It’s no secret, but sex can easily become one of the biggest sources of conflict in marriage.
Do you see that in your marriage? Maybe you feel like your differing sex drives are exhausting, Maybe you feel like all your spouse thinks about is sex. Maybe you feel like that to-do list in your head never shuts off or that sex is just one more thing on your to-do list!
If that’s you, you’re not alone.
Mark and I have always been at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to our sex drives. Mark thinks about sex once every 17 seconds. I think about it once every 17 days.
So as you can imagine, we’ve had plenty of our own frustration over the years. But this has been a place we’ve had to grow in our marriage.
Because sex matters.
This whole sex thing was God’s idea in the first place. He created it for deep intimacy, reproduction, and for married couples to experience satisfaction, enjoyment, and pleasure. (Read Genesis 1:27-28, Genesis 2:25, and Song of Solomon 7:1-6 for more on that.) When I realized that God created sex to be a form of recreation in my marriage, it went from being a task to being a treat.
You see, sex is not just for husbands or for whoever has the higher sex drive.
It’s for you both, together as a couple, to experience joy, intimacy, fun, and connection.
Now before we go forward, let me make one thing clear: It is absolutely okay to say “no” to sex. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes you might not feel ready for one reason or another. And the list goes on. You can make decisions for your body, and that is okay. (This should be safe to do in your marriage.)
But I also want to be clear that you can say “yes!” My hope for you is that, just like I’ve discovered over the years, sex can move from being a task to a treat. This is something special you get to share with your spouse, and it is truly worth prioritizing in your marriage.
So today, I simply want to give you 5 things to consider when you’re not feeling “in the mood.” Let’s jump in:
1) Trust your body to catch up.
In my most popular podcast episode, Dr. Jennifer Degler talks a lot about this. And it’s such a helpful truth!
Did you know the majority of women are actually designed with what’s called a responsive sex drive? This means that you usually don’t start to feel “in the mood” until your body feels pleasure. So it’s the physical readiness for sex that moves you to the mental readiness for sex.
This is opposite to a spontaneous sex drive, which a majority of men have. For those with a spontaneous sex drive, the thoughts of sex lead their bodies to be ready. Mental readiness for sex makes them physically ready.
Of course, men and women can be in either category, and can cross between them based on the circumstances.
But why does this matter? Because if you have a responsive sex drive, you can trust your body to catch up! That’s actually how you’re designed! This may mean you and your spouse need to move slower in the bedroom to give yourself time to catch up and for you to get excited about sex.
Understanding yourself helps you know that you are designed as you are supposed to be. And you can leverage that wiring to make sex exciting for both you and your spouse.
2) Be honest about your stress level.
Why do we often say no? Because there’s too many other things on our mind.
The dishes. Problems at work. What we’re packing in our kids’ lunches tomorrow. A disappointment from earlier in the day. The list goes on.
One of the biggest inhibitors to anyone’s sex drive is stress.
If you find that you are consistently not interested in sex with your spouse, it may be time to be honest about your stress level. Are there too many other things going on in your life to prioritize the relationship that’s most important?
Sometimes low libido can be a red flag for other aspects of our life. What do you need to resign from or let go of so you have the margin for investing in your marriage?
3) Do something that you know helps you get in the mood.
What is that for you? Could be a bath. A walk. A shower. Buying something special to wear. Putting on your favorite lotion. Finishing the dishes (Hey, whatever works!). Planning or getting something exciting to try in the bedroom.
Sometimes we can take that initial step to help ourselves get in the mood before we jump straight to saying “no.”
And you can make it fun, too! “Give me 15 minutes to get ready. While I’m doing that, maybe you can get creative on a fun way to surprise me?” That’s 15 minutes of pure anticipation for your spouse and 15 minutes for you to do whatever you need to.
4) Instead of saying “no,” schedule it.
I actually have a whole article on this here.
There aren’t enough couples scheduling sex! This builds anticipation, provides clarity in a relationship, builds trust, and removes the unrealistic expectation that sex always has to be “spontaneous.”
This option also helps you meet in the middle with your spouse who currently is in the mood.
“I don’t know that I’d be in the mood right now, but what if we scheduled it for tonight or tomorrow morning?”
“I’m feeling exhausted, but I’d love to tomorrow. Want to pick a time and add it to my calendar?”
“Hey! This Thursday, we should make love after the kids go to bed. What do you think?”
“Let’s make every Tuesday our night. We’ll both value and prioritize it because it’s important.”
Scheduling sex is a simple tactic many couples can utilize to improve this aspect of their relationship.
5) Ask for what you need.
This applies in and out of the bedroom.
Outside of the bedroom, if there’s a task that is weighing on you and preventing you from feeling ready for sex, ask your spouse for help. Don’t hint. Don’t be passive. Just ask. “Honestly, everything that needs to be cleaned up from dinner is really stressing me out. Could you help me with that and then we can connect in bed?”
Inside the bedroom, it’s important that couples are honest about what feels good to them. Like Dr. Jennifer Degler says, “[Women] have to take more responsibility for our own pleasure.” If you need your spouse to move slower, ask. If you need your spouse to try something different, ask. If you feel uncomfortable with an idea your spouse had, be honest.
So often our frustration, generally or related to sex, can stem from feeling like we’re the only ones who can see a task. But often, the solution is simple: Communication.
Next time you’re not feeling in the mood, I encourage you to try one of these 5 suggestions! Your sex life truly does matter, and again, it can be a source of joy and connection for both you and your spouse.
Interested in reading more? Here are some more resources on sex:
- An Honest Conversation About Sex with Dr. Jennifer Degler | Episode 25
- How To Talk About Sex Outside the Bedroom
- Why Scheduling Sex Can Be Important For Your Marriage
- Is There Really Sex After Kids? by Mark and Jill Savage
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