Dear Audrey, A few months ago, my girlfriend of a year or so got pregnant. We were both like, “Oh, hell no”; she had an abortion, and everything was fine. Or at least I thought it was. Even though we added an extra birth-control method, I have lately found myself freaking out halfway through sex. Everything will be normal, and then suddenly I feel this panic and have to stop. Logically it makes no sense, especially since she was the one who had to go through the abortion procedure. I know it’s starting to hurt her feelings. I want sex to be fun again. What should I do?
See a therapist! Or if you already see someone, talk to them about it. Honestly, this doesn’t even sound like a sex problem to me. It sounds like an “oh god, I am petrified by the prospect of adulthood and/or paralyzed by the decision of whether or not I want kids someday and/or terrified of commitment and serious relationships” problem that just happens to occur during sex.
I will say, as a person who has anxiety problems, something about the kind of relaxation and letting go that good sex requires is fertile ground for worries to jump in and ruin everything. Everyone loves to talk about how the brain is the biggest sex organ, but it’s also the biggest boner killer. So get that brain in therapy and sort it out.
Dear Audrey, My wife is pregnant. I was worried I’d find her pregnant body strange but actually I’m super attracted to her right now. She can be hard-edged and unsentimental, so to see her literally nurturing our child with her body is an unexpected turn on. (Plus, her boobs are huge.) She doesn’t appreciate my affections; she interprets my current sexual interest as a rejection of her non-pregnant self and says my attraction to her pregnant body is some kind of retrograde desire for a traditional, submissive woman to carry my seed. That’s completely wrong! The thought of us as a family has made me more emotional than I ever thought, and that love for her is also expressing itself sexually. How can I help her see that?
You sound like a very nice husband. Good job. Your heart is in a wonderful place, and I totally get why you want your wife to know how much love you her. But as far as I understand it, being pregnant is a rough-ass gig. Despite the physical unpleasantness of sharing your space with a demanding roommate, I suspect that the mental adjustment is not easy. Society doesn’t have a lot of nice things to say about moms. In some way, she’s trading in a part of her individuality—“Sarah, the chick who has that awesome sardonic unsentimentality”—for the universal mom stereotype and all that that entails (boring, nag, stroller-pusher, job slacker, Facebook oversharer). Dads don’t get boxed-in the same way. They still get to be “Steve the beer guy” who happens to have a kid. She’s sacrificing a hell of a lot for gains you get to share pretty equally. Plus, hormones are no fucking joke.
So, you know, cut her some slack. And LISTEN TO HER. Maybe what she wants isn’t your wanting to fuck her earth-mother self, but your reassuring her you find her as sarcastic and funny as ever. You know? Give her what she needs.