What happens when two become three, or four, or five? Who is responsible for the needs and wants of a couple when days are filled with playdates, pick-ups, and meal preps? Nights lack the erotic energy that couples need not only to survive but to thrive. Dr. Becky and Esther Perel come together to talk about what parents can do to rekindle their desires.
Read the excerpt from The Good Inside podcast and listen to the full episode here.
Esther: When I wrote Mating in Captivity, I tried to really understand what happens to this, what I call the erotic energy, right? The creative energy that makes us feel alive, vibrant, vital. That’s what you call to play, to roll on the floor, to love, to create, to tickle, to look at each other, to love together, etc.
Dr. Becky: That’s erotic energy. You’re not just talking about like sexy time.
Esther: No, no, no. I’m talking about that creative outburst, that energy that makes you feel alive.
When you have kids, it’s a revolution in the couple. It completely shifts all the resources, the time, the attention, the intimacy, the money, it all shifts. Why? Because when you are in a relationship, you negotiate continuously two poles. You negotiate your need for stability and predictability and reliability. You also negotiate your need for novelty and exploration and risk and change and movement. But when you have a child, you prioritize stability. You become security so that the child can become adventure. The child itself is an adventure that you are going on and that you are accompanying, and so you try to stabilize yourself.
That erotic energy — playfulness, imagination, aliveness, curiosity, engagement — is alive and well, but it is eros redirected. It all goes to the children with the idea that the adults will kind of survive like a cactus. That you not don’t even need to water. Then one person says “What is going on here? Where are we at? We haven’t gone hiking. We haven’t been alone. We haven’t gone on a date. When is the last time we went dancing? When’s the last time we touched each other and looked at each other the way that we are constantly adoring each other’s kids? And when’s the last time that when you say “how are you?” the answer was not about what you did and what you got done and what is off the list? How are you, what’s happening to this person right here next to me, who is go going through a lot of things?” That is the loss that takes place.