Is There Really Sex After Kids: A Mom-to-Mom Chat on Keeping Intimacy Alive with Kids


With Leader's Guide and Personal Reflections

A practical guide to help women rise above frustrations and disappointments to restore intimacy, pleasure, spontaneity, and passion in marriage

What's happened to our sex life now that we have kids?
Many moms may not ask this question aloud, but Jill Savage knows from years of leading Hearts at Home conferences that no workshop subject will more quickly fill a room....

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With Leader's Guide and Personal Reflections

A practical guide to help women rise above frustrations and disappointments to restore intimacy, pleasure, spontaneity, and passion in marriage

What's happened to our sex life now that we have kids?
Many moms may not ask this question aloud, but Jill Savage knows from years of leading Hearts at Home conferences that no workshop subject will more quickly fill a room. Having children in the home alters the sexual dynamic between husband and wife. Going from making meatloaf to making love, from practical mommy to passionate lover, all in one crowded evening has its own set of unique challenges.

Is There Really Sex After Kids? is written by a mom, for moms, and filled with practical ideas. This is not a clinical book on sexual technique, though readers will find some creative suggestions. It isn't a counselor's text, though it contains the sage wisdom of a mentor and friend. It is a woman-to-woman discussion---a true insider's look---at what works to build intimacy outside the bedroom and improve intimacy inside the bedroom.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Good Christian moms who are a bit shocked by the title of this book may be even more startled to learn that it comes with a group discussion guide. While not explicit, the book is refreshingly frank and down-to-earth, offering exhausted moms an opportunity to reflect on sex (or the lack thereof) and its importance in their lives. It's really a book about marital intimacy in all its manifestations, including emotional and intellectual closeness as well as sexuality. Savage is honest about her own struggles, mentioning times when her marriage "hit rock-bottom" and she had to learn about creating a marriage-centered family rather than a child-centered family. After she had kids, she says, "making meat loaf was a higher priority than making love." Now a mother of four, she and her husband lead marriage-encounter workshops and counsel couples who are experiencing intimacy conflicts. This book, which is occasionally repetitive but always sensible, is the distillation of the Savages' advice, and features questions for reflection at the close of each chapter. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Savage (coauthor, Professionalizing Motherhood) answers the titular question with an enthusiastic "yes!" noting that "intimacy begins with a nonsexual relationship." She argues that communication and mutual consideration are key for couples, addressing obstacles to intimacy (e.g., poor conflict-resolution skills, confusion about the wife/mom role) and proposing practical tools for overcoming them both outside the bedroom (date night) and inside (Christian sex clothes!). Married sex is powerfully described as a "form of recreation," a "beautiful playground" waiting to be explored, and a gift from God. A good book inspired by the Good Book, this well-organized and clear guide has sections for reflecting and filling in blanks. Consider Michele Weiner Davis's The Sex-Starved Marriage: A Couple's Guide to Boosting Their Marriage Libido for a secular take. Highly recommended for large public libraries and collections serving Christian audiences. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310237433
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 2/21/2003
  • Series: Hearts at Home Workshop
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Savage is a writer, speaker and the founder of Hearts at Home. Author of Professionalizing Motherhood and Is There Really Sex After Kids?, she leads the Hearts at Home organization in its mission to exalt God while encouraging, educating, and equipping mothers in their personal and family lives. She and her husband, Mark, live in Normal, Illinois, with their five children. SPANISH BIO: Jill Savage escritora, orador y fundadora de Hearts at Home. Ed autora de Madre de profesion y Is There Really Sex After Kids?, y dirige la organizacion Hearts at Home en su mision de exaltar a Dios y alentar, educar y capacitar a las madres para su vida personal y famililiar. Ella y su esposo Mark viven en Normal, Illinois, con sus cinco hijos.
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Read an Excerpt

Is There Really Sex After Kids

A Mom-to-Mom Chat on Keeping Intimacy Alive
By Jill Savage


Copyright © 2003 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0310237432

Chapter One

God Created Sex!

"Sex ... I could go the rest of my life without it!" I cried to my husband as we arrived back to the bed-and-breakfast we had reserved for a two-day marriage get-away. "I'm not interested. I have no desire. I'm too tired, and I can't seem to ever meet your needs!" were my responses to his request for intimacy. We had made arrangements for our two preschool children, Anne and Evan, to stay with friends for a few days so Mark and I could take some time for just the two of us. I had packed one of the few skimpy nightgowns I owned, but honestly hoped I could get through the weekend without wearing it. I didn't feel one bit of sexual desire in my body. After spending the past four years either pregnant or nursing, I couldn't even remember what it was like to be a lover.

Just days earlier we had had the same argument. As I stood at the kitchen sink washing the dinner dishes, Mark came up from behind and wrapped his arms around me. I stiffened at his embrace, knowing it was accompanied by expectations I didn't have any desire to meet. After we put the kids to bed, I found myself wrestling with the obvious request my husband had made. Just as I willed myself to be available to my husband, I heard the small voice of a two-year-old echo down the hallway. "Moooommy!" I left my weary husband to take care of my needy child. After settling Evan back to sleep, I tumbled back in bed to my waiting husband. All I wanted was to go to sleep, not meet one more person's needs.

* * *

The warmth of the cabin seemed to speak "Welcome" to us as we returned from our walk in the crisp autumn air. The crunch of the leaves under our feet brought back memories of the day we spent at Monroe Reservoir in southern Indiana when we were first dating. As we walked, we reminisced about our first kiss, and we dreamed about what we would do after our children left home.

We had made arrangements for our four children, sixteen-year-old Anne, fourteen-year-old Evan, eleven-year-old Erica, and four-year-old Austin, to spend some time at Grandmother and Granddad's house so we could have a couple of days to get away by ourselves. Earlier in the day, Mark had asked that we go shopping for some new bedroom attire. I hassled him about the request, but secretly looked forward to adding some spice to our love life. After spending some time at the mall shopping for just the right outfit for each of us, we returned to the cabin, took a walk, and began to prepare dinner. We talked, laughed, and enjoyed some playful banter. The cabin, decorated with antiques, featured an old pool table where Mark and I spent the next two hours playing pool, a game we had never played together in our eighteen years of marriage.

I began to anticipate the remainder of our evening and eventually the pleasure of the day together melted into the pleasure of lovemaking.

This wasn't unusual, however. Only days earlier, I had anticipated some lovemaking by dropping hints to my unsuspecting husband all day. I had called him and left a teasing voice mail on his cell phone. Carefully choosing my clothing that day, I selected an outfit Mark had told me drove him crazy. After the kids arrived home from school, I reminded them that tonight was an early-to-bed night to give Mom and Dad some alone time.

After dinner, I pulled Mark aside and kissed him invitingly. We teased one another privately all evening as we helped the kids with their homework, assisted Anne with college applications, took Erica and Evan to piano lessons, gave Austin a bath, and eventually kissed each child goodnight.

I snuggled next to Mark on the couch and welcomed a much-needed back rub. He picked up a book he was reading and shared with me some "you just have to read this" sections. I picked up a pair of Erica's pants that I had begun to hem earlier in the day. I finished the mending project as he read. We enjoyed each other's presence and yet pursued our individual interests, still anticipating the physical intimacy promised earlier in the day. Eventually the playful banter led way to the romance the evening promised. I know without a doubt ... I am a mother and a lover.

* * *

It is hard to believe that the above scenarios took place within the same marriage. The contrast amazes me. I know that God, in his infinite wisdom, planned for a husband and wife to grow together in oneness. We are to blend our individual lives as we embark upon the journey of marriage. In the early years of marriage, Mark and I found that there were many issues that divided us: both sexual and nonsexual issues. We struggled to make sense of what seemed to be constant conflict.

Our physical relationship was always a source of struggle. His desire was sky high; my desire seemed non-existent. Add to that the demands of children, and we were feeling completely hopeless in making this marriage-thing work.

Eventually, we found ourselves immersed in marriage counseling. We dealt with the issues that were separating us. We talked. We cried. We sorted. We struggled. We learned that neither one of us really understood God's design for marriage or the sexual relationship. We began to go to school, in a sense. We took advantage of resources available to us and started to clear out the misinformation we had come to believe through the years and replaced it with God's truth about marriage and sex. It was a long trip, but a journey worth taking.

Have you ever considered why God created sex? Did you know that he finds it beautiful and pleasing that a married man and woman would experience this ultimate level of intimacy? Do you know that God designed us to enjoy our sexuality and to be comfortable with our nakedness within the marriage relationship?

I didn't! Oh sure, I had heard some of those things before, but I hadn't really believed them. I had let my experiences, my lack of knowledge, and my circumstances steal the joy within my marriage.

Is there really sex after kids? My prayer is that this book will answer that question over and over again: Yes, there is! We are going to look at this subject by dividing it into three parts: the plan, the problems, and the practical tools. We'll specifically look at the sexual relationship during the child-rearing years. These are challenging years for a marriage because parenting responsibilities can, and often do, crowd out the time and energy it takes to invest in the marital relationship.

Let's start at the beginning and look back at God's creation of Adam and Eve to understand God's plan for the sexual relationship in marriage. As always, God had a purpose in mind.

God Created Sex!

After God created the beautiful world we live in, he created us. He took the dust of the earth, blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and made man a living being (Genesis 2:7). God then stated, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (2:18). God knew that man could not fully realize his humanity without companionship and a partner in reproduction.

After causing Adam to fall into a deep sleep, God took one of his ribs and made a woman (2:21-22). In describing marriage, God explained that a man is to leave his father and mother and be united to his wife; they will become one flesh (2:24). God finished this creation masterpiece with these words: "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame" (2:25).

Wow! What powerful words! God's plan for a husband and wife included the ultimate intimacy of vulnerability. He designed nakedness to be a part of marriage.

Two books of the Bible are most helpful in giving us an understanding of the marital relationship and God's design for sex: Genesis and the Song of Solomon. God's Word is not boring or irrelevant to our lives today. On the contrary, he speaks right to our questions and our needs through his truth. He gives boundaries to protect us and freedoms for us to explore and enjoy.

In my journey to understand God's plan for the sexual relationship in marriage, I found that God has three primary reasons for creating the sexual relationship: human reproduction; intimacy; and satisfaction, enjoyment, and pleasure.

Let's take a look at each one of these to understand God's initial design.

The Gift of Life

In Genesis 1:27-28 we read, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.'" God was certainly giving the thumbs-up to human reproduction! He was saying, "Expand your families, enjoy the earth, and enjoy the world and the relationships I'm giving you!"

In the first ten years of marriage, our most dysfunctional sexual years, we managed to conceive three babies. According to our ten-year-old daughter, that means we had sex just three times. If you asked Mark about those years, he would agree with her! In truth, it wasn't quite that extreme; I did not struggle with our sexual relationship as long as our goal was to make a baby. However, once we conceived or found ourselves in a season of life where we were not looking to increase our family size, I had little use for our sexual relationship.

I understood only one little piece of God's plan for the sexual relationship and was missing the rest of the pie! My experience is not isolated. I talk to moms all over the world who have a limited view of the sexual relationship in marriage. Do you have a narrow concept of why sex is a part of the marital relationship?

God certainly created the sexual relationship for the purpose of reproduction. But that's not all ... there is so much more!

The Gift of Intimacy

God knew that it wasn't good for man to be alone; after all, God created us to be in relationships. He created us with a vertical relationship in mind-our friendship with God-and with a horizontal relationship in mind-our relationship with the people around us. God designed marriage to be the closest human relationship we would experience here on earth.

"Into Me See" (intimacy) is one of the easiest definitions I have ever come across to explain what it means to be intimate. Intimacy allows us to "see" into the life of another. It deepens our human experience. It allows us to feel more fully, trust more deeply, and love more expressively. Intimacy begins with a nonsexual relationship. It finds its roots with conversation, trust, and vulnerability.

Mark and I met on a blind date just two months after I graduated from high school. He was four years older than I and had been living on his own for some time. While we were dating, we could spend hours talking. We talked about our disappointments, our struggles, and even our fears. We shared our hopes, our dreams, and our goals. Just four months after we met, during my freshman year in college, we decided to commit to one another and make this a lifelong partnership. I was nineteen and Mark was twenty-three when we married six months later.

As we talked with each other during our short season of dating, we deepened our intimacy. When we were vulnerable with each other, we were experiencing a "nakedness" of sort. Genesis 2:25, "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame," may make us think only of physical nakedness, but there is also emotional nakedness to consider. When that level of emotional nakedness is rooted in trust, God's plan includes the ultimate experience of physical intimacy in marriage.

When a husband and wife experience the sometimes difficult moments of honesty and vulnerability, they build trust and deepen intimacy. "Into Me See" is sharing our deepest thoughts, struggles, and dreams by experiencing an emotional nakedness that brings us one step closer to physical nakedness.

The biblical book of Song of Solomon expressively communicates God's plan for the intimacy shared in marriage. "This is my lover, this is my friend" (5:16). The ultimate intimacy in marriage is knowing your spouse as your best friend. That is when "Into Me See" is fully experienced.

The old King James Version has a great word for intercourse, evident in Genesis 4:1: "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived." The marital sexual experience is the pinnacle of an intimate personal relationship between husband and wife.

My friend Karen tells me that her husband has always called sex "horizontal fellowship." It has even become a pet phrase they're comfortable using in front of their children. (I can't wait to hear the story from Karen the day one of her kids finally figures out what they are really talking about!) I love that term because it describes the "intimacy piece" of God's plan for marriage. Fellowship is defined by Webster's as "companionship; a mutual sharing." God wants us to know the companion with whom we are sharing our life.

God created the sexual relationship for reproduction and intimacy, but that's still not all.

The Gift of Pleasure

As Mark and I worked to understand the gift of sex in our marriage, we discovered a small, yet powerful, book of the Bible: Song of Solomon, sometimes called Song of Songs. This is a beautiful book of poetry and prose describing the love relationship between a man and his wife. It speaks openly of their relationship of love, trust, exclusiveness, spontaneity, and power. It affirms the preciousness of the marriage relationship and emphasizes that it is a gift from God. This book beautifully illustrates that God intends that such love-often grossly distorted and abused by both ancient and modern cultures-be a normal part of marital life in his good creation.

As I began to glimpse the bigger picture of this marital gift, God showed me that there was still more to understanding his plan for sex. As Song of Solomon illustrates, God created the sexual relationship for satisfaction, enjoyment, and pleasure.

In short, he created it for a husband and wife to play together! He created it as a form of recreation. He created it as a beautiful playground just waiting to be explored within the marital relationship.

As we consider a few verses in Song of Solomon, I want you to understand the cast of characters in this book. There are two primary voices in the biblical book of Song of Solomon: the lover and the beloved. The lover gives the male perspective and the beloved the female perspective.

In the first chapter the lover woos his bride with these words, "How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves."

She then responds with "How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant."


Excerpted from Is There Really Sex After Kids by Jill Savage Copyright © 2003 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    Practical and unstuffy

    Jill Savage takes the stuffiness out of marriage counseling with a been-there-done-that book full of practical and compassionate wisdom. Her husband Mark's afterwords provide something the guys can easily consider. The excellent leaders guide in the back should increase this book's usefulness for small group studies. Consider using it for a text for marriage-builders Sunday school classes so that its counsel can be dispensed in wise sound-bytes.

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