These days passion is not something I feel comfortable talking about, much less blogging about. But in my heart, I know that I should, and I had this opportunity to open up for the #Collective Bias #TheMoodStrikes campaign, so I’ve decided to take the leap [insert horrible anxiety.] To be perfectly honest I’ve lost much of my drive, as well as the freedom to be spontaneous during the past 7 or so years. Motherhood and my mental health, specifically my medications, have completely derailed the passionate being who used to exist within me … and I hate it so much.
Writing something this personal is unbelievably difficult. I have tears in my eyes as I type, and I’m afraid of what people will say or think of me and my marriage. I actually have an amazing husband who I love with every fiber of my being. He is the most kind, loving and supportive man I have ever known, but I also know he hates what motherhood and mental illness has done to our intimacy. I know this because we’ve talked about it a lot, and we try to fix it. But even talking to him about it makes me anxious.
It’s just so sad! It wasn’t like this when we met, but when we fell in love I wasn’t a mom with all of the stress and hormonal changes that entails. I was also a bit of an emotional mess. My mental illness was not fully treated at the time. Back then when I found that a med affected my drive, I immediately changed, even if it had been working for me in other ways. I’ve gone through the gamut of medications trying to find my best self, but sadly many medications for mental illness affect passion and drive. And in the end, you have to take the bad with the good.
John and I just passed our 10-year anniversary in October and we happily celebrated by taking a staycation away from the kids. We went to a fancy lunch and a charity dinner. We had a couples massage and spent alone time together at a beautiful hotel. And it was awesome. It made me realize that it’s not just the medications that derail my intimacy. They certainly play a big part, but being a mom, and the stresses and responsibilities of daily life play a huge role too. Taking away the day-to-day on our anniversary taught me that well.
So what can I do to kick the excuses to the curb, and find my groove again? I know for me it’s not as easy as it should be because of the medications. I know that I have to work at being intimate, and I also know that sounds terrible. Intimacy should be spontaneous and easy. I wish it was for me, but it’s not and it has nothing to do with how much I love or want my husband. It has everything to do with me, my mind, my body and how I perceive intimacy in my life.
Getting My Groove Back: Advice to Myself.
I want to make changes, so I’m giving myself some advice. I’m saying it out loud here on the blog to maybe help some of you too. I’m pretty damn sure I’m not alone. Moms with mental illness, back me up here.
Intimacy Tip #1: Fix the Broken Lock (i.e. Turn Off the Mom Switch)
It occurred to me after our anniversary trip that having the kids in the house inhibits me. We’ve spent many years with Ronin and Ellie in and out of our bed, a lot. We co-slept. We have kids who are fearful in the night. Who don’t like to be alone. Who have woken up often and come running. Since we moved into this house almost 10 years ago, our bedroom door did not lock properly. I knew it, but didn’t fully realize what it was doing to my intimacy. I was always afraid a little one might bust in (literally), but it never occurred to me to fix the door.
What is your “broken door”? Is there something you could fix in your home or life that might reduce the inhibitions your kids cause? A few years ago my friend Marissa wrote an awesome guest post on this site “The Mom Switch” and while I realize there isn’t actually a Mom Switch, we can find things that help us forget about our kids long enough to be the passionate women we can be.
Marissa says, “Here’s what has helped me: white noise (like a loud box fan) to drown out distracting noises; deep breathing and holding my breath at intervals; romance books; soaking in the hot tub; not looking in the mirror when I put on something for my husband (he doesn’t really care how I look in it, he’s said – it’s the look on my face when I’m making a move toward him)…”
Intimacy Tip #2: Just Talk, Kiss, Be Intimate without Doing the Deed
After the kids are asleep, John and I don’t always spend a bunch of time just being together. Days can go by without us really talking (other than the usual “how was your day?”). We don’t spend enough time laughing at nothing, snuggling, or kissing. Or going the extra mile for date nights and being just a couple without the kids. We need to stay connected in a personal way and remember why we love each other so much. After over 10 years, he still makes me laugh and makes me feel special when it’s just the two of us. I need to make sure that I give that back to him as much as he gives it to me. Being emotionally connected is absolutely a part of intimacy. And if your medications or exhaustion or whatever keep you out of the mood, talk about it with your spouse. Make sure they know how much you love them even if circumstances or your mood aren’t working in your favor.
Intimacy Tip #3: Schedule a Night for Passion
It seems counter intuitive, to schedule something that “should” be spontaneous. But intimacy does not have to be spontaneous to be good, and when it’s not always on my mind (because of meds, depression, exhaustion or any number of reasons) that doesn’t mean it cannot be achieved and enjoyed. A good friend of mine first suggested this to me many years ago because she and her husband have always had a planned a night of passion. They have a very healthy active relationship, and do also have spontaneous days as well. But they maintain intimacy by being absolutely sure that they stay connected on a weekly basis.
Intimacy Tip #4: Lubricants for Women
I’m 41 now and things they are a changin’. It had never occurred to me before that I might benefit from a personal lubricant to enable spontaneity when dryness is an issue. I told you, my inner goddess has been on vacation. I recently picked up K-Y®Liquibeads at our local Walgreens (You can find it in the “family planning” aisle.)
The Liquibeads are “ovules” (that look like bath beads) that are inserted (much like you insert a tampon with an applicator) every few days. The ovule begins to dissolve in minutes to maintain lubrication and enhance comfort any time you need it. Your body is just ready to go without needing any extra messy lubricants. I’m pretty certain this could come in handy for a lot of women. Dryness is so normal but can be very painful and embarrassing. And it can definitely destroy the mood when it happens in the heat of the moment. Right now, check out Coupons.com for $1 OFF and K-Y® product.
Please note: If you are currently pregnant or nursing, be sure to consult our doctor before using.
Intimacy Tip #5: Bust Through the Anxiety
Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious and yes, my stupid anxiety rears it’s ugly head about intimacy too, having a glass of wine can bust through that top level of anxiety. I’m not advocating getting wasted of course, and if you don’t drink, a nice relaxing cup of chamomile tea could help. But it can really help to find a way to calm that anxiety that may be inhibiting you. How about a nice hot bath? Even better if your spouse draws it and can join you. Man I wish we had a hot tub!
What do you recommend to enhance intimacy when motherhood or mental health shuts you down?