We’re here to help you and your man overcome the Mom Complex.
Many couples have problems making the jump from a sultry, carefree twosome to a parental duo trying to squeeze in a kiss between feedings, appointments and playgroups. Becoming a parent can be the best thing to happen in your lifetime; it’s exciting, courageous and challenging, but unfortunately it isn’t always sexy.
This paves the way to a common conundrum in the post-baby bedroom—the Mom Complex. In many men’s eyes there are two options: you’re either a sinner or you’re a saint—or in the case of his libido, you’re a sexy siren or matronly mama.
The assumption is that the Mom complex rises out of a man’s obsession with his mother. But before you conclude that your partner is envisioning swirling images of you and your mother-in-law becoming one care-giving, cookie-baking, baby-making unit, don’t worry—this isn’t necessarily a concrete case of the Oedipus complex. The truth is, your partner could have completely normal feelings towards his mom. He has a mother, and that’s enough to understand the nonsexual feelings associated with someone who is an outwardly mature, matronly woman.
“Once a baby enters the picture, there is no denying that a man is now a dad, and part of a family, not just a couple. His mental picture of his wife may shift from sex kitten to bottle washer—definitely not a turn-on,” says Stephanie Buehler, licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist, editor of the Women’s Sexual Health Journal and Director of The Buehler Institute in Orange County, Calif.
Your man may think he is outwitting his Mom Complex by rolling over and going to sleep, but he’s really hurting you both. They key is to talk about it. Open the lines of communication and be supportive, yet firm. You both need and deserve one another’s attention. If he’s uncomfortable engaging in risky business due to your mom-status (or in the case of pregnancy, your growing baby bump), let him know it doesn’t hurt you or the baby. Confirm your attraction towards him—both as a man and as a father.
Also, keep an open mind. Pregnancy and parenthood can be tiring for both parties. “Lack of sleep is a common reason for lack of drive at any stage of life, but perhaps all the more so after a baby is born,” says Stephanie. She goes on to say, “While a woman may be staying home with the newborn, most men return to work fairly quickly, so they may actually become more sleep deprived over time…this can cause stress, which in turn raises cortisol levels and decreases testosterone.”
Overall, you both need to understand that the Mom Complex is a state of mind, and you should work to overcome it. Rather than seeing you simply as “sexy” or “mommy,” your partner should find a happy medium. It’s up to you to convince him that you may be a diapering, drool-wiping mama during the day, but at night you’re the same sexy little lady he’s always known. In time, he’ll find your multitasking, super-mommy status to be a turn on, but for now, focus on getting his attention away from your baby-making abilities and back to where it belongs—on you!
[tip:] Banish the bouncer from the bedroom
As Stephanie points out, it’s important to take the time to foster a sensual and inviting environment. “Domestic life has kind of a dishrag effect on sexuality. A household taken over by baby items doesn’t exactly look like a love nest.” Keeping your bedroom a (baby) toy-free zone might increase your guy’s lackluster libido—or your own.