Recently, I wrote about sexually selfish husbands, and it's only fair I give equal voice to the reality there are some sexually selfish wives too.
You might be a selfish wife sexually if...
(1) You see sex as something he has to earn.
This can show up in a variety of ways.
Maybe you subconsciously tell yourself, "If he does such-and-such, then I'll give him sex." Or maybe you come right out and say something along those lines to him.
Sex becomes a bartering tool, a scorecard of "you do this" and "I'll do that."
In particularly malicious scenarios, you may manipulate the game the opposite way. You punish him by withholding sex.
Painful damage comes from reducing sex in a marriage to mere commodity, where one person is always in the position of having to "earn" it. There's nothing in God's Word that would support this kind of arrangement.
If anything, 1 Corinthians 7 gives us a selfless picture of a husband and a wife offering their bodies to each other freely, rather than turning it all into a transaction. We could even go so far as to say that when you make sex something your husband has to "earn," you have prostituted yourself. In your own marriage.
And God has pa-lenty to say about prostitution.
(2) You are never willing to try something new.
God gives a husband and wife tremendous freedom in the marriage bed to exclusively enjoy one another. Go God! This is one of the sweet privileges of marriage -- you can enjoy 31 flavors of sex, so to speak.
Sadly, too many wives are steadfast on having only vanilla on the menu.
Hey, I'm not saying vanilla is bad (every marriage needs a bit of vanilla sex). But vanilla every time?
It is no wonder that many husbands want some sexual variety. Variety that is exclusive, mutually valued and acceptable in God's eyes is not only possible, it is what some married couples pursue with passion and love.
(3) You make sexual promises you never intend to keep.
This is actually a big complaint I hear from husbands. Their wives either tease sexually or promise sex "soon" -- but then rarely follow through.
Some guys even describe this as a mild form of torture, like setting an ice cold glass of water in front of a man who has been crawling around in the desert. But he never actually gets the water.
He just has to stare at it. Wonder what it would be like to enjoy it.
(I had one man email me this lengthy analogy that sex deprivation in his marriage was like being a starving man chained to a bed in a bakery, but he never gets any bread. He is forced to constantly see the baker baking the bread and smell the bread. But he never gets even a morsel.)
Anyway, I think you get the picture.
The other problem with making sexual promises that you don't keep is that it fuels distrust in the very relationship where you need trust the most.
It causes division, not unity. If your husband doubts your sincerity in sexual availability, he likely doubts your sincerity in other aspects of love -- even if he would never speak those reservations out loud.
(4) You're not willing to understand what sex means to him.
So many women assume that sex is just sex for a man -- it's just a release and intense sexual pleasure, but it doesn't have much to do with an emotional or spiritual connection.
Wrong. Especially for the majority of husbands I hear from. Sex isn't just sex. Some husbands are so pained by their wives not understanding the significance of sex that they have asked God to take their sex drive away (interesting post on that here).
If you have used wide brush strokes to paint your husband into a corner, stereotyping him as nothing more than an animal bent on simply responding to his sexual urges, you have not been fair to the man you love.
(5) You think every sexual request he makes is rooted in porn.
Before you think I don't recognize that porn has caused huge devastation to marriages, please remember that I do blog about sex. I hear about and read about many circumstances where porn has in some cases destroyed marriages.
We have to be careful in thinking that particular sex acts or positions are inherently wrong simply because they also appear in pornography. Yes, you need to search God's Word and your hearts. No, it's not okay for one spouse to force another spouse to do something or to hurt their spouse, all in the name of sexual pleasure.
But there are a lot of married couples enjoying different positions, oral sex, sex toys, etc. In those situations, pornography is not at the root of that enjoyment.
(6) You just go through the motions but never really show up.
If I had a buck every time I hear from a husband who says that he doesn't just want her body, he wants her, I'd be a rich woman.
If your husband is like most, when you offer him obligatory sex or you just treat it all like a big chore to check off your list, he is dying a bit on the inside. (I wrote a popular post about that here).
I receive more emails and comments from men than I do from women.
This does not surprise me.
What did initially surprise me, though, when I began blogging is the depth of pain expressed in these emails from men who hunger for more sexual intimacy in their marriage.
Notice I just wrote "sexual intimacy," rather than using the word "sex."
Nearly all the communication I receive from husbands clearly shows that sex is not just sex to them (contrary to what popular culture and stereotyping would lead us to believe).
They aren't just looking for a release.
Because let's face it, they could get that from their own hand. Sure, some resort to secret masturbation on a regular basis, because they see no other option afforded them. Yet most would gladly admit that what they really want is to make love to their wife.
Sex is never just about sex. It's about wanting to feel connected, affirmed and one with the person to whom you've pledged your life.
Some marriages are high on conflict about sex and incredibly low on resolution and healing. Two people slowly drift away from each other sexually, either because healing the disconnect is not a shared value or because one or both spouses believe the marriage is irretrievably broken sexually.
My God, marriage is hard, isn't it? I get that. I know.
I don't minimize the challenge it is to build an intimate marriage. Being married is a high and holy calling and it is hard, hard work. And so much impacts sexual intimacy, from hormonal and physical issues to relationship struggles to betrayal to life circumstances to skewed views about sex.
The list goes on.
But it is tragic commentary in a marriage when either spouse has prayed for God to take away something that is inherently woven into the very design of marriage. God's design for marriage.
I am grieved any time I read an email or comment where a husband has resigned to defeat, thinking there is no longer any viable option but to pray -- even beg -- for God to take his sexual desire away.
The devastation of laying next to a woman who neither pursues him sexually nor responds lovingly to his initiation is just too much. Too much.
To frame this in another perspective, consider if you as a wife are feeling emotionally neglected by your husband.
Do you pray that God remove your desire for emotional oneness with the man you fell in love with and married?
Some of you may pray this, but my guess is that most women in that situation do not wish for their desire for emotional connection to go away.
They would rather see the relationship healed and strengthened, right?
Deep down when a husband has prayed God take his sexual desire away, what he is really screaming from the caverns of his soul is that he desperately wants the relationship healed and strengthened.
He wants -- genuinely wants -- authentic sexual intimacy with the woman he married.
If there are struggles in your marriage about sexual frequency, do you ever wonder if your husband has prayed for God to take his sexual desire away?
Well, here's the deal.
God probably isn't going to answer that prayer with a yes.
And even if He did, would we really consider that a victory for your marriage?
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
I'm probably going to frustrate a few people with this post.
Or maybe not. I'm not sure.
At any rate, soldier on in reading, even if you are tempted to stop. Where I am going may surprise you.
Sometimes I hear from husbands who are not interested in sex because their wife has "let herself go" -- not shown interest in being healthy, wearing attractive clothing or embracing her femininity.
Sometimes it is wives who are emailing me about their husband who has put on some extra pounds, not paid attention to his grooming like he did when they were first married and stopped embracing his manliness.
And sometimes the emails are from people lamenting not about their spouse, but about themselves, claiming they "let themselves go" and this is the reason for the intimacy woes that are plaguing the marriage.
Whether someone is complaining about their spouse or complaining about themselves, I think this whole "let yourself go" issue is not really the issue.
Because let's be honest. For the vast majority of people, your body at 40 or 50 is not going to look like your body at 20.
It's just not, what with that thing called aging (not to mention carrying and birthing and nursing the little tykes for us women).
That's not to say you can't aim toward being physically healthy, dressing in appropriately fitting and attractive clothing, and so forth. Yes, this is all well and good.
BUT, the real issue, in my opinion, is your attitude about sexual intimacy and your willingness to have healthy confidence in yourself (not just in your body).
Do you want to know something about those scenarios I shared at the beginning of this post? The ones where I hear from people complaining about their spouse "letting themselves go"?
Those emails by far are a tiny percentage compared to the number of emails and comments I receive, particularly from husbands, who actually have a different quandary.
What torments these guys is their wife has let go of her sexual confidence, despite the husband's repeated encouragement and affirmation.
You see, these men don't care about the extra pounds their wife has put on. And they don't care that she doesn't look like she did when they first married.
What the husband hungers for is a wife who wants to make love, wants to be close and wants to give him the privilege of seeing her naked body.
But she is resistant, even belligerently self-defeating when it comes to nurtured sexual intimacy and sexual passion in the marriage.
The husband isn't hung up on what she perceives as having "let herself go."
If you are still reading, this may well be your come to Jesus moment as far as what has truly been sabotaging intimacy in your marriage bed.
Maybe you have. And maybe it has nothing to do with your body.
I hear from countless guys who say that what they find incredibly sexy is sexual confidence.
Given the choice, they would be more excited about a wife who maybe has put on some extra weight and has a few wrinkles YET still has interest and enthusiasm in bed than a wife who looks like a Victoria Secret model YET has zero interest in sexual passion with her husband.
I could do a "man on the street" survey (because, honestly, that sounds like fun). You know where I would arrive with that survey?
That a wife's sexual confidence is sacred ground -- thoroughly enjoyed by husbands whose wives exhibit it -- and coveted by countless husbands whose wives don't have it (and have no interest in having it).
I'm just not so sure this "let yourself go" argument is really about what we have too often made it about.
I think the deeper issue is about sexual confidence. Not the extra baby weight.
If you're going to let go of anything, let go of this idea that you first have to lose the extra weight or get in better shape before you build sexual confidence.
A better approach just might be to build sexual confidence now.
What do you think?
And for more reading, check out my favorite post on "body image" at this link.
And I might catch some grief for sharing the below video, but it has an incredibly powerful message (warning though, especially for guys, it does contain subtle nudity).
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
I am so grateful for Cassie's willingness to be a part of this series. She offers great insights on the reality that it is often the small grievances that turn into huge roadblocks in our relationship.
When Ryan and I started dating. we made an agreement to deal with issues as they arose.
In past relationships, we hid our true feelings, pushed concerns back and dealt with problems once they became big enough that they couldn't be ignored. Those past relationships in part did not work out because of those reasons.
We wanted our relationship to be different, to be genuine.
We will soon celebrate our 4th anniversary. I feel like Ryan and I have done pretty well with our agreement. We have had very few big issues because lack of communication. But to be honest, it's the small things that I constantly have to check myself about.
I must be willing to forgive the little things or else they become big things. Big things that can start destroying our sex life.
How can unforgiveness destroy our sex life?
There are certainly big issues in marriages that cause unforgiveness. However, for me, and for others, they are typically small disappointments.
We weren't asked if he could help with dinner.
We wished they would have spent more time with us this weekend.
She didn't do something she said she was going to.
These are small disappointments that can easily be talked over and forgiven. But instead, if we focus on those unmet expectations, we can become angry. Our anger can turn into bitterness and then resentment.
In return, staying resentful then makes us come to a stage when we just don't care anymore.
When you "just don't care" anymore it is hard to connect in general, but even more so during sex.
Sex was created to be an intimate action to draw closer together as husband and wife. If we have walls build up from hurt, unmet expectations, anger and unforgiveness, we tend to either avoid sex or complete the act disconnected. Both of those will destroy our marriage sex life.
Ways to overcome unforgiveness to benefit our marriage bed
It comes down to the simple, but not easy, fact that we have to forgive. Forgiveness is not an option, but a must. God forgave us for our sins; therefore, we are called to forgive others of theirs.
Here are some tips to help your heart to genuinely forgive:
Personally, staying focused on the fact that sin is sin can also be helpful. That all sin is equal. And all of my sins were forgiven by God who loves me unconditionally.
That is what helps me to forgive and love Ryan even when my human self doesn't think it is possible. It is not in my own strength that I am able to forgive, but with the strength of God.
Cassie Celestain is a wife, mom, runner and a marriage and family blogger at True Agape. She believes respect, trust, understanding and willingness creates happy marriages and families. She strives to keep those things the main focus in her daily life and wants to challenge others to do the same.
Occasionally, I receive an email from someone who is beyond frustration (and somewhat exasperated) by the fact that they have never had sex in their marriage.
Usually the person I hear from is the one being denied sex, and they don't know how to resolve this.
One husband who wrote to me said he and his wife had been married 7 years and never once had had sex. Seriously. 7 Years.
Most emails I get about this topic, though, are desperate cries for help from people who have been married less than a couple of years.
Regardless of how long a couple has been married -- a few months or a few years or even longer -- it is not okay that one person (or sadly, in some cases, both people) have completely avoided consummating the marriage.
Sex is part of marriage. No matter how anyone would try to argue or justify otherwise, God and His Word are not vague about this. Sex is intricately woven into the design of marriage.
Yes, in some instances, there are medical reasons that make it difficult for a woman in particular to have intercourse. She likely was a virgin when she married, and understandably didn't know these challenges even existed until she and her husband tried to have sex.
I'm not downplaying physical challenges.
In those instances, I know it takes courage for a woman to reach out to doctors, but that is what she needs to do. The impact of physical challenges, such as vaginismus, often can be eliminated or at least minimized through the right physical therapy and medical assistance.
If you think there is a physical challenge that is preventing you from having AND enjoying sex, please do not delay in seeing a gynecologist. If you have to, get second and third opinions. Don't give up.
If there is not a physical reason for sex being painful or extremely difficult, then what could be some of the other reasons sex hasn't happened?
If you are in a marriage that has not been consummated or if sex has happened only a few times, do any of the below resonate with you:
1 Do you have skewed views about sex?
Did you grow up hearing that sex is always wrong, dirty or gross? Sadly, Christians perpetuate these lies the most, particularly Christians who never saw the value of sex in their own marriages.
Or did you simply hear "don't do it" so often in your teen years and early 20s, that now it is difficult for you to see sex as permissible, even though you are married? Oh my, I hear from many married women who don't know how to "flip the switch" and now see sex as something to pursue rather than something to avoid.
I encourage you to dig into God's Word and reliable Christian resources that will help you see that sex is a totally good and needed experience in your marriage. God designed sexual pleasure and sexual oneness for a husband and a wife.
It's time to put lies and half-truths behind you and get down to the holy business of being married, including enjoying sex.
2 Are you scared that you don't know how to have sex?
If you and/or your spouse were virgins when you married, you may feel apprehensive about sex, because you aren't sure how to have sex.
There's a lot to be said for trial and error -- simply exploring each other's bodies and offering good feedback to each other about what feels good. Give yourself permission and room to learn and grow in your sexual confidence.
Don't rule out books, websites, etc., that give solid Christian guidance on enjoying sex.
3 Do you have relationship struggles outside of bed?
If you and your spouse are already having a hard time enjoying each other's friendship and company while you are clothed, it is no wonder that getting naked and vulnerable beneath the sheets feels impossible.
Don't ignore the disconnect and problems you are having in your relationship.
The more you shed light on those problems and seek to resolve them, the more likely your intimacy (sexual and otherwise) will grow.
4 Are you stuck in the "no sex" routine?
Sometimes when I hear from people who haven't had sex yet in their marriage, the scenario looks something like this:
The wedding was so exciting and exhausting and incredible. Then the honeymoon was eagerly anticipated, yet the couple was still exhausted from all the wedding festivities. Then they came home to settle into life together, go back to work, and write thank you notes.
And. Still. No. Sex.
Before long, they fell into a routine of "no sex," all the while thinking, "It will happen someday."
Someday never came. And then weeks and months (and sometimes years) passed, and someday still never came.
And now the two people are paralyzed (and possibly embarrassed) in knowing how to finally have sex.
If that describes your situation, time for a heart-to-heart with each other. Time to get real. This situation isn't going to fix itself.
The two of you are going to have to get outside your comfort zone, get outside your routine and start exploring a sexual relationship with each other.
You are husband and wife. You need to be having sex.
5 Were you sexually abused in your past?
Your hesitancy about sex could be rooted in the tragic experience of past sexual abuse.
Sometimes people know full well they were abused and other people have repressed these experiences, only to have them then resurface during intimate encounters during their marriage.
If you were sexually abused in any way, I hope and pray you know that those people who wronged you and committed the abuse are to blame, not you. While healing from and moving beyond past sexual abuse can be a difficult journey, that kind of healing is vital for the health of your marriage.
There are resources available to help you face and heal from that pain, including counseling, books, seminars, blogs, etc.
The reality is that as a married person, you are left with a choice. You can either continue to let that abuse wreak havoc and devastation in your life or you can find ways to embrace sex in its right context of marriage and enjoy it.
Don't let past sexual abuse continue to rob you and the person with whom you fell in love. Sexual abuse has already taken enough from you.
The above 5 reasons are not exhaustive, but they cover quite a bit of ground as to why a couple possibly hasn't had sex yet.
For some couples, this is a real issue. And they would never dream of talking about it, even to their closest friends or family, for fear of feeling like a failure or being seen as an oddity.
But I want to shed light into those dark places and speak hope into your discouragement and paralysis.
If there really is no reason you shouldn't be having sex (like illness, injury or extended separation because of military deployment or work commitments), then you need to be having sex -- and finding ways to fully enjoy it.
You are worth it. Your spouse is worth it. Your marriage is worth it.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Having gone through this myself (I’m 56), I only had my limited experience and a few friends I’ve talk to from which to glean. This is why I decided to ask readers through a 10-question survey about this apparently much-needed topic.
I also solicited the help from the CMBA marriage bloggers I know and asked them to alert their readers of the survey as well. I am pleased with the response. If you participated, thank you!
First, let me say, menopause is a mystery to most couples, even when you’re going through it.
Desires that once were a given, may no longer be on the radar screen. For those who have yet to experience it, you most likely don’t care to think about “that stage” of life. You’re too busy raising a family for goodness sakes.
I get that.
Second, everyone is different when it comes to how they’ll go through the “change of life,” as my parent’s generation called it.
After reading nearly 200 respondents answers to my survey, I understand why they gave it that name; It can change your life in ways you never thought would happen- - not to you anyway.
Finally, whatever difficulty you’ve had with your sexual intimacy and in your marriage for that matter, will be magnified during this season. This is why if you’re young and reading this, please, please work hard to keep the lines of communication open through all that you face together.
Holding back out of fear, shame or pride will only make things worse as the years pass. The pain you experience now in facing it won’t compare to the pain many of the couples shared who are facing menopause and unable to connect with their spouse in an understanding way.
If you’re not sure what the difference is between menopause and perimenopause or what any of it is, The Mayo Clinic provides this helpful definition:
“Perimenopause means 'around menopause' and refers to the time period during which a woman's body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice signs of progression toward menopause, such as menstrual irregularity, sometime in your 40s. But some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s.
The level of your estrogen — the main female hormone — rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. Your menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten, and you may begin having menstrual cycles in which your ovaries don't release an egg (ovulate). You may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. Treatments are available to help ease these symptoms.
Once you've gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, you've officially reached menopause, and the perimenopause period is over.”
My experience began overnight when we went through an unexpected stressful season in our life. I thought I was struggling with anger and moodiness because of our situation, but it wasn’t like me.
I’d always been very optimistic about life, but suddenly I was seeing things like a pessimist. Everything was a negative, and my husband was perplexed to say the least.
So was I.
About 6 months into it, I had my annual appointment scheduled with my doctor and this is when we discovered my moodiness wasn’t only a reaction to my circumstances. My hormone levels had bottomed out as if I were in menopause, yet I was still having regular menstrual cycles.
I was full blown in the perimenopausal stage. I was 50.
Thankfully, because my husband and I have worked hard through our marriage to keep the lines of communication open, and we have enjoyed a healthy sex life, we were able to navigate the moody waters of my hormones.
I believe we have weathered the worst of it now, nearly 6 years after it began. Sure, things are different. The physical desire isn’t as strong as it once was, but it’s still there. It just takes a little more time to get things going.
The emotional connection to my husband and the love we share makes sex worth pursuing. It may not occur as often as it used to, but when it does, I would say it’s better than it’s ever been.
That’s our story, and it’s only one among thousands that are unique to each couple. Everyone is writing the story of their sex life with each encounter that they share. You will experience things that will challenge your intimacy in ways others may not.
The key is to be intentional together as you walk through difficulty.
Here are some facts that will help you know what it can be like for some women and the difficulty they have to enjoy their sexual encounters. (Source: The Mayo Clinic)
Physical Challenges of Perimenopause (PM):
Lack of libido (desire for sex)
Lack of sleep due to hot flashes and insomnia
Embarrassing sweating to the point of having to change clothes often
When touched the heat soars, which limits physical contact with husband
Thinning of vaginal walls causing bleeding and severe pain
Loss of bone density
Change in cholesterol levels
Vulnerable to urinary and vaginal infections
Menstrual irregularity - including skipping periods altogether or heavier, longer lasting periods.
I share all of this with you because it helps to be informed. Many women would rather not think about it. I know, because this is what I did.
I was afraid to hear of the nightmares other women had experienced. I didn’t want to think that that could be me one day. I totally ignored the wisdom and advice that could have prepared me more for this season, because I was too proud thinking that would never be me.
I don’t want you to go 6 months wondering what in the world is wrong with you, like I did. Burying your head in the sand will not make it go away. It will just ensure you’re not prepared when it comes.
Surprisingly, many menopausal couples no longer have sex or rarely do for various reasons. This is sad to me, and makes me grateful that we are still able to enjoy our sexual intimacy. But there are many couples whose sex life is still going strong, even if it’s not as often.
I want to close with this excellent advice from one of the survey respondents to all of you who are wondering what this season will hold for you. Don’t be fearful, instead prepare. Here is what they had to say:
“Let your husband be a priority in your life. He will be with you through all the ups and downs. Have date nights, do your best to keep romance alive. Put him before your girlfriends. Get away for the weekend if you can. I wish I would have trusted God more and worried less. My husband has taken good care of us and our kids. Have fun with your husband!!!”
To read the survey results, see the embedded graph further down in this post or go to this link.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,11 ESV holds new meaning when read in light of our subject.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace...
...He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Kind of sounds like those vows we said on our wedding day, doesn’t it?
For richer or poorer, for better or worse?
We hope this helps open the door of communication between you and your spouse. Let them read this post and see if they can relate to what has been shared.
Take time and read the responses in our survey (the survey results are below or at this link).
Set aside some time to talk about it. If menopause is far down the road, still plan a date night to discuss with your spouse how they would respond to some of the examples given.
I 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 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.
We are fortunate today to have my friend J Parker from Hot Holy Humorous digging into this issue of body image and how it impacts sexual intimacy in marriage...
What are two words most wives never want to hear in the same sentence? Naked and mirror.
If you shuddered just then, you’re not alone. Body image is one major reason wives cite for not feeling comfortable getting naked and engaging in sexual intimacy with their husbands.
Whenever I write on how we feel about our bodies, I receive comments and concerns from wives struggling with this issue. Understandably, their deeply-felt concerns about their bodies interfere with wanting to make love.
If only God had made sex where you didn’t have to get naked…
Actually, I believe “get naked” is a good provision from God. But before you can feel that way, you have to adopt His perspective about your beauty.
Don’t feel pretty enough to pare down to your barely theres, much less your bare necessities?
Why do you feel bad about yourself?
Although I don’t know you, I’ll tell you why: You’re believing lies. I don’t know your specific situation, so I can’t say which lies you’re believing. Yet I feel confident you have messages running through your brain about your appearance, your worth, your beauty that don’t comport with how your Heavenly Father made and sees you.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
Maybe you’ve read this scripture, perhaps many times, but do you believe it about yourself?
God knit you, right? In your mama’s tummy? Then yep, you’re “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The real question is…do you know that full well?
Begin today by replacing the wrong messages looping through your head with God’s truth. Place this scripture on your mirror, recite it daily, memorize it. Plant it deep in your heart.
What’s so great about you?
A lot actually. But unfortunately we get stuck in recounting our flaws more than our assets. What always fascinates me is talking to a gorgeous woman—you know, that gal everyone agrees has been kissed by good genes and the fickle Fairy of Fabulous Fortune—and discovering she hates her thunder thighs. Or whatever it is.
I’m not expecting you to send sympathy gifts to that woman, but realize we all do ourselves a vast disservice and don’t represent the truth when we focus on those aspects we don’t like. Everyone has stuff they don’t like, but what matters is what you emphasize.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, clothed or naked, start pointing out your goodies, girlfriend! Everyone has those too.
If you can’t name three things off the top of your head or while staring in the mirror you like about yourself, try harder or ask a good friend for help. Repeat those three beauty traits to yourself like a mantra, and eventually add another trait, then another, and so on and so on.
Make a habit of being good to yourself when you look in the mirror. Be your own Fabulous Fairy of Fortune. You don’t even need a magic wand.
What about your husband?
Another certainty when I blog about body image is hubbies defending their wives. Most husbands are protective of their wives already, but it’s weird that when it comes to our beauty, our men are often defending us against, well, us.
Time and time again, I hear from husbands who say, in spite of whatever flaws his wife concentrates on, he married a "make-my-heart-thump" hottie. And he hates it when you won’t share your body with him because you’ve decided it’s not good enough.
Allow your husband to reassure you of your beauty. Let him see you naked and proclaim, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!”
It’s not about perfection to him—and newsflash, he ain’t perfect either—but rather your femininity, openness, confidence, and connection. He adores that this woman’s body is his—his to view, his to appreciate, his to pleasure, his to satisfy.
Yes, it’s your body, but it also belongs to your husband.
“The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:4).
Let go of worries about your body’s imperfections and let your husband reassure you of your beauty.
Will you accomplish all of this tomorrow? No, of course not. This is a journey from feeling inadequate to feeling beautiful. But if you don’t feel good about your body, your marriage’s sexual intimacy is suffering. And you are suffering—not experiencing fully what God wants you to have.
Take a first step. Recognize the importance of embracing your self-worth and the unique beauty God knitted into you.
Walk confidently into the marital bedroom, reveal all your beauty and imperfections, and make something that’s also beautiful—make love with your husband.
“For your royal husband delights in your beauty” Psalm 45:11 (NLT).
I'm not talking about situations where the sexual disrepair is shackled to deep and sometimes painful roadblocks (Lack of repentance about infidelity and pornography use. Medical diagnoses or injuries that make sex difficult or impossible. Or a handful of other situations).
And I'm not talking about occasional dry spells or slight miscommunications about sexual frequency.
No, I'm talking about sexual refusal -- blatant and ongoing -- for no other reason beyond that you don't like sex or simply don't think it's vital to the relationship.
Honestly, you may not consider yourself a "sexual refuser," but I'm guessing at the minimum you would admit you are "sexually uninterested."
And that sits fine with you.
But not with your spouse.
Yet, you still do life together (well, sort of together. At least together enough that you doubt the absence of sex is going to cause any real problems).
You navigate the mirage of carpools, kid activities, bedtime routines, trips to the grocery store, family functions, the ever-rising cell bill, that volunteer commitment at church, the "I need 3 dozen cupcakes for school tomorrow," the overbearing bosses and work demands, sticky kitchen floors, empty milk jugs, piles of laundry, errands to pick up poster board, the obnoxious "low gas" indicator, and the ever present, but never quite complete, to-do list.
"Sex? Who has time or energy or longing for sex amidst all that?!"
And you ease your conscience with an occasional reminder that "this is just what happens in a marriage." Sex fades. It's a non-issue. (to you, at least).
I get that you likely don't want to hear me say that there may be some costs to your sexual refusal.
But these costs will blindside you when you least expect it, and I'm trying to spare you that kind of wake-up call.
5 Costs of Sexual Refusal:
1. Your spouse may be present physically, but check out emotionally.
This is a tough one.
And this may be the one that blindsides you the most. You may think your spouse is "just fine" with the lack of sex because they still have skin in the game, so to speak.
They still participate in paying the bills, carting the kids around, mowing the yard and going to your mom's for Sunday dinner.
You feel confident they would never bail on the marriage (they are a Christian, after all). And you may be right. They may not bail physically, but I know plenty of people who have bailed emotionally.
The pain of sexual refusal is just too much. And instead of having a "come to Jesus" moment with you to address that pain, they instead start closing doors in their heart.
2. You won't know your spouse someday.
Maybe you already don't know them. Maybe you already have this lingering suspicion that there is a distance between the two of you.
Well, ongoing sexual refusal is going to widen that chasm. I guarantee it.
3. You'll set a sad and unbiblical example for your kids about sex and marriage.
You think those young people in your house don't know anything about the sexual relationship you have -- or don't have -- with your spouse. You think they are too little or too naive or too unobservant or too indifferent or too grossed out about sex.
But here's the deal.
Those little tykes you created are going to grow up (quicker than you realize), and word to the wise on this one -- they are likely going to get married. And have sex.
They are already getting a horribly skewed message about sex from society.
And the church isn't fairing much better with its overgeneralized messages that never venture beyond "DON'T DO IT! FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, STAY PURE!"
Your home should be the first and most significant place where your kids get the message that God designed sex in marriage to be amazing, passionate, soul-binding, extraordinary and pleasurable.
They are learning about marriage from you. What are you teaching them?
4. You'll have regrets about things you can't undo.
I'm not saying young married couples have the corner on great sex, because there is a lot of passionate sex to be had by married folk well into their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.
But. Some effects of time and age simply are unavoidable, at least for many people. Some conditions become more prevalent as we age, not to mention increased challenges with hormones.
So by the time you wake up to what nurtured sexual intimacy could have been to your marriage, it might be too late to really undo the damage. You may have already paid a heavy price, without even knowing it.
5. You'll be hurting the person you claim to love.
Here is the crux of it all. Do you love this person you married? (Some of you will answer "no" to that, so suffice to say, I'm speaking to those of you who would answer "yes").
Do you love this person? This person you chose to become one with -- figuratively, literally, spiritually, practically.
Love in marriage is expressed many ways, and God calls us to pay attention to all of those ways, including sex. He doesn't offer up "ways to love" as a smorgasbord from which you can choose at your whim, disregarding what doesn't suit you.
Sex is part of marriage in such an intricate way that when one person arbitrarily removes it, rare is the relationship that can survive such void (at least survive well, which I am guessing you want, right? A strong marriage. Not just one that exists).
What costs are you willing to pay by sexually refusing your spouse? Best decide now. The price only will go up.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.