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When Can We Have Sex Again? – Rediscovering Sex After Pregnancy

Rediscovering Sex after PregnancyA common question I’m asked after a couple has just had a child is: “When can we have sex again?” The short answer is: “When it feels right”. Sadly it is most often he who is ready before she is so when it doesn’t happen as he expects then this can lead to feelings of frustration and even alienation from the new mum and her baby.

Low or absent sexual desire is a very common experience after pregnancy; a reduction in sexual interest and activity, compared with pre-pregnancy levels, is really the norm during the first few months.

Studies have found that more than half of women resume intercourse at six weeks after delivery; By 24 weeks more than 80% of women were ready to be sexual again. The majority of the women even reported being able to come to orgasm by 12 weeks. And most studies indicate a gradual return to pre-pregnancy levels of sexual desire, enjoyment, and coital frequency within a year.

The return to making love is strongly influenced by the mother’s experience before pregnancy, her physiology, and her emotional and psychological make-up as well as by the culture she has been raised in.

The physical impact of giving birth is generally complete somewhere between four and six weeks. Research has shown that this differs little between those who have given birth vaginally as opposed to those who have had a cesarean birth. However the mother may still be weary for some time especially if the baby is not feeding well or is restless and taking time to settle down to a good sleep routine.

And then there is the emotional impact which may take longer to recover from. Here also every woman makes progress in her own time and in her own way.

Emotional disturbance very often takes the form of post natal depression, sometimes affectionately called, “post natal blues”. This can be as mild as feeling restless or as serious as contemplating harming the child or the mother herself.

Good old-fashioned Mother Nature is probably the greatest villain here.

While ensuring that the mother’s milk supply stays high, breastfeeding can negatively affect sexual desire whilst also guarding against a future pregnancy too soon. The reason is that estrogen levels decline during breastfeeding, which, sadly, also means that sexual interest also declines.

Vaginal lubrication also decreases which can lead to pain with intercourse which is also a way of ensuring that you don’t get into mischief while your new baby still needs so much of your attention.
The baby also makes sure that the mother’s attention is totally on her or him to ensure that this child has the best chance of surviving without having to compete with anyone else. This includes the father who, so far as this child is concerned, has fulfilled his part of the bargain.

So what does all this mean for the couple?

Firstly it means that as well as dealing with a new baby and all that entails it also means that you now have to patiently focus your energies on this child until you are not required 24/7 anymore.

In the meanwhile you can start to take any moment this child allows you to do some nice things for each other that are not necessarily going to lead to intercourse. Bathe together, massage each other, have a sleep in, if your baby will let you, and rest when your baby is asleep rather than trying to use this time to catch up on chores. Also take time out, as it is offered by friends and family, to go out and share a meal together or go to the movies.

Other forms of sexual expression, such as touching, kissing, and mutual pleasuring techniques, besides just being nice to do, can also help to re-establish physical closeness with your partner. So take your time getting to know each other again.

Whatever else you do go slowly!!

Then when the time is right, begin to reintroduce more sexually based activities into your schedule. The use of water-based vaginal lubricants can help reduce discomfort during intercourse. Vaginal moisturizer also can relieve vaginal dryness and pain.

And don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to intercourse. Masturbate each other or with each other until you are both sufficiently aroused to take it to the next step.

And don’t forget to use some form of contraception. Breastfeeding is not a guarantee against falling pregnant. And I should know as that is how I conceived my fourth child seven months after delivering my third and whilst still breast-feeding and feeling absolutely exhausted chasing after two other pre-schoolers.

Finally, take heart. Enjoyment of sexual intercourse will return, even if it is gradual, after childbirth. Give it time and enjoy the little bundle of joy you have created from your love for each other.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Is It Possible to Make an Affair Work for You?

Is It Possible to Make an Affair Work for You

One of the most hurtful events of a relationship is when someone is discovered having an affair.

Generally one of three things happens when someone discovers that their spouse has been cheating on them.

  1. The affair is ignored. This may mean that the affair continues but nothing changes in the relationship. This is often because the party being cheated on just doesn’t want to ‘rock the boat’ for fear of what might come of it.
  2. The relationship ends. Sometimes one or other of the couple decides that they can no longer be in the relationship and so the relationship ends.
  3. Ideally the affair stops. The old relationship discontinues and a new relationship begins.

Whether the relationship ends or not, some serious losses will be experienced. Losses can be physical or symbolic and may include:

  • Loss of trust
  • Loss of security
  • Loss of hope/dreams
  • Loss of faith
  • Loss of intimacy and affection
  • Loss of self-esteem

Sometimes it is these losses, over and above the affair, that pulls the couple apart and sounds the death knell for continuing the relationship.

If the third option is the case the challenge then is for the non-offending spouse to overcome these losses and find trust again for the other person. This is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome.

The Way Forward

The way forward then is to take the time with your spouse to talk about all these issues and to realign them with a new way of being.  More than anything for a relationship to make it through there needs to be forgiveness: forgiveness of each spouse of themselves and of each other for the part they played in the affair.

And yes, as hard it sounds, even the non-offending spouse might need to look at their part in causing the affair. In saying this I don’t mean to imply that the offending party should be absolved of what they have done. They must take full responsibility for the hurt they’ve caused but, as I’ve said before, the reason this affair has happened is because there was something amiss in the relationship to start with. For this both spouses need to assume responsibility.

To help you both along the way it might be useful to start a journal. Express all your thoughts and feelings in this journal; the good, the bad and the downright ugly. And besides making the time to talk about what happened there might also need to be some new, if only temporary, rules put into place regarding letting each other know where you are and what you’re doing and how long that will be. This can be the only way forward if trust is going to be re-established.

And by the way the spouse who decides the ultimate outcome of the affair will be the non-offending spouse not the one who cheated. Your role is to just grin and bear it, as this is the consequence of having erred. If there is enough love and a renewed commitment and trust you will find a way to reconnect. For both of you don’t be in a hurry. It will take as long as it takes.

Sometimes all this might seem too hard to do on your own and you might need some professional help. Take that help even if you don’t yet know what you should do now that the affair has been exposed. Counselling will help you find your way through the mess to then be able to make a clear decision to either leave the relationship or to recommit. It’s only as you come to make this decision that you can start to move forward.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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How to Tell If Your Spouse is Cheating?

Cheating happens in so many ways. When we first think about what cheating is we tend to think about spouses having sex outside of the relationship but it happens in many other ways as well. With this in mind be aware also that what is defined as cheating to one person might not be for someone else.

A recent magazine asked readers to define an extra-marital affair, with this result:

  • 21%

    thinking about an involvement

  • 21%

    dinner and drinks

  • 24%

    kissing and petting

  • 26%

    sexual intercourse

  • 8%

    not sure

And some people even define it as chatting on the internet or phone messaging with people of the opposite sex or using porn without the partner’s consent or inclusion.

How do you define cheating? And how do you know if your spouse is doing it?

Here are three tell-tale signs to look out for:

  1. 1.

    When your spouse suddenly takes extra special care in their dress or personal appearance or suddenly adopts a whole new style in clothing or hair.

  2. 2.

    When your spouse suddenly starts staying back at work late into the night saying they are doing extra work.

  3. 3.

    When your spouse spends longer hours on the computer and/or phone and doesn’t want you to ask questions about or see what s/he is doing.

NB Be mindful that there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for all of these behaviors so be careful jumping to conclusions.

And by the way cheating is not necessarily a death knell for the relationship.

There are many reasons people cheat. The most important one though is that something is not working in the relationship that really needs looking at. This does not necessarily mean that you do not love each other anymore. What it means is that someone in the relationship is just not getting some of there needs met. This might be sexually or in friendship or in satisfying a need for some excitement in their lives.

Here is the short answer to overcoming an affair.

If you have caught your partner out there is obviously some decisions to be made regarding whether you should abandon the relationship or whether you can both recover from this error. That will be decided by many things the most important of which is your capacity to forgive your partner, and maybe even yourself, for allowing the affair to happen.

If you are the one having the affair, by the way, it’s sometimes wiser to not tell but to recommit and make amends as best you can. While it is said that honesty must be at the base of all relationships there are some things that may be best left unsaid. On deciding you have made a mistake, the most important thing is to acknowledge that to yourself and to do whatever needs to be done to get this relationship back on track. If you then decide to tell your partner have a good reason for doing so which is not based on your need to free yourself of guilt.

If you are in a relationship where you think there might be cheating talk about it. This may not be best introduced with a question about whether the other person is actually having an affair, but from the perspective of sharing your thoughts and values on the topic so your partner has an opportunity to respond. In this way they are not left with any doubt as to what you think and feel about the possibility of s/he having an affair. It just may give him/her a chance to change their behavior without having to put your whole relationship on the line. Remember s/he may not have the same definition of cheating as you do.

I’ll address this in more detail in my next blog post.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Can I Ever Trust Her Again?

Can I Ever Trust Her AgainPeople make mistakes. Sometimes people make big mistakes and sometimes people make mistakes that regrettably follow them for the rest of their lives. This week’s article is about whether when someone has made a mistake it is possible to ever trust them again.

The short answer is because everyone makes mistakes they should be given a second chance to redeem themselves.

This however has qualifiers – sometimes those mistakes are so big that they are unrecoverable.

So where is the cut-off point?

Maybe a more appropriate question would be to learn about the values that underpin a person’s actions. If those values are sound then it might be entirely appropriate to forgive and get on with it. And maybe this can only be discerned by looking at their behaviour overall rather than just one isolated behaviour.

Let me put this into an example.

Dale, not her real name, is engaged to Allan, not his real name either. Dale is committed to Allan and is looking forward to being married and all that comes with the promise of forever. Dale and Allan still live separately from each other though spend most weekends together. One Friday night Dale is out having drinks with some of her work colleagues as it is a regular Friday night activity. They all have had a few drinks and are enjoying each other’s company.

One of Dale’s male work colleagues makes a pass at her and she responds in an innocently flirtatious way. Finally the night comes to an end and everyone goes their separate ways except for Dale and the office flirt. On the pretence of escorting Dale to her car and realizing that maybe neither of them are fit to drive he offers to walk Dale home.

She accepts the offer and once there welcomes him in for a night-cap before he heads on his way. However one thing leads to another and the two end up sleeping together. Afterwards, when they are sober again, they are both remorseful and vow not to let it happen again.

Sometime later Dale tells Allan of the indiscretion. Needless to say Allan is shocked and disappointed and now unsure if Dale might do this again.

So is this enough of a violation for Allan to sever his relationship with Dale and to not go ahead with the marriage?

In truth only Allan can really answer this question as he now needs to decide whether this is too great a violation for him to be able to find forgiveness and move on. The questions that Allan may need to ask himself may include questions about whether this was indeed a single moment of thoughtlessness or is it a pattern that distinguishes Dale’s values from his own.

Allan may also need to determine the degree of the remorse insofar as whether Dale sees what she has done as indeed a slip or whether her value of monogamy is not as strong as Allan’s.

Allan might actually get more clarity about this by observing Dale’s parents and other family members and what their actions say about the value that they may have passed onto Dale regarding fidelity and trustworthiness.

If after discussions with Dale and a clear understanding of what it was that prompted the infidelity Allan can then make a good decision for their future together.

One thing that Allan should remember here is that it is his life he is making a decision on and this decision is for him to make alone with Dale. Everyone will have their own opinion but to ensure that neither Allan nor Dale should have any regrets they need to make any decision about their futures together for themselves and themselves only.

The other action which would be futile and negative to this relationship is to confront the office flirt who may or may not have taken conscious advantage of Dale. I hear so often people saying that the error was someone else’s. The truth is that we, like Dale, must all assume responsibility for our own actions, all of them.

So can we ever trust again after there has been an indiscretion?

After deciding that it was really only an indiscretion and not reflective of a regular pattern of someone’s way of being then maybe Allan should just move on if for no other reason then that people will make mistakes and everyone deserves to be forgiven so that life can be continued.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”

Why Is My Husband Addicted To Sex With Other Women?

man addicted to sexSome time ago I received an email from a woman questioning her husband’s continuing infidelity despite the fact that they have been married for more than twenty years. The simple question was why he would continue doing this?

The answer of course is never quite as simple as the question as there may be a number of reasons that he might continue to be unfaithful. In this article I’ll describe a few and what this woman might be able to do about it.

The first thought I had when reading this question was that this man has not yet grown up. It feels like he may be stuck in adolescence still trying to figure out who he is and how he wants to be as a man.

The other thought I had that may be an extension of the one above is that this man is trying to prolong his youth by acting as a young man still unable to control his biological urges, which makes me wonder how this might present in other areas of his life such as in his work or as a parent himself.

And then it could be that he’s just trying to prove that he still has “it”, whatever “it” is. It may be something to do with a low self-esteem that he feels he needs to prove to himself or even to his wife, that he is still attractive to others and be attractive enough to be sexually desirable.

But then it could be that his wife, she who wrote the email, is a very powerful character in her own right, or maybe is simply a “nag”, and the affairs are his way of escaping, if only for a moment, her abuses.

And then it could be that this is what was modelled for him as a child by his parents, or other significant people in his life, as being the way to behave as an adult thereby having the husband believing that this is what all married couples do.

And of course it may be that the women he is having the affairs with are having their own issues and are manipulating him into believing that he is more than a conquest by their seductive advances which, because of his low self-esteem he is unable to resist.

Nonetheless, whatever the reason, the continuing affairs are certainly representative of something critically amiss in this relationship that needs to be addressed.

The way to do this is firstly is for the wife to challenge him on what he is doing. In this case she needs to ensure that he understands that the behaviour is inappropriate and will not be tolerated any further. It might be that for the sake of the relationship, or for the children of the relationship, never a good reason, that she has turned a blind eye to the behaviour and pretended that it just didn’t happen.

The wife might have to take a good hard look at herself as well in terms of what she might be doing or saying that encourages him to continue the behaviour.

This may be too big an ask for anyone to address between themselves so this might be best done with the assistance of a couples counsellor. The counsellor will ask both of the couple lots of questions that might not have otherwise been asked to help both people in the couple to understand exactly what these recurrent affairs mean to them and what they can do to bring their relationship back on track.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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The Love Drug

Lucy & Dic-1

We all know when we are “in love” that our common sense seems to fail us as all we think about is the subject of our love and the delight there will be next time we meet. Even just thinking about them can result in that flurry in our stomachs as if they were with us in real life.

Why does this happen?

Well it can all be blamed on a little hormone that is produced in the pituitary gland called oxytocin. Sometimes oxytocin is referred to as the “love hormone” because it is when we are “in love” that oxytocin is most rapidly produced. It is also the hormone present in the body that marks the commencement of labour in a pregnant mother as well as being the active hormone that triggers the commencement of the flow of milk in the breastfeeding mum.

It is such a powerful hormone that for many mothers who are breastfeeding the experience can be akin to an orgasm and for some actually produces a real orgasm.

But back to the topic: It is when we are contemplating making love, or are actually making love, and are about to orgasm that we experience the full force of the delivery of oxytocin into our systems. And because it creates such a wonderful feeling in our bodies, as well as in our minds, the desire for oxytocin can become addictive.

So here’s how so often the story goes. You meet someone; you feel an attraction and want to spend time with that person. As you become more and more aroused oxytocin is released into your body and your want to be sexual with that person increases until it finds release some way.

Then as time goes by, and you are now in a full-time relationship, the attraction begins to wane somewhat as once a conquest has been made it no longer holds quite the same desirability. This is simply because it is no longer new and exciting as it was in the beginning.

This is especially so when you have known each other for some time and your availability to each other is no longer constrained. You are now able to spend more and more time together which also takes away the emergency of being sexual whenever you are given an opportunity.

So for those with an oxytocin addiction it may be that this relationship can no longer hold your interest and rather than going on to discover what else this relationship has for you the temptation is to let this go and find another person to fall in love with. Sometimes you can even convince yourself that this relationship wasn’t right for you anyway as you continue to seek your one and only “soul mate”.

And now even more than in past decades this seems to be happening. And not just in western countries and cultures but it many Asian and Middle Eastern Countries as well.

Maybe it is that we are all seeking a quick thrill as we want more and more “buzz” from our lives and once we’ve achieved that we want to move on to the next new and exciting thing there is to experience.

So what is there to learn from this?

Maybe it is as simple as this. That when the oxytocin production settles down and you find yourself facing “forever” then it’s time to look a little deeper for what might sustain the relationship for the long haul. Simply put that is real love not a selfishly sought after high for the moment but something that is based on a deep-seated care and commitment of one to another.

This is certainly not to say that there is now no room for romance and great sex. What this does mean is that you need to focus on creating the opportunities for great sex while ensuring you add lots of romance to your relationship.

Don’t be lazy and don’t be content with just making do as you get busy with life. Keep the fun alive, flirt with each other; make time for play and to explore your sexuality to ensure that the oxytocin keeps flowing.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Why Women Cheat?

Recently I was surprised to hear news of increasing number of websites promoting affairs. So it maybe a bit of a surprise to hear that men are not the only ones who cheat on their partners.  It is becoming more and more common for women to be guilty of cheating.

And while years ago a woman cheating on her spouse was unheard of more recently the number of women who enter into affairs and cheat on their spouse is growing exponentially.

However while women may be cheating as often as men, the reasons why women cheat are very different to the reasons why men cheat.

Men Cheat for Physical Reasons and Women for Emotional Reasons

Research is showing us that the principle difference between men and women cheating are that men often cheat for physical reasons while women often have emotional reasons for cheating on their partner.

The reasons why women cheat include loneliness, revenge, and boredom or as an attempt to raise their self-esteem.

A partner who becomes excessively involved with his work or some pastime may no longer make time to spend with his partner. This often results in the woman feeling as if she is all alone. So if a woman is not receiving the attention she feels she deserves in a relationship, she may be tempted to seek that attention elsewhere and become involved in an affair.

Loneliness has amazingly become one of the primary reasons that women seek out affairs and cheat on their partner. Although it sounds contradictory that they should feel lonely while being in a relationship, it is because that relationship has simply become emotionally unfulfilling.

Revenge has also become a growing factor in why women cheat. The modern woman is no longer willing to sit back and accept the fact that their partner may cheat on them. If a woman confirms or even just holds a suspicion that her partner is cheating on her, she may be driven to engage in an affair of her own as an act of revenge.

An Eye for an Eye

They may be extremely hurt by their partner’s actions and seek a way to hurt them in the same way.

Boredom may also factor into why women cheat. Their current relationship may have fallen into a rut and lost the excitement that it possessed in the early stages of its existence. They may feel that their relationship has become dull and predictable so rather than trying to bring excitement into their current relationship they may pursue affairs in the hopes of rediscovering the excitement they felt when they first became involved with their partner.

While an affair may bring about a temporary solution of making the woman feel excited about love again it may ultimately destroy both their current relationship as well as their cheating relationship.

An affair is exciting not only because it involves a relationship with a new person but also because it involves sneaking around and ultimately getting away with doing something wrong.

To many women this is very exciting and they are willing to risk losing their relationship over the affair.

Another reason why women cheat is a lack of self-esteem. Women may feel that they are not getting an adequate amount of attention from their partner and they may be tempted to cheat to confirm that they are still attractive and desirable.

Being found desirable by another compensates for the lack of appreciation they feel from their partner which helps to boost their self-esteem. While women with a healthy self-esteem are more likely to remain happy in a relationship, and do what needs to be done to find it, those who lack self-esteem may be more driven to cheat on their partners.

So if you are finding yourself lonely, bored or feeling like your self-esteem is failing you think twice before embarking on an affair. Maybe there is a better way out. This might be to seek some counselling and then to find a way to confront your partner about what it is you’re experiencing.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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