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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Think you're not getting enough sex? Your spouse probably thinks the same thing!

Recently, for a day of hard work in our yard, I was rewarded with a pretty nasty case of poison ivy.

The first thing to fall was the pride I took in never being allergic to such things. I've always been able to work in the yard (or hike in the woods) with impunity toward skin-irritating vegetation. Not any more. Apparently, once you have it, you'll always get it.Yuck!

The second thing to take a hit was our sex life, for what I thought were obvious reasons. I didn't want to risk infecting my dear wife with my malady, and I didn't find out until later that once the offending oils are removed from the skin, there is no further risk of spreading the infection.

As the poison ivy dragged on, eventually we were missing each other pretty desperately, so we decided we need to improvise a low-risk way of enjoying a little hanky panky. I wore a long-sleeve shirt and we took some other measures to ensure minimum chance transferring the infection.

Interestingly, the changes all this brought to our encounter actually ended up being kind of fun. By definition, it required things to be different, and it's good to change things up every so often.

My bottom line takeaway: sometimes you have to make some creative changes in order to keep your physical connection in tact.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

All this got me thinking about all the excuses we give for not having sex.

I'll start off by pointing to a few survey results from The Marriage Bed website, run by fellow marriage-bloggers Paul and Lori Byerly. The first survey asked the question "Are you having enough sex?" Here are a few key results:
  • 39% of men and 23 % of women are having "way less" than they would like.
  • 20% of men and 25% of women are having somewhat less than they would like.
  • 8% of men and 11% of women are having a bit less than they want.
  • 10% of men and 9% of women never have sex at all.
So in all, 77% of men and 69% of women are not satisfied with the level of sexual activity in their marriages!!

Additionally, in separate surveys,TMB asked men  and women to list their reasons for saying no to sex.

Wives' top five answers:
  • More than two thirds of the women said they say no because they are too tired
  • Half said they say no because it’s late or they have to get up early
  • 32% of women say no due to stress.
  • 45% say no because they have not connected emotionally
  • A third of women have said no because of recent rudeness on the part of their husband
Husbands' top five answers:
  • 51% say no because they are just too tired
  • 35% because it will cut into their sleep
  • 31% say no due to stress
  • 22% say no due to lack of emotional connection (there goes a stereotype!)
  • 19% say no because their wife has been rude to them recently
Putting these surveys together begs some obvious questions. If the majority of couples are unhappy with their level of sexual frequency, why aren't more couples doing something about it? Are they giving up too easily because they don't grasp the importance of sexual intimacy in holding a marriage together? Have they given up hope that things can and will improve? Are they settling because they are afraid to ask for what they really want from their partner? Are they waiting for "later" when things aren't so busy?

Stop Serving Leftovers!

I'm not trying to trivialize the tangled maze that is sexual politics within marriage. There are certainly legitimate reasons for sexual dysfunction, but consider the top four reasons listed above for both men and women - remarkably similar lists of excuses. Tiredness, lack of sleep, stress and lack of emotional connection (often also a time issue) are all things you can do something about.

These "excuses" are mostly a matter of managing your priorities (time and emotional energy) so that you aren't just giving your spouse your "leftovers."

If you find yourself less than satisfied with the amount of sex you are having, you might be surprised to find that your partner feels the exact same as you (at least according to these survey results). Maybe it's time to have a frank discussion about what you both consider to be an ideal sexual frequency.

Then, it's time to figure out what changes you can make to get closer to your ideal. How can you get to bed earlier? What activities can you scale back to make more time and energy for emotional and sexual connection? Where can you lend a hand to your spouse to lighten their load? Put your heads together. Figure it out. Do something.

Stop Using Sex as a Reward or a Weapon!

Finally, I'd like to address one last excuse issued by both sexes according to the surveys: spouse was recently rude.

Without going into a long-winded explanation or offering a bunch of caveats, let me just say that this excuse often comes down to one spouse withholding sex as a weapon/payback or, conversely, using sex as a reward for "good behavior." Stop it! Just don't do that, ever. It's not good for you or for your marriage in the long run, and it often will only make things worse in the short run.

So go have some make-up sex! I promise you'll be able to resolve your conflict much better in the afterglow of a passionate encounter.

I apologize if this comes across as insensitive to what I know are real issues that can impede physical intimacy in marriage. I'm certainly not saying there is no valid reason not to have sex. But what I am saying is that too many of us settle too readily for a lot less than what we can have.

Give this some thought in the context of your own marriage. Do the reasons for not having sex listed above ring true for you? Are there other reasons that top your list? 

Consider whether you are properly prioritizing sexual intimacy with your spouse  in comparison to the many, many other things you fill your life with. If not, do something.

photo credit: designpics /


Paul Byerly said...

Scott - great post, thanks. I am rerunning the why people say no survey this week (the original is over a year old). see

m.wright said...

The "giving your spouse your leftovers" hits the nail on the head for a lot of marriage issues. If I bring the same level of creativity and ingenuity into my marriage as I do in other areas, my marriage will continue to grow. Thanks for sharing!


Scott said...

Paul - I look forward to seeing the new findings.

247 - the leftover issue is a huge one and one we have to continually watch over.

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