When my husband and I first got married, we had sex all the time. It wasn't always great, but it was always happening. We were teenagers, we were nuts about each other, and neither of us was particularly experienced, so it was still a big deal to us. I think our record was eight times in a day. We could go for hours, take a nap, eat a snack, and go again.
Now, two kids and almost three years later, things look a little bit different. Our average is about once a week. Sometimes it's less often; sometimes, we'll have sex two or three days in a row. So the quantity has certainly dipped quite a bit. Of course, we reminisce and sometimes we miss having the time to go at it like we used to -- but not as much as you might expect. Here's why:
What we lack in quantity, we make up for in quality. This is strange to think about looking back now, but I didn't have an orgasm with my husband for the first year and a half of our marriage. I didn't think I was capable. I told him it was just me, that I enjoyed it anyway, and gave up after the first couple of months. When the spark seemed to be fading a bit, we started to experiment and read about sex. We tried different things, and eventually, it paid off. I got over the concept that me getting off was all on him, and started to teach him what felt best and ‘lent him a hand,’ so to speak. The first time I orgasmed with him, we both started to see sex in a whole new light. Since then, he's become more generous in bed and so have I. We might not have the time to spend hours on end boning, but I'll take twenty minutes and a mind-blowing finale over that any day, and I'm far more willing to invest the time fulfilling his needs when mine are being met.
I stopped feeling like it was my job. I was raised in a hyper-conservative bubble, so the only thing I learned about sex for the first fifteen years of my life was that it was a wife’s duty to her husband. Even though I learned a lot and expanded my own definition of sexuality in the three years between leaving home and marrying my husband, I still had an instinct to ‘give it up’ when I didn’t really want to, in the interest of keeping him happy. Now that I have some distance, I realize how damaging it was to me as a person and to us as a couple for me to have ‘duty sex’ with him. Now that I’ve moved beyond that harmful ideology, I can be completely present and engaged in our sex life instead of waiting for it to be over.
We've expanded our definition of intimacy. From the very beginning, we needed to connect physically to feel loved, and we needed that often. That hasn't changed much, but what has changed is how we fulfill that need. Cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie while the kids are playing can be just as intimate as sex for us. We kiss often. We hold hands in the car while we're running errands. If we're in the same room, we're almost always in physical contact; sometimes that's enough.
We don't need it to solve our problems. Our first year of marriage, we fought often. No matter what it was about, a sullen "I'm sorry" and sex was usually the solution. Now that we've been together longer, we've had the opportunity to grow up together and put in a lot of work getting better at communicating. We fight less, and when we do we talk about it instead of using sex as a means of avoidance.
All things considered, our sex life is much more satisfying now as opposed to when we were in the honeymoon phase. There may be some truth to the stereotypes about married sex (and especially sex after kids), but I'm firmly in the camp of 'don't knock it 'til you try it.'