People sometimes ask if I get tired of writing about sex all the time. Not really. The topic itself is rather interesting, and I am motivated over and over again by sad stories of deep pain, wrong messages propagated about sex that harm relationships, and success stories of marriages turned around. Not to mention the humorous tales and tips I come across.
But there is one time I don’t so much enjoy writing about sex.
When I’m not having it.
I won’t go into details, but physical obstacles have recently kept my husband and me from fully engaging and enjoying our typical frequency and connection. And honestly, I just get a little cranky when that happens. Like I now know how important this aspect of our marriage is and how it both expresses and fosters our intimacy . . . and I can’t have it. It feels like looking into the window of a chocolate store and knowing I can’t take a bite.
So I’m giving myself a little pick-me-up advice today and hoping some of you could use it as well.
When You Can’t Have Sex:
(due to illness, infection, bed rest, recovery, whatever)
Spend time in recreation, conversation, and affection. Just because the sexual connection isn’t happening at the moment, that doesn’t mean you must forgo all connection. Find other ways to feel intimate — like talking, touching, flirting, playing together.
Maybe this is the perfect time to snuggle up on the couch and watch that movie you’ve been saying you’ll see together. Maybe it’s time to pull out the two-person board games. Maybe a walk through the neighborhood hand-in-hand would be good. Maybe you can do a devotional together and spend time in prayer.
Stay connected in other ways, so that when sexual intimacy gets the green light, you already feel close and ready to engage.
Be creative with sexuality. Perhaps the main course intercourse is off the sexual menu, but there are appetizers and desserts there as well. Find other sexual activities you can engage in, like intimate touching, digital manipulation, a hand job, oral sex, etc. What else is open to you?
Don’t get bogged down thinking about sex as a single activity; that is, intercourse. In fact, God created sex to encompass a wide variety of activities. They may typically culminate in intercourse, but for the time being, they don’t have to. They can be enjoyed for their own sake.
Focus on a little self-care. Whatever is causing the physical issues, a little self-care can boost overall health and the likelihood that you can return to sexual activity as soon as possible.
Treat your body with respect and care. Follow doctor’s orders, if you have any. Eat regularly and well. Exercise if you can. Get enough sleep. Take a Sabbath attitude toward your life, making sure you carve out time for rest and refreshing.
Consider if anything might be causing unnecessary stress and thus over-taxing your body, and figure out what approach you should use to deal with it. Do you need to drop something? Reprioritize? Pray for wisdom? Let go? Take care of you, so that when sex is do-able again, you feel ready to share you with him.
Pay even more attention to generosity. Generosity is a beautiful virtue to cultivate for your marriage anytime, but especially important when your mood tells you to do otherwise. So if you’re feeling cranky that it’s been a while, you need to focus that much more on attitudes of patience, grace, and giving.
Make sure you’re not allowing your physiological blues to color your perception of interactions with your husband. Continue in love, and pray for God to work that love through you each and every minute of the day. Be a safe harbor for your husband and a positive blessing to others in your life.
Let the physical issue remain physical and not take over your emotional, spiritual, and relational health. Soon, the physical problem will abate, and you’ll want to have everything else in good shape.
So that’s my personal pep talk! Hope it helped someone else out there.
What do you do to stay intimately connected when you’re unable (for whatever reason) to partake of sex in your marriage?