Postpartum Intimacy Part 2: Setting the Mood
Hopefully you’ve made time to experiment with “shifting roles”. This seemingly straightforward exercise has worked for many clients who have sought formal counseling due to distress with intimacy and sexual health concerns after giving birth. I encourage you to continue to practice this on a regular basis, to the point that it becomes second nature.
If the first shift in roles is recognizing your partner separate from the roles you both play as parents, caregivers, coaches, and taxicab drivers – then the second shift is where effort meets pleasure.
Imagine this….it’s Wednesday – you and your partner have shared the evening responsibilities of getting the kids fed, bathed and tucked in for the night. You’re both exhausted, but since you’ve already talked about sharing some intimate time together every Wednesday (scheduling it makes it happen ladies), you summon a second-wind and hop in the shower to rinse the day away. Your partner has already switched on your favorite playlist and taken the dog out of the bedroom (really, who wants to hear the dog breathing?). You crawl under the sheets and meet your partner as if it’s the first time you’ve seen him all evening. There is no talk of the day’s activities, tomorrow’s day care schedule, or his mother’s visit this weekend. Instead, you let your imagination go and transcend over a proverbial bridge into a space where nothing matters except the feeling of skin-on-skin, connection with your lover and pleasure – your own!
Phew…imagination is powerful – reread that paragraph if you have to, training your mind to change roles is key, even if it’s an imagined one.
1. The art of shifting roles is premeditated. Anticipation and imagination are precursors in shifting roles. Start building anticipation throughout the day by sending a suggestive text or email to your partner or buy wine, lubrication or massage oil to make the event special.
2. Connect with your partner when you either of you arrive home. Don’t check the mail first, or start the oven. Make it a habit that before anything, you kiss and/or hug – setting the right tone for the rest of the evening, sexual or not.
3. Create a space at home where you can unwind from the day. Change the mood or ambiance with music (even if it’s kids music), load the kids up and go for a walk or drive, and – after the kids are in bed – open a bottle of wine or boil water for tea, curl up on the sofa and watch you favorite movie or television program. Create you own space separately from your working world.
Valerie Padd RN, BSN is a sexual health counselor and educator with a private counseling practice in Hudson and Akron. She serves individuals and couples who struggle with issues and concerns related to sexual health and intimacy. Find out more at intimacyhealth.com