I have three children aged two, five and seven years. I enjoy having sex a couple of nights a week but I find it difficult to be interested in having it more than this. However, my partner loves to have sex and wants more.
He says we should spice up our sex lives and for a while now wants to have it every night. So I have been agreeing as I don't want him to get angry or upset, even though I don't enjoy it most of the time. Do you have any advice that might help?
First of all, when we have small children, who need attention and love all day, what happens is that by the end of the day we have met our "skin hunger" needs. Skin hunger is the human need for physical touch and closeness.
If you get that from your children all the time, it is sometimes nice to have some space and not to have to be physical with your partner on top of this. However, generally the male partner gets less touch and physical closeness from the children and therefore he still wants this closeness and needs it from you.
I can hear quite clearly that you are participating in having sex, without really enjoying it. I do not believe that is ever a good idea and I call this mercy sex. You are really just doing it for him, without really enjoying it and the danger is that he probably believes you are enjoying it and wanting it, and therefore will continue to ask for it, assuming all is fine.
For most men, the most important part of the sexual experience is that the woman has motivation, is enthusiastic, and is an excited and willing participant when the sexual encounter happens. And it does not sound like this is what is happening in your case.
There is clearly a desire discrepancy, in that he wants sex more frequently than you would want it. Therefore I would suggest you would try to balance your sex drives. You can do this by starting to negotiate sexual activity. So what I mean by that is that you acknowledge his sexual needs and the importance to you for him to get those needs satisfied.
However, you would then negotiate your level of active participation. So instead of having a full-on sexual encounter that involves intercourse, which we can refer to as maximum participation intercourse, offer some sexual alternatives.
So it is then useful to see sex from a sexual hierarchy perspective. So a basic hierarchy might go from no sex for either partner but hugging and kissing each other, to him stimulating himself without you present, to him stimulating himself while you are present, for you to stimulate him, for him to be allowed to be stimulating you as well, and finally to intercourse. The way this hierarchy works is different for everyone, and you can make your own.
So on a night where he starts making sexual advances at you, instead of rejecting him, or participating in it without really wanting it, start with validating his actions and the importance of his needs and then negotiate a level of sexual activity that you are more than willing to participant in.
So for example say something like: "I really like the way you are kissing and hugging me and I know you would really like to get physical with me. However, I am very tired tonight, could we please just hug and kiss, or could you please just stimulate yourself and I am more than happy to be present with you."
So think about what you would be happy to give him, so you do not deny him from having a lovely physical experience, but you also do not deny yourself from having a break from sexual intercourse. This way you will be able to be that motivated and excited participant he is looking for and you can both have an enjoyable experience.
For more information please visit the Sexual Health Australia website.