Is Sex After Children Getting The Short Shaft?
In the straight world I've often heard it said that sex pretty much disappears after children. “Too tired," “too much work," “too complicated" are among the multitude of reasons couples have shared with me as to why the bedroom becomes strictly for sleeping.
Now that gay men are married with children, will their path be any different? Is the gay-father population, not one that's been particularly shy in expressing sexual liberation pre-wedlock, headed down the same path? Recently, Gays With Kids conducted a poll with the title “Keeping It Sexy After Children." Most of the men surveyed were intent on letting us know that sex is alive and well; the main key is to keep getting physical (76 percent of respondents said daily interaction includes hand-holding, kissing, and cuddling), and we decided to follow up with a few personal interviews as to how guys do it — literally.
In Iceland, Ian and Jeff (*participants asked for their real names not to be used), 33 and 37, married for seven years with a 3-year-old adopted girl, have made sex a priority, adapting to change by making a regimen for sex.
“We have about the same amount of sex now as before our girl," says Ian. “About once every week, and we have to make sure it's about 'our' time. We tried new things so we didn't make it so much of a routine."
The “new things" involve sex toys, for one, which Ian says started after the baby. “It's something new, something different, not formulaic," he says, adding that porn can also be a great post-kids stimulator.
“Sometimes we watch it together, but after we establish that we're horny, we turn it off and go to the bedroom."
Ian says that he and his husband drink on occasion, but that pot tends to be the stronger aphrodisiac. “If I smoke pot, Jeff knows that sex will always be available. Sex is more interesting when I'm high."
Ian also knows a child is in the house, and acts accordingly. “I have a computer room and smoke in there. I close the window after. Or I smoke before taking a shower."
The couple now, and before, also bring men into their relationship.
“Lots of gay people come through (Iceland)," says Ian. “It's a tourist destination. Sometimes one or both of us will put Grindr on the phone and find couples or singles. If someone is interested, especially a couple, we'll have dinner and see where things go. Other than safe sex, we have no rules, but we don't do it by ourselves. One or both of us would be jealous."
Monogamy in gay marriage is a controversial subject, but not just because of the editorial tease-factor. Almost 21 percent of our survey respondents said bringing other men into their post-children relationship is one of the keys to a healthy sex life. Interestingly, 22 percent of respondents also said they use porn as a stimulant. (Only 9 percent cited alcohol as an aphrodisiac.)
Joe and Eddie have been married for 12 years and have two adopted children, now 8 and 10. The Los Angeles residents both work full time, but Joe manages his business at home. Joe says that, despite ebbs and flows, their sex life has always been strong, and post-children it only took a while to get it back on track.
“In the beginning, it was all about the children," he says. “There was an immediate decline in sex. Then, in that second year, it was 'Oh yeah, we can still be adults.'"
Joe and Eddie's “adult" behavior meant hiding sex toys so their children couldn't find them, and getting rid of all physical pornography — CDs and such. “The sex toys are back now because the children are at an age where they know not to look for things," says Joe, adding that pornography is still used, albeit in a different format.
“We watch pornography when the kids are on a play date, or we close all the doors so they can't see us. And we often watch it late at night when they are asleep."
Interestingly, the couple now watches porn in the living room, mostly because that room is more hidden from their children, and it's added an interesting twist.
“It's not the area where most people would want to have sex, and you have that idea of being caught," says Joe, referring to neighbors, not the kids. “Some of the scenarios we are doing mirrors the pornography; having sex on a sofa. The living room is more titillating."
Joe says that a dildo has always been important because “My husband can be slow to penetrate, so I use it to get ready to be f*****. I feel more connected to him now because we've learned how to adapt and still have our sex life. The only thing that's really changed is that we used to have more places in the house to have sex.
Rhode Island husbands Brad and Frank, 51 and 52, have been married for 6 years, together for 32. They have three adopted children, the oldest of whom is 5.
That's a long time of togetherness, so the biggest surprise from Brad is that he says they have more sex now than before the children came along.
“It's a sex reliever," says Brad. “Before the kids, we worked all the time. We were more work-centric. We are spending more time as a family now, and we plan our time together."
Brad and Frank's new system involves a mandatory date night, every Tuesday at the same restaurant, a task that can involve five different baby-sitters to make sure it happens.
“We come home and the kids are asleep and we are relaxed. It makes being intimate much easier. There's a lot of sexting that goes back and forth. A lot of foreplay on the phone."
The big change at home is “we wear pajamas now," and figuring out how to be spontaneous. “We are chasing the kids around all day and dealing with their needs. We know it so we work around it."
Sex toys have always figured into their routine, as does the occasional porn. “Frank looks at underwear ads all the time. But we don't need anything else. We stopped going to clubs years ago, and we only drink on occasion."
The two have other natural stimulants. “We have sex four or five nights a week," says Brad. “We shower together every morning, a shower plus! We give each other permission to wake the other one up in the morning. I run at night, and Frank will often say 'when you come home from the run, wake me up.'"
Among those natural stimulants, men outside the relationship is not a factor.
“We have been monogamous for 32 years," says Brad. “I was 17 when I met Frank, and we haven't been separate since."
The key to keeping sex alive, according to each one of these couples, is communication. And the occasional sex toy doesn't hurt, as our interviewees (and 20 percent of survey respondents) will attest.
Says Brad, “Unless you're upfront and honest with your partner about your needs, you're never going to get what you want. It's going to be forgotten."
Says Ian, “Don't let a child become an excuse to let go of previous habits. It's still important to find time to exercise, go dancing, to still have a social life. I've seen people who, once they have a kid, their hobbies radically change. That can have a negative effect."
“It's okay if you're too tired," says Brad. “Just tell the other one."