Sexologist Yvonne Bekker says that sex helps people connect. “Giving and receiving pleasure in the form of sex is paramount in a relationship, unless otherwise negotiated and agreed upon.”
But when life gets tough, desire often takes a backseat, leaving a couple feeling disconnected from one another and adding to their stress.
We’ve got some tips that will hopefully help you get through some of the most difficult challenges with your love life intact.
Work woes: Getting retrenched, being unemployed, looking for a new job, or the increased workload that comes with a promotion can throw anyone off their game for a short while. Honest communication with your partner is vital in this situation.
What to do: If your workload keeps you from chores that need to be done at home, ask your partner for help. This will ease the pressure at home. Job-hunting can be as equally stressful, so try relaxation techniques as part of foreplay. Getting a massage would go a long way in settling your nerves, or try unwinding in a soothing bath. Create a serene ambience by hauling out your candles and add a few drops of lavender oil to the bathwater. Better yet, let your partner join you.
Getting married: Making this lifelong commitment can be intimidating and organising a wedding very stressful. If wedding bell blues have affected your libido, be honest with your partner.
What to do: Book a few sessions of couples’ therapy to get an objective, third-party opinion. Unearthing any underlying psychological triggers may help you find your way back to that blissful honeymoon period. Experimenting in the bedroom might also help reignite the flame – try a new position or a sex toy.
Having a baby: Postnatal depression, fatigue, and the added responsibility of caring for a baby can be overwhelming. Psychology Today notes that the transition into parenthood is stressful and can take its toll on even the happiest couples as they battle to establish their new roles. “[The] first few months are especially confusing and disappointing.”
What to do: It will take time for things to get back into a comfortable routine again, so be patient. Keep the lines of communication with your partner open. Get a trusted family member or friend to help you with your baby to ease the pressure and enable you to spend more time with your husband. While you can’t have sex for a while after giving birth, you can still cuddle and talk. Take it slow because your body changes after having a baby and get clearance from your obstetrician before you have sex again.
Going through a divorce or break-up: Feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, depression and the other myriad emotions associated with ending a relationship can be devastating.
What to do: First, build yourself up one step at a time. Find something you love to do – such as a new hobby, going to the gym, or learning something new – and concentrate on that. There are also a variety of sex toys available that enable you to pleasure yourself, so go on, and experiment to find one you like. Once you are ready, start dating again. Remember to take the new relationship at a pace you are comfortable with.
Traumatic experiences: This can range from the death of a loved one to having major surgery. More often than not, these events happen unexpectedly and can leave you feeling bewildered, angry and despondent.
What to do: Seek professional help to wade through the torrent of emotions you’re experiencing. This will give you a perspective you might not have otherwise seen. Share your feelings with your partner. Get that familiar sense of comfort – through touch – that only they can offer you. Schedule time for yourselves to have peace and quiet, and to reconnect.