the next room. Meanwhile, intriguing new research suggests that women and men experience a natural drop in libido after the birth of a child; as levels of sexy hormones, including testosterone, diminish, levels of the cuddly hormone oxytocin rise. Before you know it, you’ve traded black lace underwear (or tasteful boxers) and satin sheets for a fleece sweat suit and flannel bed linens.
Sex is getting squeezed out like never before. More and more couples are in two-job families — and sometimes hold down more than one job apiece to stay afloat. Another trend pushing intimacy out the door: older parenthood and the fatigue that comes with raising a child in your late 30s, 40s, or 50s.
There’s no time or energy for the spontaneous turn-ons that once led to hours of long, slow lovemaking. If you’ve got kids, there’s not enough privacy for a quickie on the couch. Couples find themselves in a sexual stalemate that’s tough to break.
Don’t give up. You can revive a thriving passion. In fact, you’re in the best situation possible for cultivating a regular, satisfying sex life. When researchers dissected data from a national sex survey conducted in the mid-1990s, they found that Cooperation stage couples on average have more sex than singles. Amazingly, working parents with preschool children had more sex than single folks who worked fewer hours per week. And married women and men who worked a colossal 60 hours or more per week had 10 percent more sex than unmarried overworked folks. The reason? He or she is sitting across the dinner table from you: When you’re married, you’ve got a steady, live-in intimacy partner.