Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Do busy working parents have sex?
My husband and I have been married almost eight years and have an 11-month-old. We have to force ourselves to have sex once every other week. We didn’t have a great sex life before the baby, and needed help to conceive, but this new normal is starting to get to me.
We are a great team, the best parents we can be, have a great relationship except for the physical part.
I’ve suggested he get tested for low testosterone, but he hasn’t followed through. I know I can’t force him to go, but I’m looking for options of what I can do. My taking the initiative has never worked — in fact, it puts him on the spot and makes him feel worse if he can’t perform.
Beyond the normal stress of his job and our lives, I suspect there is a medical issue, but I’m at a loss for what steps to take here.
Do I just suck it up and come to terms with the idea that parents of small children just don’t have the time and/or energy to have sex?
Busy Working Parent
When you already know you have Problem A, what good does it do to persuade yourself that it’s Problem B?
Sure, people raising small children undergo all kinds of changes and adjustments, and a couple’s sex life sometimes takes a hit, but that’s Problem B here. You still have to address the fact that Problem A – a sex life that was never good to begin with – not only remains but has also been exacerbated by your becoming parents.
And because I’m the minister of fun, I’ll also point out that the stakes are higher now for leaving a persistent problem unfixed.
Part of being good parents is not letting your relationship with each other deteriorate, since your love is the foundation of your child’s home. The sex is about your physical relationship, but it’s also clearly emotional — and the not-following-through-with-doctor thing can affect your faith in each other.
This isn’t to say you should get in his face and demand that he see his doctor, but it is important that you let him know how important this is to you.
At a time when you’re not both caught up in the stress of something else, explain that you’re concerned that you and he have drifted apart physically, and that you understand it’s not a priority of his but that it would mean a lot to you if he would take a few basic steps, like making that appointment.
Please. For you, if nothing else.
If the doctor finds no convenient explanation, or if there’s something going on that can’t be fixed easily, or if your husband refuses to get checked, then that’s when you need to draw on your history of good friendship and teamwork to decide — together — whether and how you’ll deal with the difference in your needs. Counseling, even just a few sessions, can help you get difficult conversations started.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Right now, why not see if a simple solution will work?
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.