Scenario: My spouse and I haven't had sex in a year. We have three young children, and I'm just exhausted. I have no desire to be intimate, and he doesn't understand. I am completely overwhelmed. I love my husband so much, but I'm always "too tired or not in the mood." He puts more and more pressure on me every day about it, and I feel it's beginning to affect our marriage. His constant pressure just turns me off even more. What can I do?
You know here at Blissful Blue Jays, I do my best to find an expert to weigh in and help with whatever the topic is at hand. I found an incredible person for this post! Rev. Tim Buttrey is the President, Co-Founder and Director of Counseling at True Relationships.
When I reached out to Tim, he was very eager to help and provide some answers to anyone who might be dealing with this situation. I love getting to work with these experts in the world and shed light on problems.
Take it away Rev. Tim!
I took a trip once to Riobamba Ecuador, which is at an elevation of 10,000 feet in the Andes. If you are unaccustomed to that elevation, one of the first effects is a bit of nausea, causing one to lose their appetite (desire) for food. Those that were with me succumbed to the loss of appetite and eventually became very ill. On the other hand, I chose to eat every meal, even when I wasn't hungry. In that, and other, situations it is less about desire and more about need.
In my counseling, I often help people see that their responses in life, and especially in marriage, are often self-centered. Self-centered is different than selfishness. Selfishness tends to be seen as uncaring and, in extreme ways, can be experienced as narcissistic. However, self-centeredness can be very stealthy and often seems quite reasonable. Consider the spouse that dislikes chaos, disagreements, and stress. They may work very hard at making sure everyone is happy and at peace. Perhaps doing so at their own expense. What they believed they were doing for others became obvious that they "kept the peace" so that they would feel better. Those around them did not need or expect their sacrifices. That person was doing what they needed to feel peace but probably wasn't doing what the others needed or wanted. A helpful marriage resource for loving your spouse and kids the way they need it (other-centered) instead of the way you feel the most adequate (self-centered) is Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages.
In marriage, we are both supposed to be other-centered. Other-centeredness is not about being a doormat or selfless. It is merely about putting the other person's, namely your spouse's, needs ahead of your own. As I write that I can feel the audience pulling back on the reins. "Whoaaa! If I do that, my needs will never be considered ever. They will take for granted that I want to meet their needs, and I will be left in the dust!" Okay, what I said at the beginning of this paragraph is essential. "In marriage, we are BOTH supposed to be other-centered." That is what makes it work. When both of you are considering the other's needs over your own, that becomes the classic Win-Win!
You made it clear that you love your husband. The problem is he is not hearing that. He probably has both desire and need. Yes, need. That need is multifaceted. It involves physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and even intellectually. Physically, I have come to believe that a man has a sexual cycle. It is probably best understood in relation to a woman's menstrual cycle. There are physical changes that take place as each cycle occurs. This male cycle is less obvious but still carries with it some physical and emotional effects. Emotionally, for both men and women, a lack of sexual intimacy can make you vulnerable to negative feelings about yourself and, more seriously, to other's compliments and attention.
Relationally, making love creates a bond. God designed our bodies to release oxytocin and other hormones into the brain during sex (and even when hugging and kissing), causing one to feel attached. Oxytocin underlies trust and is also an antidote to depressive feelings. Spiritually, most marriage vows include the idea of "two becoming one." Sexual intercourse is the physical expression of spiritual truth. Intellectually, a lack of marital sex can cause a person to think negatively about themselves, the marriage, and the world. Is there a possibility that your husband (or you) has been impacted in one or more of these areas?
Now the hard part. Let me address what I believe the message is that your husband is actually receiving from you and how it might be making him feel. In essence, you have chosen other things or individuals to give all of your energy to, and your husband is feeling unimportant at best and unloved at worst. Although his "increasing pressure" would be inappropriate in a normal context, considering that it has been a year, he is likely feeling hopeless. You are right, that it is affecting your marriage. I would suggest that you sit down together and talk about it. Say something like, "I can imagine that you are struggling with us having not had sex for a long time. I would like us to talk about it. First, I would like us to understand each other. Then, I would like us to come up with a plan to reconnect sexually and never let it go this long again. I love you, and I'm sorry that you may have questioned that lately."
Beginning your conversation this way would be both honest AND safe. There should be no reason for him to be defensive. You are in this together. I've got a hunch I know where this will be going in short order. Have fun together and take care of each other - even if the desire isn't there. That's what we do!
Meet Rev. Tim Buttrey
President, Co-Founder, Director of Counseling
Tim Buttrey has served in full-time ministry since 1984. As President/Co-Founder of True Relationships, Tim stays passionate about his work because he loves watching the miracle of broken relationships be renewed. Tim says, “Jesus came to make all things new. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than watching a hopeless, broken couple begin to believe again, love again and, ultimately, move past the events and emotions that nearly destroyed them.” Tim believes in the God of the Bible who said, “See, I am doing a new thing! Don’t you see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
4-Day Intensives: https://truerelationships.org/4-day-intensive
*This is not a sponsored post, meaning I did not earn any type of compensation to create this post. This post is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. By reading this post you agree to the disclaimer.