Have you ever overcommitted your time and energy to things, events or tasks?
Has it cost you sexual intimacy with the person who is supposed to be a priority in your life?
Let’s be real here for a moment.
For some people, the lack of boundaries and margin has become so pervasive in their life that it defines their life.
Always on the go. Eating when you can. Rushing. You tried the color-coded family calendar, but it just ended up looking like a 2-year-old went to town with the 18-pack of colored Sharpies. Everything is regularly nearing empty—the car, the fridge, the laundry soap. And you… you are regularly nearing empty.
But you do it. You’ve done it for a long time. It’s your normal. You rarely say “no” because you don’t even see “no” as a viable option.
Now before you push back on me too much, I get that your life can’t become a free-for-all, where you get all willy nilly, throwing the word “no” around like confetti.
If you have a job, you have to at least put your name tag on and feign some interest in being responsible. If you have kids, you need to feed them and do a sundry of other tasks to keep child protective services at bay. And if you have a lawn, you better mow that bad boy now and then or your neighbors may start calling the Mayor’s Hotline.
I totally appreciate that you can’t say “no” to everything, because you are a grown up. And grown ups have to do grown up things. And I also know that many of the things you say “yes” to are indeed things that bring you joy in your life.
Wait for it…
Maybe—just maybe—a little reflection is in order. A deep breath. A moment. A heart-to-heart talk (with yourself or your spouse or both). A willingness to genuinely ask, “Am I saying “yes” to so many things that I can’t say “yes” to sex with the person I love?”
And I know it’s not just about the sex, but trust me on this. If there’s no room for quality time with your spouse, there’s not much room and energy for sex either.
We commit our time and energy to more things than is necessary. We do. And it shows in the bedroom (and out of the bedroom, for that matter).
There simply is no margin or reserve to take care of the relationship that should be second only to our relationship with God.
So where can you say “no” more often? I’m not suggesting you do a radical overhaul of your life and calendar (although for some of you, that may be exactly what feels right. Carpe diem, baby. Carpe diem). Nearly all of us can at least begin to incrementally say “no” more than we have been saying it.
This may piss off some people in your life, particularly if you are someone who is always willing to stay late at work or be on multiple committees at church or volunteer for every activity at your kids’ school or coach youth sports teams from the time they can walk till the time they go to college or always host the annual neighborhood fondue party. (Okay, that last thing probably isn’t a thing. But you get where I’m going with this).
When we start to make changes in our life for the betterment of our health, sanity and marriage, it’s going to ruffle a few feathers. You’re going to have to brace yourself for that. There is going to be some grief, not just for the people around you, but for you, too. Change is hard, even if we know it’s the right thing to do.
And your tendency may be to take ownership for other people’s reactions. That’s neither necessary nor healthy. Resist the urge to over-explain your “no.” Offering up a lengthy justification is futile. Don’t do it.
So let’s circle back. Where can you say “no” more often? Here are three ideas:
1. The Hard Commitments
These are things that have clear definitions, such as leadership roles on committees or teams. For example, instead of heading up the bake sale like you’ve always done, why not offer to just bring a pan of brownies? Instead of being the head coach who has to do all the scheduling, why not be an assistant coach where you will have to dedicate less time?
Set commitments also can refer to behaviors we have built into our life that may be self-imposed, such as always going into work an hour early or always staying an hour late.
Sometimes there are things we keep saying “yes” to because we have said yes for years and we’ve come to expect it in ourselves, and others have come to expect it from us as well.
Scan your calendar and see if there are set commitments you can start to eliminate or taper back on so that you have more energy and time for sexually connecting with that person you once stood next to at the end of a wedding aisle.
2. The One-Off Commitments
Again, I know you’re a grown up, and grown ups sometimes need and/or want to say “yes” to things that come up. These are the occasional wedding shower invites, Pampered Chef parties, filling in when there is a need in the church nursery, watching your nieces and nephews while your sister runs an errand, etc.
It’s not that you should never say “yes” to these, because we are a village and the village should behave like a village. It’s just that you should give yourself permission to say “no.”
Sometimes saying “no” is the right response, especially if you are already feeling tapped out or something in your life is going to really suffer by you saying “yes.”
Just start flexing your discernment muscle a bit more. Don’t be so quick to immediately say “yes.” Give yourself a moment. If “yes” is the right answer, then by all means, say it. But if it’s not and you feel in your gut it’s not, then don’t feel guilty about saying “no.”
3. Free Time
This one likely requires the most self discipline, because these are the things like binge watching “just one more episode” or scrolling “just 15 more minutes” on social media.
Sometimes we don’t self regulate enough and we fill our free time with things that cost us big time. We devote too much precious free time to things that just end up sapping our desire and energy to make love to the person we love. Research has shown that we way underestimate the time we waste on mindless activities.
When you consider the above three categories that could be monopolizing your “yeses,” where can you build the courage to start saying “no” more often?
Where can you say NO to a few more things so you can say YES to SEX? When all is said and done, don’t you want to be enjoying sex more with the person you love? I hope so!
And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage! You can find out all about it at this link: Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.