Relationships fall apart, not because of the lack of physical stimulation. A person can get that almost anywhere. It’s the lack of deep connection that causes someone to seek unity elsewhere…
Stumbling across a TED-TALK with Esther Perel one Saturday afternoon was like being hit in the face with a bucket of Evian water in the middle of Arnhem Land. AH! Finally someone who is talking profound common sense into an absent sex life.
Esther, for the last 20 years, has counselled couple and singles alike digging deep into the reasons why they feel the way they do about each other. And why they don’t.
She’s come to the conclusion that most step into an affair because they don’t feed ‘desired’ in their current marriage, and also that children can ruin your sex life. But it doesn’t need to.
You may remember Perel from her wildly popular TED talks on maintaining desire in long-term relationships or how a couple can survive an affair, so you already know she knows this topic better than most. Unless you’re one of those annoying couples whose sexlife actually improved after having kids, read on …Redefine “Sex”.
Perel is talking more about “the erotic presence — the feeling of connection, pleasure, aliveness, vibrancy.” Loss of erotic presence in a relationship is the reason sex stops, so focus on fixing the cause not its effect.
“If people had a less narrow definition of what sex is, there would be an ability to feel much more sexually connected after having kids,”
Learn The Erotic Ingredients And “Eros Redirected”
This may be the most important sentence you ever read: The erotic ingredients are playfulness, novelty, looks, curiosity, and touch. Perel points out that every one of these things are at risk of being entirely redirected toward your kid if you’re not careful. There’s even a fancy term for it: “eros redirected.”
For Perel, the core of the issue in any couple where the sexlife has faltered post-kid is that all the energy that once went toward the erotic ingredients in your relationship go to the kid. Here’s how she puts it (and try not to wince if it sounds too familiar):
“Playfulness: You have loads of playfulness, but it’s all with the kids.
Novelty: I see you constantly looking for new experiences with your children but you do the same old, same old [with your partner].
Looks: I see your kids walking around in the latest fashion, and I see you in your old tracksuit from 1980.
Curiosity: I see you being curious about anything your child is doing, but when was the last time you gazed at each other?
Touch: I see you often living on a diet of quick pecks, and I see your children experience languid hugs and affectionate everything.”
Break Your Routine And Plan Together
Undoing eros redirected is in some ways as simple as behaving toward your partner the way you behaved before the kid was born. “When people meet and are in love, they live face to face. When people have children, they create this whole enterprise, and they live side by side. What they need are moments of turning their bodies back to each other in face to face situation.” That means date nights, complete with touching, playing, and all those other ingredients.
Among Perel’s clients, there are couples who hire a babysitter to attend Burning Man and couples who haven’t left the house in 4 years. Guess which ones have better sex lives. You don’t have to drop peyote in the desert to appreciate a novel couple’s activity, but you do need to occasionally break the schedule that parenting has forced you into by planning together. “The reason everybody talks about planning dates and all of that is because it’s not just about putting it in the calendar,” She says. “It’s about assigning value. It says it’s important.”
Whether it’s a date night or an annual couple’s vacation separate from the child, which Perel also recommends, plan together. For many couples, she finds it helps if one person is responsible for the adult end of the planning (date nights, researching vacations, booking reservations, etc.), while the other focuses on the kid’s end (reserving babysitters, packing overnight bags for the grandparent’s house, etc.).
Divide, conquer, and turn “eros redirected” into “eros directed,” with the direction being straight to … well … use your imagination.