Dear Dr. Norquist:
Since our son’s birth, my wife has had almost no interest in sex. She works hard at her job and then comes home, changes into her grubbiest sweats, eats dinner, and watches TV or reads until bedtime and then she only wants to sleep not to cuddle or anything else. Our son’s birth was difficult, but otherwise I am not able to figure out her new attitude. Before giving birth, she very much enjoyed making love, but since then, we have rarely made love. She now says sex is painful and totally optional and she refuses to talk about it. What should I do?
Dr. Norquist responds:
If she is not willing to talk with you about this, we can only guess at what may be behind her loss of libido. Getting pregnant and giving birth is an incredibly intense, totally life-changing event. Since having sex can lead to pregnancy again, she may be reluctant to feel any sexual desire for fear of getting pregnant again so soon. Another possibility is that it is hard for her to integrate her new identity as a mother with her sense of herself as a sexual being. Alternatively, she may be depressed, or physically drained, she may be angry at you for something, or she may be having trouble adjusting to life after having a child.
Ask yourself if there is anything you could do to help her to be more able to talk about her feelings. Is she afraid of your reaction? Is she certain she would be heard, and her feelings acknowledged and respected? If you disagree with her feelings and needs, are you still able to approach your differences in a respectful manner? She may need to feel your love for her right now through your words, behavior, and respect. Help her to feel that you are there for her. Hopefully this will help her to talk about her feelings
Check out Dr. Norquist’s new blog GrowingThroughParenting.com
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. Ó 2019 Chaitanya Counseling Services