Where Do You Need to Say “No” to Say “Yes” to Your Marriage?

Where Do You Need to Say "No" to Say "Yes" to Your Marriage?Today’s post is personal. Straight from my heart and no-holds-barred.

I have 22 emails in my Inbox, several messages on Facebook, and 17 outstanding comments that require more than a 1-3 sentence reply. I’ve let these things stack up, and I feel bad about it. Truly, truly bad. I want to respond personally to everyone, but I haven’t had the chunks of time to do it properly.

Then there’s my church, which often wants me to volunteer in more ways. Sing on the praise team? Teach a class? Make food for a family? These all take time—time I don’t have. (Plus, that last one takes cooking skill, which is also somewhat lacking…but I digress.)

I had to turn down an editing job recently that would have paid me some money I could use, because it bumped against three other deadlines in my life and I was pretty sure my husband would give me his why-did-you-agree-to-that?! face if I said yes. (He’s right. I tend to think I accomplish more than I can.)

This doesn’t include deadlines I have for my writing or that others have for me (agents, critique partners, etc.). I have books to read, products to review, colleagues to answer. I’ve even skipped a couple of blog days lately, and one month’s newsletter, for no other reason than I plumb ran out of time to get it done.

I know what it feels like to be overly busy.

And I need to say “No”—so that I can “Yes.”

Not only will I not be singing on the praise team for a while yet (sorry, fellow songsters), or editing a manuscript I really wanted to read, or running for the Republican presidential nomination (Why not? Everyone’s doing it!), I must remove things already on my plate.

Because while these things matter, they do not matter like my faith, my marriage, my family.

Sometimes I think there’s where we get way off track with our marriages. We put all kind of things first: our children’s activities, church volunteering, extra jobs and hobbies. When we run out of time for daily conversation, date nights, and sex—oh yes, sex—we throw up our hands and exclaim, “But I’m so busy!”

Yes, you are. You’re too busy. Even if your schedule is filled with wonderful things, if those things are whittling away at your marriage and your marriage bed, you’ve got to set new boundaries. It’s time to say “no” to other things so you can say “yes” to your marriage.

My hubby and I had a recent sexless stretch of two weeks (rather atypical), and it was honestly because our schedules were crisscrossed and crazy. (Plus, a couple of sick days in there.) We just looked up, and suddenly two weeks had passed. Well, no wonder we felt disconnected and grumpy and “off”!

So yeah, I understand how this can happen to a couple. But I’m chiding myself and encouraging you at the same time to stop the madness, wives! Let’s look at our long list of to-dos, our schedules, and our priorities…and make some changes.

(And please don’t play the “if I don’t do it, no one will” card with that one ministry in your church you’re keeping alive. I contend heartily that if a church’s ministry relies entirely on one person’s efforts, it’s not a ministry of the church. If you step aside and no one else takes your place, maybe it was time for the church to say “no” to that so it could say “yes” to something else.)

I do not want to look up 5-10 years from now and have a successful writing career, a fabulous volunteer ministry, people singing my praises…and a flailing marriage. I’ve had a flailing marriage before, and I definitely want the thriving marriage I have now.

For myself, I have to say “no.” For example, I’ll be cutting down on answering personal emails—even though my heart goes out to each and every reader who writes to tell me their story—because I want to still have a great marriage years from now and be able to confidently speak into this ministry of Sex & Marriage by God’s Design.

I’m encouraging you to do the same. Even if it’s something good, it could distract you from what’s even better—your time with God, your priority of family, your marriage relationship, your sexual intimacy.

Don’t turn down sex for days and weeks because your schedule is overloaded. Say “no” to something else so you can say “yes” to your marriage.

If you do have a question for me that I might be able to answer on the blog, you can email me at hotholyhumorous [at] gmail [dot] com. I read the emails, but I can no longer personally answer each and every one. Know that I will not use your name if I choose to answer your question in a post.

13 thoughts on “Where Do You Need to Say “No” to Say “Yes” to Your Marriage?

  1. Mrs. R

    Totally with you!!! My hubby and I (both 44 and after 18 years of childless (on purpose) marriage) have taken in my 21 month old great niece. She has many issues since her mother is a drug addict! So it’s a HUGE life changing burden. Hate to call her a burden but the situation kinda is (financially, mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually). We are her only hope. The rest of my family is useless. Anyway, I can totally relate to things getting in the way of your marriage and more importantly sex life. My hubby and I HAD the best sex life of marriage going on before this. I had commented on your article about manual play for her! 🙂 Now we are lucky to squeeze in any action even once a month. It’s so important … at least it is to us! Thank you for your article!

    1. J Post author

      When you have an unavoidable situation, and those do come in our lives, I think you just have to keep fighting for the time you can get. Life does go in seasons, and sometimes you can’t invest as much as you’d like…but you must invest something. Wishing you all the best, Mrs. R!

  2. Sheila Gregoire

    Way to go, J! I totally understand. We’ve had far too many of those two week stretches over the last few years as I’m speaking and he’s on call and I’ve had to go to another city to plan my daughter’s wedding. It’s no fun. And I’ve had to say no to a lot of things, too, because when we’re empty nesters this fall I have to WANT to be with my husband.

    Don’t feel guilty for letting the emails go–that’s a wise decision.

    1. J Post author

      Thank you, Sheila! It’s tough, because I know people are hurting. But I truly believe that my calling is to speak broadly here on the blog, in books, and hopefully speaking, and for others—like counselors, mentors, pastors—to minister to individual situations that require much more.

      Blessings!

  3. lynn

    Over-committing is a problem for most of us church-going women, I think. It’s hard to say ‘no’. I felt terrible about giving up teaching Sunday School, because they needed teachers and I really enjoyed it, but it was either that or give up another activity. My husband and his friends wanted me to join three book clubs with them. I said to my husband, “Pick one. I’ll do just one.” Last night I had a hundred things to do around the house and for work, but instead I sat and watched a ball game with my husband. You are so right!

    I sometimes send you e-mails because I know bloggers need material. Know that I never need or expect an individual answer. So – you can chill a little. It’s easier to do one big thing than a thousand little things, isn’t it! I think that’s why women feel like they do ‘more’ than their husbands, who maybe have just one or two ‘big’ things (the job, the household plumbing).

    1. J Post author

      Oh no, was it baseball? If so, I’m jealous! 🙂

      I’m happy for people to continue contacting me. I just can’t always answer like I want to. Thanks so much!

  4. Gaye @CalmHealthySexy

    Great post and a great reminder! I have been known to tell women the same thing, yet not apply it to myself. Reading your words reminded me to be very intentional about devoting time to my marriage, even if it means letting some other things go. Like you, I’ve said no to an editing project that I would have enjoyed (the job and the money!) and a church ministry that I could no longer continue. It’s not fun, but is worth it in the long run.

    1. J Post author

      I think we need a calm, healthy, sexy retreat from some of us wife marriage bloggers. 😉 A week on the beach would do wonders! Thanks, Gaye.

      1. Chris

        I was just realizing how behind I am in my reader emails. I find the emails to be among the most meaningful things I do–yet it’s easy to let them slide down on my to-do list. I let things that are just for one person have a lower priority than things that are for more people. It’s the same thing that got in the way of my marriage for a long time, so I’ve been doing some re-evaluating myself of what God wants from me.

        I’m pretty sure that a week at the beach would help me figure that out. 🙂

        1. J Post author

          Week at the beach? I’m in! 🙂

          (We could probably go through all our emails and group answer more effectively anyway.)

  5. kim

    And this is just another reason why I love to read your blog so much!! Not only has the Lord gifted you with wit and wisdom to impart the loving truth of sex and God’s intention (and, even after being married for 36 years, I’m always looking how to make a good thing even better!), He has also graced you with insight in living life as well. I pray that the Lord would “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

    Thanks for being such a blessing to so many, especially me! (and no need to respond!!! just wanted to encourage you!)

    1. J Post author

      Oh my goodness, that is such a great scripture! That needs to go on my Memorize It! list. Thanks, Kim. Blessings!

  6. Keelie Reason

    this is so helpful. So often I see people say yes to way too many things. Definitely have to say no sometimes so you can keep your priorities straight.

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