Staying sexy after childbirth – it’s tough being a man

By benim
In Children & Youth
Nov 9th, 2011
0 Comments
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Around the swimming pool of the beachside resort, a herd of 30-something mums and dads bathed offspring. One supervisorial eyeball from each adult pair was locked on their waterlogged pride and joys while the other roamed freely – voyeuristic microscopes.

Shamelessly or furtively, these perving peepers took in every roll, every mark, and every inch of exposed parental flesh.

At first glance, these ocular acrobatics seemed usual; men looking at women, comparing wives, and women looking at women, comparing size.
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But protracted observation revealed the boobs most gandered were not goose-bumps – the drakes were checking out how dad-hood looked on each other.

“I thought it was women who let themselves go after childbirth?” demurred one of the few barren bodies in passing en route to the bar.

“Looks like hubby is hanging it all out these days too…”

Is it true? As the metrosexual generation shacks up, gets hitched, and begins to breed, are men experiencing a whole new world of body-shaming-consciousness? Are fathers these days more prone to the post-baby bulge blues more commonly associated with women? Is this a problem weighing heavy on newly married parents?

There’s a hullaballoo in the US at the moment around the latest advertising push from Ashley Madison – the online dating site for adulterers – which featured a very large lady in seductive repose, under the headline “Did your [fat] wife scare you last night?”

Obviously, this plays to old ideas people have about a woman’s role in marriage – be attractive, be desirable, be everything your husband wants – and conventional notions of feminine beauty – be skinny.

And, obviously, this is offensive. Not just to women, but men as well who are treated as one-dimensional Playboy bunny lovers happy to cheat.

Now for the true facts: Physical attraction is an important part of any romantic relationship. Also, bodies change with time and experience – especially life-altering experiences like childbirth. And while the onus of childrearing was once ovaries only, shared caring is more commonplace today.

This means women are more financially independent and less bound by the need to be hot for hubby, or so we hope and pray. (Of course, the interesting quirk comes from some mothers who say women have emerged as the harsher judges of who’ve ‘bounced back post baby’ – thanks Miranda Kerr).

Yet I’ve had a few emails lately from new-mum-wives complaining about a lack of sex after baby.

Not because they feel unattractive or undesirable, or abandoned by their husbands for secretaries and such – but because, they say, their husbands have ‘abandoned’ their own man-bodies. While Mrs Yummy Mummy took care of herself during pregnancy, and after, Mr Shock-to-the-system-spouse gave in to sleepless nights, shabby diets and general disarray and now feels unhealthy, unsexy and unattractive.

This suggests a new pressure facing new parents is his body-woes, not hers. Is it a pressure you’ve encountered? Have you, as a dad, checked out the other dad-dudes to see who’s still ‘got it’? Have you, as a mum, found yourself wishing he’d put more effort into his appearance?

I will say that the complaints I receive about sexless, child-ed marriages are still, in the main, masculine.

And my thoughts, as a childless young woman, remain that being a good parent, and a good partner, is hard enough without body hassles and love-life drama. It hurts me that so much of this fuss – this misery and frustration – seems to be wrapped up in unrealistic expectations.

I think it’s a shame some couples cave to pressures created outside of their union. Can’t we look out less, and look in more, and find ourselves in the process? Why does it have to be compare, contrast, fall-apart all the time?

But even I admit to long looks at the other creatures around the watering hole. I guess the trick is avoiding the dirty mud. What about you?

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