Opening note from Jes: I understand that I am a fortunate woman to be in a happy and healthy marriage. This article is intended to encourage women who are also in relatively happy marriages. Sex is a gift, but can be hurtful when outside of God’s plan for intimacy. If your marriage is floundering or you are in an abusive situation, please seek help. Local counseling options can be found here: https://bigforkmops.com/local-counseling-resources/
February–the month of romance. Do you love it or hate it? As a mom, I have more often than not hated it.
It is not easy to muster up romantic feelings after being used as a human pacifier, Kleenex, or personal servant all day. Mothering small children is in many ways kryptonite for romance. Long gone are the days of lounging in a sexy fog of lovemaking with your honey all day long. For many of us, a lot of other things are gone too: flat tummies, eyes without dark circles under them, daily showering and toothbrushing, to name a few. If perhaps we have a fleeting thought of sexy time with our spouse at some point, by the time there is a free moment, often we are too pooped to whoop.
Ladies, I promise, it gets better. As the kids get older, making time for intimacy gets easier and more fun.
Until that day …
1. Stop obsessing about your bodies. Someone told me once that while we are worried about the lights being on, about our less-than-toned “mom bodies,” and about how we don’t look like our pre-baby selves, the only thing our spouse is thinking is: “Hooray! I get to have sex!” Perhaps it is getting a little older, my trying to embrace self-compassion, or just the fact that this body has grown two of the most amazing children on earth, but I am trying to start believing that my spouse really, truly does think I am beautiful. I am guessing that yours probably thinks the same about you.
2. Make time for you. I know–we hear this all the time. And I have rolled my eyes over and over when I hear it. However, my husband and I have seen a trend. When I get to have some time for myself, some time away, some time with my very favorite girls having fun, it is almost guaranteed that he is gonna get lucky when I get back home. Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder and apparently makes my libido increase.
3. Talk about the hard stuff, the conflict, the struggles. If you are not intimate in your relationship as friends and partners, you will not be friendly in the bedroom. We may not admit it, but it is extremely easy to use sex as a weapon. When we withhold sex from our spouse, we aren’t doing anyone any favors. We must, must, must work as a team to overcome the struggles in our relationships–and we all know that make-up sex is totally worth the work it takes to actually make-up.
If you are in a place in your marriage where your struggles are destroying you and your partner, there is no shame in getting help. While we can withhold sex as a power move, we can also try to use sex as a “fix-all.” There are times in our marriages when, to survive, we have to reach out, and we have to get help. It is scary and hard and draining, but in the long run, I would much rather put in the hard work than see my marriage dissolve. (Please understand that this does not mean that you should stay in a marriage that is dangerous to you or your spouse; it only means that I am a HUGE fan of reconciliation and healing in relationships and a big fan of marriage in general).
4. Just do it. We are not always “in the mood.” Sometimes, I just want to sleep, but he is wide awake. Sometimes he has to get up at 4:30 AM, but I can’t sleep. Sometimes, we just do it, even when we don’t start out very enthusiastically. Guess what? We never regret it. The silly saying that sex is like pizza–even when it’s bad, it’s good– is actually usually pretty true. Some of the nights that one of us had to work a little harder to persuade the other have been some of the most fun. And, if it really, truly isn’t going to happen, make sure you let your spouse know. There is nothing worse than being rejected, after working really hard to encourage lovemaking.
So this Valentine’s Day, forget about fancy gifts, dates, cards and chocolates. Put the kids to bed early, and work on giving each other the gift of yourselves.
Jesica Swanson currently serves as Coordinator at Bigfork MOPS. She is mother to Boden & Isley, and wife of Norse. You can find her random thoughts on spiritual life, marriage, motherhood, fun products, and whatever else pops into her head at http://www.atleastwecanlaugh.com.