Jaydee wrote: “My GF and I recently had a child (who we love and is, of course, amazing). But the stresses of new parenthood, not sleeping, not exercising, a court case, severe damage to our home and the lengthly repairs, money being so tight (she’s stay-at-home) and every other typical stuff has caused our relationship to stall. Hard.
Everything is so tense and we’re both so edgy. We’re in couples counseling and it is really doing wonders for our communication (at least for the 50 minute hour while we’re there) but we are just so agitated by one another and the resentment is festering.
This is where I’d like to hear your advice. I am just plain not able to perform sexually with her while I’m this frustrated. We’ve spoken about how we both could use more sex but I’m in such a funk I don’t even want to attempt it (and when I do I’m unable to “stay in the game”).
How should a young couple (and new parents) address a sex life that’s already dead as a doornail due to these situational tensions, depression and growing anger toward one another? Neither one of us want to call it quits with a newborn at home. We need a jumpstart badly!”
Liz says: What you’re going through is so common for new parents! With some couples, their sex life takes a nose dive because there’s nothing sexy about poopy diapers, sleep deprivation, and worrying about whether that cough your baby developed is Whooping Cough. For many others, added to those stressors is the fighting with each other and worrying about money. No wonder so many couples let their sex life take a back seat for a while!
And you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. When I first read your letter, my first thought was ‘he should slow down and listen to his body’, meaning it’s okay to take a step back and not pressure yourself to perform sexually for now. Work on your relationship and just let yourself be a dad. Oftentimes, the pressure or concern about being unable to perform sexually causes your attempts to get erect to backfire, so relax and let it be. Many couples have survived the occasional dry spell!
If you’re patient and focus on healing your relationship (and other issues) your dry spell will be over before you know it. But don’t let other forms of romantic affection dissipate, now more than ever you both need to show each other you still care. My husband was a very hands-on, plugged in father and partner to me, and that equal support helped us both stay connected and kept one of us from feeling overloaded by the enormous responsibility of parenting a baby. Are you both caring for your newborn equally? That might be something to be more mindful of in case the unequal distribution of responsibility is adding to the growing resentment between you two.
The experts recommend exercise for lowering blood pressure and fighting stress, but I understand how difficult it is to workout when you’re so sleep deprived! When I was pregnant, I remember thinking ‘I’m going to snap right back into shape by exercising regularly!‘ Oh, how naive I was! I had NO IDEA how often newborns wake up through the night, I was so sleep deprived I had NO energy for working out. I am now convinced those celebrity moms who get super fit right after having their babies either had a nanny who got up all night with their screaming infants or they ignored their crying babies so they could sleep (I hope not, yikes, CIO is neglectful abuse IMO). But try to schedule in time for a quick daily workout session, if you can. And if you have someone close that you both trust, ask them to watch your infant for a date night. Date nights can be super helpful for new parents to reconnect.
I’m glad to hear you don’t want to call it quits and that you’re both in couple’s counseling. The three of you deserve to live in a peaceful, happy home.