Is Exhaustion Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?


As part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage and what we can do about those things, I today welcome Gaye Groover Christmus of Calm Healthy Sexy.

Such great insights in this post…

Do you often feel too exhausted to be interested in sex? If so, you’re not alone.

A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 25% of spouses say they’re frequently too tired for sex, but I’d guess that the percentage is actually higher.

In fact, if I was a betting woman, I’d bet that exhaustion is causing more damage to sex in marriage than anything else. Not because it’s the worst problem – clearly things like infidelity and childhood sexual abuse are much worse – but because it’s so widespread.

exhaustion and sexIt pervades modern marriage and family life and, in some ways, has become a badge of honor. After all, if I’m so busy that I’m exhausted all the time, it must mean I’m important, I’m needed, or I’m busy doing God’s work. Right?

Well, maybe.

But if you’re so tired all the time that sex in your marriage is suffering, something needs to change.

And the reality is that the culture we live in has set us up for this: It’s created a perfect storm of busyness, stress, and overstimulation that is, frankly, exhausting.

And we’ve allowed it, by allowing unrealistic expectations, community commitments, electronic devices – even church activities – to rob us of joy, health, and peace of mind.

And then we wonder why we’re too tired to focus on our marriages and enjoy sex with our husbands or wives!

If you feel exhausted much of the time and find that you’re frequently too tired for sex, here are 5 steps you can take to feel more rested and take better care of yourself and your marriage:

1. Make sex and intimacy a priority.

None of these steps will work if you haven’t prioritized enjoying sex and intimacy with your spouse. If you’re not sure it warrants that kind of priority, I encourage you to read (this blog is a great place to start!), think and pray about it.

Sex is the thing that sets your marriage apart from all of your other relationships. It’s the thing God created to draw you closer to your spouse than any other person in your life. Without it, you and your husband or wife are just good friends who live together, which really isn’t what most people want for their marriage.

2. Identify the source(s) of your exhaustion.

Before you can reduce exhaustion, you need to know its source. Extreme fatigue is normal at certain stages of life – settling in at home with a newborn, caring for a sick child, starting a new business. In those cases, it usually passes within a few months (although you can do things to get more rest and feel better until it does).

But much of our exhaustion is self-inflicted. We try to do too much, say “yes” too often, or work too hard to keep everyone happy. We don’t ask for help, or maybe don’t know how to accept help when it’s offered.

Or maybe we just feel better about ourselves if we’re always on the go. The source is different for each person, so it’s important to figure out what’s driving your exhaustion. Only then can you begin working to reduce it.

3. Whether it’s you or your spouse who tends to be too exhausted for sex, talk about it.

Work together to figure out a way to prioritize sex and intimacy in your marriage. Figure out what you’re thinking and feeling, then share it with your spouse.

When our children were young, I had to figure out that I simply could not work all day and evening on child, house, and job responsibilities and then fall into bed and be interested in sex.

Then I had to communicate that to my husband.

And, honestly, I had to communicate it more than once, because I’m not that great at communication and the things I was saying were completely alien to him! So talk about it and keep on talking until you work it out.

4. Make time and save energy for sex.

On a very practical level, the spouse who is often too tired for sex needs to be proactive about managing his or her schedule and energy. If that’s you, you probably need more sleep – at least 7 hours a night.

And you probably need to “schedule” sex a couple of times a week. (Although that sounds so unromantic, not having sex is even less romantic!) Make it a priority on those days, and don’t allow other activities to crowd it out.

In addition, be sure to save some energy for it. Don’t work yourself to the bone, then fall into bed at 10:00 pm and expect to be rarin’ to go! It just won’t happen.

Instead, structure your day and evening so that you can take time to relax, connect with your spouse, and focus on allowing your body to feel good. If your spouse is the one who tends to be too tired for sex, be proactive about helping him or her get more sleep, shed some responsibilities, and take time at the end of the day to relax and unwind.

5. Take it for a “test drive.”

Once in a while, when you feel too tired for sex, consider taking it for a “test drive.” Agree with your spouse to kiss, make out, or fool around for a few minutes. Often that will be enough to pique your interest and get things going in a sexy direction.

If it isn’t, agree ahead of time to do something quick for your husband or wife, so he or she isn’t left feeling frustrated. This may be particularly helpful for women, who often can’t transition easily from mom, homemaker, teacher or professional mode to lover mode without some sort of “bridge” activity.

Your marriage needs regular sex to keep it strong, and you and your spouse both need the fun, joy and connection that regular sex provides.

If exhaustion is ruining your sex life, begin taking steps today to reduce fatigue and reserve some of your time and energy for sex and intimacy.

For more great posts in this series, go to this page.

Gaye Groover ChristmusGaye Groover Christmus is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons. In her “day job” she works as a writer and editor in a health field. Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages. She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives. Gaye blogs at Calm Healthy Sexy.





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Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

12 thoughts on “Is Exhaustion Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

  1. Pingback: Is Exhaustion Destroying Sex in Your Marriage?

  2. Gaye @CalmHealthySexy says:

    Thanks so much for including my post in this excellent series, Julie. I’m finding that I have to be intentional about putting my own ideas into practice, as the summer is threatening to leave me exhausted if I don’t!

  3. Jason@SongSix3 says:

    We are currently moving from one farm to another – and “wow!” Is exhaustion affecting us! Both of us will be very glad to move beyond this stage of life!

  4. Christian Husband of 38 yrs says:

    Maybe I’m just different, but I never have understood the emphasis on spontaneity. Given how busy modern life is for two spouses who are probably both working full time jobs these days, it is pretty unrealistic to think that there are going to be many times at all when both of you are going to both have free time and be in the mood at the same time. If you insist on spontaneity, then for most middle-aged couples whose weekly schedules are filled up, you are not likely to have much intimacy at all.

    Folks, with just a little bit of effort and patience and a lot of understanding and commitment, you can both get yourselves into the mood at a scheduled time. Maybe it is not always going to be romance-novel fireworks all the time, but it can still be very nice closeness with each other, and that is way too important to neglect and let pass.

  5. Kate says:

    I am someone who does not do well with sleep deprivation and I would say my sex drive will go with it. I also have a health issue that can be exacerbated by sleep deprivation.
    I generally don’t refuse sex very often because I am tired. However I get little enjoyment out of it if I am sleep deprived.
    My issue(and I am sure I am not the only one), is that my husband approaches me for sex when it is past my desired bedtime, or right about the time I would normally like to go to sleep. We have talked about the sleep issues before and how it affects my life in other ways.
    The number 5 suggestion might work well some of the time, but if it is coming at the expense of needed sleep, well that is difficult.

  6. HopefullyHelpful says:

    One thing that helps in that regard is lights-out time for the kids. For us it is around 9:00 PM, except on special occasions. We did this to lock in some spouse time before we’re too tired for anything.

  7. JustWant2BOne says:

    Why, yes it is (exhaustion) destroying sex in our marriage. My husband seems exhausted all the time, even after 8 to 10 hours of sleep. I have been highly suspicious he has sleep apnea and he has a sleep study later this month. He had tested high for sleep apnea during a recent surgery so I am glad he is finally going to have a sleep study. I hope they will get to the root of the problem and hope a CPAP machine will definitely make a difference for both his sleep and our sex life, if indeed they find out he needs a CPAP machine. I have kinda been concerned if the machine is loud or noisy, but it he feels better and isn’t constantly fatigued and is more energetic for sex, I don’t care how noisy the machine is! He also realized he’s been the gatekeeper after we watched a segment from the “Sex Without Sheets” conference that was on June 6th. I knew he wouldn’t want to make a day of it, spending the full day watching the conference so I am very thankful that they were available for video play back. We’ve only watched a few together, but it is making a difference in our marriage and I need to go back and replay your “Ladies Only” segment, Julie as you touched on some specific things I struggle with. I was shocked when my husband made a comment last night just ever so briefly that he was the “gatekeeper”.
    We are making progress and I thank the Lord for that, for progress, for answered prayers, and for ever so brief healing conversations. I pray that someday the area of intimacy will be healed in our marriage as I feel like we are best of friends and do life together and I have had a hard time understanding why the area of intimacy has been lacking in our marriage. It is my prayer that other men and women who have commented about their struggles on this site, will to see some progress and healing in this very important area of marriage.

  8. Christian Husband of 38 yrs says:

    Several of you have mentioned sleep apnea. A CPAP does help, so I would encourage those with sleep problems to get tested and, if necessary, get prescribed for one.

    Obviously, I would not recommend attempting to be intimate while wearing a CPAP mask!!! 😉

    This means that you really have to plan and make time for intimacy sometime prior to final lights-out for the night. It is going to have to be something separate from sleeping. That isn’t going to be “spontaneous”, but I personally think that spontaneity is very much over-rated, and in any case pretty hard to pull off very often for most couples these days.

  9. libl says:

    Yes! Hubby suffers a chronic illness and a heavy labor job. He gets too tired. Consequently, I have to pick up the slack and I get too tired.

  10. John R says:

    The most commonly used excuse to avoid intimacy is “I am just too tired.” I rank IT the number one excuse to avoid sex. If you both work then yes you are somewhat fatigued at the end of the day. If your wife’s work is homemaker without any assistance during the day–then yes she is tired. BUT how tired are we REALLY???
    My job for decades revolved around saving people’s lives—pretty darn stressful. Did it stop me from all sex and intimacy? No. Let us REALLY look at HOW TIRED WE ARE. It is after work—are we too tired to invite people over for drinks, are we too tired to go shopping, are we too to watch TV, are we too tired to attend every single extracurricular event at school, are we (men n women) too tired to practice Church softball, are we too tired to attend after work Church events, etc…..etc…..etc !!! No, we are not generally THAT tired. But we cannot even find 30 minutes to retain the original relationship GOD created when he brought us together??? It IS THE NUMBER ONE EXCUSE to avoid the intimate relationship we all so eagerly sought when we met! No excuses for true love. Find the time or take a long reflective look at yourself in the mirror. God never decreed “when you marry make sure your intimate relationship is last.”
    John R

  11. H says:

    I used to hear “tired” all the time. I took over the cooking and laundry but still heard it. I do most of the dishes now too on top of all the other things I already did before. She used her new found time and energy to start a new online consulting business. I think tired was just an excuse to avoid me. I don’t wait up for her to go to bed anymore. She comes to bed later now than she did before when she told me she was tired. I wish I didn’t want her so much.

  12. Kathy says:

    What to do when its my husband causing the lack of sleep with his late night activities? I’ve asked him to get on an earlier bedtime. No luck. I asked him to use wireless headphones to watch tv or play video games. Nope. I work second shift, have to be up at 5 to take meds, then up at 6 to get our children ready and on the bus, and then run any household errands after 8am. My sleep deprivation is so bad that I’m sleeping on the couch and dreaming instantly even when I’ve only dozed off for ten minutes. Then I get ultimatums from my husband about my lack of enthusiasm for sex! It feels like a cruel joke on his part most days.
    He knows I’m exhausted. He knows why. He refuses to help. He wants sex every day. He isn’t currently working but feels that everything is my responsibility.
    I’m very close to asking him to stay with his best friend just so I can get a break and some sleep.

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