3 steps to reignite passion after surviving the not-so-sexy reality of infertility or pregnancy loss.
You were eagerly anticipating:
The wild food cravings, the feeling of tiny feet kicking inside your belly, strangers in public restrooms insisting you go next- because pregnancy and peeing go together like chips and dip chocolate.
After ditching the contraception, fantasies of the sacred, tender, passionate, sex that lead to the creation of a tiny bundle of joy, filled your dreams.
Only things didn’t go as planned.
Month after month there was the absence of the celebratory line on the pregnancy test, or there was a line that turned into devastating news.
Maybe there were fertility treatments. Maybe you opted for adoption. Maybe it (finally) happened on its own. Or maybe you managed to release your dream and let life be as it is.
It’s been one hell of a roller coaster.
You’re not alone. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 1 in 8 couples in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
Not only is the aftermath a major stressor on your marriage, it can also bleed into your sex life.
The nuances and data associated with a couples’ relationship vary per study. Some research shows the rate of divorce for couples who undergo fertility treatments or pregnancy loss, can be triple that of couples who don’t. What’s more, if couples do manage to stay together, there could be additional feelings of diminished self-worth, shame, disconnection from family, friends and colleagues and sexual dysfunction (Burnette, 2009).
What’s the good news?
There are steps you can you take today to rekindle the passion you remember so well:
With the help of a qualified therapist, identify what gets in the way of having passionate sex and work towards overcoming those barriers.
One common barrier is the use of psychological defense mechanisms to avoid painful feelings. According to sex therapist and researcher Gina Ogden, three common sexual defense mechanisms are dissociation, denial and rigid armoring. Briefly stated, dissociating during sex is when a person is distracted or mentally “checked-out.” Denial is when a person dismisses the importance of sex, or that sexual desire even exists. Lastly, rigid armoring can manifest as a lack of physical intensity or sexual ecstasy, which is replaced by physical stress and tension (Ogden, 2008).
Get creative and stop looking at intercourse as the only way to have sex.
According to sex therapist Marty Klein, penis-vagina intercourse has disadvantages. For example, it requires an erection as well as the use of birth control. It’s oftentimes not the most effective way for a woman to climax. Also, it can be physically painful for one or both partners and it isn’t always intimate (Klein, 2013).
Start researching innovative ways to have sex.
One such way is what Nicole Daedone calls “slow sex” that is applied through a process called “orgasmic meditation” or “OM.” OMing sees sex as an art. Practitioners believe OMing leads to increased and enhanced sexual sensation, a deepening connection to your partner, an increased interest in sex and reduced anxiety concerning sexual performance (Daedone, 2011).
In essence, the process of healing and rekindling passion is possible and can be ecstatically rewarding!
It’s one of those “through thick and thin” experiences that give context to the agreement of being in a committed relationship. The kind where you realize – “oh, that’s what people mean when they say marriage is hard… but worth it”
There is help.
By applying this three-step process: overcoming barriers, getting creative with what you know or trying something newly intimate, it’s possible to rekindle passion after undergoing the heartbreaking experience of infertility or pregnancy loss.
Burnett, J. A. (2009). Cultural considerations in counseling couples who experience infertility. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development. 37, 166-177.
Daedone, N. (2011). Slow sex: The art and craft of female orgasm. New York, NY: Grand Central Life and Style.
Klein, M. (2012). Sexual Intelligence. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Ogden, G. (2008). The return of desire. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books.
National Survey for Family Growth https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/key_statistics/i.htm#infertility, 2011-2013).
Legal Disclaimer- These are potential benefits and there is no guarantee that they will be achieved. Relationship enhancement is dependent entirely on the people seeking relationship help and not Julie Schmit or Jumpstart Counseling Studio.