Erica Jong is right about one thing: I don’t like to talk about sex.
In her article, “Is Sex Passe?” (published in The New York Times on July 9th, 2011), Jong asserts that my generation of mothers are bored with sex and so we use motherhood and pregnancy and birth to distance ourselves from our husbands so we don’t have to have sex.
I’m not sure whose reality she’s observing, but it’s not mine.
I don’t like to talk about my sex life. Jong gives the impression that anyone who doesn’t talk in detail about their sex life doesn’t have one, but that’s just not the case. Just because I don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think it’s a matter of a contrary definition of “intimacy.” In my mind, sex is an intimate act. If I talk about the details of my sex life, then it’s no longer intimate.
With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to talk about sex without actually talking about it. We’ll see how this goes.
While bringing children into our homes (and our beds) and loving them (and providing for their needs all day and all night, in sickness and in health, on and on forever), can make “Mommy-Daddy Snuggle Time” difficult to swing logistically, the act of bringing these children into our lives and parenting them can set the stage for incredible intimacy—and a great deal of heat—between their parents.
At least in my relationship, my husband and I are more comfortable with each other since having children. We know each other better. We’ve shared the metamorphosis of my body during pregnancy and birth, and we’ve shared the lasting changes that childbearing has wrought on my body. We’ve shared the intimacy of birth and the explosion of love in our hearts while gazing at our progeny. Even the process of disagreeing and then reconciling about how to raise our children brings us closer.
And really, what’s hotter than a man who’ll sit in the birth tub with his wife while she births their son?
In addition, seeing the amazing things my body can do (creating a human being then nurturing it with milk my body produces? How awesome is that?) has given me a much greater appreciation for my body. I’m more comfortable in my skin and better able to see the beauty that my husband sees in me, which makes it easier for me to feel close to him in the brief moments that we’re actually able to be alone and in close physical proximity to one another. This turns the thermostat up another several notches, as well.
I’m happy with my marriage, and I’m happy with the intimacy that my husband and I share. Were I to judge our physical relationship by Jong’s standards, I might be disappointed. But why should I do that? My husband and I share an equality and mutual respect that it seems many women of her generation only dreamed of, and parenthood has been a factor that has positively contributed to this closeness and sense of partnership in my marriage.
Jong says women of my generation are bored with sex. As a woman of my generation, I disagree. Maybe Erica Jong thinks my love life is boring. But from where my husband and I sit, the thrill is not remotely gone. And I happen to think our opinions matter more than Jong’s on this particular issue.
I’m not remotely the only voice speaking out about the heat that exists in post-baby relationships. I offer some of the ones I particularly like, for your reading pleasure:
In addition, the comments on the original NY Times piece are quite articulate and pleasant to read and offer great critiques of Jong’s article.
(I’m sure I don’t have to warn you that these posts deal with “adult themes,” but some also have a fair amount of swearing. I would read them when little ones who know how to sound out words aren’t around.)