School is back and if you’re anything like me the few moments of quiet I can now find are priceless. However, the number of school notes and books to be covered is absolutely phenomenal and I am once again quite overwhelmed. All that wrestling with contact that will not be air bubble free despite my most valiant attempts has brought me to thinking about the mental load we carry as Mummas and the repeated comments by my friends and clients that they are inundated day and night with the never-ending responsibility of mothering. Very often the conversation turns to the impact on their relationship and in particular the lack of physical or emotional intimacy with their partners.
As a Mum of 7 I get it. Finding time to shave my legs feels like a massive achievement, how on earth does intimacy with my partner even get a look in. But, when I think about the many conversations I have on this topic, my sense is the issue isn’t actually lack of time, although that is a factor. It seems to me that the problems comes down to how we view sex and the role it has in long term partnerships. So here’s a few of the lessons I’ve learned as a couple therapist and a busy, busy Mumma.
- Intimacy is not another responsibility … it is self-care and nurture.
If we see intimacy as yet another demand upon us there is no wonder being a lover becomes a drain on us. Good loving is self-care and not allowing ourselves to be cared for when our mental load is massive leads us to burn out. When we view sex as just another thing we have to make time for we will resent it…. and resentment kills desire! We need to allow and invite our partners to nurture us through lovemaking so that intimacy can be a solace from the demands of the world and give us the nurture we crave.
2. We are responsible for our own bodies.
We need to teach our partner how to love us physically in a way that nurtures us emotionally. As women we need to know our bodies well and be able to articulate what we crave from our partner both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, a very common issue that arises when I talk to couples about sex is that both partners appear to have a lack of knowledge about the basics of female sexuality. Ladies … educate yourself and your partners… life is too short for lousy lovemaking due to ignorance. I recommend the website omgyes.com as a great source of information and ‘training’. If we want to feel loved we need to communicate clearly and openly about what that looks and feels like.
3. Intimacy relies on vulnerability.
Back to the theme of nurture. If we are to invite our partner’s to truly care for us and nurture us, we need to first let them see us in all our vulnerability. Deep, connected lovemaking only occurs when we have the ability and confidence to peel away our self-protective layers and let our lover see us as we are. That is what gives lovemaking it’s power to nurture; it is the sharing of our deepest self by sharing our body. When our lover can look deep into our eyes and love our body, mind and soul … sex is nothing like another chore to add to the list.
4. We have to know and love our bodies as they are.
Our bodies mature and change. It’s an inevitable change for all of us and yet we are bombarded with messages and images telling us that mature women should have the same body as a teenage girl. As women we must refuse to be manipulated to rejecting the beautiful mature body we have developed through our life. Our bodies are soft and sensual and show the scars of a life well lived. I risk getting on my soapbox on this issue, but we have to love what defines us as women. The curves of our bodies should be celebrated. And … we need to teach our partners and children to see the shape and curve of a mature woman as something of extraordinary beauty. If we are trying to hide the shape of our body, how are we ever going to allow our partner to love and nurture it? So ladies, relax into your body shape and let your curves be magnificent.
5. We need to make sure our kids get it.
As you can imagine, with 7 boys time for special Mummy / Daddy cuddles without interruption is a wee bit tricky. We need to let go of our shyness about letting our kids know that when Mum and Dad are having time in the bedroom alone, it probably means they are having sex and to stay clear or you will cop an eyeful. Kids need to learn about sex from us not pornography. Teaching our kids about loving, healthy sexuality sets them up for their own loving relationships and they soon learn that when Mum and Dad emerge from their room all smoochy and cross-eyed after a sleepy Sunday morning, it’s because they’ve had a well-earned opportunity to love and care for one another.
6. Gents – remember that lovemaking begins with a cup of coffee.
The most common complaint I hear from women is that all the responsibility falls to them. So a plea to any men reading this article. Please pull your weight in the home.Physical expressions of love are a wonderful way to nurture but it all starts with the unprompted act of kindness and care. An unprompted cup of coffee speaks volumes of your determination to care for the woman in your life.
7. Love like a tigress not a kitten.
A wonderful client of mine once said she loves her children with the ferocity of a tigress protecting her young but when it came to loving her husband she was a passive kitten. We are capable of such powerful and passionate emotions as women and being a mother tends to allow our strongest self to emerge when it comes to our ferocious love for them. Imagine how wonderful our intimacy would be if we directed the same ferocious love to our partners.
8. Be Mindful.
Resist the eye-roll my friends. I know mindfulness is a much over-prescribed tool of the therapist. But … when it comes to beautiful lovemaking it is immensely powerful. All mindfulness really means is focused attention of the present moment. Our bodies capacity to experience sensuality depends on our own capacity to focus on it. Deliberately paying attention to our senses and our bodies reaction to them is essential to lovemaking and taking time to communicate this to our partner leads to immense intensity in the bedroom.
Good luck Mumma bears 😀