This month we bared all and got into the topic that we find so hard to talk openly about - sex.
Why does talking about sex make most of us want to skip over most of it, when underneath it all, it’s an element of your relationship and of yourself that has potentially changed significantly? Do you feel able to talk about it with your partner or friends (or even your family?). With the U.K. remaining one of the most hesitant countries to be able to discuss it freely, most of it remains behind closed doors that can lead a lot of us to feel isolated, worried and depressed. Are we having it enough? Why does it feel different? My body looks different, I can’t get past it.
This week we discussed it all, from the emotional complexities to the physical impracticalities. We talked about the 6 week check - the concerns around contraception and the GPs 15 minute allowance to cover your mental and physical health. Not really a space to bring up how you and your libido are doing is it. Especially if your postcode lottery throws you someone who looks like your grandfather. A bright consultation room isn’t necessarily conducive to opening up about how you’re feeling sexually. It’s not something we’re asked about a lot or something we bring up a lot but interestingly, most of us felt the same. That the desire had changed, we had changed as parents, we felt our time was better spent elsewhere (catching up on chores, working, Netflix, sleep!) than to attempt it. Our time for ourselves was a precious entity that wasn’t worth the interruption.
If you’re in a relationship what are your and theirs sexpectations? Did we feel pressured by ourselves because it had been a while - yes. Did we feel the topic brought up regularly by our partners because of societal norms - sometimes, it was a complex one. If you’re solo parenting, has what you had influenced what you want, do you miss the connection, are you glad to not have it?
And what about our bodies and how we felt about them. Our wardrobes had changed, how our stuff fit, how we looked, how we dressed, what we felt comfortable in. We felt conversations about intimate feelings were often left to the bottom of the pile, not even in consideration especially if we had young children or were co-sleeping. All those antenatal appointments being touched and poked and examined led some us to feel that our bodies weren’t our own anymore, the body autonomy had given way to medical appointments, we were just another body. Any self-pleasure - the movement for women to discuss it openly more has come a long way but its not a topic we jump straight into over coffee, is it?
Intimacy doesn't have to mean sex, are there ways to have greater emotional connection with your partner, or other forms of touch that feel okay?
How can we find ways to have honest and open conversations with partners about what we want, how we feel and where we want to be with sex and intimacy?
Can we curate our social media channels better so we aren't inundated with images that make us feel bad about our bodies, but instead are surrounded by positive and affirming images and messages?
Can we open up and talk to our friends, others with children, and share our thoughts and feelings? We might just realise, like we did today, that we're all feeling the same sorts of things and grappling with the same kinds of worries and challenges. Life isn’t what it was and that’s ok. It won’t always be a sleep deprived, school-run, homework, work/life, busy haze - you will get time back for yourself which is the most important part of a healthy relationship to begin with, the one that starts with you.