Erica and Matt, not their real names, have been around the block a few times. Together for nearly 20 years, and married for 12, they have two children. They did their best to be parents without sacrificing their relationship. It worked out well-enough. But it wasn’t until their 10th anniversary, when they went on a romantic vacation cruise and left their kids with family, that they realized that it’s not just about stealing moments when the kids were asleep — they also needed to get away, go on date nights, and carve out time by leaning on babysitters and family members. It changed their relationship. Now, at least once a month, they go away for a weekend or just for a date. The difference it has made on their sex life and relationship overall has been immeasurable. Here, Erica and Matt talk about the challenges of having sex when you have a 7 and a 10-year-old and what they do to make their relationship work.
The Couple: Erica* (40) and Matt* (48)
Years Married: 12
Years Together: 18
Kids: 10-year-old daughter, 7-year-old son
Jobs: Entrepreneur (her) Tool and Manufacturing Representative (him)
You have two kids who are 10 and 7. As far as your sex life is concerned, how is it different now than when you were raising babies?
E: The struggle for us in the beginning was finding time to be alone. The struggle now, with the age that they’re at, is that our children still really want a lot of our attention. So, it’s about trying to find time, when a child is not sleeping with us at night.
M: We’re a very close family, the four of us. We do everything together. So, yeah, it is more difficult and challenging. When the kids were younger, it was a funny time and it was obviously more difficult. With sex, it’s not that it wasn’t a priority, but we focused our energy on our kids when they were younger. So, we still tried to find that time/
E: I do find we can have more intimate moments now, versus back then.
E: We’ve made it a priority to focus on us and go on date nights and do things, where we can trust a babysitter.
M: Or take some small, two or three night trips.
Are you working more to make that time for one another now?
E: We made it a goal in the last two years to spend that quality time together. So we try, at least once a month, to go out together, whether it’s for dinner or taking a weekend trip to get away. We turn to our family for help, or a babysitter. Where, before, I think we felt really guilty asking people to help us.
M: Yeah, we kind of did.
Why did you feel guilty?
E: I just think when the kids were younger, we just felt like we had to do everything.
M: It’s not that we didn’t have the help — I just think we like to do things ourselves. We like to take on our challenges ourselves. That’s the way we both are.
But now you feel a little bit better about taking time away.
M: Oh, yeah.
What do you think made that change for you guys, where you feel more comfortable doing stuff like that?
E: You know what? I honestly think it’s just the age of our kids. When they got older, we were just able to trust that that somebody else could care for our kids like we could, and that our kids had a voice, and that they could say what they like or don’t like, and they were just more comfortable being away from us.
How often are you able to have sex?
E: Once a week, but Matt would like more a week.
M: Yeah, once a day would be good!
E: Unfortunately, for me, I started a business a couple of years ago, and I feel like, that’s like having a baby. So, I’ve been spending a quite a bit of time trying to foster that.
How has your sex life really changed?
E: Before we had kids, I feel like we used to be able to take longer. Now, it’s a lot quicker, because there might be a child coming to your door, or coming into your room and getting in your bed. I find that when we’re away, we have the time to really enjoy each other. But I would say that it’s about us connecting, but it’s quick.
Once kids get mobile, there’s a whole new host of problems.
M: Yeah. And, to go back to relying on people more, on our 10th anniversary, we went on a cruise, just the two of us. That was kind of the catalyst for us. We left our kids with family, and everything was great, and then we just had some down time and we kind of went, “This is amazing. We should do this more.”
When’s the last time that you had great sex?
M: Oh. Like, a long…
E: I would say November.
M: Yeah. Yeah.
E: That was our anniversary.
M: Yeah, we went to a bed and breakfast. We had a nice room with a hot tub in it. So, we had dinner, a lot of wine, we soaked in the hot tub and had a lot of fun after that.
What is one of your favorite parts of your sex life?
M: I think that my favorite moment is after — when we’re finished [having sex]. Just that time, being together. We’re relaxed. We’re holding each other and cuddling. That time is my favorite. With the kids, it’s hard to even just have that.
E: I really enjoy the times when the kids aren’t around, when we can be intimate when they’re not around. When they’re somewhere in the vicinity, it’s all I can think about. So, those moments are better enjoyed when it’s just the two of us. And I don’t have to worry about that, I don’t have to have my mom hat on, I don’t have to worry about the house and responsibilities. It’s not a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am quickie.
M: I’m all about foreplay. I love the buildup, I guess you could call it. I could do that for hours.
E: And I don’t have time for the build up!
Sounds pretty amazing.
M: Yeah. It is.