We Can’t Have Sex Because the House Isn’t Clean (and other lies we tell ourselves)

A long time ago, my grandmother and I were talking about some of the differences between husbands and wives. I imagine I was lamenting about everything that I needed to get done and how such a list leaves me often feeling perpetually tired. I was wondering if men feel this way too.

My grandma wisely observed, “Women just see more that needs to be done.” It’s true, isn’t it? I’m not bashing husbands, because that’s a hasty careless road to go down. I’m simply saying that as wives (and mothers), we gaze around the house and we do see so much that needs to be done. Library books to return. Laundry to start. Bills to pay. Closets to organize. Empty cupboards to fill. Noses to wipe. Dinner to cook. Etc. Etc. Etc. (And if you work outside the home as well or have paid employment you do from home, then there are a million little work details vying for your attention also).

Before long, all that needs to be done morphs into a huge list of reasons why “we can’t have sex.” And then this can progress into resentment, because not only are you overwhelmed by the actual list, you are now a little pissed off that he doesn’t feel equally hounded by “all that needs to be done.” “How can he possibly not see all this?!” you wonder with great agitation.

You may hate me for this, but I gotta call it for what it is. When you consistently use “the house has to be clean” or any other to-do list item as a pre-requisite for having sex, you are lying to yourself. There. I said it. You are making excuses for not making love to your husband. That is a very unhealthy pattern to get rooted in your marriage.

The reality is that there will ALWAYS be more on your to-do list than can reasonably be completed on any given day. You wear a lot of hats (not sure which ones are in your assorted collection, but I imagine they include wife, mother, worker, friend, neighbor, volunteer, caregiver, and family member). I’m not going to give you some fancy formula for completing your to-do list. Nope. There are no easy tricks. The neat and organized life will elude you…some days are worse than others, of course, but the messiness of life never completely goes away.

So, a different lens is needed…one that encourages you to make room for sexual intimacy, even if it means you have to push the unfolded laundry on to the floor. Take a deep breath. Stop waiting for ideal circumstances. Instead, create a focus in your heart that sees making love to your husband more important than the overdue library book. Start weighing the consequences.

If you have really let sexual intimacy fall by the wayside, relegating it to hang out in the wings while you clean the house or tackle your to-do list, then consider this. Six months from now, will your life be richer because of a clean house or because of nurtured intimacy with your husband? Do your kids need shiny floors or do they need a mom and dad in love?

And it’s good to point out too that just as the completely orderly life eludes us, so too does the completely chaotic life. In other words, choosing to make sexual intimacy a priority is not going to result living in squalor or your life spinning out of control. You are an amazing capable woman. And you are doing a lot better than you probably give yourself credit for. Really. So start weighing the consequences of what it will cost you and your marriage if you are always choosing your to-do list over sex. I’m just saying.

Copyright 2010. Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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34 thoughts on “We Can’t Have Sex Because the House Isn’t Clean (and other lies we tell ourselves)

  1. Dan says:

    GREAT POST!

    This is so true (at least from this husband’s perspective).

    I wish my wife would have read this long ago. How can I get her to change the above habits that are rooted in years of making those choices/priorities? Simply printing the article and leaving it on the nightstand isn’t going to do it 🙁

    The consequences are indeed heavy. HELP!

  2. JulieSibert says:

    Thanks for the comments Dan. I don’t know your wife or details of your marriage (or what you have already tried), so I don’t know if my suggestions will help, but possibly try to talk with her openly (and compassionately) about your feelings…that it’s not just about sex for sex’s sake, but it’s about you wanting to be close to the woman you fell in love with…that you need her. How does she feel about sex? Have the two of you had some good open non-defensive dialogue about sex? Is she experiencing pleasure (if not, is she open to the two of you working together toward this?) A lot of woman aren’t very interested in sex because they are not having orgasms, so it all just feels routine to them. These are just some ideas. If she wants to email me to have another wife to talk with, I’m open to this. Sometimes that can help in working through roadblocks and embracing a new perspective.

  3. Dan says:

    Julie,

    Thanks for the thoughts. My wife does receive “pleasure” and she enjoys our intimate time together. Orgasms are not a problem for her when we are together – that’s the most puzzling part. If you (or anyone) enjoys the intimacy (emotionally AND physically), I would think you would want to have more/encourage it more often. Likewise she (and I) value the cuddling/closeness. I am the one to hold her hand when we are out in public and to sit next to her at home. There just isn’t enough frequency of physical intimacy.

    Too often, she is too tired and lacks creativity to add any variety to our play time. She works outside the home about 15 hours per week. I have consistently helped with household chores – dishes, folding laundry, mopping floors, etc. – “chore-play” as part of foreplay does NOT seem to be helping 🙁

    We have talked about becoming less routine and “predictable” but she lacks either the self-confidence to try something new or the ability to seek information that she could add to her repertoire.

    Do you have any suggestions on safe places/resources I can suggest to her to seek for inspiration, encouragement as well as ‘technique’ improvements?

  4. Kate says:

    Thanks, Julie, for another wonderful column and for reminding us about priorities. After 30 years of marriage, I have been able to let go of any guilt about not keeping a perfect house. I’d rather spend time nurturing relationships than vacuuming (so yes, there’s cat hair on my carpet.) Of course there are some chores you must do, although my list of must-do chores has decreased over the years. I’ll admit there have been times when I have moved the unfolded laundry off the bed temporarily so we can have sex. But my relationship with my husband is my most important relationship, and having sex is an essential aspect of our relationship. The housework can wait, believe me.

  5. JulieSibert says:

    Thanks Kate for the comment!! I love the last part… “The housework can wait, believe me.” SO TRUE!

    Dan — thank you for your comment too. As for safe places/resources to encourage your wife, there are some great books available. The Sexually Confident Wife by Shannon Ethridge is a great book, but it doesn’t hold back at all, so not sure if that would feel overwhelming to your wife. As for her lack of self-confidence sexually, this is not uncommon. One thing I always tell women is to remember that sex is happening in private… it’s not about a performance or about what others will think.

    Another suggestion I offer is this… help her understand what feels good to you. You may have to get really specific. I think a lot of women underestimate what men like having done to their penises, and unless a husband is willing to say, “I really like it when you….” or “What would feel so good is if you…”, then a wife isn’t going to know what to do. Get specific, because some things just may not occur to her.

    I affirm you greatly in wanting to strengthen the sexual intimacy in your marriage… you are a gem among husbands who genuinely cares. Have you told her specifically (and lovingly…not demanding)… what you would like sexually?

  6. Dan says:

    Julie,

    Thanks for the support and affirmation. In the past, I have tried some things like – together we read a Cosmo article with 100 “ideas” and highlighted some that looked like fun to try. About 4 months ago, I also gave her the book “Hot Monogamy” with a note that said, “let’s keep our love life HOT” She’s read about 80% of the book but kind of stopped (daily life and other “priorities” got in the way 🙁

    I have tried to be specific (but maybe not specific enough). We have talked about some things that I find exciting. If she does attempt anything new, she sort of puts her toe in the water and then backs off. I do enourage when she “hits a good spot” or does try something but she just doesn’t seem to keep it going.

    So, there are really 2 problems – first making our intimate time more of a priority (or worth saving some energy for at the end of the day) and making it less routine (same old push this button first, do this second etc.)

    What do you mean in the book, Sexually Confident Wife, that it “doesn’t hold back”?

  7. JulieSibert says:

    Hi Dan… did she express what she found interesting in the parts she did read…was there anything she wanted to try?

    I affirm you that you have been specific in what you like. And has she been able to express what she likes? When you are specific in what you like and then she doesn’t continue, have you in a compassionate tone asked her why, such as, “I really liked it when you ____________. It made me feel so good. I’m wondering why you don’t want to try that again?” What does she say?

    You are wise that you identify there are two issues. As for her making it more of a priority…hmmm…what reasons has she given for not making it more of a priority? I know I’m kind of stating the obvious, but I kind of believe in that insanity definition…if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting. In other words, do you think she really wants things to change or does she just give lipservice to saying that things will change? Action has to accompany the declaration of effort or it really is an empty declaration.

    As for variety, many women in particular struggle with this because they feel being uninhibited would fly in the face of being a good Christian or a moral person. (Or they struggle with body image). But really there should be tremendous freedom in the bedroom, as long as there are no third parties and no one is getting hurt or being forced to do things they don’t want to do.

    As for Shannon Ethridge’s book “The Sexually Confident Wife” — I really like Ethridge’s writing style…tremendously gifted writer who gets at the heart of many of the struggles couples face sexually. What I meant that it doesn’t hold back is that there are sections of the book that really explore technique, positions, sex toys, etc. This can feel overwhelming for someone who has only had sex in missionary position or is very hesitant to consider variety along these lines.

    Again, I really do affirm you in that you are compassionately trying to help her understand (and I can only assume you are equally trying to understand her lack of interest in making it a priority). Do you think your wife would be willing to dialogue with me? If not, no big deal. But sometimes a third party (do you have Christian counselors in your area?) can offer some fresh perspectives.

  8. Dan says:

    Julie – thanks for your kind words and thoughts.

    She didn’t say much (about what she liked or disliked) from the previous book I gave her. I am not sure I have been super specific about what I like. I do try to encourage her with comments/sighs when she hits a hot spot or tries something. I’ve tried to walk the balance between allowing her to freely express physically without my “scripting” of the encounter. Maybe I’ve been too subtle.

    Maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. I mean if she can only do “x” then maybe its unfair to ask/expect her to get to “x + y”. I know we all have limitations. Maybe this is just one of hers that I’ll have to learn to live with. Wow – never really thought about it from that side before………

    As to the priority -too often she is “too tired”. I help out around the house (daily dishes, frequently vacuum/folding laundry, anything I notice that needs to be done as well as all of the outside chores). If we sit to watch TV or a DVD, she’ll be asleep in about 30 minutes (even if she chooses the show/movie).

    We have done some casual bike riding in the evening which somewhat helps but does require energy. I’m all for sitting and chatting but its hard to have 3 hours of stimulating conversation every night (to keep her awake and alert before bed).

    I am hopeful that things will settle/slow down a bit as summer ends – that may be the time to “introduce” or suggest the Confident Wife book. I’m not sure how to present this to her though????

    I don’t think she would be excited about dialogueing with you – I’m not sure how she would feel if she knew I was posting here 🙁

    Then again, I’m not sure where else to go…….

  9. landschooner says:

    “The reality is that there will ALWAYS be more on your to-do list than can reasonably be completed on any given day.”

    Exactly. My wife’s reasons for not having sex are all legitimate or good things etc. Its not that she doesn’t like sex (as long as it rare, brief, and monotonous) Its just that in a 30 task day, sex is prioritized at #47. She wouldn’t mind getting to #47 but the task count resets every day and it takes WEEKS before the lack of sex gives it enough weight (only because of my requests) to get on the list.

    Even so, my wife describes our marriage as wonderful and that I’m her best friend etc. She is happy or so it seems. her partner, me, is not. Sound wonderful?

    If you deny your partner long enough and often enough, you are fooling yourself if you think you have a good marriage.

    Alison Armstrong(not a christian) of understandmen.com was being interviewed by Dennis Prager on the radio. A caller asked her why men cheat. She said that almost exclusively men cheat when they feel they can no longer get what they need from their wives. or they LEAVE when they’ve given up trying to get what they need from their wives. She said that women will often pit a man’s integrity against his needs and more often than not, the NEED will win.
    I think this is true. Being a christian, I will never cheat on my wife. I will never leave her. But, despite our friendship being good and enjoyable, refusal actually makes divorce sound good. I’ve found my self wishing I wasn’t a christian so I could just go. I LOVE her. I think she is my best friend. I enjoy her company more than anyone else. But I’m starving………….Integrity vs need.

    marriage per 1Cor 7 is supposed to HELP fight sexual temptation not increase it. But refusal in marriage is WORSE than single celibacy.

    Refusal in marriage is forcing a starving man to sleep chained to a bed in a Bakery. he can smell the baking bread. can see it. Can almost taste it. Can watch the Baker bake the bread. She, the baker, is his best friend. But its almost always denied him. “Can I PLEASE have some? I’m ravenously hungry and all this bread you’re making in front of my eyes is making me so hungry?”

    “No. maybe next week if I have time to give you a small snack. I’m too busy making bread.”

    You just want to run away and wish you’d never signed up for this. At least being single, I didn’t have to sleep in a Bakery and I could distract my hunger.

    If I have to diet, must I really sleep with my face on a dinner plate?

    “Yes. If you love me, you will snuggle with me nightly in bed so that I feel loved……….but we must SLEEP because I’m tired. I was very busy today. By the way, would you rub my lower back (read back AND bottom) so that I can go to sleep?”

    (These words aren’t verbatim but I’m NOT exaggerating the experience. I have on a multitude of nights, night after night, year after year, after weeks of celibacy, been asked to rub her back and rear, in order to help her sleep. Of course, after she is asleep, I stare at the ceiling unable to sleep myself. Most of the time I only give her perfunctory massages now. just enough to say I did. I just don’t want to anymore.)

  10. JulieSibert says:

    Okay, let me just say Landschooner… you have the best analogies…they paint crystal clear images of what you are facing. I appreciate your realness…your heartwrenching honesty about circumstances that are almost unbearable.

    Have you expressed this pain with this intensity to your wife (not in a mean way, but also not in a sugar-coated soft way either… in a way that conveys the depth of your pain)? I admire your loyalty to your marriage vows (and the Lord definitely is pleased as well). However, I am deeply saddened by your wife’s indifference to sexual intimacy. And you say that she considers you her best friend. Would she want to intentionally hurt a friend? Another consideration is that she should be tested for low testosterone. (Can’t remember if I suggested this to you before?) Women have testosterone too, which obviously impacts sex drive. Is she willing to go to a doctor and/or counselor? Again, thank you for your comments… I really appreciate them.

  11. JulieSibert says:

    Dan… thanks again for the comment. You mention that your wife is very tired. Would she say that she gets solid sleep at night… meaning, does she wake refreshed? If she is genuinely over-tired, it could be becaue of a medical reason (sleep apnea, etc). Or, she is over-tired because she has unrealistic expectations about life.

    I often tell women that there is a certain level of “messiness” in life that we will not be able to fix or escape. In other words, the solution isn’t to have a perfectly neat and orderly life (not possible); the solution is to learn how to have realistic expectations and to simultaneously be able to live amidst a certain level of life’s messiness. In other words… no more WAITING for ideal circumstances that are never going to materialize. In my first marriage, I was a wife who just figured we would figure out our lack of intimacy “someday.” Not a good approach. Taking care of marriage means sex cannot consistently be put on the back burner.

    As for the Sexually Confident Wife book by Shannon Ethridge…like I said, great book. But like any resource, it is only as good as the reader is willing to glean from it and actually put into action what they find relevant to their life. Have you ever read a book together… literally outloud together? Some couples benefit from this approach… you alternate reading a chapter a night out loud. Then you discuss it. You have some ground rules in the beginning…creating an atmosphere of safety whereby either of you can speak honestly and lovingly. Try to speak in the “I”… meaning, instead of accusatory statements, speak from your heart about your own feelings, disappointments, etc. (I’m not trying to sound all “counselor” on ya, because I am sure you are well aware of all these techniques).

    I do affirm you and the other men I hear from who so badly want to have sex with their wives, who sadly are not as enthused. You and other men I hear from are very committed to things looking healthier…that is an admirable quality. I wish I had easy solutions (I’d be rich), but instead I simply can acknowledge your VERY legitimate pain and try to offer insights that have helped other marriages. Hope some of this is helpful.

  12. tj says:

    dan, first, i really admire your commitment to your wife and your marriage. God bless you both. something you said caught my eye- “I’m all for sitting and chatting but its hard to have 3 hours of stimulating conversation every night (to keep her awake and alert before bed).” i haven’t seen you mention kids. if you have kids, i understand trying to fill time until THEIR bedtimes. if there aren’t kids, why are you waiting until ten or eleven at night (or whenever)? i’m a stay-at-home mom with a 5 year old. exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how i feel by eleven (or 9) at night (& sometimes that doesn’t matter & while it shouldn’t always matter to your wife either, it seems like it does). instead of struggling to watch a show, take that evening bike ride together. when you get home, suggest a shower together to rinse away dirt and sweat. go from there. i would also suggest- don’t make it about sex every time you do that. speaking as a wife with some pretty deep issues (working on that b/c my husband deserves better than a roommate), if i feel like he’s using something as a ploy to get sex, i’m resistant even when i don’t want to be.

  13. JulieSibert says:

    Hello everyone… Julie here… below is a comment I received from a reader named TeeKay. We had problems getting her comment to post correctly, so we decided I would just go ahead and post it for her. Here is her response to the post and the above comments others have already made:

    I have been the wife these men are describing. Some things I would suggest:

    1. See if you can convince her to go to a doctor to get some things checked (thyroid, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.). A lot of these can be caused by legitimate medical issues that leave one too tired to function.

    2. Are you intimately familiar with your wife’s past history? I was sexually molested when I was young, and then “used and abused” by a number of men before my marriage. It was (and still is at times) very very difficult for me to trust my husband and believe that he genuinely cares about me and not just having sex (which is all about him, from my perspective). If there has been any kind of abuse or “use” in her past history, you need to take that into consideration and maybe see if she can get some quality counseling if necessary.

    3. When our children were young, I was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. I also rarely exercised. Now that I am making more of an effort to get daily exercise, I am also experiencing more energy. One way you can encourage that is by asking your wife to exercise with you. The easiest and funnest (most non-threatening) form of exercise is taking a walk as a couple. If you have kids, throw them in the stroller or invite them to come along or get a babysitter. If that isn’t an option, then consider dancing in your living room to some high energy music or buy two exercise bikes you can use side by side. Right now, I fool myself into exercising by setting up my treadmill in front of the TV and then trying to get all the way through one of my shows while I’m walking. If your wife hates exercise like I do, that might be an option for her, too.

    4. Sex doesn’t have to happen at bedtime. If there are no children, why wait? If there are children, it is often easier to sleep first and have sex later…either in the middle of the night or in the early morning. (Also, make sure you install a lock on your bedroom door and use it. Nothing kills the mood faster than having your 3 year old walk in on you…or worrying that he might.)

    5. I admire Dan, who caught on to the idea of helping his wife with the things she needs help with. That always made me feel more “kindly” toward my husband, when he would do that kind of thing. However, one of the things that I struggled with that tended to kill our love life was getting upset about something and then holding on to the grudge. I wasn’t necessarily steaming angry, but just generally feeling hurt, used, unloved, etc. Men tend to think that the best way to show love is to start hugging, groping, etc., but for me that just made me feel more hurt, used and unloved. Just one more guy who wanted the same ole thing…even if this guy had married me. For me, I needed to connect on a mental and emotional level before I could begin to connect on a physical level. Otherwise it felt more like prostitution than marriage. I would encourage you to talk to your wife and ask her if there are things you could do to make the marriage better, make her life happier, etc. Ask her if there is anything she’s upset or frustrated about. You may have to ask her every day for a couple of weeks before she gives you a straight answer, because that’s the way women are sometimes. Try holding her hand without any hint of sexual interest. Try rubbing her shoulders or hugging her, without any hint of sexual interest. Ask her about her day every day and let her vent as much as needed, without trying to fix anything or offer any solutions. I was usually so keyed up by the end of the day that these sorts of things really helped me to relax and feel loved enough that sex could even be considered as an option.

    6. When you can see that your wife is relaxed and you are both feeling warm toward each other, in the most gentle loving way you can manage, try to explain to her that sex is a need for you. My husband was finally able to make me understand one time that it really was physically unpleasant for him to have to go a long time without sex and that he truly needed sex…it wasn’t just an option. He told me that I was his only outlet for that need and he really needed me to be there for him in that way. That really helped me to figure out that he wasn’t just being a selfish jerk, but that it was a genuine need and that he wanted to have that intimacy with me and only me.

  14. Barb M. says:

    I am reading along, and I feel like I understand BOTH sides to this issue very well. Although, I don’t have any simple answers to this either. I am guilty of feeling like I “can’t take time away for sex,” and also I understand the total exhaustion that comes with taking care of a family (we are a blended family of 7 now, was 8.) I’m wiped out every night. I could easily find a moment in the middle of the day, but hubby does not get home until the kids get home and we can’t always escape to the bedroom without little fists banging on the door, yelling, “What are you doing in there? Let me in!” And I don’t block out noise very well, nor am able to muffle myself; lol.
    That, and I just get in a rut and just don’t wanna. For weeks. Yep. I get those wives. Just “ick.” It’s not fun, it’s messy, it’s boring, and I just don’t feel up to it, among other thoughts going thru my brain.
    I’m pretty sure I’m ADHD to top it off, yet I’ve not been diagnosed nor do I take anything for it. It does get better with a proper diet and exercise and enough rest.
    Yet, I was the one who could not fight my urges enough to stay pure nearly all my life; who almost hunted down men to have sex with; who seriously could have it 3x a day, every day. I remember that person, it’s me, but it’s not me anymore. And I don’t know how to reconcile the two. I do pray to God to make me more like the wife He’d like for me to be, hungry towards Him and towards my spouse.

    I won’t stray, but I can see now that probably my ADHD personality and my past were probably connected and the thrill of the hunt, the newness, the variety, the lack of boredom and unpredictability of new relationships gave me that high and kept me always wanting more.
    I am working on this and give this to God constantly, but it’s still sometimes a struggle to find something which will stimulate me and make me “want to do it.” Bleah. But God is God and I am His servant, so I keep myself at His feet, willing to do what He asks.

  15. Buffy says:

    Great post! I really just wanted to share how having sex with my husband helps me to get MORE done each day rather than less. We have 5 children, the oldest is 7 and the youngest is 4 months. One of my children has special needs so I completely understand the word exhaustion. Yet still I have more than enough time to make love to my husband.

    It’s taken a while to figure this out, but I sleep better at night and my days go better the next when we’re intimate. Mostly because I feel so beautiful, so loved and cherished. These feelings radiate into my days, I can fall asleep next to my husband and sleep soundly in the knowledge of his love. I wake up and because I feel so beautiful I want to pass on this beauty to my children.

    Like all couples we have our dry spells, but when intimacy is regular I feel like I am able to do more that I am able to give more to all of my commitments and relationships because I’ve honored my husband and our marriage. All is right with the world because the man that I love, the man committed to me for all time is still just as crazy about me and my post 5 kid body as the day we married.

    I hope I haven’t discouraged anyone. This discovery has taken years for me to come to, but so worth it. If I had realized how intimacy affected all areas of my life when I was first married I think I wouldn’t have turned my husband away when I did. I truly regret all the times I’ve denied my husband on the excuse of I’m tired.

    Thanks again for such a great post.

  16. Jozie says:

    i am in a similar situation as Dan’s…
    A lot of approaches I have tried and no result for seven years. Please advise if the husband rejects his wife under all sorts of excuses.. there is some past family history as well, work related stress and different way of upbringing but no desire for discussion.
    I am a full-time mum, we live alone with a new baby and a toddler but even this is not a problem for me to desire to be intimate with my husband.
    I believe that we have to try to be what we want to be despite the way our minds were shaped..

  17. JulieSibert says:

    Thank you for your comment Jozie… I feel for you on many levels, because not only are you being deprived of sexual intimacy with the man you married, you also are in the unique position that few women find themselves in…you as the wife are desiring sex more than your husband.

    I affirm you that you have tried to generate dialogue about this with your husband and that you recognize there may be past issues he has not dealt with. You are right that if he does not want to try to bring about healthier patterns, then you can really do only so much to make things look different. When there is a struggle in marriage and only one of the spouses wants to see healthy change, then there is a bit of heartbreaking paralysis that happens, much to the detriment of you (and of your spouse too, even though he doesn’t seem to see those consequences). On this post and other posts, Dan and Landschooner have clearly shared the detriment they have experienced as the ones being deprived of sex. If possible, don’t give up on generating dialogue, but only you can discern the best way to approach this.

    My encouragement to you is what I often others in this situation: You are accountable for your actions, so if you have tried to nurture intimacy, then know that God looks on you with compassion and gladness, even if the situation isn’t changing.

    I also would very much encourage you to continue to strengthen your relationship with God, because He is your best source of comfort and strength. If possible, build relationships with other Christian women whom you trust deeply and who will listen without judging your husband. Again, this doesn’t make everything easy on the homefront, but it can help you cope and journey through this difficult aspect of your marriage.

    I am sorry for what you are going through.

  18. Brenda says:

    Hi I just wanted to give a tip for all those guys out there that are trying to have more intimacy with their wifes. I had this problems for the first five years of my marriage. I notice that when i keep on praying for intimacy, it got so strong i could not handle my husband. And when I stop praying it would stop. I am not physically my husband first choice. But I do try to work out, even wash the car for him, go above and beyond and massage him .. then get intimate. Keep in mind the only person that has power over the heart is God and he can change your wifes heart, but you have to keep it cover in prayer so that intimacy will continue. Please do all that the author recomends because a few times i have being tire and when i notice that my husband helps it helps me. Its how they said, when Lazarus died, you pray to Jesus for the situation, he comanded to remove the stone from the grave and then he resurected Lazarus. In other words you do and keep on doing what you can do and keep on praying for what only God can do, which is resurect your intimacy with your wife!!! So dont give up hope is the last thing any one can loose and as long as you are alive you always have hope if you have God. Also keep in mind that most woman even if they would not be tire naturaly they dont have as high of a sex drive as a man, on a few ocasions is the opposite! My situation my husband has a low and i have a really high one so i know what every man feels like, and i know that God is powerfull and bigger. And believe me all those litle things that the author saids helps! Make sure you also take showers and try to keep yourselfs in shape. Do what ever you can do, with a heart of thankfullnes and God will do the miracle and keep on the miracle like he is doing in my marriage. Philipians 4: 4-8
    Talks about rejoicing in God, thanking him and asking him. This has help me a lot!

  19. Brenda says:

    Hi I just wanted to give a tip for all those guys out there that are trying to have more intimacy with their wifes. I had this problems for the first five years of my marriage. I notice that when i keep on praying for intimacy, it got so strong i could not handle my husband. And when I stop praying it would stop. I am not physically my husband first choice. But I do try to work out, even wash the car for him, go above and beyond and massage him. Keep in mind the only person that has power over the heart is God and he can change your wifes heart, but you have to keep it cover in prayer so that intimacy will continue. Please do all that the author recomends because a few times i have being tire and when i notice that my husband helps it helps me. Its how they said, when Lazarus died, you pray to Jesus for the situation, he comanded to the people to remove the stone from the grave and then he resurected Lazarus. In other words you do and keep on doing what you can do and keep on praying for what only God can do, which is resurect your intimacy with your wife!!! So dont give up hope is the last thing any one can loose and as long as you are alive you always have hope if you have God. Also keep in mind that most woman even if they would not be tire, naturaly they dont have as high of a sex drive as a man, on a few ocasions is the opposite! My situation, my husband has a low and i have a really high one so i know what every man feels like, and i know that God is powerfull and bigger. And believe me all those litle things that the author saids helps! Make sure you also take showers and try to keep yourselfs in shape. Do what ever you can do, with a heart of thankfullnes and God will do the miracle and keep on the miracle like he is doing in my marriage. Philipians 4: 4-8
    Talks about rejoicing in God, thanking him and asking him. This has help me a lot! LIke the author said, joing a mans fellowship/small group/ a group of man that wont judge your wife, have also prayer partnerts with accountability that can pray for you in case temptation is too big to handle. I have gone thru this, i pray i fast and what help me in the end was texting my prayer partners and asking to pray immediatly for me since i had talk to my husband and told him my need but there was no respond. Please do do all those things that the author recomended, for it has help me and praying having that relationship with God is what help me to hold on! Now i am just reaping the rewards of five years of prayer and removing the stones!

  20. JulieSibert says:

    Thanks for the comment Brenda… you make some really valid points. As I have said in other posts, marriage comes under tremendous attack from Satan, who wants nothing more than for us to become laxed in praying for our marriages. Not only is God our only hope, He really is the only one who can help us endure difficult circumstances when we are beyond being able to do it on our own.

    I talk with enough women and men to know that there are no easy solutions when sexual intimacy has become a struggle in marriage. It is not simply a physical situation going on; it is a spiritual and emotional one as well. Marriage is unlike any other relationship in that the “one flesh” dynamic brings with it blessings and complexities that are absent from other human relationships (i.e. friendships, coworkers, family, etc). And when it comes to sex, the matter is compounded because spouses have no other legitimate place to go for sexual intimacy.

    Thank you again for your suggestions and insights. All the comments we’re getting on this post show that there are men and women who are committed to making intimacy healthier in their marriages, even if their spouses don’t share such fervency. I admire greatly those who desire greatly to have this intimacy, as it is a very legitimate and good aspect of marriage.

  21. Mary says:

    I’ve been married to my husband for 23 yrs and I have requested and told him over and over again for 23 yrs what helps me to relax so that we can enjoy our sex life and for 23 yrs he has choosen to ignore it. I’m like TeeKay I feel used when my husband does not listen to my request about sex and our relationship. He has been known to get mad and walk away from me if I tell him how I feel. I love my husband and have put up with his drinking, smoking, and running us into debt. Yet he never feels the need to fulfill my needs so it can be a two way street when it comes to sex.

  22. Crystal says:

    Thanks for the great article, Julie. This is so true, yet I cannot seem to break away from my habits.

    Dan – My heart goes out to you. Your wife sounds uncannily like me. Like you, my husband desires intimacy more frequently than I do. He does try and make an effort, but it seems like no matter what he does, I just don’t/can’t give in to his desires.
    We have a 6-year old and a 1-year old, and I work outside the home roughly 50 hours per week. When we get home from work, it is a rush to get dinner on the table, get everything cleaned up, kids bathed and in bed by 8. After the kids are in bed, I have a laundry list of things that “HAVE TO” get done, and by the time I sit down for the evening, I can barely keep my eyes open. Our evenings usually end with my husband and I watching TV (me on the couch and him on the recliner) while he surfs the internet. I’m normally asleep in 30 minutes, and he usually wakes me up to go to bed, where once I hit the pillow, I’m out. We really don’t have much conversation nor do we make it a point to turn off all distractions. I KNOW what we need to do, but we don’t make the necessary changes.
    I think for me, there are emotional/mental issues. I love my husband dearly, and I can think/daydream about a romantic evening with him all day, but it all goes out the window when reality hits and I get home to my never-ending list of to-dos. I am seriously considering seeing a counselor for this, because i think it may be a form of OCD. Would it be possible that your wife may have a similar problem?

  23. Dan says:

    Chrystal,

    Thanks for the kind words. No, my wife doesn’t have OCD or any other medical condition, past sexual abuse or similar issues. Our kids are teenagers (which means it’s difficult for us to have intimate time until later in the evening.)

    Here’s some free advice (it’s probably worth what you paid for it). On behalf of your husband (and for the sake of the long term of your marriage), I BEG YOU to make time for your husband.

    Part of my current predicament is that during the time when our kids were younger, my wife spent most of her energy/time/focus/creativity on our kids. I was much less a priority. Not having much of a parenting role model (my mom passed away when I was 18 and I lost my dad – from an emotional/support connection at the same time) – I knew that it was important for the kids to be supported. Unfortunately, our special time suffered for it.

    Next month, we will be married 25 years. For the first 20 years, I was the only one to initiate any physical activity. I was oftentimes rejected or sometimes didn’t even try knowing how worn out she was with the kids. If you read Landschooner’s entry above, you’ll get a glimpse of what I mean. (yes, my wife thinks our marriage is wonderful and I’m her best friend and life is happy too). Again, I made the HUGE mistake of not speaking up. And now I don’t know how to get out of this boat. She is in the “habit” of zoning out in the evening.

    At the height of my frustration 5 years ago, we talked about the lack of focus on “us”. I absolutely CRAVED attention. At that point, I told her that from now on, she can decide when/where/how to be intimate. I was tired of the rejection and promised that I would be “ready and willing” ANY TIME/ANY PLACE she was ready. If she wanted to have sex, I would be up for it but my ego just couldn’t take any more rejection. I didn’t know what else to do 🙁

    In retrospect, that was probably also a mistake. I put her into a situation that she just can’t be successful in. She doesn’t invest any time in getting creative and life is pretty routine/boring. From a sexual relationship side. we do make love more often than before (still not as much as I would like) but it is ABSOLUTELY very predictable. Touch here, stroke there, nibble this, insert -same old sequence, same old thing. I’ve tried to give her books to read, encouraged her with sighs and moans, giving positive feedback if there is ANYTHING new, etc.

    From the very beginning, I have been quite a romantic. I remember and celebrate the day we met, the typical holidays (valentines, sweetest,), our anniversaries and even the 7,000th day of our marriage (and goofy days like that – just to celebrate). My favorite was the day on which I have known her longer than the number of days of my life that I had not known her. In January for our 24 and 1/2 year anniversary, I decorated her car with a “Just Married – 24 1/2 years” sign, decorated the house with signs and streamers. Prepared the dining room with candles, soft music and the good china. Cooked a fancy dinner of Cornish Hens with all the trimmings and a chocolate fondue for dessert. She routinely gets flowers, cards with handwritten notes, little gifts etc. She’s my wife. She gets my best.

    But from my side, I hardly feel “cherished”. For our 25th Anniversary, I wanted to have a big party, renew our vows and really celebrate. She didn’t want to be the center of attention like a wedding reception. Guess what we’re doing? I’m not sure, but it won’t be a party – maybe we could go out to dinner – yippee.

    Anyway – I’m not going anywhere. We’re mates. We’re together for life (part of the better or worse stuff). Who knows, maybe I’ll end up a burden to her in our old age.

    At any rate, Chrystal – I once heard an older woman tell a younger wife about the same topic, “Remember, you were a couple before the kids and you’ll be a couple long after the kids grow up. Don’t ever forget your other half!”. I would respectfully ask that you make him a priority now – don’t let the next 20 years go by like this.

    SORRY FOR THE LONG POST!

  24. Crystal says:

    Dan,

    Thank you for the words of wisdom. Like I said before, I know what we need to do, it is just a matter of putting forth the effort (on both our parts) to make the necessary changes. A lot of our issues are “me”, but he is not perfect either. I think a lot has changed with us since our second child was born, and it feels like we are both being pulled in 100 different directions. We need to make our time a priority. I realize this is not going to happen over night and it is going to take dedication and determination. This past year has been one of the best years of my life, yet one of the worst at the same time. We welcomed our second son, but my husband and I seem to have fallen apart. I am not happy, and I know he can’t be happy with the way things are either. I do not want to wake up 20 years from now and regret changes I did not make, and still be miserable in our marriage, or worse. Thank you again for the encouragement. Best of luck to you!

  25. JulieSibert says:

    Thank you Dan and Crystal for your insights and comments. I talk with many people and know that when kids come on the scene, the marriage relationship sadly can tend to be neglected. Raising babies and little kids is very consuming (interestingly, so is raising teenagers…you’re just not as concerned they will choke on small objects!) As a parent myself, I know it is very consuming.

    A helpful lens to look through is that one of the best gifts you can give your kids is a healthy marriage…one where your children see that the marriage is the foundation of the family and is of great importance. This path not only gives kids security, it also equips them to be able to emulate such commitment and prioirty setting in their own marriage someday.

    I feel for both of your situations. Sex is such a vital part of marriage, so when it falls by the wayside, the effects can be so painful.

  26. landschooner says:

    I just wanted sex to be a natural part of our lives. Just like romance was. Romance was easy. I loved to romance her. But romance is a mating dance. It stokes the fires of desire. If we spend the day together walking hand in hand and just have a really fun filled day, why wouldnt I want to have sex with her? I love this woman. Of course I want to have sex at the end of a romantic day. It just follows. But not for her. Sex at the end of the day means an end to the romantic day, not the culmination of it.She always just wanted more romance and more romance. (I think sex is romantic and she does too intellectually, but in practice, she just wanted snuggles and more romantic non sexual time.) Her need for never ending romance maimed the romantic in me. i LOVE to be romantic but after YEARS of being pushed away (we’ve NEVER had sex on valentines day or birthdays or even Anniversaries. At least not in my memory) Why would I want to continue romance when the woman I’m pursuing doesn’t desire me? Romance makes no sense unless there is a sexual component. Are we romantic with our Best friends? those of you with opposite sex friends. Are you romantic with them? Why not? You aren’t because romance IS sexual. Its a mating dance.
    Sex is NOT the only goal but it has to be prominently(not peripherally) in the mix somewhere for romance to make sense. romance is wooing and pursuit. The ultimate goal of the pursuit is her giving herself to him and the physical expression of that is sex. if sex is almost always denied, the pursuit becomes pointless to the pursuer. Time is better spent elsewhere. Somewhere else that one can succeed in like work.

    As a christian, I need to love my wife and be understanding no matter what and put her needs before mine. I don’t disagree which is why I still try to be romantic. but her lack of sexual desire for me has made romance more of a chore and at times, more of a taunting torture, than the pleasing pursuit it was meant to be.

    I have been told to pursue my wife non sexually.

    NO.

    Sex is a major goal of marriage. It IS why we got married. It isn’t the ONLY why, but it is at the same level as the friendship that we share.

    I’m not interested in a marriage without sex and I’m not interested in a marriage without friendship.

  27. Shawn says:

    Landschooner I need to thank you. You have put into words my situation and feelings better then I could’ve ever hoped to do on my own. I am 28 years old, my wife 29. We have two children, a three yr old girl and a one year old boy. We’ve been married only four years and already the intimacy in our relationship is gone. It started going down hill soon after we were married. I’m not lazy, I work out of the home and my wife is a stay at home mother which I am thankful we can pull off. When I’m at home I’m doing a majority of the child care as I believe that when I’m home that’s when my wife gets her “time off” from her job. I also help around the house a lot. I’m the dishwasher lol. Amongst other duties of course. I feel alone like there is something wrong with me, often asking myself what I did to make my wife no longer desire me. When you said in a different post about bottom line she doesn’t desire me, she says she does but what do i care for words, her actions say different. My wife is exactly like that. She will say it but won’t do it. When I come home after a twelve hour shift, I come in and she hardly notices that i’m there. There was no, “hi honey how are you for me”. There was only sit there on her laptop and make no notice of me. I started to tell her how that made me feel and then she does it but it sounds forced. But I appreciate that she is at least showing me that if its important to me it is important to her. Until She started to not do it again. Sex is the same way. It’s not a priority of hers. Its On her list but it’s up there in an unreachable spot. I have given up initiating anything intimate and did pretty much what Dan did, give up trying because i can’t take the rejection anymore and let her know I’m ready anytime and anywhere. We do have sex but it’s too little and not very intimate. I get a lot of the “hurry up and finish” comment which all but kill the mood. I don’t want our relationship to be a test of my integrity vs. my needs. And my wife is very clear that she does not see sex as a need. No matter how many times I tell her how rejected I feel or how much i need her she won’t make much of a passing effort to show me she cares. Julie, I may be writing you and maybe try convince my wife to write you. If that is ok with you of course, I can imagine you get a lot of email as it is. I want nothing more than for us to be happy. I’m not happy, for obvious reasons and she isn’t happy, and she knows it, because of how I feel, which is directly effected by her actions…or lack there of. Thank you for listening to my rant. I do a horrible job of it in text format.

  28. JulieSibert says:

    thank you for your comment Shawn. I am saddened by your situation and many similar ones. I affirm you that you have expressed what the rejection does to you.

    I would be more than willing to dialogue with your wife…certainly not in a judging way, but simply as another wife who is a good listener and may have some insights to offer. In my experience, though, most wives who are withholding sex from their husbands are not overly interested in talking with me.

    As for her lack of interest, there could be a number of reasons. Is she on the pill? (the hormones can kill sex drive, sadly). Is she experiencing orgasm? Does she have unresolved issues from her past? Is she depressed? Would she say there are unresolved issues in your marriage? Are you able to have fun outside of sex (meaning, do you enjoy a good friendship, spend time together, enjoy each other’s company, etc. … a nurtured companionship can help increase a sense of endearment to one another, which obviously can help in the area of sex).

    There are a variety of reasons why women are not interested in sex. One thing you may consider is writing her a letter. Sometimes a different form of communication can get through. In my experience, so many women often don’t understand the significance of sex to their husbands…they don’t understand how the safety and affirmation and love they experience with their wives sexually is what gives them courage and strength to (as author Shaunti Feldhahn says)… go out in the world and “slay dragons.”

    A letter can be a good way to really get all your feelings on paper, and at the same time express in a positive way what you envision for the two of you in your marriage…that you want things to look different because you love her and want to build a life together that truly is a reflection of love and commitment. You don’t just want it for the two of you, but also so that your children grow with a positive sense of what marriage should be. A letter can be a springboard into more verbal dialogue — that’s the hope at least.

    Wow. Ages 28 and 29. Way too young to have your intimacy so strained. (Actually, any age is way too young in my opinion).

    Thank you again for your comments on the blog.

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  30. FirstTimePoster says:

    Hello,

    just need to share and make sure I am not in the wrong.

    I have been with my wife now for 5 years and have 11 month old baby and a 8 year old adopted step son. We both are in our early 30’s.

    So this is my story, my wife wanted to go to nurse school very bad because she thought she would like being a nurse and it would be a big pay advancement for her. So she ended up going to school for 2 years and not work during this time. I was supporting the family and it was very stressful for both of us. At that time her reason for not making love was the stress of not having money and school. I get that so I understood and maybe in those 2 years we make love 20 times. She also told me once she got out of school I could by my dream car as a thank you for putting her through school.

    Well she graduated and got a job and I got my car. Then the love making did not improve because the new job was stressful. I understood cause I have been there with a stressful new job.

    she tells me that she want me to go back to school since I never had that opportunity, she wants to provide that for me. So I become the stay at home dad and go back to school. Now the love making does not happen because she is too stressed supporting the family and work is stressful.

    Don’t get me wrong throughout our whole relationship we make love maybe 8 to 10 times a year. In the beginning we made love every day for the first 3 or 4 months.

    She then about six month into her job and at the end of my first semester said I can not do this job any more it is too stressful and I want to be a stay at home mom. (First time ever I knew she wanted this, it would have been nice to know this in the begining)

    So I start looking for a job and find a consulting job that can just support us. So she quits her job and I quit school and go back to work.

    She then starts telling me ALL the stuff I do and have done wrong. I am sure some of the things I have been have been stupid but I think there is a better way of going about it.

    I then get a call for a great job opportunity about 2 hours from my house. The job pays good but the travel expensive is going to be allot each day. So I ask her if she will work one day I week so I can make the drive that way I don’t miss out on my 11 month olds life too much.

    The response I get is well you put us in this mess by spending money on buying your car when we did not have it and spending money on other things. She then says no, you figure it out and if you have to work a second job or stay with friend at your new job then that what you have to do.

    So I end up selling my car and getting a very fuel efficient car to make the drive cheaper.

    I feel taken advantage of. It crazy to think all it would take is to make love to me a couple time a month to make me feel better about the sacrifice I am making for her to stay at home.

    So after reading this blog I try and try and talk to her. Did not go so well. I tell her that all she has been doing is telling me all the stuff I did wrong as a stay at home dad. (She is better at it than me but she does not have to tell me how bad I sucked) So the last two weeks have been telling me every day all the stuff I do and have done wrong. I wish she would just cut me some slack. I do the best I know how!
    I then explain to her that love making is really important and is what makes me feel close to her. She tells me she is just so tired and worn out by the end of the day. See like no matter what there is a reason why she can’t. Then right before bed she tells me it is really sad that I need love making to feel close to her and not the other stuff she does for me.

    It just sucks I am going to be driving 2 hours each way to work making for 12 hour days getting home at 7pm and my wife still can’t find the time to make love to me. Very sad right now.

    One last thing. The one guy hit the nail on the head about the bakery. My wife will get naked at night before bed and walk around while getting ready for bed. She also does this in the a.m while getting ready. It like a knife to the heart every time. She also says to me this morning thanks for the snug this morning it was nice. She always want me to spoon her every night. It the give me what I need cause it must be what you need type thing. Because in her mind it is dumb and crazy that I need to make love to her to feel close. Snugging should be good enough cause it is for her.

    I don’t get it because when we do make love she enjoys it as much if not more than me.

    I have gotten to the point were I don’t want to hold her in bed at night cause it is hurt full. Why would I want to hold my wife in her underwear of all thing and not be able to make love to her.

  31. JulieSibert says:

    Thank you FirstTimePoster for your above comments. I am sorry to hear about your wife’s lack of interest in having sex. What is sad too is that you have tried to convey to her what you are feeling and why sex is important to you, and she still is unresponsive to your desire to make love.

    The two of you certainly have had a lot of stress. I know counseling probably seems like a time-consuming and/or expensive option, but sometimes it can be incredibly helpful to have an objective voice offering insights. Would your wife be open to visiting a counselor together (or a pastor?)

    If not counseling, would she be open to the two of you working through a book together…a book specifically on sexual intimacy?

    I don’t think you are in the wrong to want to have sex more often with your wife.

  32. Lusanda says:

    Wow, What a great post!! Not only the post but his discussion above has really moved me and opened my eyes regarding the soul and needs of my man!! Thank you everyone who wrote here.

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