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Is Work Interfering with Your Sex Life?

Is Work Interfering with Your Sex Life?

For those married to the military, I hear a resounding Yes! And you have my admiration and encouragement.

But there are also plenty of us with spouses who work in other fields that struggle with getting face time, much less body time. Frankly, in my own home, we’d have some job-related challenges lately.

Let’s pick apart how a job — yours or your spouses, or even both — could be interfering with the sexual intimacy in your marriage.

1. Time. Do you need quality time or quantity time with your spouse? I’ve never even understood that question, since it seems like you can’t get to quality time if you have no quantity. The correct answer is both.

Practically speaking, dealing with finances, raising children, handling household issues, etc., if all you get is a few minutes together at the end of a long day, you’ll troubleshoot the urgent stuff and never get to those moments that really bond you together in intimacy. Albeit maybe one of you thinks sex is the urgent stuff, but if the other spouse doesn’t feel that way…

You have to get some time together, in the same room, relaxed and comfortable enough to get naked and get busy. But if you’re putting in long hours on a project or spending a lot of time on the road with business trips, it’s hard to get all the time you want to devote to sexual intimacy.

One idea: Get creative with your time! Too often we expect to carve out an evening of romance and intimacy, but maybe that just won’t work right now. Maybe your foreplay needs to happen over the course of the day with romantic texts and flirtations and anticipating one another, so that when you do reconnect, you don’t need quite as much time to get things going. Or look at other times of the day — maybe a “nooner” or “afternoon delight.” On a Saturday, could you let the kids watch a show or play in the other room and devote that time to your sexual intimacy with your husband?

2. Exhaustion. Working long hours or sleeping in unfamiliar places can wreak havoc with your sleeping schedule. My husband and I have both stayed up extra late or gotten up way too early to finish a project on time. And then when the bed comes into view, all you want to do is sleep.

Sex takes some energy, at least to get started. If the second you hit the pillow, you practically pass out from work fatigue, good luck having a sex life.

One idea: Take a power nap. I wasn’t a big believer in these until recently, but they really are helpful. Just a 20-minute snooze can do wonders for your energy level. Maybe you could squeeze one in while the kids are sleeping or right before you embark on the evening schedule.

3. Stress. When a spouse has a low sex drive, one of the big questions you should ask is how is his/her work stress. Whether it’s a high-pressure, office-focused job or caring for a constant toddler at home, the stress of our jobs can lock up our libido and make it hard to ease into lovemaking.

I had a friend once who hated her job so much that she threw up every Sunday evening, like clockwork, just thinking about her return to work on Monday. Needless to say, nookie was unlikely to happen with that scenario.

Stress can come from external demands, internal dislike of your job, feeling overwhelmed with deadlines, uncooperative coworkers or employees (or children, from the stay-at-home parents), or a myriad of other things. But the point is that extreme job stress can take its toll, even on our love lives.

One idea: Set some boundaries with your work. If they are sapping you in every way possible, your boss may not understand how it’s affecting your home life. You don’t have to go into a tirade or blame work for whatever ails your intimacy, but go ahead and tell your supervisor you have missed spending time with your husband/wife and really want a day or night off to invest in that relationship. Maybe you can get an extra day on the deadline and take a few hours off or use a vacation day; then make sure you devote that time to your marriage. Let your work know that you’re devoted to doing a good job, but a date night (and more, but you probably don’t want to reveal that part) with your mate would help you keep things smooth at home and refresh you so you can attend better to the job.

So what do you do about these challenges? How can you cope with a job you must work and still have the sexual intimacy your marriage deserves?

10 thoughts on “Is Work Interfering with Your Sex Life?”

  1. I agree with everything you wrote. My wife is a surgeon and she often has long/unexpected work hours. But it’s never been an issue because I know she tries to go out of her way to make me feel important. I think often times we try to find the perfect day to spend time together without realising that the little moments/things can mean just as much. A text message to know that I still matter, a touch or peck even though you’re exhausted etc. It seems so insignificant but it builds up. So when you do have a private moment, your minds are in sync and it’s not a disagreement about what’s more important.

  2. As the wife of a paramedic shift worker, I can totally relate to this issue (thank you for touching on it, J!). Trying to juggle in the mix my work, our two primary-school aged children, fitness, family time, and maintaining a house it can be difficult to find time together. We tend to schedule time together as well as sex and it works for us. We also find being respectful of each other’s hobbies is important as that can also take up time. One of the benefits of shift work can also be that he has DAYS available during the week, and we often use that time to go for a coffee, lunch, walk, or see a movie. Also if he is tired or I am tired, we do little things for each other to help out (like cooking dinner and washing up, or taking the kids out for a little while so the other can re-charge). Sometimes fatigue will win out over sex, but we make sure that it’s a joint decision and it then gets re-scheduled rather than pushed aside. But we view this as a ‘normal’ state of affairs for us, and accepting that helps – as opposed to making an issue out of it.

  3. I learned a little trick from a nurse when I used to work in a hospital, and I’ve had people I haven’t seen for years greet me with, “Thank you for telling me about the power nap!” If you really, really have to keep going without a decent amount of rest, drink a short cup of strong coffee. The caffeine doesn’t hit your system for about 20 minutes. Lie down and either nap or just lie quietly and rest. When you get up, you have a little burst of energy from your ‘power nap’. Obviously, don’t do this in lieu of getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis!
    I still work, long hours, and my husband is retired. We text, we call, we e-mail, he’ll stop in with lunch occasionally. We both look forward to Saturday, our only morning together. Last Saturday morning, I woke up stiff and sore, so I had to disappoint him. We were reading on the sofa together, just before lunch, and I suggested that it was a good time. By the time I got upstairs, he was standing in the bedroom buck nekkid. I am still laughing at the memory, but what a nice compliment! It’s a moment I will long remember.

  4. Yes! Stress and work (aren’t they synonymous?) 🙂 have definitely interfered with our sex life. Forever. My husband is a workaholic, and he always has been. He is trying to change this, finally, praise the Lord! I think as our children have grown into teenagers, he has finally realized how much he has missed, and he’s making an effort to not miss too much more. I think he is also beginning to realize how much couple time we’ve missed and how much it means to me. Better late than never!
    He was present for the birth of each of our children, and went back to work as soon as I was settled in the hospital room. I smile at the women who say their husbands have to take a couple weeks off from work to help them with the baby. I hope they realize what a blessing that is!
    I’ve struggled with feeling way down on his list of priorities. He works SO hard, and I realize that in itself is a blessing. I’m able to stay home with the children because of his hard work. Our sex life has always suffered, because he is just exhausted at the end of the day and is usually asleep by 8 pm. (He goes to work around 4 am). We’ve tried spending time together early in the morning, but he gets upset that I’m not as “into it” as I am during the day. I’m usually pretty tired at 3 am. Our schedules are just so different.
    Work has always been the most important thing in my husband’s life. I knew that going in, and I need to just deal with it, try to focus on the benefits and ignore the downfalls. Oddly enough, in some sick, twisted way, he seems to think working as much as possible should make me feel loved. I’m not sure how not wanting to be around me is supposed to make me feel loved, but we see this issue differently. I try not to complain about his work, because I know it is the absolute most important thing in his life.
    But here I am, letting my frustration seep out a little, and I really am trying to be a more positive person. I’m thankful he works hard, but yes, it does interfere with our sex life in many ways. Time and exhaustion, a great deal of stress (his mind will get to racing about work and he doesn’t think about anything else), my feelings of being unloved and not attractive enough to capture his attention – it all adds up.
    But he is trying to make more time for his family, and I am trying to be more understanding. So we are getting there. Slowly. But at least we are moving in the right direction! Great article, as always!

    1. Tough situation. I know some people really love their mates, but they are so into their work they can’t seem to stop and give the relationship more time. I pray that he sees the importance of giving you and his family more of himself. Blessings!

    2. Spouses with clearly defined gender roles can have a very difficult time adjusting to a balance. Consider that your husband may feel you want him to work hard, and move up the ladder of success. Women that want traditional roles and to stay home and be mom, can really struggle if their husbands seek a balance that means less income and more time at home. Many of those women seem to appreciate their husbands more for earning an income than for being present. They are a small minority of women, but they exist.

      He may want to slow down, he may want to take a job that has better hours, but he may feel he needs you to allow it. But it can also be a strain in the marriage that causes avoidance, men will stay at work to avoid being home. It’s a good time to talk about it and find out if he wants to be present more, or if he were to take a job with less hours and a lighter paycheck if you could truly handle that. this small but not rare group of women don’t express their real need for financial security over everything else, or realize it’s significance often until a decision has been made which affects income. Most women would rather have their husbands than money, but our life experiences shape us all differently. Because there is a percentage of the population of women that believe financial security is the single most important thing , explore that issue yourselves. Believe me many men grow tired of missing family, sending them on vacation without them, missing dinner every night, missing bedtimes, missing their children grow up, but that can conflict with the needs of a small group of women.

      If your husband is truly a workaholic and loves his job, than try to find a better balance with him, your children will only be children for so long and your marriage is more important than anything else, but our God.

  5. I love those suggestions to the problems. I know that time and energy are huge when it comes to having sex. It is so important that we remember that we don’t get time back. I say let’s all commit to having as much sex as possible in our marriages while we are still young and it’s easy. 😀

  6. B
    I may be able to give you a different perspective with his working. I get up at 3 AM and travel 50 miles each way to work. I currently work 9 – 10 hours per day plus 2 1/2 – 3 hours of drive time each day. When our children were young we decided that one of us would stay home and raise the children ourselves. If she could have gotten the better paying job I would have stayed home, Soon after the children were born I HAD to work long hours to meet all the needs financially. I felt it was my DUTY as a husband to PROVIDE, and PROTECT my loving wife. I would work 60 – 80 hours per week. I worked second shift at that time. During the day I would help my wife and we would do little day trips. I wish that I did not have to work so much I missed a lot with the kids. But also our marriage suffered. But my point is that he may feel it is his duty to you. I am not saying I agree with that thought any more. If I could go back I would do so much different. We are almost 62 and married 37 years now – still working – but not as much

    1. These are tough choices we make. And it’s easier to look back and see how things might be different, isn’t it? I see that in my marriage too. I think we need to give ourselves and our spouses grace, and then try to figure out how to make things better for our future. I hope you can spend more time with family and enjoy that experience. Blessings!

  7. The biggest error is when we believe we deserve the best sex it becomes a bone of contention. The rule of thumb is simple is best so cut back if you can and wieght the cost.

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