When my wife, Natalie, and I first met, things got pretty hot pretty fast. On our third date, she pulled me close beside the jukebox in a teeny bar, and the people at the table next to us looked bug-eyed at one another. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” ended, and not long after, we were naked in her bedroom—early awkwardness quickly evaporating as the heat took over. It got steamier: We were dating with the childless abandon that meant sex not just at night but again the next morning—before work! Our emotional bond was growing, but so was our collection of dirty photos, places we’d had sex and fantasies we shared.
The good times continued to roll. We got married and started talking in earnest about kids. After a year of marital bliss, we were definitely ready to get busy with baby making, though we couldn’t have known how much our sex life was about to change.
Those early months with our baby boy are a blur. But I do remember the first time we tried to have sex again: tiptoeing into our bedroom and lying down on the floor to be out of sight of the crib. He started crying before we’d even stripped off our clammy new-parent rags. Natalie got up, settled him down, and we tried again. I don’t remember how many attempts it took, but even once we were successful, the sex felt hesitant. With all the changes her body had been through, I was putting the burden on her to tell me what felt good. But when a fussy baby hardly gives you time to go pee all day, who has the wherewithal to consider what turns her on? I was suddenly feeling stumped by something that, up until now, I thought I was pretty good at.
I also couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt, because it was all so much easier for me. I was up at night changing diapers, but I didn’t have a baby stuck on my nipples 23.5 hours a day, nor did I have to push that baby through my genitals. Other than being tired, my body was feeling A-OK, and I was turned on by hers (the curves, the swollen breasts) even though she felt exhausted and squishy. We had moments where we feared our days of passion were numbered—but we weren’t about to give up.
We’ve always been very open with each other, so we made sure to keep talking— about the joys and madness of parenthood, the emotional impact it was having on us and how we could separate all of that from our relationship with each other. For inspiration, we would tap into the memories of our hottest pre-baby adventures—of the knowing, hungry glances we would exchange across the table at a dinner party or the time she followed me into a dive-bar bathroom, locked the door and whipped my pants down. These flashbacks come in handy when one of us is horny and one of us is dead tired—we fully support each other getting off while the other one snoozes. When staring down a crazy week, we plan ahead for sex so that not everything gets derailed.
The spirit of adventure that kicked off our relationship isn’t lost just because we’re parents—even if “adventure” is now more often the word I use to convince my son to come to No Frills with me.
People say men reach their sexual peak at 18, but as I close in on 40, I’m having the best sex of my life. Our connection is deeper, and we have a different appreciation for the headiness and fulfillment of sex—sure, it’s fun, but it’s also way more of a release now than it was in those early, you-don’t-know-what-you-have years. We’re in this for the long haul, and we now have a second kid to prove it. With time, things have somewhat settled; getting our kids to sleep better has vastly improved our mental state and thus our love life. Occasionally meeting up in our little bathroom—a cleaner version of our dive-bar trysts—certainly helps keep the spark alive, too.
*Names have been changed.
A version of this article appeared in our February 2016 issue, titled “Meet me in the bathroom”, pg. 64.