The greatest marriage taboo seems to be admitting you can be happily married, but not swinging from the metaphorical chandeliers each night. As anyone with small kids knows, sleep is the biggest seducer of all when having to choose between mustering energy to attempt to have an orgasm or catching a few extras ZZZs. (Psst: the Zzzs win every time.) Two months passed since our baby was born, and my husband and I hadn’t had sex. No biggie, I thought. But then three months passed, and before we knew it, a freakin’ year of celibacy had gone by. (I attribute part of this to the fact that my husband works odd hours and we were parents to a newborn.) I was horrified. How would we ever get back on track? By the grace of God we did, but during our drought, I took a good hard look at my marriage and discovered our lack of sex actually impacted our marriage… for the better. Here’s how:
1. We stopped using sex as a weapon.
After the baby was born, I started to feel sexually rejected by my husband. I got fed up trying to make a move on him with no reciprocation so I simply stopped making any attempts, thinking “that’ll show him.” But when he didn’t seem to care, I panicked. Was he having an affair? Nope. Turns out, he was just exhausted from working crazy hours and I was acting like an angry, rejected wife, and SHOCKER: those two things together don’t equal friskiness.
I eventually realized I was withholding sex as a sort of power play, but it had backfired. The more I pretended I didn’t want him, the more he pretended he didn’t want me and it resulted in a stalemate. We finally hashed it out and my husband admitted he hadn’t exactly been attentive to me and apologized. Turns out, what I viewed as rejection was him just being lazy! Just hearing from him that he still desired me was all I needed to overcome my raging anger toward him. From that point, we decided that date night had to be the most important day of the week and started to schedule in time to be with each other, with no expectation of sex. Taking the pressure off to make sweet, sweet love at the end of the night actually made it *more* likely that we wanted to do it. Go figure.
2. Sex isn’t the most important part of marriage.
Of course, sex is an important part of marriage, but it isn’t the MOST important. What is? Being in a marriage where there’s genuine affection. Thankfully in the year we went without having sex, my husband and I showered each other with lots of hugs and kisses. We didn’t neglect each other emotionally or physically, even if we were neglecting each other sexually. Lesson learned: Affection, the non-intercourse kind, is underrated.
3. Going back to first base isn’t such a bad thing.
Kissing is great. In fact, kissing is really great and often gets neglected in a marriage. I’m not talking a peck on the cheek or a cursory goodbye kiss in the morning; I’m talking a long slow kiss, the kind you used to do in the back of movie theaters when you were 17. Nothing is sexier. So pucker up!
4. Good sex = feeling good about myself.
Post-baby, I felt frumpy and mumsy, basically lightyears away from feeling even remotely sexy. And since feeling like a sex kitten starts in your brain — and mine clearly wasn’t in the right place — I forced myself to lose the baby weight, swapped my maternity bras for something lacy, got a brazilian (kill me), shaved my legs, and actively started liking myself again before I even tried to make a pass at my husband.
5. If in doubt, dive in!
I threw a couple of martinis down my throat to loosen up my inhibitions and basically forced myself to have sex again. It was scary and a bit strange to begin with because I felt sooo shy, but sex is a bit like riding a bike: you quickly remember how easy it is and how much you enjoy doing it, even if you have sore muscles the next day!
6. Our drought made me more turned on.
With time, the initial lust I had with my husband dissolved and sex became routine and monotonous but when I went without it for a loooooong time, having it again was like getting locked in a candy store over night. I went a little nutso, like a teenager who’s just discovered dry-humping for the first time.
7. I now know we can overcome barren periods in our marriage.
Ultimately, I realized there’s nothing wrong or weird about having barren periods in my marriage; problems only arise when one of us has a higher libido than the other (and frankly at the time, NEITHER of us had libido). With time, our sex life will inevitably have peaks and valleys but that’s okay because we can — and will — always come out the other side.
This article originally appeared at YourTango.