Until recently, my calendar had been taken hostage by our son’s baseball schedule.
Baseball is over, but football is chomping at the bit to set up camp on all those empty calendar spaces baseball has left behind.
Can you relate?
With children’s activities and other demands, do you ever feel like your life is running you way more than you are running your life?
I get that! In many regards, I think no other aspect of our life suffers more in this chaotic dynamic than our marriage.
We always believe there is more time “down the road” or “around the bend” or “when the kids are raised.”
Sadly, many married folk arrive at those future rest stops, only to discover they don’t have much of a marriage left. They’ve emptied themselves into every other endeavor — parenting, work, ministry, elder care — only to find their marriage has been damaged or destroyed in the wake.
One of the more common aspects of marriage that is put on the back burner is sexual intimacy.
I often hear from people who talk about weeks, months and even years passing with little or no sex in their marriage bed. One or both spouses rarely says “yes” to sex. “Yes” has become the exception, rather than the steadfast rule (to something that God actually tells married couples to do often).
I know there are many ways to strengthen marriage, but I write about sex in marriage, so I have a heart for speaking hope into that particular aspect of intimacy.
If “yes” to sex is your exception, not your rule, consider this…
Doing well in everything else is pale satisfaction if your marriage is in shambles.
I have talked to enough women to know that sometimes their internal dialogue goes something like this:
“I’m a really good mom. That’s enough. I know I should make time with my husband a greater priority, but these kids need me more right now.”
To be fair to wives, I know that sometimes it is the husband who is denying sex and not making the marriage a priority. His internal dialogue may go something like this:
“I want to be a good provider. I have to put in the extra time at work so I can take care of this family. I’m out of energy at the end of the day, but at least I’ve provided well for my kids.”
Each marriage is unique, so I don’t know what dialogue is ringing in your ears and heart. And I don’t have easy answers as to how to tame the schedule in your marriage. (Honestly, I don’t think there are easy answers or otherwise more people would do it).
BUT, I do know that by carving out that time for your marriage, including sex, you actually are better equipped to walk in all your other roles.
Sure, the old saying is “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I think a better truth is, “If mama and daddy aren’t happy and healthy, no one else is going to be either.” (Yeah, not as catchy, but you get the point).
It takes effort to make sex a safe and nurtured place in your marriage. If it is far from being that, humbly look at why.
Are there big issues with which you have not dealt, whether it is past sexual abuse or promiscuity from prior to your marriage or struggles with pornography? Were you always told sex was dirty or wrong or just your duty? Do you struggle with experiencing pleasure and being uninhibited in bed with your spouse?
If saying “yes” to sex is your exception, not your rule, figure out why and resolve to bring about healthy change in your marriage. There are countless couples who have moved sex up the priority scale and been pleasantly surprised at the profound effect it has had not just on their marriage, but on their overall outlook in life.
You can get there!
You’ll have to say “no” to other things in order to have more time and energy to make “yes” to sex your rule. Initially, this will feel uncomfortable. It may even ruffle a few feathers as those around you get used to you setting healthier boundaries.
Remember this, though: Saying “no” more frequently to all those extra activities does not mean you are saying “no” all the time. You’re not saying you will never volunteer for ministry or your kids’ classroom parties; you’ll just not commit as often. You’re not saying you’ll never drive your kid to practice or help out with elder care demands; you’ll simply find creative ways to share those responsibilities with others.
Honestly, I think you will discover that setting realistic boundaries won’t have quite the negative impact on others as you think it will. It is humbling and refreshing all at the same time to realize we aren’t quite as indispensable as we would like to believe.
Making sexual intimacy a greater priority endears us to our spouse and fosters healthy attitudes about sex in our home and family. I’ve long believed there is no sweeter form of godly worship in a marriage than to savor and nurture authentic sexual intimacy with the person we married.
So, how about you? What will it take for “yes” to sex to become your rule, rather than your exception?
A good post. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. many people forget that sex is a gift from God and not something that should be held out, abstained from because of some vague or ill conceived sense of morality or used as a bargaining chip to get what we want. If the sex life is gone then so too is a good deal of our intimacy and gestures of love and caring for one another. While there are always some who physically can’t manage it for a variety of reasons in an otherwise loving relationship, it behooves us all to consider our partners wants and needs and the tremendous bonding that come come with a full and healthy sex life.
It is easy to put our spouses off. It is even easier for us to justify our spouses behavior, absorb the hurt, and feel like we are doing the righteous thing in our martyrdom. This cuts both ways – men and women. Thanks for the post. http://choosetotrust.com/2012/07/but-shes-a-good-mom/
This should be helpful to many busy and “tired” couples. The benefits are there! Seize them.
I’d just like the opportunity to be able to say no. I think in one year of marriage, I can count the number of times my husband has asked for sex on one hand. I have had said no twice, but only because I take sleeping tablets and the rare occasion he had asked was just as they were kicking. I’ve tried having sex like that (this is my second husband) and it ends up with me violently ill, sometimes needing to go to hospital from being so ill. Yet at least several times a week my husband refuses sex, and right from the very start of our honeymoon. he thinks I’m a freak for wanting it at least every second day (3 times a week) and there have been many times during our marriage where even getting sex once a fortnight he has made it clear he thinks providing that much is a chore. He’s made it clear in counselling if it were up to him, he’d probably have sex once a month, maybe twice, and thinks anything more than once a week is excessive. Sadly the counsellor gave him misinformation on how often married couples have sex, and even then, I couldn’t make him see that 1. that figure was wrong, and 2. was for couples across the lifespan and included people in their 70s and 80s who had been married 50+ years. As newlyweds in our first year of marriage, healthy, in our early 30s, comparing it to a figure for all married couples is not useful – and the figure wasn’t even correct.
I went to counselling because I was tired of feeling rejected, and walked away feeling like it just gave him justification to keep rejecting me physically. Now I initiate maybe twice a week, but just because it lessens the number of rejections. It has nothing to do with tiredness on his part, and he honestly doesn’t feel he is withholding or rejecting. He just honestly feels once a week is more than plenty and has no interest in more and that I am the freak nympho for wanting it more than that. I am the one who is battling illness and constantly tired, but you don’t see me saying no or never initiating like him.
Excellent post! Couples also need to consider how using sex as a weapon or to get back at a spouse that has hurt them by withholding sex until the offending spouse apologizes or makes amends plays into one or both spouses falling into emotional cheating, which often leads to physical cheating. Not clear on how this can occur? Check out “Guard Your Relationship Against Infidelity at www.relationships360blog.com.