Dear Readers,

Several weeks ago, a “sexless dad,” a new father of twins, reached out for help to restart his sex life after a nine-month sexual hiatus. The consensus — sex will come back, but it’s going to take patience, conversation and cleaning:

Dear Harlan,

I’m a 35-year-old woman, married, with two kids born 18 months apart (which, I assure you, is something akin to having twins). I was pregnant/breastfeeding for more than three straight years. My nipples were so sensitive that I couldn’t sleep without a bra. My undercarriage felt like it had been torn apart. When my hubby would come up behind me and touch me it felt like I was being assaulted. I tried explaining it to him, saying that my breasts and bottom needed to be treated like they were actual open wounds. Would he like it if I stuck my fingers into his eyeballs? We could, and did, and do, make love — but it needed to be approached slowly and VERY tenderly. It has taken a LONG time, and he still sometimes forgets that he’ll get better results if he starts by touching my shoulder, back, legs or arms instead of poking right at my private parts. Anyway, for us it’s been years, but we’ve found a way that works for us. Tell that couple to keep talking and communicating with each other, and they’ll find a way, too. Thanks!

Still Tender

Dear Harlan,

As I read the letter from “Sexless Dad of Twins,” the bone-numbing, total exhaustion of being a new mother came rushing back to me. August to January might seem like an eternity to the dad, but that same very short period of time seems like a blink to the mom. Trust me, with two energetic infants and breast-pumping four or five times a day, the fact that she can make it through the day is enough! I remember keeping my espresso machine plugged in all day, every day — a luxury this woman can’t do if she is expressing milk. Here’s my take: In addition to the wise advice you gave, Sexless needs to know that if he pushes right now, she will remember his self-centered focus FOREVER. Better he should “court” this new mom: back rubs, neck rubs, bringing her flowers, offering to do the dishes, change the babies, etc. If he treats her like she is special, recognizes the challenge she faces just getting through each day, and very gently reminds her how attractive she is to him, she will think he’s wonderful.

On the other hand, if he comes across as demanding, she may conclude that she has THREE infants to care for — and I’m sure that is not how he wants to be seen.

Slow It Down

Dear Harlan,

Of course the dad is feeling short and unloved, and he probably thinks he comes off as incredibly kind, loving and patient. Please reassure poor dad that this “drought” (hmm, what would Mom call it? A sabbatical, maybe?) does NOT mean that she’ll forget about sex forever or forget how to do it or anything like that. True, back in our evolutionarily formative cave days, dad would have been fathering as many twins with as many moms as possible all along; but for mom, she’s fully committed to the offspring. In my own case, it took six to seven months to get back to sex (not that I wanted it that soon, but at least I could manage it).

Another Mother

Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614.