After you’ve been married for a number of years, it seems like sex should get easier, doesn’t it? After all, you and your husband know each pretty well by now (the good and the bad!), you’ve gotten past the awkward stage of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and (hopefully) you’ve developed pretty good communication skills.
In theory, at least, that’s how things should work.
The reality, though, is that sex doesn’t always get easier the longer you’ve been married. In fact, sex is complicated, and sometimes it gets harder and more complicated the longer you’ve been married. The things that seem easy and exciting in movies and romance novels often seem hard and tedious in your real-life marriage.
At least they’ve seemed that way in mine. The truth is, there have been times when sex has seemed like the most frustrating thing in my marriage. Times when my husband and I were on completely different pages – and maybe not even reading the same book!
Times when I felt like sex didn’t have anything to do with me – and I really didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Times when I realized that sex is complicated, and wasn’t quite sure how to uncomplicate it.
And my guess is, the same thing has happened to you.
Why does that happen? Why does sex get more complicated when it should be less complicated? And why does it become more work and less fun – when it should be exactly the opposite?
For me, the answer to those questions was – Kids. Busyness. Fatigue. Poor communication. Incorrect assumptions.
How would you answer those questions? Are your answers the same as mine, or have other things complicated sex in your life and marriage?
(By the way, some of the things that affect sex in a marriage, including marriage problems, abuse, depression, and previous sexual abuse, are serious and difficult issues that should be addressed with the help of a professional counselor. The topics addressed in this email won’t be helpful if you’re facing one of those issues.)
If you find yourself in a place where sex seems like just another item on your “to do” list, trust me – you’re not alone. And if you feel like your husband doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say about sex, or even that he isn’t really paying attention, again – I’m right there with you.
I’ve experienced those frustrations (and more!) over more years than I care to remember.
For example, for years I thought that my husband, who is a genuinely good and unselfish guy, was simply not paying attention to my needs when it came to sex. And it created so much cognitive dissonance in my head (not to mention frustration!), because it seemed to be truly out of character for him. It left me feeling angry with him, but also wondering what in the world was wrong with me!
As it turned out, both of us were communicating badly (really badly!) about sex and were making assumptions about the other person that just weren’t true! If you’re looking for a recipe for a complicated sex life, that’s it right there!
Fortunately, I can also say that you don’t have to stay in a place where almost everything about your sex life seems complicated and frustrating.
If you’re in a generally healthy marriage, married to a generally good-hearted man, I believe you can move out of that place and into a much better place – where sex is fun and enjoyable and draws you and your husband together – rather than pushing you apart. A place where sex becomes something that reduces stress in your marriage, rather than adding to it.
In order to do that, you’ll need to identify the things that are keeping you in a complicated place and preventing you from moving to a fun and enjoyable place. And then you’ll need to figure out some simple and practical steps you can take to begin to make the move.
And although every woman and every marriage is different, the things that keep us stuck in a complicated place tend to fall into four major categories –
Busyness and fatigue
Beliefs and assumptions
Practical tips, ideas and information.
So let’s get unstuck.
Over the next few weeks, let’s tackle those four complications, beginning with Busyness and Fatigue in this article. I’ll share what it is about each one that creates stress and problems for women (and, if I’m feeling brave, I’ll share some of my own struggles in that area!). And I’ll share some practical tips and ideas for working through the stress and overcoming the problems, in order to create a fun and intimate sex life in your marriage.
Sex is Complicated Due to Busyness and Fatigue
Let’s start with what I think is the #1 killer of sexual energy and interest for women – busyness and fatigue.
If your life and schedule have you running from early in the morning to late at night, if you feel like you’re always juggling the pieces of your life (and dropping a few!), and if you fall into bed in a heap of bone-weary fatigue every night – then it’s going to be impossible for you to enjoy sex and create a fun and intimate sex life with your husband.
Just. Not. Possible.
I know, because I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work. It can’t work.
I’ve gone through weeks, months and years in which the parts of my life ran together into one busy, stressful blur of kids, home, job, school, homework, sports, lessons, school projects, and extended family responsibilities.
And in those times, it was impossible for me to embrace my sensual side, generate sexual energy, and enjoy sex and intimacy in my marriage.
Just. Not. Possible.
And I’m pretty sure that you know that feeling. Either you’ve experienced it in the past or, more likely, you’re experiencing it right now. You feel pulled in a dozen different directions, you’re tired, and you’ve given all you have to give. And embracing the sensual, sexual woman who lives inside of you seems utterly impossible.
So the question is, do you want that situation to change? Do you want to create space in your life for enjoying sex, generating sexual energy, and embracing your inner sexual woman?
If so, here are some things you need to do:
- Decide to do it– It’s one thing to think about making a change and quite another thing to actually decide to do it. A fun and enjoyable sex life is good for you, your husband and your marriage – and it’s worth the time and effort you’ll put into it. But you have to make the decision to go after it.
So don’t gloss over this step. Don’t say to yourself, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, she’s right….” and then keep going. Stop and think about it. Is making changes that would create space in your life for sex and intimacy important to you? If it is, decide to make it a priority.
- Talk about it– Nobody likes to talk about sex, but you’re going to have to do it. My tendency is to try to make difficult changes without talking about them. But trust me, it doesn’t work! (Tried it. Didn’t work. Had to talk about it.) So start a conversation with your husband. Tell him what you’re thinking. Talk about the effect that fatigue and busyness have on your libido and sexual energy.Talk about your frustrations. Ask his opinion and listen to what he says. Begin talking through changes and possible solutions.
And don’t expect to figure everything out in one conversation. (That’s always my dream when it comes to difficult conversations, but it never comes true!) Making space in your life for sex and intimacy isn’t a simple process. It will take time, talk and trying things out before you find what works for you.
- Manage your time, energy and schedule– Ask yourself these two questions – “Who is managing my time and energy?” “Who is managing our family’s schedule?” If you answer honestly, your answer probably includes some combination of “my children, my children’s school, my children’s coaches, our church, my job, our community commitments, and/or our extended families.”
In other words, you probably aren’t managing your own time and energy, and you and your husband probably aren’t managing your family’s schedule. And that has to change.
If you really want to make space in your life and your marriage for a fulfilling sex life, then you have to manage your time and energy. And you and your husband have to manage your family’s schedule. If you don’t do those two things, and do them actively and assertively, other people (including your children!) will manage your time, energy and schedule for you.
And they will never grant you the space you need to create a great sex life.Because it’s not a priority for them. But it is for you. So you have to act in order to make it happen.
Wrestling control of your time and energy away from other people isn’t easy, and laying out how to do it would make for a very long email. So I encourage you to read two articles – 5 Words Every Woman Needs to Learn to Say and How to Manage Your Family’s Schedule – and then begin making changes, one at a time, that allow you to reserve some of your time and energy for yourself and your marriage.
- Take care of yourself– As you begin to manage your time, energy and schedule, one of the things you need to make time for is taking care of yourself. You can’t embrace your sensual side and enjoy a great sex life if you’re sick, tired, stressed or listless. So decide what your body needs most and make time for it this week. Then in a few weeks, make time for something else. You are worth this investment of time and energy, and your body, mind, spirit and marriage will thank you for it.
(Please remember that all of these ideas are geared toward women in generally healthy marriages. If your marriage is not healthy, these ideas won’t be helpful. If that’s the case, please seek help from a professional counselor. And if you’re experiencing physical or mental health issues that make sex difficult for you, please seek help from a doctor.)