Will I Ever Feel Sexy Again?
When you regard yourself as the object of someone else’s gaze it’s easy to become harsh and critical about yourself and your body – in a way that you imagine someone else would be judging you.
Q Since having my first baby six months ago I’ve completely gone off sex. I’m still breast-feeding, I’m physically exhausted and irritable, and to make things worse my body looks a mess now. I have to have the lights off when I’m getting ready for bed so that my hubby can’t see me naked. I still have stretch mark scars, cellulite and a loose belly, my breasts leak a bit of milk and I just don’t have the time for ‘grooming’. He says that he understands but I feel that this won’t last much longer as I know how frustrated he’s feeling. I don’t want him to find another woman to have sex with but I just don’t feel sexy any more. Is there anything I can do to change how I feel?
A Your body and mind have undergone a major change – and that will take some adjusting to. It’s no wonder you feel as you do. I challenge any woman not to feel at least some, if not most of the things you describe.
Your state of mind, stress and distress could have an impact upon your young child, and so for their sake as well as your own you need to get things into a better perspective.
When you regard yourself as the object of someone else’s gaze it’s easy to become harsh and critical about yourself and your body – in a way that you imagine someone else would be judging you. For instance, you might be thinking, and saying to yourself ‘I bet he’s thinking —– when he sees my body now;’ or ‘anyone who saw my body would be repulsed by it and think ——;’ etc.
Instead, shift your focus on to your subjective experience of being inside your body looking out; and of feeling gratitude for the miracle of life your amazing body has enabled.
Feel compassion towards yourself and the difficult transition you’ve been through, and remind yourself that your body’s appearance will change again in the near future when your life and energy levels becomes more balanced, and when you can make the time to take better care of yourself.
You may already be weaning your child and not have to be so 'available' for breast-feeding. You can reclaim your breasts!
You could commit to making a start on changing your body shape and condition by doing 10 minutes each day of gentle exercise and movement. Gradually building up as you feel comfortable. This will help you to improve your relationship with your body – especially as you see it slowly change and become firmer again.
I don’t know your age or any information about your physical health and mobility – so I trust that you’ll do whatever movement/weight training/cardio-vascular exercise you are capable of and which feels right for you.
I’d also suggest that you get checked over to ensure that you aren’t deficient in any nutrients – and perhaps take a full strength multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (particularly with iron and magnesium included). Stress depletes the body of nutrients as well as adversely affecting all of your bodily systems including your libido.
As for feeling sexy – this involves the desire for intimate touch and communication and a shift in mindset from ‘mummy’ to ‘pleasure giving/seeking partner’. That’s quite a shift – particularly when your energy is so depleted!
Perhaps you’d like to get physically close to your husband and to have chats and cuddles, but you think this might be misinterpreted as a signal that you want sex – and then you’d have to deal with the awkwardness of explaining that you don’t.
Maybe you just can’t be bothered having to set this boundary with him, and so you avoid anything that might be misconstrued as an invitation to have sex.
Have a think about whether there are any sexual acts you’re OK about doing with him – as these could at least help you both to become re-acquainted sexually.
Could you agree with him to set aside some time to talk about this issue and how it's affected you?
If he is agreeable then assure him that it will be for a specific time period of 20 minutes, and make sure that (for this first chat at least) that you do keep it to 20 minutes of uninterrupted and private time.
Let him speak first, make sure you are physically touching one another (hold hands or touch the arm/shoulder/leg) to better 'connect', and both take five minutes to express how you each feel since becoming parents, and the effect you believe it’s had upon your relationship, and your sex life.
Speak about your energy levels, your desires, your fears and your hopes. That’s plenty to fit into five minutes!
Really tune in to what each other is saying. Listen and aim to understand, rather than to challenge or be defensive.
This will at least help clear the air and bring up what needs to be brought to the surface. You may both be surprised by what you hear.
Take the last 10 minutes to give your appreciation for one another’s honest words – and make an agreement to keep talking, connecting, sharing and building your ‘team’ muscle for your baby’s and your relationship’s future.
Maybe arrange to go out together for a few hours at the weekends during the day, before you get too tired – preferably alone if you can arrange some childcare.
Feeling sexy for a woman is often about feeling wanted and desired by her man - of feeling listened to and understood, of feeling safe with him and believing that he’ll remain strong, confident, empathic and sensitive.
For men feeling sexy tends to be a whole lot simpler – but that’s another story!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharleymentoring.com - where you can book in a free chat with me to see how I might best be able to help you further with any difficulties you're having with your relationship to yourself and your body.