Sex vs. intimacy
During pregnancy (and after baby) sex can swing from the top to the bottom of your priority list, Dr Ruth Jillings explains some ways to stay close without going the whole way. If you are worried about having sex during pregnancy the Ministry of Health website has more information, or check in with your LMC.
Just because you don’t feel like having sex doesn’t mean you don’t want to show love. In fact, when you are having less sex it is even more important to find ways to stay connected and express love. The good news is that even if you are exhausted, just focusing on a few small actions can enhance the domestic vibe. For example, greeting your partner warmly and making him feel like you are pleased to see him; taking brief moments to focus on your friendship.
There are countless ways to show love but when you are tired and busy it is easy for parents to drift into a state of living like contented flatmates. One interesting idea is the ‘love languages’ popularised by Gary Chapman. He says that we all fall into one of five fundamental styles of expressing and interpreting love. These are:
Words of affirmation A person with this love language needs to hear how much they are loved and appreciated. It is not enough for them to know it, they thrive on hearing it.
Quality time This language goes beyond just spending time together. Folding the washing in each other’s company or ‘talking in the ads’ will not work. Really listening and paying attention and appreciating being together makes all the difference to a person with this love language.
Receiving gifts This one can be confusing. It is less to do with the gift and more related to the thought and care that went into choosing it. Money isn’t the relevant factor, the key is that the person is thought about, recognised and valued… the gift is the icing on the cake.
Acts of service The person who speaks this love language is the one who quietly goes about making your life easier by doing things for you. Not grand-gesture type things, more like scrubbing the shower without being asked because they know you hate it. It is easy to take this love language for granted but vacuuming the floor is as valid an expression of love as
Physical touch The key to success with this language is how frequently love is expressed with non-sexual touch and affection. The person with this language needs cuddles and hand-holding and feels rejected without these signs of love. Touch can be a charged issue for many mums who feel ‘touched out’ by the end of the day, but every relationship can be enhanced by gentle no-strings-attached touch.
Talk about which language works for you
Your styles may be completely different and when they are, loving gestures can be overlooked. While it’s important to tune in to what your partner needs, it’s just as important you let your partner know what makes you feel loved and valued… and how you like to show love. Don’t be afraid to give examples. Vague hints won’t work. All of us tend to assume that others think and feel much the same way we do, but in terms of expressing love, there is plenty of room for miscommunication.
The best thing about showing love is that there is always room for more. Even if you are in a love slump, simply focusing on a few loving thoughts or gestures sparks an upward spiral where positive feelings grow and grow. Hopefully you will even feel a faint return of desire because sometimes you have to have sex to remember that you like having sex.
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