If At First You Don’t Succeed… Ask for Sex Again

Physical intimacy hasn’t been happening in my marriage as often as we’d like. It’s been harder to connect lately, with my husband and me each having full work schedules (which don’t coincide), certain family obligations, and recent ailments and sleep disturbances. I’d love to say that we’re always rocking the marriage bed over here in my house, but in recent weeks there’s been more lulling than rocking happening under our sheets.

So when yet another attempt failed last week, I was really discouraged. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We’d planned to make love. But life happened, and it didn’t. Still, I was left missing that intimacy with my husband and feeling like our days were stacked against us.

Honestly, I complained to a friend. Not complaining about my husband, of course, but simply sharing my frustration with our lack of sexual intimacy. As a wonderful support to my marriage, she had an encouraging word for me. Once again, I remembered that, as much as we place a priority on sex in our marriage, it’s just more difficult to make happen with great frequency in some seasons.

But if at first you don’t succeed . . . Yep, try, try again!

Couple in bed with blog post title

That’s such a simple phrase that gets batted around all the time (at least in my culture). But there is great truth to it. The Bible says it this way: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

And I believe this is one of the main reasons why I can confidently state that my marriage has good, healthy, satisfying, godly sexual intimacy. Not because we’re always “gettin’ it done” in the bedroom, but because we understand the importance of sex in our marriage and we don’t give up on each other or ourselves.

So the next night, we tried again. I think it took three tries to be able to clear the calendars, the room, the minds, and the Sandman to make some sweet love!

Which is somewhat annoying, but in our bone-dry years, we likely would have given up. And this is what I see in many marriages that are either struggling or simply not experiencing quality sexual intimacy. We get frustrated because things aren’t happening like they should, for whatever reason, and we give up. It’s just too hard, or you’re too exhausted, or you’re too busy, or you’re too likely you’ll be rejected yet again.

Look, I don’t know what will happen if you try, try again. It may not turn out. But I guarantee what will happen if you don’t try: No sex.

So today I’m suggesting that you make sexual intimacy a priority, that you persevere in pursuing the best for your marriage bed, that you take the setbacks in stride but keep moving in the right direction. We’re not sprinting in our marriages. This is a marathon! As much as that analogy pains those of us who can’t stand to run, it’s true.

If you don’t make love tonight, the world will not end. But if you don’t make love tonight and the next night and the next and the next and on and on and on, what will happen to your marriage? To your intimacy? To your heart?

So if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Dust off the disappointing moment and, when opportunity presents itself, ask for sex again. Or as 1 Corinthians 13 better says:

Love perseveres on decorative background

14 thoughts on “If At First You Don’t Succeed… Ask for Sex Again

  1. Keelie Reason

    It’s so true. You do have to just keep trying. We’ve had times like that where we really wanted to be together, but it just keeps getting postponed. Not giving up is the key. It honestly just makes your times together even that much more exciting, because you are both wanting it so bad.

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for this encouraging word J. I basically gave up over 30 years ago. I did try again 2 years ago to significantly increase our frequency (and variety too) but failed. In fact, our frequency went down even lower last last year. I am now reconsidering another attempt to improve our marriage bed after reading your article…

  3. Anon2

    So what is one to do when it has been a couple of years? And asking, hinting, trying to raise her arousal level has been consistently rebuffed.
    Understanding her Fibromyalgia and Peripheral Neuropathy (regular-consistent pain), I still do not understand why I cannot touch her, hug her, hold her (she pushes me away), and why she regards touching me as abhorrent. Doctor’s advice on how to try having intercourse with less pain was tried a couple of times, but she didn’t like it, so no more “adventure”. Anything/everything I have tried over the past 5 years has been a dismal failure – she just doesn’t want to have intercourse, or even intimacy anymore.
    Any suggestions? Ideas?

    1. libl

      Deep seated emotional pain and trauma from lost expectations of who she thought she’d be before this illness defined her?

      One thing I am working on with my dh and his illness is making sure he understands that I love him and do not view him as less than or a failure because of his illness. Ultimately, that may be a hurdle he had to deal with and perhaps seek counseling for, but until then I reinforce the truth and understand how illness can be an open door for the enemy to come in and wreak havoc on their psyche and self esteem.

    2. A Blessed Wife

      Maybe she thinks that you want ANY physical touch to lead to more. Convey to her that a touch can be only a touch that it doesn’t have to lead to more. Start slow and maybe over time it will lead to more & more. Also, maybe explain to her how just a little physical contact can mean so much to you. By the way physical contact can help heal your body … and spirit. Good luck!

  4. libl

    We are going through a dry spell. Dh has a chronic illness and when it flares up, he is unable to have sex. In the past this would throw me into a tailspin and I would wonder why he couldn’t at least wiggle a finger for me. Even so, he is currently hospitalized so that doesn’t matter anyway.

    Instead, I am focusing on intimacy. We cuddle a lot and chat a lot, kiss and hug a lot. We look forward to when he goes back in to remission and things start working again.

    I am also personally using this time to prepare myself for the possibility of my sex life ending. His illness may render him unable to have sex (and he refuses to give oral and manual) permanently, or he may even pass away. I need to be prepared for that. I do not have the luxury of expecting a long, full sex life just like some don’t have the luxury of expecting to walk their daughter down the aisle because she is too mentally and physically disabled to even consent to a marriage let alone have prospects. Sometimes life just sucks, but I will take what joy I can get out of life.

  5. PC

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. Seriously. After another 9 month dry spell, I’m THIS close to throwing in the towel. I stopped asking years ago because the continual rejection just hurt too much. That hasn’t helped. Time to go put on the big boy pants, ask, and see if she’ll take them off. Or not. But you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?

  6. B

    Sometimes you just have to give up. Sometimes (like in my case) your husband is just not that in to you. My husband says he loves me multiple times a day, he loves to hold my hand, he loves to cuddle – it’s so weird! I read about man after man, husband after husband, who all want sex so much – but not my husband. It’s so discouraging. I’ve tried having a better attitude. I’ve tried being happy with our once a week romance. Last night our kids decided they’d to go to the youth group closer to home tonight. I took the initiative and told my husband we could have a date night. He seemed very happy about it – last night. I looked forward to it all day. I curled my hair the way he likes it, cleaned the kitchen and bedroom, put on scented lotion that he likes, even bought a new lipstick (that he didn’t notice), and wore – and wasted, something he’d love under my outfit. If he’d bothered to look. I looked forward to this night all. day. long. And of course, he had a bad day at work. I understand he really does have a hard and stressful job with longer hours, and I’m blessed to be able to stay home with the kids. But today of all days? All he wanted to do was talk. He said how glad he was to talk to me and how I made him feel so much better. Now he’s fast asleep! Talk about a let down. I figure I’m just not appealing to him anymore. Oh well. At least he’s willing to be intimate once a week. I just wish he found more to love about me than my listening skills. But anyhow, no I won’t try again. I’m tired of trying. I know this is wrong, but I feel great envy for the women whose husbands want them sexually. I long to know what it’s like to be desired instead of appeased. Oh well.

    1. libl

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. I have been in your shoes in the past.

      Now, though, I KNOW hubby is into me. He oogles me, gropes me, compliments me, ….in fact our intimacy is really good right now. But, no sex. No orgasms. I will be honest that the intimacy level does help with the loss of sex and orgasm, but that is still a big thing missing.

  7. Tara

    Oh man, this season of life with a 2 and 6 year old has been so tricky to find time for sex. With hubby’s work schedule we have 1-2 days each week where it’s even feasible to try to work it in. And even then, a puking toddler can erase our chance for sex for weeks on end.

    Last weekend, we managed to steal away for a midday canoodle. Locked the bedroom door, got things going and then a tantrum began outside the door. We tried to ignore it. But I can’t stay in the right mental space with that racket going on.

    I just burst into tears and unloaded on DH about how this season of my life feels like I can’t have anything at all just for me. I can’t take a bite of food without being harassed to surrender it, I can’t take a shower or go pee without interruption or demands, I can’t craft or have a hobby without being expected to allow my kids to use up my supplies and make a giant mess. And now I can’t even have sex with my husband without someone thinking their toy truck is more important! It’s such a demanding season.

    I could have just gotten cranky and shut everyone out. I’m known to do that. But i just stayed in bed. After calming the 2 year old and relocking the bedroom door, DH was so sweet and held me, listened to me, validated me and admitted he feels that way a lot of the time too. The next day, a tiny window of opportunity opened. I didn’t know if I wanted to even risk the frustration. But I did. And I’m glad I did.

    Sometimes it’s not that one or both of you don’t want sex. It’s just that life doesn’t roll out the doormat for you to get it. So you have to be willing to try, try again and be willing to be thwarted sometimes. But if you don’t keep trying it’ll certainly never happen. Thanks for this encouraging post!

    1. J Post author

      This is all very true. And I’m sure others have said this to you, but I’ll reiterate that this season won’t last forever. Hang in there, prioritize your marriage as much as possible, and be thankful for the times you can connect. (Oh, and find someone to watch those kids now and then, so you or you & hubby can have a break.)

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  9. Wolf

    This is so tough with a spouse that has no desire and will never initiate. When you do 100% of the initiation, and are told NO 99% of the time it wears on you and slowly destroys you. It feels like your spouse is having an affair, but with no one.

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