"Mom, Dad, Can I Sleep In Your Room Tonight?"

Has your sex life has gone south since your children are born? Or maybe you’re in a situation now where you try to get intimate with your spouse but your child keeps banging down on your door refusing to sleep in her own room?

Most couples find their sexual dynamics disrupted when there are children in the home. Lack of privacy and fatigue from the hectic demands of family life easily lead to communication breakdown. It’s important not to let this situation continue, since left unattended it can easily become a threat to the stability of your marriage.

What should you do if having kids in the house is putting a damper on your sex life? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Tackle the issue. Take the initiative to meet with your spouse to discuss the situation. Find a time and setting that lends itself to uninterrupted conversation. As you talk, remember to be sensitive and respect your spouse’s point of view. Bear in mind that a woman’s greatest need is to be loved, while a man’s is to be respected. Remember that even though the immediate problem is maintaining your sex life with kids in the house, your goal is to nurture your relationship.

  2. Frankly discuss sexual expectations and desires. The two of you probably differ in your expectations about things like sexual frequency and technique. You may not share your spouse’s fear of being heard during lovemaking. He or she on the other hand, may not understand how you can make light of this anxiety. Reveal your thoughts and feelings to one another and try to discover the factors that have shaped your spouse’s unique perspective. Your objective is to seek common ground, a place where each of you is comfortable.

  3. Be open to novel solutions. If your spouse if concerned about privacy, explore the possibility of installing locks or rigging music or white noise to muffle sounds emanating from the bedroom. Baby monitors can be used to alert parents in the event of an emergency. Stay flexible until you’ve found a plan that works.

  4. Protect the bedroom and protect bedtime. During the late toddler and early preschool years, you need to begin to teach your children to respect your privacy. Teach them to knock on the door before barging into your bedroom. Toddlers by nature like to test the boundaries and they hate being separated from Mom. Make it very clear to them that when you put them to bed, they stay in bed. This is critical to protecting your time alone as a couple.

  5. Prepare a response to your children’s questions. Despite efforts to maintain the privacy of the sex act, unanticipated interruptions may occur. Protecting innocence takes precedence over completion of intercourse, so be ready to offer answers as needed. Children’s curiosity is best addressed with a confident reply in mutually agreed upon terminology. For example, “After all these years, we still love each other and sometimes get excited to spend time together.” If your kids have seen the two of you holding hands, kissing, and going out on dates, they’re probably comfortable with the idea of parental closeness.

  6. Being "Husband and Wife" before being "Mom and Dad". With the increasing demands of growing children, it is easy to forget your marital roles and allow your parenting roles to take precedence. Embracing both identities is a difficult but imperative balance. Make sure you regularly have time to be husband and wife. Go on dates, and do not talk about the kids. Once a year, get away by yourselves. Make sure there is more to your marriage than parenting.

A healthy sex life gives strength and protection to the marital relationship, so you need to find ways to be intentional in nurturing sexual intimacy.

Adapted from The Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage by Focus on the Family and No More Headachesby Juli Slattery. Copyright © 2014 Focus on the Family Singapore.

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