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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Too Tired for Intimacy?

by: Sheila Wray Gregoire

Most women think sex is absolutely fine. But so's chocolate, and it requires a lot less effort, a lot less time, and sometimes it's more satisfying.

That's a problem, because even if you're absolutely exhausted, a marriage can't stay strong if you're not connecting. Yet 25% of moms with kids at home report being way too tired to have sex on a regular basis. I'm actually surprised it's not a little higher! When my second daughter was born, she decided that sleep was highly overrated, and so most of my nights were spent trying to convince her to settle into her crib. I was so desperate to get at least 6 hours a night (even if it was broken up), that sex was far down on my priority list. It didn't mean we weren't intimate; it's just that I was far more attuned to my need for sleep than I was my need for sex.

When you're that exhausted, how do you get to the point where you are actually available to yourself and to your husband, both with time and energy? So many things demand our attention and our energy during the day that it's just difficult to be available at night. We all have internal batteries that need to be replenished. And too often we drain them, but we do nothing to recharge. So if you want to feel alert with your hubby:

1. Recharge Your Batteries Appropriately. You know the things that drain you: talking to certain people, housework, running around after kids, paid work, chauffeuring, scheduling, all the things that go into a normal life. These things aren't necessarily bad, but you need to figure out what also charges you.

Much of this is based on personality. Some people are real extraverts, and they won't be charged unless they get a lot of time to actually talk to people. If you need it, you don't have to feel ashamed of it. Just schedule in some time everyday to talk with a friend, or go out for coffee after dinner with her. If you're an introvert, and you need time alone, tell your husband this, and ask if he can do the bedtime routine so that you can have a bubble bath. (Tell him why you need the break and he may be more inclined to help!) In other words, be realistic about what you need.

2. Find Someone to Watch the Kids. Hopefully your husband will cooperate, especially when he realizes that he's getting something out of the deal! But if he won't, take the intiative to get some help. Find a teenager in your neighbourhood to watch the children for two hours after school a few times a week so you can get some time to yourself. Don't just use the time to do errands that won't replenish you; put a priority on doing what you need to do to feel awake. Or ask your mother or your sister to watch the children for a while. Find someone to be your ally!

3. Keep the Long Term in View. It's easier to spend time on yourself when you see the benefit in it. You know your marriage is important, but realistically how much time do you dedicate to nurturing it? Do you only pay attention to all the "things" you can do for your family, rather than just being there for your husband? He needs you, not just clean laundry. And when you feel connected to your husband, you also feel more energetic and more excited to get that housework done later!

4. Say No to Overcommitment. We all know this, but do we do it? What is making you too busy today? Is it your church? Your children's schedule? Your hobbies? Whatever it is that is causing you to stop thinking about your husband and start thinking about other things needs to stop. We all need downtime. Make sure you have some.

5. Practice the art of compartmentalization. Men are wonderful at keeping things in their place. They're not as distracted nearly as much as we are because they're not naturally trying to multi-task. We do. We multitask naturally, all the time. And believe me, sex is not a good time for multitasking! You should not be writing grocery lists in your head while you're being intimate. You should not be planning vacations while he's kissing you. When you're with your husband, practice being with him. Concentrate on what he's saying. Concentrate on how he feels. And above all, stop thinking! Sometimes we women have to force ourselves to concentrate on our bodies and not on our to-do lists, even when you're both getting frisky, because if we don't specifically turn off that voice in our heads, it's going to keep blaring at us that there are things that need to get done. Yes, there are. But you can't do anything about that now! Keep sending your mind back to your hubby, and your body will likely follow!

Here's the truth: often we think we're exhausted when the issue is we just have too much on our plate, and thus too much constantly going through our brains. Turn off the constant noise in your brain telling you to do more, and turn on that part of your brain telling you to slow down, and practice being in the moment. You'll find you're less tired, and much more in the mood than when you're always focusing on all the things you "should" be doing.

The biggest "should" in your life is about your marriage. You should be enjoying your husband. Are you? If not, learn to! Make it a priority. And turn everything else off!

Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of four books, including Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight. She blogs at www.ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com, and you can find her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/sheila.gregoire.books .



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