Category: sexual intimacy

clean sheets
February 8th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

clean sheetsEvery now and then, I receive comments or emails from husbands that read like a laundry list of the worst excuses their wife has ever given for not wanting to have sex.

Sometimes I laugh.

Most often, though, I'm sad.

Yes, I know, I'm hearing only one side of the story when these husbands reach out.

But even if I were to hear both sides of the story, we would still arrive at the same picture -- marriages struggling sexually.

Until a comment I received recently, it had been awhile since I had heard the "clean sheets" excuse, meaning, "I just changed the bed and the last thing I want to do is mess up these clean sheets with sex."

Some of you have said it.

Some of you have heard it.

Ultimately, though, God longs for us to ask what our marriage means to us.

By what should a marriage be recognized?

I sure hope it's not clean linen.  Sweet baby Jesus, help us if it's clean linen, because that would be sad commentary.

"Well, their marriage was nothing special.  But did you see the sheets?  Phenomenal. 1,200-thread count Egyptian cotton, and I swear it looked like they'd never been used, if you know what I mean."

Joking aside, this is one of those "ya gotta count the costs" sorta things in a relationship.

What if the "clean sheets" excuse really isn't the reason.  What's the story behind the story, so to speak?

Is it possible that "clean sheets" is just code for some deeper struggle in your sexual relationship with your spouse (especially if it's one of many excuses on the laundry list. No pun intended)?

Whenever I speak to women's groups, I always try to at some point to bring the conversation to a "count the costs" focal point.  I'm annoying that way, but some of them actually tell me afterward they appreciate this kind of candid transparency.

If there is something you and your spouse could do to heal sexual brokenness and better nurture sexual intimacy, isn't your marriage worth that kind of effort?

I think it is.

Yes, it takes courage and humility and possibly even the trusted resource of a professional Christian counselor to start digging yourself out of sexual disconnect.  But there are many couples who have done it.

And along the way, they've discovered that sex is never just about sex.  it's about a oneness and strengthening to a marriage that can't quite be described.  Intimate and exclusive sexual intimacy is one of the main things that God designed to set marriage apart from any other human relationship.

So, when we ask the question, by what should a marriage be recognized, most Christians who have studied God's heart and word would indeed have "sex" in their answer.

If there is more to your "clean sheets" excuse than "clean sheets," I encourage you to hunger for God's truth and redemption in this tender area of your marriage.

And if there really is nothing more behind your "clean sheets" excuse?  I mean, if your sexual intimacy is actually quite great, except when you've just changed the sheets?

Well, there are these crazy contraptions called towels.  With a little planning, it's amazing the way they can protect clean sheets.

See, I do care.  About your marriage. And your sheets.

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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xes cover
January 23rd, 2016 by Julie Sibert

 

xes coverI was digging through my email inbox not long ago, and (embarrassingly) came across an email to which I hadn't responded in more than a year.

Yup. A year. Ugh.

It was from Joy McMillan, author of XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get It Backwards... and How to Get it Right.

In her email she was complimenting me for a guest blog post I wrote on another site.

I humbly responded to Joy, tripping over myself with apologies for not responding sooner.

Boy am I glad I didn't let my embarrassment stop me from hitting the reply button!

We ended up exchanging posts for each other's sites.  You can see her post at this link, and my post at this link.

Here's the deal.

This woman is a crazy good writer.

Cra. Zy. Good.

Which is why you should have on your nightstand XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get It Backwards... and How to Get it Right.

At first I couldn't tell if this is a sex book masquerading as a marriage book or a marriage book masquerading as a sex book. But by the time I reached the end, I decided.

It's both a sex book and a marriage book, and a delightfully authentic one at that.

What I like about this book is what always draws me to good writing:  Joy doesn't hold back in being transparent about how hard marriage is (let alone trying to build authentic sexual intimacy in the midst of it).

She is real about her own marriage and what nurtures or destroys sex between a husband and a wife.  I found myself nodding a lot and saying "yes" to her many great insights about passionately pursuing and enjoying sex in the oneness of a marriage covenant.

All of that would be enough, but she goes further and lets us in on the story behind the story, so to speak.  (We really don't see most of this till we near the end of the book, but it's worth the wait).

She courageously bares her soul about what it took for her to shed light on and heal from the devastation in her past, including promiscuity, sexual abuse and criminal activity.

That kind of authenticity is so attractive.

It equips and encourages women to trust in the forgiveness and redemption of the Lord.

And it reminds all of us that through the ups and downs and in-betweens of doing life as a married couple, anything profound is always found on the other side of intentional heart (and hard) work.

Joy loves the Lord and loves her husband, and she shares with humor, heart and humility the reality of a faith refined and rekindled in the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Each chapter includes questions at the end to compel you to dig deeper.

I believe there's no sense reading something if you aren't going to glean from it and apply to your own situation the nuggets of gold that are transformational.

And this book is definitely one from which you can glean.

It's not a quick read. And it's not an easy read.  But it's a rich read.

Joy McMillan is a crazy good writer.  Personally, I'm glad she didn't keep it all inside.

I think you will be glad too.

"It's easy to wait until your marriage experiences a crisis to spring into action, but having a thriving marriage means doing the work, consistently, and often behind the scenes, on a daily basis.  It means little by little putting things into place before they're ever needed.

"It's choosing to intentionally stock your marital tool belt with effective tools, carve out time for each other daily, and prioritize your intimacy -- spiritual, emotional and sexual -- when things are going well so that when things aren't, you're prepared."

Joy McMillan in XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get it Backwards... and How to Get it Right.

Thank you Joy!  The marital landscape is a better place with Christian books like yours.

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

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sexual-intimacy-struggles
January 11th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

 

sexual-intimacy-strugglesI hear many stories about marriages struggling sexually.

The circumstances are as varied and vast as stars in the sky, as cliche as it may sound.

And there is legitimate and heart-wrenching pain within every scenario, where behind closed doors, the true character (or lack thereof) of a marriage is forged and revealed.

Many, many sexual struggles.

But do you know the one reason at the root of almost all of them?

One person in the marriage wants nurtured healthy sexually intimacy.  And the other person does not.

Another (yet less frequent) version of this scenario is the two people do want to heal, but they can't agree on what healing looks like.  So they stay stuck in their corners.

Lack of mutual resolve on doing something -- anything -- about the sexual disconnect sets the foundation for more of the same.  Sexual struggle becomes their normal.

"Oh. My. God. How did we get here?!" you could hear at least one of them (maybe both of them) screaming from the pit of their soul.

Sexual struggle may even become so normal that it seems completely counterintuitive and cumbersome for the couple to climb their way to a better healthier sexual normal.

It's tenacious and tender work to create something better, isn't it?

And you know what?

Without even hearing all the details about such a marriage, if I would arrive on the scene, I would bet my last dollar I would find one person who genuinely and humbly wants to walk in the direction of healthy intimacy.

And one who does not.

RELATED POST: Sexual Intimacy and Marriage: I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know

I was talking to a great friend of mine the other day and we were musing about feeling excited about the new year.

Quite the segue I'm making here, huh?!

Any. Way.

My friend and I were talking about the new year, and she said her word for the year is "intentionality."

"I love that!" I said.

Being intentional about anything takes effort, which is probably why the word doesn't inspire waves of action among the vast majority of people.

Being intentional means having to fight against your natural tendency of taking the path of least resistance.

And it means having to baby step and big step your way out of longstanding unhealthy normals.

Hard. Tiring. Frustrating. Overwhelming.

And yet.

Something better at the other end of all that intentionality, if you stick with it.

There's a lot of psychology behind why we as the masses suck at this whole thing of being intentional and pursuing healthiness as our normal.

But come on. You don't want to hear a psychology lesson right now.

You don't really want to hear why you like the cheese curls and chocolate better than the chicken and cauliflower.

We generally, though, know what's healthy and what isn't.  You'd be hard pressed to find someone who would say "the cheese curls are DEFINITELY healthier than the cauliflower."

And you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would say that sexual disconnect in a marriage is healthier than authentic sexual intimacy in a marriage.

Nearly all of the people who read my blog land here because nurtured sexual intimacy is far from their reality.  Their norm is sexual disconnect, discouragement and, for some, desperation.

If you are reading this, either you are the one in the marriage who wants to work on healthier sexual intimacy.  Or you are the one satisfied with the status quo.

Which one are you?

Regardless of which one you are, I'm wondering if you are willing to do a courageously intentional thing.

Could this blog post open the door to some dialogue with your spouse about sexual intimacy?

Psychology lesson aside, it all circles back to the truth that you gotta do something if you want something to look differently.

I don't know your circumstances, but my hope is that you have not lost hope for healthy sexual intimacy in your marriage.

I can't give you guarantees that if you move in the direction of healthy sexual intimacy that your spouse will want to move in that direction with you.

But it's worth a shot to at least try.

Because I doubt more of the same -- an unhealthy sexual normal -- is the marriage you both envisioned way back in the day.

Right?

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

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Pursuit of Passion
January 6th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

Pursuit of Passion

Yes, you guessed it!

My co-author and I heard the pleas from many of you to offer our book Pursuit of Passion in a print version, so that's what we just did!

You can buy it on Create Space or Amazon.

Is 2016 your year to improve sexual intimacy in your marriage?

Then grab a resource that will help you do that.

Yes, Julie! I Do Want the Printed Book!

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

Posted in intimacy, passion, sexual intimacy, Uncategorized Tagged with: ,

sex-begins-in-church
November 15th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

sex-begins-in-churchIt sounds blasphemous to say sex begins in church.  I mean, it really does.

But not when it's the kind of sex I'm talking about -- between a husband and a wife who see the value of nurtured sexual intimacy.

I dare say that church is one of the BEST places to begin sex, what with God being the designer of sex and all.

(One of the posts I loved writing a few years ago was Worship the Lord. Make Love to Your Spouse.)

When I say sex begins in church, I'm in essence saying sex can begin anywhere. It just takes being intentional with our affection.

Worried you're going to miss the sermon? Or forget about the canned food drive that just scrolled in the messages on the big screen? I'm not worried at all.

For most women, multi-tasking is like sport.  If ever there was a gender that could be affectionate  and engage in worship and listen to the sermon and remember the canned food drive, it's us women, right?!

Sexual arousal between you and your husband relies heavily on what happens when your clothes are on and you aren't verbally saying anything.  The way you discreetly communicate your attraction for your husband can do wonders for what happens when the clothes come off.

We get this.

I mean, it wasn't long ago that the wildly popular song "When You Say Nothing at All" could be heard at countless weddings.

Keith Whitley, Alison Kraus and Ronan Keating all recorded this song, which is a modern-day anthem for speaking love and desire without words. (If you want a sizzlin' hot old school version, just read Song of Songs in the Old Testament).

Anyway. I digress.

Back to this idea that sex begins in church (uh, I mean anywhere. Sex begins anywhere).

Below are 5 tips on playfully saying, "I want you, even though I can't have you right now."

1. Use your fingernails. 

Light touch is amazingly alluring. When you run your fingernails along the back of his neck or just under the cuff of his shirt or to caress his hand and trace his fingers, that will pique his interest.

2.  Hold his hand.

All hand holding is not created equally.  Sure, there's the hand holding that says, "Wow! It sure is fun to be at the amusement park together! Let's go!!"

And then there's the hand holding that reassuringly says, "I am so attracted to you. So grateful you are mine. So turned on. Maybe later after this lovely rendition of Amazing Grace, we can go back home and find new and creative ways to agree with God on His amazing gift of sex."

Okay. Maybe it doesn't say all that. But you get the idea.

You can convey your sexual attraction through hand holding. Probably works best if you mix in some light touches along his forearm and wrist as your hand makes its way to his.  (I know, I keep coming back to those fingernails, don't I?)

3. Whisper something.

Whispering is not only acceptable between a husband and a wife, it's almost expected if what they're communicating is exclusive to the two of them.  We as a society are neither shocked nor offended when lovers whisper to each other.

Lean over and whisper something sweet, sexy or inviting into your husband's ear.

4. Put your hand on his knee.

There's just something about a wife's hand resting softly on her husband's knee or thigh.

This particular gesture is incredibly sexy in its own unique way.  Maybe because it's an appropriate public touch that is alluring at the same time.

I think we'd have to search high and low to find a husband who doesn't like the feel of his wife's hand on his knee or thigh, whether they are sitting on the couch together or sitting in church together.

5. Lay your head on his shoulder.

Yes, I know.  This seems a bit cliche and meek and maybe even a bit sappy.   Who cares.

Laying your head on his shoulder and leaning into him can be a great way to say, "I want to be close to you."

When you do any of the above, you are discreetly and passionately giving clues to a puzzle the two of you will solve later.

Foreplay isn't just what happens in your bed.  Foreplay is what happens throughout the day, in simple and profound interactions between you and your husband.  In your home.  In your community. In your car. In your church.

My great-grandmother Iva MacDonald Deaver wrote in her diary on February 5, 1915, about the love between her and my great-grandfather.

Her words echo wisdom that is as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago:

"I guess love doesn't reason. It just feels and knows from the little things that would mean nothing at all to anyone else."

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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25 Questions Cover
November 10th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

25 Questions CoverI have great news!

Author and speaker Dr. Juli Slattery has released a book I believe will become a vital "go to" guide for any woman wanting to better understand love, sex and intimacy.

The book is 25 Questions You're Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex and Intimacy, and Juli asked if I would read it and get the word out about it.

She sent me a copy and offered an additional one I could give away (because honestly, I'm not giving up my copy!)

Here are three things that are astonishingly profound and beautiful about this book:

It's comprehensive without being cumbersome.

Seriously, this is what first caught my attention by the time I was 2-3 chapters in.  Juli tackles tough questions and strikes the right chord between saying too much and not saying enough.

She doesn't gloss over tough topics, which makes me think she put a lot of thought into her word choices.  She makes every word count.  The end result is that in every chapter, she gives us deeply needed points and clarifications -- without drowning us in lengthy hard-to-follow paragraphs.

It's an "easy" read, so to speak, yet doesn't back down from the challenging questions where many women are hungering for solid feedback.

It's biblical.

Make no mistake, she drenches this book in God's love and in His indisputable Word.  Juli humbly recognizes that without God's wisdom, generosity and truth, we cannot frame sex and intimate love in its right context.  We simply can't do it.

If we want to follow His plan, we are left with no choice but to align ourselves with His heart and Word.  What we do with our bodies and our relationships matters.

She does a great job conveying all that with grace and love.

It's conversational.

The first two points I made are obviously deal-breakers for me if I'm going to recommend a book, but this last one is what really piques my interest.

Is the book conversational?  Do I read it and feel like I'm having coffee with this woman?

Yes!

This is why I think this will be a book that can spur great conversations across generations.

It would be easy to assume the book is geared only toward younger women, but I believe it also would be an ideal book for a women's book club or small group, no matter the ages of the women.

I also think it would be a great book for a couple of single female friends to go through together to help encourage each other and hold each other accountable.

And no doubt it has nuggets of insight for women who are engaged, as well as those who have been married for quite awhile.

So, all that being said, you want to read this book, right?

If you simply can't wait one minute longer, head on over to Amazon and buy it.

 

Juli Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker and host of the weekly radio program Java with Juli. She is also the cofounder of Authentic Intimacy, a ministry passionate about reclaiming God's design for intimacy.  Juli and her husband, Mike, have been married for over 20 years and are raising their three boys in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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sexual intimacy in marriage
September 2nd, 2015 by Julie Sibert

sexual intimacy in marriage

Well, it's really a redesign of the old website, but you get the idea!

I am pumped about the new look of my site!  I am so excited to continue to offer up resources that will help you heal, improve, grow and strengthen sex in your marriage.

The call on my heart is to encourage couples, particularly Christian wives, in nurturing authentic sexual intimacy in marriage.  I know -- I really know -- how difficult that can be at times.

Yet God regular reminds me that we never stop learning how to be married.  A big part of that is continually learning, through all seasons of marriage, how to build amazing intimacy (not just sexual intimacy, but what can I say?! That's what I like to talk about the most).

So bookmark the site, sign up for to receive the posts through my feed or via email, and don't hesitate to comment or contact me about your thoughts on the topic!

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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lack-of-orgasm
August 15th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

Orgasmic pleasure in a marriage can elude many couples.  The causes behind the struggle can vary.

In today's post, Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo of One Extraordinary Marriage share about the impact orgasm has not only on sexual intimacy, but marriage as a whole. The DiLorenzos' post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

I so appreciate them sharing as part of this series.  Tony and Alisa were some of the first bloggers I met in the internet world of speaking encouragement into the lives of married couples trying to nurture their intimacy.

 

lack-of-orgasmIs lack of orgasm destroying your marriage? The short answer is yes AND no.

Well, that cleared things up for each of you, didn't it?

The truth is that marriages are destroyed by many things and there are two sides to this particular question.

Let's explore this in more detail.

First, let me be very clear, I am able to have an orgasm and I do enjoy them.

I do not have an orgasm every time that I have sex.

Sometimes that is by choice and sometimes that is by circumstances.

I know that not everyone is able to have an orgasm. There can be medical reasons for lack of orgasm. There can be emotional reasons for lack of orgasm. There can even be knowledge reasons for lack of orgasm.

Let's start with that last point -- the fact that you have to know how your body works.

You have to know what feels good for you in order to be able to share that with your spouse. If you don't know what works, how can you expect your spouse to figure it out?

Your spouse does not have ESP.

Am I referring to self-exploration? Yes! Mutual self-exploration.

When you were in school, did you have a  Sex Ed class?

Well…

...now, you get to participate in the grown-up, married version, and it's SO much better than what was in any textbook.

You have the opportunity to explore and learn with your spouse in a loving and creating environment. So what are you waiting for?

Now, back to the original question:

Is Lack of Orgasm Destroying Your Marriage? YES

For a person to experience orgasm, especially a woman, there has to be a combination of factors:

  • emotional connection
  • vulnerability
  • trust
  • communication

To fully let go in a sexual experience, to be willing to throw all caution to the wind, to be fully present in the moment, you have to let go of everything else around you.

You have to be willing to be caught up in the experiences, to surrender your body, mind, and soul to another person.

In the busyness of our world, that is a hard thing to do.  It takes a combination of willpower and desire to "flip the switch" to decide to be vulnerable, to decide to be fully present.

When these factors are not present, the chances for an orgasm are greatly diminished.

It's more than just the orgasm though.

When these particular factors are not present, there are greater problems in the marriage.

The lack of orgasm, and more likely the lack of sex, becomes a symptom of something else going on in the relationship.

So yes, if a lack of orgasm is due to the factors listed above, it could be indicative that your marriage is being destroyed.

Is Lack of Orgasm Destroying Your Marriage? NO

On the other hand, there are those times when the two of you are engaged in sexual activity with no orgasm. It happens and it's OK, as long as the two of you are able to communicate what's going on.

You won't always come to orgasm when you are having a quickie or when you are in a different place.

Many times there is a medical or situational lack of orgasm, and the two of you are aware of it.

You know that something is going on with the health of your spouse. You know that you only have 5 minutes before a child is going to come and knock on the door.

It's no surprise that due to stress, one of you might not be able to orgasm…

...and yet, the two of you are making the time to connect with one another, to be physical with each other.

To do what you can, with what you have, allows the two of you to be able to grow your marriage, no matter what the circumstances are.

The orgasm can be a barometer of what's going on the relationship, but not the only measure.

The most important thing in your marriage is that the two of you making time for one another and making each other a priority.

If you would like to read more posts about orgasm, check out this page.

Tony & Alisa equip couples struggling with a lack of time, communication or intimacy with specific tools and strategies to create the extraordinary relationship they desire. One quick tool is their 6 Questions To Get The Conversation Started This Week (And Keep It Going).

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Sorrowful couple after having an argument
August 6th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

… show up?

Do you make your body available, but never your heart and soul?

While "lack of sex" is a common storyline that sadly shows up in many marriages, equally discouraging is accommodation sex -- whereby one spouse merely goes through the motions, but never really shows up.

We can try to argue it otherwise (and trust me, many people have), but God truly designed sex to be a profound encounter between a husband and wife.

A oneness.

A reaffirmation of what is good and holy and right in the covenant of marriage.

A physical playing out of marriage vows.

It's no wonder that we intuitively and quickly recognize when such experience is reduced to nothing more than duty or "going through the motions."

We know when our spouse is begrudgingly doing something, rather than vulnerably offering their whole self.

I've heard from some people (mostly husbands, but some wives as well) who say they can't decide which would be worse -- no sex at all or sex that is done only out of obligation.

Ask yourself these questions:

Has accommodation sex become the standard in my marriage?

Is it the pattern from which we never deviate?

Does it define all (or nearly all) of the sexual encounters between me and my spouse?

Why is accommodation sex so devastating? If you are the one going through the motions, you may actually be asking this question with contempt, rather than contemplation.

Many wives have argued, "He is getting what he wants -- sex. What does it matter if I'm really into it or not?  Why is he disappointed? He got what he wanted! He got his release."

Well, that's not what he truly wanted.

He wanted the woman he married to desire him sexually.

He wanted the woman he loves and does life with to value sex not simply for the physical release, but for the indescribable connection it creates.

He wanted his wife to crave his touch and his mouth and his body.

He wanted her to show up.  Really show up.

The good news is that if accommodation sex is all that you have ever offered, you don't have to stay stuck in that pattern.

Change is hard and awkward and sometimes overwhelming. I get that.  But it is possible.

And if it is the kind of change that can strengthen your marriage, why wouldn't you walk in the direction of change?

Not sure where to start?  How about getting real with your spouse about wanting sex to look different in your marriage.   How about a humble, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I've treated sex as duty rather than a gift."

Maybe the hardest part will be digging into why you feel the way you do about sex.  As bewildering and overwhelming as that can be, it is so worth the heart work.  You're worth it.  Your marriage is worth it.

Sure, you could just sit back and hope things will improve on their own.  But why gamble with something as precious as the relationship with the person you fell in love with and married?

For more reading along these lines, check out Why the Excuse "Sex Isn't a Need" Doesn't Hold Water.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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August 4th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

It's hard to argue that society doesn't impact marriages. A busy and sometimes expensive lifestyle can spell doom for a couple's intimacy.

Lori Lowe of Marriage Gems shares sound wisdom on nurturing our marriages, despite society's standards that rail against margin. Lori's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

 

Fuel gaugeI recently read about a family's decision to leave an expensive city lifestyle and move to a rural, laid back community to reduce stress and have more time together.

It was a reminder that our lives are full of choices, and that our lifestyle is not a permanent decision.

I'm convinced the societal standards for most Americans are putting an immense strain on families and marriages; so much so, that many couples are too exhausted for physical and emotional intimacy.

For couples just getting by financially, the pressures are even greater to make ends meet, putting the marriage on the back burner.

The pressure to live in a large home filled with expensive furniture, to wear fashionable clothes, to send children to the best schools with private lessons, to take nice vacations, and to drive new cars contributes to a perceived need to work longer hours and attain promotions.

Many couples believe they can't live on one salary, even when one of the salaries is quite high.

These desires are promoted by the culture (through advertising, movies, Facebook, etc.) and lead to either debt or the need to earn more.

The result: Increased stress and less time, both of which contribute to a poor sex life.

Families with children have to face additional societal pressures to join artistic, educational, and athletic teams and activities.

A generation ago, a baseball team would practice perhaps one day a week in addition to a weekend game. Today's sports teams often require daily practices and most of the weekend. Many kids I know practice before and after school every day, plus weekends.

Ballet, piano, swim, choir, band, soccer—the options are endless and costly, and the pressure to join starts very early. Family time suffers, and budgets are strained. Parents often divide on weekends to cover all the activities, making weekends as much work as the weekday.

Where does sex fit into the schedule?

Frankly, it's difficult to be in the mood when you haven't had time to connect during the week or the weekend. You're both tired and trying to catch up on household chores. There may even be resentment when one or both spouses feel they are doing more (of the childcare, of the chores, or earning the money).

If only one spouse is working, he or she may feel compelled to focus on work to fulfill the family's needs and wants. A lack of connection can develop if not enough time is spent with one's spouse and family, hurting the relationship and getting in the way of a good sex life.

Millennials are starting to pave the way with prioritizing work/life balance above climbing the corporate ladder. Building balance into our lives allows us to nurture our relationships.

There's nothing wrong with living in a nice home, driving a nice car, and taking your kids to soccer practice.

However, if societal pressures are preventing a quality family life, consider what changes could be made.

Are you willing to live in a smaller house to have more time together?

Could you drop out of some activities and have more free time together?

Is it possible to live on one salary or for one partner to go part-time?

How can you carve out time for daily/weekly connection?

When my family found ourselves spread too thin and separating for sporting activities on the weekend, we dropped my son out of the travel soccer team. Instead, we found ourselves enjoying relaxing Saturdays as a family, and able to go to church at our regular time on Sunday.

We adjusted our lives so that I could work part-time. The extra time allows me to have much of the shopping, laundry and chores done during the workday. Evenings and weekends aren't overwhelmed with these tasks.

I don’t think we have won the battle against all of society’s expectations.

One struggle we often have is the high volume of homework, studying, and projects our kids complete each night, sometimes requiring our support. The pressure to help our kids succeed is high and time consuming. This stress can also bleed into the marriage relationship and keep us from having time to relax as a couple.

Now that our children are teens/tweens, we sometimes have to force ourselves to leave them to do their work, and take time for ourselves as a couple. We go out to dinner and allow them the practice of cooking and cleaning up after themselves.

It's important for us to prioritize the marriage; a strong marriage is a great gift for our children.

We plan for long-term goals, including trips and college, but we try not to succumb to many of the pressures that would take too much time from our marriage and family. We are blessed to have our children at home, and we also look forward to different phases of our lives.

To be successful and have a happy marriage once our children are gone, we need to make time and space for one another now. We make frequent changes to try to achieve better balance, and at least question the activities in which we are involved. Balance is a moving target.

If you think your marriage and sex life is getting put on the back burner, sit down individually, as a couple and as a family to determine what changes are possible to give you more of the life you want.

Lori_LOWE Red_Dress_50Lori Lowe writes research-based marriage tips at MarriageGems.com. Her book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is available on Amazon.com and in all e-book formats. Lori has been married to her high school sweetheart for 20 years this fall. They live in Indianapolis with their two children.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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