Child rearing can and probably always has affected a woman's desire for sex. According to Dr. Aline Zoldbrod—licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist for the Lahey Clinic Center for Sexual Function—women who have primary responsibility for young children can get so absorbed and depleted by the task of supervising and parenting that they literally lose touch with themselves and with the experience of owning their own bodies. The needs of children can merge so completely with a primary caretaker's that often the caretaker doesn't even recognize how her sense of self has been absorbed and her personal boundaries changed. Zolbrod suggests that the desire to merge sexually with a partner, even a beloved partner, is lost until a woman again feels herself to be a differentiated human being.
Other couples may find that their "to do" lists and busy lives leave them exhausted and without a sex drive. Some working women report frustration that their partners do not assume their share of the responsibility for running home and family, because they do not grasp the details that are involved.
Some argue that no woman is too busy to have sex, because the sex act itself doesn't take very long. However, according to Zolbrod, women who are harried, distracted, depleted and out of touch with their bodies cannot be physically present or get pleasure if the sex act is brief and routine. Getting to a climax at the end of a busy day may take time and effort.
Aim for Connection, Not Perfection
For the dedicated parents, and for those couples who are generally overwhelmed, busy and stressed, Zolbrod recommends aiming for connection and not perfection. She suggests setting time aside for some kind of emotional and physical connection, and waiting to see what happens, being open to many possibilities. Zolbrod suggests that not every interlude in a couple's life has to look like a perfect sexual response cycle.
As an example, Zolbrod describes a couple with small children who had set aside time to make love. They put on some jazz, scratched each other's backs, and then fell dead asleep in each other's arms. However, both felt this experience was meaningful. The more you avoid being tender and physical with each other and get hung up on sexual perfection, the more daunting it becomes to make an intimate connection.