I'm going to come out and say something super controversial – kids ruin your sex life.
This is not to suggest anyone shouldn't have kids, or even to infer children guarantee a sexless marriage. Plenty of people with kids have deeply satisfying sex lives.
But – and here's the controversial part – plenty more don't.
The reason we don't acknowledge this universal truth, is because it goes against the covenant of motherhood. That silent pledge women make when they become parents to never, ever let slip how tough having kids can be.
We're meant to cherish every moment of motherhood — from the midnight feeds and relentless laundry cycles, to the daily bargaining over uneaten broccoli. Children are supposed to make our lives richer, and more complete.
And yet, a 2018 survey revealed 46 per cent of couples with kids have seen their physical intimacy dwindle since having children. Most strikingly, an overwhelming 61 per cent of women admitted sex was no longer a priority after becoming parents. Only 30 per cent of men agreed.
It confirms what we already know about the onus of parenthood – women bear the brunt of it. Research shows women's careers are negatively impacted when children enter the equation, while men's remain largely unchanged. Women are also at increased risk of suffering from mental health issues after entering into parenthood. Up to one in seven new mums experience post-partum depression, a crippling condition that can result in lowered mood, anxiety, insomnia, and, unsurprisingly, a decreased libido.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of safe avenues for women to open up about the less idyllic aspects of motherhood. And this sense of aloneness routinely translates to distance in the bedroom.
"I've never told anyone this. It's just so embarrassing …" a friend, who's a mother to two young children, confessed over dinner.
"Tom and I haven't had sex in a year. I just can't muster up the urge to do it anymore," she continued, before guiltily lowering her head to rearrange the food on her plate.
I was struck by the sense of quiet defeat in her eyes, as though she'd ultimately accepted responsibility for the dissolution of her sex life.
In reality, sexual intimacy is a far more complex issue than can be reduced to "one partner bad, other good".
What we know is this: maintaining a strong and fulfilling sex life over the course of a marriage is incredibly hard work for both partners. Add kids to that equation, and you can expect the level of difficulty to increase.
In an eight-year longitudinal study comparing overall relationship satisfaction among couples with and without children, the results were unequivocal: while relationship satisfaction tended to naturally decline over time across the board, the decline was far more drastic for couples with kids.
There's no argument having children enriches a woman's life in myriad ways; but it can also shrink it. It's not unusual for women to lose themselves in the role of motherhood and, in doing so, disconnect from their sexuality.
Planning school runs, packing lunches, and negotiating who's dropping the kids to soccer practice has a way of making a relationship feel awfully asexual.
"When you've been wiping someone's butt, washing and cleaning all day, the last thing you feel like doing when the hubby gets home, is jumping his bones," explained one friend.
"To be honest, sex just feels like another chore right now."
All of this is not to suggest parenthood and great sex can't coexist. But it does mean we need to stop acting like motherhood is an endless gift, and acknowledge the sacrifices women routinely take on as a result of it.
The less we stigmatise women who struggle with the demands of parenting, the less likely they are to withdraw from their relationships – socially, and romantically.
It's equally important to maintain your individuality within your relationship. Yes, you're both parents, but first and foremost, you're two people.
For this reason, parents should endeavour to take "breaks" to do activities as a couple again. Whether it's dropping the kids at a friend's place and booking a night in a hotel, or getting away for a few hours for dinner and a movie – it's essential to reconnect with the people you both were prior to having children.
And this also means interacting in some of the ways you did pre-kids. Talking about topics other than your to-do lists, sending text messages that don't include instructions of what to pick up at the supermarket on the way home, and taking time to simply kiss and make eye contact each day, can be extremely powerful steps toward reigniting your sexual intimacy.
The evidence is clear: having kids can ruin your sex life. But only if you let it.