In episode 5 of BANG! Melody Thomas explores the effects having a baby can have on sex and relationships. For its release, Gareth Hughes, Emily Writes, Laura Borrowdale, Nicola Willis and Gem Wilder share the one thing they wish they’d known about all this before becoming parents.
Gareth Hughes - Green MP
”The one thing I wish someone had told me was parenthood isn’t a zero sum game so don’t beat yourself up. I travel a lot for work and one of my parenting challenges has been a feeling of guilt I wasn’t being as good a father or husband as I wanted to be. On the other hand, when I spent more time with my partner and kids I battled feelings I was failing at my job. It’s easy to feel like work and family are in conflict but I know now it’s not a zero sum game – you need to find a balance between being a present parent and real person at work.”
Emily Writes - Author ‘Rants in the Dark’
“I was really worried about how my sex life would change after having kids - I'd hear horror stories of mothers who didn't want to have sex anymore. I'd seen couples break up and say they never had sex anymore. I was worried that would happen to us. My husband and I have always had really great sex - we know each other's bodies really well. After well over a decade together you just do. I was worried that we would lose what we had. And there was nobody saying it would be any different.
I was surprised that actually after kids sex has become even more important to us. It isn't just an outlet for pleasure anymore - it helps us when we are really tired to feel less overwhelmed, it gives us energy, and it brings us closer together. Banging is also a great way to end a pointless fight… of saying, "We are just tired and that's why we are arguing over whether it's going to rain or not today.”
We make time for banging even when we have no time. Quickies while the kids are watching Peppa, afternoon sessions when Nanna has the kids - any time we can get it on we do. Remembering each other's bodies, remembering that we can make each other feel really, really good - it's so healthy for our relationship. We have just as much sex, if not more, than we did before. But we don't take it for granted now. I love that feeling when we are in bed together, that "I remember you" feeling. It's so special. We love being parents but our lives have changed - when we are in bed we remember that the "us" hasn't changed. I encourage everyone to have as much sex as possible when they have young kids - it also really helps me with sleep deprivation. It's good exercise too when you're too broke for a gym membership.”
Laura Borrowdale - Editor, Aotearotica
“The one thing I wish someone had told me is not to feel guilty about what you are not doing anymore. I had days (weeks, months) where I was 'touched out', where the necessary physical connection with a breast feeding baby meant I simply did not want my partner to touch me, but I desperately wanted him to talk to me. That was hard for him, as I think he was in an opposite space. All his intellectual needs were met at work and he wanted physical love and care at home. I wish someone had said that it's ok to have a period of disconnection, as long as you are still on the same team, if someone had told me I didn't have to do it all or to let go if my guilt when I couldn't. Because I tried to do it all, and I resented his needs fiercely, and that didn't end very well.”
Nicola Willis - National Party Wellington Central candidate
“Everyone's parenting circumstances and experience (are) different. Like all things baby-related one person's wisdom isn't necessarily relevant to you. But the universal thing about babies is that they are all-consuming. Sometimes it might seem they suck up all the time and energy you used to have for each other. In fact, nurturing your relationship is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Babies do help you see your partner in a new light and become a beautiful focus in your shared world. When parents care for each other their parenting is stronger. So take the time for each other, you and your baby deserve it.”
Gem Wilder - Writer & DJ
"I wish someone had told me that seeing your partner love your baby makes your heart burst. I wish someone had told me that sometimes, when your heart is bursting with love, it also holds a small jealousy for the relationship between your partner and the new baby. I wish someone had told me that new parents need to prioritise time together sometimes. That suddenly the easy understanding between the two of you takes more effort than it used to, that casual conversations over dinner become rare. That you need to put work into loving each other."
Nic Beets - Clinical Psychologist and sex therapist, and BANG! Episode 5 expert
"Things will change - it will be scary in the way that big, new, really important things usually are. Don’t let your anxiety at the changes drive you away from each other. Mothers are often overwhelmed with all the new demands and dads feel on the outer. Talk with each other about what this baby and this stage of life means - the joy but also the fear. Intimacy is about sharing vulnerability, not pretending everything is OK."
For more from Nic Beets, listen to BANG! Episode 5, or tune in to Nights with Bryan Crump at 8:35pm when he answers questions live. To leave your own question, download the RNZ VoxPop app or email firstname.lastname@example.org.