Holding down a full-time job, and being a wife and mother can be overwhelming and highly desexualizing. When women come into my office and tell me they lost their sex drive, it doesn't take long to find the reason why. After working all day, only to come home to their second job of caring for their family, they find it nearly impossible to shift to romantic mode when the evening winds down. Their mind is racing 100 miles an hour with a "to do" list of the next day, and on top of that, they no longer feel desirable.
Two issues are here: a noisy mind and low self-image.
If a woman is upset or tired, if she is feeling overworked and under appreciated, she is not going to perform in bed. In order to get in bed, you have to get out of your head.
The noise volumes need to quiet. When you get in bed, the volume in your head is so loud that you cannot find a calm and safe place. You start saying, "I cannot have an orgasm, what is happening to me." As the tension builds in your own head, the sexual drive is destroyed.
Have fun. Stop focusing on the orgasm, and focus on the fun, on the present moment of enjoyment. Stay mindful. Stay in the present.
You are not running a marathon where your focus is on the finish line. Enjoy the journey, not the destination. Get over the anxiety and do not let it follow you into the bedroom. The bedroom should be your relaxed and calm space.
The second issue is self-image.
As women, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to feeling sexy. We spend too much time believing what the media feeds us - that our life should be like the television show Sex in the City - and when it isn't, we feel we need to strive for that size 2 body or those wild, crazy sexual escapades. Sex in the City is not the norm. The media is sending women negative messages; that we are expected to look like these women on TV, and when we do not, we don't feel sexy or desirable.
Women need a reality check. What is normal? Normal is a size 12 for most women.
I spend a lot of time re-educating women on what is normal and what really happens in the bedroom. We are not going to look like Kim Kardashian. I don't know about you, but I don't have a personal trainer every day, and I don't get liposuction.
Take care of yourself first - it is called self-preservation. I get up early every morning, and go to the gym or go for a run. When I return home I am ready for the day; ready to get the kids up for school, and ready to start my work day. I took care of me first so I can take care of everyone else.
Self-care is so important. Many women do not even know who they are. How can they make more space and room for being a sensual person.
I hear women say, "Ever since I had children, I don't know who I am now."
This is about self-compassion, and self-preservation. Love yourself, love your body.
To find happiness, we have to be happy with ourselves. Embrace yourself more so you will feel desirable. Ask your partner; he will affirm how beautiful and sensual you are, and he is telling you the truth.
Elana Gottfried, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health in Royal Oak. She provides services in many areas; particularly, women's sexual health. Elana completed her training at Yeshiva University in New York and has worked with women who are survivors of sexual abuse. She completed her post-graduate training in sex therapy and sexuality education at the University of Michigan. She also has extensive experience working with cultural, spiritual and religious issues. Elana is a member of the American Academy of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and is an AASECT certified sex therapist.
To contact Elana or schedule an appointment, call The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health at 248.399.7447.
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