Are You Unintentionally Killing Your Sexual Intimacy?

I was lamenting once to my grandmother about all I needed to get done — around the house, with the kids, with life in general. The daily tasks of daily life were wearing me out.

She wisely observed, “Women just see more that needs to be done.”

I thought her comment was profound.

As a wife, mom and woman in general, I do somewhat fit that stereotype that “women are natural multi-taskers.”  We do see more that needs to be done.

We whip up dinner and supervise homework. We chat on the phone and throw in a load of laundry. We plan a birthday party and keep track of a million different work details. Day in. Day out.

There is a bit of truth in the old adage that a woman can have sex with her husband and mentally compile her grocery list at the same time. Bringing home the bacon and never letting him forget he’s man, right?

I once asked a group of women how many of them had thought about daily tasks while having sex with their husbands.  All of them raised their hands and most of them chuckled at my question. “Isn’t the answer to that question obvious?!” they collectively seemed to say.

Somewhere in the midst of life’s routine, as wives we can put our husbands way out of our conscious thoughts.  If we are honest, we would even admit that sometimes they aren’t even in our subconscious thoughts!

Yes, I know this dynamic flows both ways.  There are plenty of husbands who are caught up in their own world as well (although probably not as many who would say they are thinking of other things while having sex!)

I challenge you to look closely at ways that you have unintentionally been killing your sexual intimacy with your husband.  And by “killing” it, I mean in quality of lovemaking and quantity of it.  To just increase the quantity but completely neglect quality is not a solution.  Likewise, quality once a month (or once a year — yikes!) probably isn’t a stellar choice either.

These are not easy things to look at within ourselves.

Rarely do we run full throttle into the kind of self-reflection that reveals ways we have been careless with our most important relationship (second to our relationship with God).

But grown-up life and grown-up marriage requires of us the humility and integrity to get real with ourselves — and be willing to change unhealthy patterns.

If you are like a lot of women out there, you aren’t intentionally trying to hurt the man you married.

And if he is like a lot of men out there, he possibly wouldn’t even say anything even if he did think you were doing something intentionally.  He may just retreat to his corner, lick his wounds discouragingly  and settle into the sad reality that everything — including his own children — have taken precedence in your life.

He’s been edged out.   And you never even meant to do that.

After the self-reflection, have an honest conversation with him.

If need be, ask for his forgiveness. And then ask how the two of you together can move the marriage you share up a few notches on the priority ladder.  This isn’t about neglecting the daily stuff of life or neglecting your kiddos.  It’s about aligning daily actions that compound into deep commitment and love.

The opportunity is yours.

P.S.  My reason for writing this specific post was because a husband emailed me and asked me if I would. He was discouraged about a pattern he’d seen in his marriage, which wasn’t changing despite his efforts to engage his wife in dialogue.

He thought possibly that as a wife, I could have a positive impact on other wives because of my heart for marriage and nurtured sexual intimacy.

You tell me. Is my insight encouraging?

That’s always my hope.

Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage blog.

18 thoughts on “Are You Unintentionally Killing Your Sexual Intimacy?

  1. Louise says:

    Very Encouraging and I am not yet married but the way you explained it I can visualize how this happens. You are definitley giving me heads up to be well aware of priorites, responsibilties and distractions and how to balance them all quit well. Thank you so much for explaining this, you are saving many neglected spouses with this vital information…

  2. Rita says:

    I never saw things from this point of view, I think this post is very insightful and encouraging. At least I have left your page today with one lesson learnt.

  3. Doris says:

    How true. I can’t remember one love making where I wasn’t thinking at my many pending chores. At least one “problem” strikes my mind in bed, all the time. The geek in him senses it on the spot, and he jokingly asks me to return, be present with him. “How you figure?” I ask. “My little one feels lost and reports your lack of feedback to the center.” He replies half funny and half sad. And then I realize that I must take control of the situation, speed it up and deliver what he expects from me. The same way we can multitask in everything, we also can get the job done with excellence in bed. I want to know if we’d dare serve half baked dinner, or unfinished laundry? I doubt about that. Same with sex, we have to deliver it in full, to give hubby complete satisfaction. Plus it’s much more fun than laundry and, only sometimes, cooking.

  4. Patty says:

    I’ve been married for over 30 years, and wish I’d had a (wiser) woman to mentor me about such things when I was younger. I’ve often said that I was a much better mother than wife, but my hubby stuck it out & I got smarter along the way. Sadly, many men suffer silently, or worse, leave their marriages. We women seem to have no clue as to the problem. Thanks for shining the light.

  5. JulieSibert says:

    Thank you Patty, Doris, Rita and Louise for your comments… I think the more we shed light on these issues in marriage, the more potential there is for growth and positive change!

    You all are awesome for sharing… thx!


  6. J (Anonymous) says:

    Wow! All the women raised their hands that they think about daily tasks while making love? Because that’s one of the (many) reasons I enjoy sex: Everything fades away – the chores, the to-do’s, the worries, the headache, whatever – when my body is fully engaged with my husband’s.

    I did once tell a group of women that the reason it feels so good to me is that I have learned to focus entirely on where he is touching, kissing, whatever. I consciously make the decision to think about the physical sensation (and emotional/spiritual closeness) I’m experiencing. I highly recommend making it like a meditation challenge. Or like Lamaze, where you focus on a single point. (By the way, the women looked at me like I was crazy, but I’m having more fun than they are.)

    Great thoughts, Julie! We can sabotage intimacy with our husbands and our own pleasure in the experience if we don’t make these moments a priority that requires our full attention.

  7. Ivan says:

    As a husband: If my wife is thinking about other things during sex it’s pretty clear to me she isn’t really there. The difference between when she is engaged with me in sex, and when she is engaged somewhere else is huge.
    The analogy that I think of is the stereotype of the man watching TV and nodding and saying “huh” while a woman is trying to talk to him. He isn’t engaging with her. There is no emotional intimacy. When my wife’s mind is somewhere else during sex, it’s her version of nodding and saying “huh”. And there is no physical intimacy.
    There is sexual touch. But since she isn’t engaged, you can’t call it intimacy. When my intimacy needs are responded to with that level of indifference, it becomes very hard to then respond to my wifes intimacy needs with any real interest.
    This is an instance where turnabout may be fair play. But it costs everyone much more than they realize.

  8. Meghan says:

    I don’t have much time to write, but I just wanted to let you know that yes, this insight and the many more insights of yours that I have read have been encouraging and edifying. Thank you 🙂

  9. JR Dallas says:

    I could have been the guy writing that e-mail. We love each other. We are known as “Mr. and Mrs. Marriage” at church. She just thinks about so much other stuff (even good stuff) during the day that I am edged right out. A casual after thought. How can I get her to see that year after year of this hurts? I lover making love with my wife but I am finding it increasingly difficult to jump into bed with someone who has not thought about intimacy with me all day. It makes it feel “fake” or at worst “a slight form of rape”. That may be a little harsh, but I need someone who is not just willing, but actually desires me and thinks about me during the day.

  10. Shelly says:

    Once I realized sex wasn’t just for him, but for me as well, oh how sweet it was. Unfortunately, sex was never about the woman in my growing up and even in my teens. I admit, my hubby wasn’t my first or sadly even near it. After dh and I found the Lord, things in our lives changed. Our focus was on each other (after the Lord of course) and how to please each other, but I still thought sex was for him. It took me years to get it out of my head that I was allowed to enjoy it too. How sad that I wasted all those years of intimacy with my hubby. I love being with him now and I focus on him and he focuses on me. I love the fireworks!!! 😉

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  12. Kate Aldrich says:

    Spot on, Julie! These are the things that we get hung up on many times and as you said, don’t even recognize it! We need to be self-reflective wives. Switching gears is hard when we have been with kids all day or at work. A tip I often share with women is, about 1 hour before your hubby is to arrive home, start thinking about him, about your time together, start getting revved up for him! If you make it part of your day to mentally switch gears from all housework, kids and or job to your hubby it really helps!! And you just might find yourself thinking about him other times of the day as well. Making a habit like this is so helpful to your marriage and your intimacy! Just a thought! Love the post! Very insightful and challenging!

  13. JulieSibert says:

    Thanks for all the comments everyone. JR — I would encourage you to have an open vulnerable conversation with your wife (outside the bedroom, when you have time to talk). If you think you won’t be able to convey everything you’re feeling without it turning into a heated discussion, I encourage you to write her a letter… where in a loving yet honest tone you can convey your hurt and express that you want the two of you to work together toward nurtured intimacy. I know there are no guarantees, but it might get conversation going. There may be hope.

    Thank you Meghan, Shelly and Kate for your kind words and insights.

  14. Jc says:

    You know in the movies how there’s this HUGE chasm, about 1 mile deep, and a rickety old bridge with many of the planks broken or rotting but it’s the ONLY WAY ACROSS for our hero? Broaching the subject of sex with my wife feels like that:

    Tip to one side, and she feels guilty and defensive, and the conversation is either deflected for another time or ends in discomfort. Tip to the other, and she feels obliged, resulting in appeasement instead of seeking understanding (and pleasure). Ladies, it hurts your man when he hears you say “Well, I know you needed it…” What we hear is “Well, I don’t need it but you can’t get this anywhere else so I guess I have to endure this.” What we need to hear, and we know there’s a journey involved, is “I know we need this because that’s what God intended. It’s difficult for me, but I’m willing to work on this with you. And here’s what I need from you…”

    I want to have that open, vulnerable conversation with my wife (outside the bedroom). I’m a peaceable man, not into critique or confrontation at all. But raising this subject with my wife is very, very hard to do.

  15. Robert says:

    Julie said:

    “And if he is like a lot of men out there, he possibly wouldn’t even say anything even if he did think you were doing something intentionally. He may just retreat to his corner, lick his wounds discouragingly and settle into the sad reality that everything — including his own children — have taken precedence in your life.

    He’s been edged out. And you never even meant to do that.”

    I can identify.

    My bride and I lived this for far too long. I was that guy – and it hurt. It still hurts when it happens. I retreated to my corner and simply gave up on the idea that my bride and I were ever going to have a genuine intimate relationship. What was the point in talking about something that she had clearly demonstrated was of no importance to her whatsoever?

    I think my bride never considered how painful it was to me to be at the very bottom of her “to do” list, How much it hurt to know with certainty that sexual intimacy with me was someplace about three items below the one about doing one more load of laundry or playing one more game of solitaire on the PC.

    Also, please do not say to your spouse – sorry I can’t have sex with you because “xxxxxx” unless that is really the reason. Don’t say you have to stay up late and work, unless you are really staying up late to work. Your spouse will figure this out, and be even more hurt than if you had spoken the truth – “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel like it.”

    My advice is that those who are regularly rejecting their spouse’s attempts to initiate sexual intimacy should think about this whole issue very, very carefully. Just because your spouse has never complained or hasn’t complained recently does not mean that all is well. In my case, it meant I had entirely given up.

    I give thanks to my maker that things have changed at our house. Things are much better now. Last fall was the low point of our long marriage. Now, we are in a much happier place. I feel like her husband again, not her roommate.

  16. Jc says:

    Robert said, “My advice is that those who are regularly rejecting their spouse’s attempts to initiate sexual intimacy should think about this whole issue very, very carefully. Just because your spouse has never complained or hasn’t complained recently does not mean that all is well. In my case, it meant I had entirely given up.”

    Ladies, your men love you despite our imperfections and shortcomings. Please don’t confuse our pain with pouting or self-pity. It’s one thing, as Robert said, if there are truly legitimate reasons for disagreeing to marital intimacy — whether it’s a conversation about something on your man’s mind or heart or the communion of bodies. But it’s another to buy into the (how else can I say this?) hell-borne lie that (a) sex is really for him and/or (b) it’s not essential in your marriage, thus can be deferred indefinitely.

    I not only have two ears to listen to my wife with but, crammed between them is THE MOST POWERFUL AND COMPLEX computer in the universe. Not only can I listen and understand, but emotionally I can respond with empathy, understanding, tears and laughter, confusion needing clarification or clarity in response to confusion. And as I become a better communicator with my wife I am learning the pleasure and gratification that comes from it (dust off O’Reilly! Later — much later — Chris Matthews! I have a God-given wife with far more meaningful and precious things to say!).

    Likewise, we husbands and wives have the most amazing bodies in the universe — living bodies, not just icy comets or clouds of gas (DISCLAIMER: I do use Beano). As such THE GREATEST PLEASURE, coupled with the transcendent connections wrought through the covenant of marriage, is available for us to experience, even indulge in, to not only affirm our intimacy but to celebrate it, expand it, and strengthen it.

    Our prayer for our wives is to open your hearts to God’s intention and path to a greater connection. And know that we are praying that we too can be the men you yearn to have fulfilling your desires and needs.

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