Sex is an important part of life for everyone. But for gay people, sex plays a greater role in defining who we are. It is, after all, with whom we have sex that makes us different from straight people. Being a parent can make intimacy a real challenge, and that can be especially true for LGBT parents.
I asked renowned clinical sexologist, and marriage and family therapist, Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., why kids can have such a negative impact on their parents’ sex lives, and specifically what LGBT parents can do to reignite the spark. Dr. Kat, as she is known, is the resident sex expert at AdamandEve.com, the nation’s leading Internet retailer of intimate adult products.
Dr. Kat says that ruts aren’t unusual, especially for long-term couples. After a while, many couples just move into “autopilot” when dealing with the everyday stresses of life like work, kids and finances. With children comes a certain level of monotony because they become the top priority in a relationship. It’s a job that I can say from personal experience can be overwhelming.
For gay and lesbian couples the added stress that comes from society at large not knowing exactly how to relate to us can compound the issue. Adding kids to the mix only exacerbates that stress. Although changing, the lack of cultural role models for healthy long-term couples with kids means many couples don’t realize there is a hierarchy of care in all family relationships.
Dr. Kat says that most parents are unaware that hierarchy places self care first, the couple relationship second, and the children third. That’s an order I’d wager most parents ignore. However, the good doctor suggests that by not recognizing the importance of the first two priorities almost guarantees that the kids will experience adverse effects.
So, what can be done to help gay and lesbian parents get their mojo back? Well, Dr. Kat offered three interesting suggestions:
1. Become a sexual opportunist. “Don’t wait for a date night or for all of the stars to align to have sex, but begin to look for any period of time throughout the day that may lead to physical contact.” Dr. Kat told me, “Physical contact increases the ‘bonding’ hormone oxytocin and often leads to better and more frequent sex.”
2. Dial back the sex play. Rather than go for full-on sex with an expected result, slow it down. Dr. Kat says this can be achieved by focusing on all the bodily sensations involved with being intimate without concerning yourself with any predetermined outcome.
3. Quality versus quantity sex. Dr. Kat added, “Long-term couples can learn that quickies are not only okay, but can actually be preferred. Research suggests that the more physical contact couples have during the week, the more orgasms and satisfaction they tend to have over all.”
Since I had access to a rather unique expert, I took the opportunity to ask her what Kelly and I could do to potentially spice up our own relationship. She told me, “Doing mildly ridiculous things like sneaking up behind your partner, sleeping the wrong way in the bed, and having a picnic on the floor are all ways to connect with our inner sense of fun, creating spontaneity and destroying rigid constructs.”
After sharing a bed for more than 26 years, the man has seen me sleep upside down, downside up and every which way. So I’m not sure that will work, but I do like her thinking! If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Kat, check out her website, drkat.com/.