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My Magazine > Editors Archive > Advice > Growing Pains
Growing Pains   by Tristan Taormino

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Tristan Taormino is the author of several sensationally sexy and informative books including Down and Dirty Sex Secrets, Pucker Up: A Hands-on Guide to Ecstatic Sex, and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. News flash: Tristan is just back from Porn Central -- L.A. -- where she directed a new porn flick, Tristan Taormino's House of Ass, which will be out in December (just in time to stuff some stocking). According to Tristan's spokesperson, "It was a really fun shoot, great cast, and we were really happy with the final product!" From college campuses to sex toy boutiques (not to mention The Howard Stern Show) Tristan tours the country touting the wonders of anal sex and the overall goodness of sex in all its frisky forms.You can visit Tristan at her official website,

A couple recently came to one of my workshops and approached me for some advice after class. They were high school sweethearts and got married right after graduation eight years ago. “When we first got together, my wife was very frisky when it came to sex,” said the husband Tom. His wife Sherry nodded in agreement. He went on to say that Sherry was willing to try anything and everything. After she had their son three years ago, she told him that “it wasn’t right” for them to do some of the things they used to do in bed. When I asked for specifics, she said things like anal sex, spanking, and role playing. He told me that he bought her a new car after she promised that if she got the car, she would make him very happy in the bedroom. Since then, he believes that she has added more rules and become more closed off and less affectionate.

It is extremely common for a couple’s sex life to change after they have been together for a while, and it’s one of the most popular things people ask me about. Our brain chemistry actually changes when we first fall in love, and we are in an altered state. For most people, during this “honeymoon phase,” they can’t get enough of each other and they have lots of sex. Since Tom and Sherry got together as teenagers, chances are they experienced a lot of sexual firsts together, which upped their sexual chemistry. As we live together and grow more familiar, our sexual connection changes–the mystery and excitement is replaced with trust and intimacy. This can signal a shift in the vibe of our erotic lives, but it does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. First and foremost, people need to let go of the unrealistic expectation that you and your partner will want to rip each other’s clothes off every single time you see each other; that kind of heightened libido just doesn’t last for the majority of people.

Having children can also affect your sex life dramatically, especially for women. With a toddler running around, I am sure that Sherry is exhausted, overwhelmed, and the last thing on her mind at the end of the day is sex. I was concerned, though, that Sherry expressed a change in what she was willing to do when she became a mother. “I just feel like we are parents now, not wild kids jumping into bed together,” she told me. Of course they have matured since they first got together and parenting is a big, life-changing responsibility. However, it’s a misconception that once you become a mom, you can’t be sexual. It’s part of this notion that mothers are supposed to be perfect and held to a different standard that doesn’t include an active sex life or kinky inclinations. You do not need to sacrifice your sexuality in order to be a good parent, and being sexual does not make you a bad parent. I encouraged her to look a little deeper at what might be holding her back from being the sexual person she once was.

They were very forthcoming, which I appreciated, so I was brutally honest right back. I called Tom out for trying to trade a new car for better (or more) sex. He replied by telling me that not only did he get her the car, but he helps with the housework and taking care of their son, he treats her to monthly massages at a local spa, and he even had a new hot tub installed in their bathroom. “I made sure the ledge was wide enough for lots of candles. I was trying to be romantic. But all this has not changed anything,” he said. Besides the car and hot tub, simply helping her run the house, parent their child, and pamper her once in a while are things he should be doing anyway. He needs to stop doing things or buying gifts in order to get something from her in exchange. It sounded to me like she was playing right into the game, making promises in order to get things she wanted. It’s a set up for disappointment and it’s no way to run a relationship.

What Tom and Sherry needed more than anything was communication. They needed to be real about what was going on between them. I suspect that Sherry was having some shame or guilt about some of the more “non-traditional” sex they'd had in the past and was tying that to being a good mom. She might also be depressed, which can put a huge damper on a person’s sex drive. They clearly were committed to one another and wanted to work things out. I told Tom that the hot tub was a good start, because it could be something they do together. I had already talked with him about having a “date night,” where they get a babysitter and make time for each other, whether they go out or stay in. But some candles and a special date night won’t do a thing if they don’t start talking more openly with one another. Tom told me that Sherry talks to her friends about sex all the time, and Sherry agreed. So, she seemed comfortable talking about it with everyone but the person she was having sex with!

Both of them needed to find balance in their expectations and needs. I told Tom he needs to let go of the horny eighteen year old Sherry and realize she is an adult who has grown and changed and what she wants now may be different, but that’s okay. I think Sherry should cut herself some slack and re-discover her sexuality post-pregnancy. I recommended she make a date with herself every week so she can start to masturbate on a regular basis in order to get back in touch with her body, her fantasies, and her desires. Once she does that, she can share those with Tom, who must be open to them, even if they are different than what she wanted before.

In fact, we can all have dry spells. We can all have times when we feel disconnected from our own bodies or from our lovers or when we sense a shift in our sexual desires and needs. Whether we’ve been with a lover for ten years or a week, we all need to let go of unrealistic expectations. They only get in the way of a real, fulfilling sexual relationship. It’s important that we practice self-acceptance and be honest about our erotic likes, dislikes, and fantasies. If Tom and Sherry can find a middle ground that satisfies them both, they will be on their way to entering a new phase of their sex life.

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