Chances are you’re probably reading this in the bathroom while listening to some BBC-dad esque parade of calamity on the other side of the door. So you don’t need us to tell you that fatherhood is chaotic. There’s always something to worry about, defuse, or wipe clean. And, as a result, things get overlooked. Friends. Flossing. Netflix queues. Since simple luxuries like maintaining oral hygiene and crushing House of Cards (they’re on season 5!?!) are ignored others are, too.
The beautiful chaos of parenthood tends to put sex on the back burner. And the deeper you fall into a sexless situation, the harder it can be to climb back out, says Dr. Chris Donaghue, author of Sex Outside The Lines and co-host of CBS’ Loveline with Amber Rose. To help maintain — or reignite — intimacy, Donaghue suggested these five tips.
In the barren sexual wasteland that some call parenthood, it can be easy to see your partner as, well, just a partner. Sure, you split duties and support one another. But it can easily turn into a working relationship. The way to defeat that funk is simple: flirt. “I tell couples to sexualize each other every single day,” says Donaghue. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean having sex. Rather, per Donaghue, it means general affection, romantic notes, handholding — whatever. “Anything that creates a romantic moment,” he says. “The goal is not sex, but eroticism and romance, which sometimes means sex.”
Get It On (The Calendar)
Seriously. Plan it out. Mark the date on your iPhone calendar with a peach and eggplant emoji. Scheduling sex sounds decidedly unsexy, but it’s definitely necessary to alleviate the stress of parenthood and also remind you that, yes, you are two people that find one another attractive. It also gives you time to entertain what Donaghue considers the three most important elements of intimacy: touch, eye contact, and quality time. “We require these three things to feel close and connected,” he says. “The more the better, and luckily all three can happen at once.”
Do Your Chores
According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, men who help out with the housework have more sex. “Feeling undervalued or over worked will never create an atmosphere that will lead to frequent sex in a relationship,” says Donaghue. “Both partners helping, prioritizing, and caring for each other will always lead to more and better sex.”
As the puppets of Avenue Q reminded us, “the Internet is for porn.” And maybe that’s a good thing, because it provides a near-endless array of options to discover new inspiration for intimacy. “I often recommend that couples watch porn together for multiple reasons,” says Donaghue. “It allows us to learn about a partner’s sexual interests, to get creative ideas for new sexual activities, to amp up the arousal, and to keep things new and novel. It also provides a safe way to symbolically have Others brought into your sex life.” And you don’t have to stick to the hard stuff, either. Erotic fiction tends to be a hit among most women. Just browse together. The Internet is a big place. If you look hard enough, chances are you’ll find what you’re into.
Exercise Your Text Appeal
Sometimes responsibilities keep you away from home for longer than you’d like. PTA meetings pop up. Idiot coworkers keep you late at work. But out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. “I’m a huge fan of the use of technology for sex and relationships,” says Donaghue. “Sexting with pics, videos, or messages, is a resource for maintaining romanticism and closeness.” Sending your partner something sexy, Donaghue says, lets them know you’re thinking about them even when you’re apart. Besides, building up the momentum can lead to an incredibly satisfying release once you finally do make it back into bed together. If we’re speaking text, that means: Bed. Eggplant. Peach. Smiley face. Or whatever gets the message across. You do you.