Get Off Your Screen & Have Sex with Your Wife

Your wife told me to write that. At least some of your wives.

Yes, this blog is primarily for wives, but today’s post is aimed at the husbands. Specifically, those husbands who are spending time with screens—phone, TV, tablet, computer, gaming systems—when they could be enjoying romance, intimacy, and sex.

Let me start first by saying that I’m not talk about watching porn on a screen. That is a big problem, but I’ve addressed that issue in other places like here, here, and here.

Instead, I’m talking about screen activities that are perfectly fine when used in moderation. It could be social media, video games, reading posts and commenting (yes, I see the irony), or online news—and all of those things are just fine. Except when they get in the way of something better: the intimacy in your marriage.

How much time do you really spend on screens?

Most people underestimate their screen time.

For example, in a recent study of 2,000 baby boomers and millennials—as usual, skipping us Gen Xers, but oh well, whatever, never mind—researchers concluded the average American spends 5.4 hours per day on their smartphone. Yet, 82% of respondents thought their personal screen time was below the national average.

Yet the average viewing time on Netflix is 71 minutes per day. Men spend an average of 96 minutes per day on video games, though “gamers” spend quite a bit more and also tend to watch videos of other gamers to improve their skills.

Do you really know how much time you spend on screens?

I wouldn’t know how to answer for myself, especially since my job has me on a screen for most of my day, and my flexible work schedule means I can be off-the-clock one moment and working the next. But I bet my answer would be less than the actual amount.

You know who might answer more objectively for all of us? Our spouses.

If your wife has said your screen time is excessive, it may be time to do an honest evaluation of where your focus is throughout the day or week.

If your wife has said your screen time is excessive, it may be time to do an honest evaluation of where your focus is throughout the day or week. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

How much time do you spend with your wife?

Statistics on how much time couples spend together was oddly more difficult to find. However, the UK’s Office for National Statistics suggested an average of 2½ hours per day, and a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2015 found that couples were exclusively together for about 2 hours on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends. Since those match up pretty well, I suspect 2½ hours is a good estimate for couples generally.

However, what’s interesting is the difference in how men and women view time spent together. Note this observation from researchers: “Women report spending about 20 minutes less per day with their husbands than men report spending with their wives, even when diaries show agreement between husbands’ and wives’ activities…. This implies different interpretations of what counts as shared time as opposed to differences in actual time spent together. Evidence shows that husbands would like to have more time with their wives, but women would like more quality time with their husbands rather than simply more time together.”

In practice, this means that if she’s sitting next to you on the couch while you’re on the screen, you may think that counts. But for her, it doesn’t. Your attention is elsewhere, so it doesn’t feel like time spent with her.

But honestly, if your wife told me to write this to you, you’re likely not even spending two hours a day with her. Why not? Didn’t you get married to spend time with this awesome woman who loves you and wants you and shares a toilet with you? (Believe me, as a wife and mom of two boys, regularly sharing a toilet with a man is a sign of love.)

What does this have to do with your sex life?

Well, for starters it’s hard for your wife to have sex with you when you’re not there. Not surprisingly, there’s even research on that count, with a 2007 study of 6,029 couples showing that the less time couples spend together, the less sex they have.

But there are other potential problems as well:

She can’t compartmentalize like you. Plenty of men can shut down the smartphone or video game, switch their mind to thoughts of sex, and engage. Many wives, including higher drive wives, cannot flip the switch that fast. They need time together to ease into lovemaking. So not only could you be less willing, but she may be less willing too, because the build-up time isn’t there.

You’re getting dopamine with screens instead of her. An intriguing study reported that gamers experience fewer problems with premature ejaculation than non-gamers. Sounds great, right? Except “gamers reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction and … one explanation for lower rates of premature ejaculation could be due to gaming’s ability to alter the brain’s reward system. In other words, men who play a lot of video games may be lasting longer in bed because they just aren’t that into having sex.”

What you see on that screen can impact your view of sex. It doesn’t have to be porn for your screen to be showing you something that isn’t good for your sex life. Look up the most popular shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime and you’ll see that most of them are rated MA (mature audience), meaning they feature graphic violence, foul language, nudity, or some combination of the three. Video games feature voluptuous females built nothing like your average woman. Social media can connect you with ex-girlfriends or show you eye candy. Point being that the world sends us messages all the time about what women and sex should look like, and if husbands take large gulps of those messages, they can start expecting their wives or their sex life to look like the fictional version on the screen.

You may be too pooped to pop. Screen usage is not a sport, and yet physical fatigue is a real thing. From eye strain and resultant headaches, to body aches from sitting in a particular pose or hunching over a keyboard/joystick, to muscle tension and consequent exhaustion, you may be wearing yourself out while on your screen. So much so that a tumble in the sheets is a draw on your last reserves.

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How do you know if you’re on screens too much?

The answer to that question can’t be as simple as: You’re on the screen too much if your wife tells you that you are. Because yeah, some wives have unreasonable expectations or make exaggerations. Just because she says you’re on too much doesn’t mean you are.

But it might. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Has your sexual frequency decreased as your screen-time has increased?
  • Have you skipped or put off meals to stay on your screen?
  • Do you sometimes or often come to bed too late to engage in sex with your (now sleeping) wife?
  • Are you sometimes willing to have sex but feel “too pooped to pop”?
  • Do you regularly respond to your wife’s bids for attention with “just let me finish this” as you gaze at a screen?
  • Have you ever thought gaming or online activity was more enjoyable than sex?
  • Not counting work obligations, how long could you go without screens? (Be honest.)

And the question I asked myself when my husband (many moons ago) was practically addicted to a computer game called Myst:

  • If you died and your wife was asked to identify you, could she do so just looking at your face, or would she ask the coroner to flip you over because she would only recognize the back of your head?

Obviously, no one question—excepting that last one—means you’re definitely the problem. But think about it. Are you wittingly or unwittingly denying yourself and your spouse the pleasure and intimacy you should have because the draw of the screen is so difficult to ignore.

Well, don’t ignore your marriage anymore. Please, get off your screen and have sex with your wife. Like now. (Since you’re finished with my blog post anyway.)

25 thoughts on “Get Off Your Screen & Have Sex with Your Wife

  1. Nancy

    That’s all fine and dandy, but my husband will never see that there is a problem nor will he even read anything that tells him there may be. And so I pray and wait. 18 years later, I am turning into a very bitter wife that feels like I have wasted my best years.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m sorry that you’re in that position. Praying for you too, especially that the bitterness will not take hold.

      Reply
  2. Denise

    My husband isn’t much of a screen person. Getting him to check the phone is the problem. He has a flip phone and doesn’t play video games.
    I think it depends also if you are “interruptable” when using a screen, as to the extent of how much of a problem it can be. I have tried to bring work home with me, but it is hard for me to focus on work and still being present for my family.
    I can definitely see it being a problem for gamers, who tend to be boys/men. It can be a very intense experience for them. For kids like my son, I think it can be a challenge to get the kid doing other things, like being outside, interacting with family etc. Hoping my son’s interest in video games decreases before he starts dating/looking for a wife.
    The joke about the back of the head is funny.

    Reply
  3. Car

    Zing. But for me, not my hubby. I’m definitely worse.
    And I know it impacts my husband and my kids. 🙁 the problem is I literally have zero life or connection to any women outside of my phone. So I have some texting friends. And I do check social media.
    I’ve actually been thinking of a blog post of my own about how smart phones have negatively impacted people and relationships. (Not sex since I’m not as brave as you lol)
    It’s for sure made my attention span WORSE! Reading an actual book is really hard now and I was an avid reader! (In my defense on that one books take more concentration and as a mom I don’t always have larger blocks of time).
    I’ll be evaluating this and working on it tho.

    Reply
  4. Joseph

    Me: [Screenshot snip it of message from J; send via text] Get Off Your Screen & Have Sex with Your Wife -J
    Wife: Lol!!!
    Me: [Instantly Appear in Bedroom]
    . . .

    Lol; this post was a ton of fun 😀

    thanx J

    Reply
  5. e2

    I can’t help but wonder why you directed this message to the husbands. Perhaps I’m the weird one, but in my marriage, it’s my wife who is typically on a device (or two) at bedtime. She would rather play Candy Crush or check out Facebook than make love, and I have to believe that is not unusual for lower-drive spouses of either gender. I suspect that the substitution of technology for actual intimacy isn’t a gender-specific phenomenon.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      It’s a fair question, and it’s only because I hear this from a lot more wives than husbands. I told some wives I’d write the post, specifically aimed at these husbands and I did.

      I do find that more husbands complain about activities other than screens that take their wives away from them. But for some wives, screens are a problem.

      Reply
      1. Bill

        I had the same reaction as e2 as my wife spends a lot of time on her phone when she knows I am ready and willing and sometimes desperate to have sexual intimacy. However I know the screens are just a symptom, not the problem; it would be the same if she was reading a book. To J’s point, I think men are more likely to compartmentalize screen activity and be oblivious to its wider effect. Though I’m sure not in all cases.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Oh, I love to read! So yeah, we’ve been in that situation where I’m reading and don’t want to stop. My husband now considers it a challenge to get things going enough that I have to put my book down and focus all the way on him. Maybe you could give that a shot? (Quick hint: Grab the lotion or massage oil and tend to her body more than lady parts first.)

          Reply
          1. Bill

            J, thanks for the response and the suggestion. But my point was that the screens/reading are not the real problem, and more just a way to avoid dealing with whatever that real problem actually is.

            She is much lower in desire than me and very much controls our sex life and frequency. And in my view the screens, reading, etc allow her to avoid having to deal with me and my sexual needs/desires.

            If I took your suggestion to try and distract her (never mind the lotion, a total non-starter – “so messy”) the response will be, 100% of the time, either “give me space” or “that’s nice but don’t expect anything” (and she means it; there will be nothing) And I do mean 100%. Nothing ever works.

            So it’s not the screens – it’s something deeper.

            Thanks as always for your great blog and ministry.

  6. Steve

    In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13:11, the last time that I played a video game was in college. I am horrified at the number of guys that I know who are my age or older and still talk about video gaming marathons.

    Reply
  7. EEW

    This has been a problem since the first TV broadcasts 70 years ago. Right now the “screen” is C-SPAN, and the “show” is the impeachment circus.

    My personal observation? Guilty. OUCH!!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Now that would be an interesting study: How many people in America are not having sex because they’re watching C-SPAN? Why do I feel that would be a particularly small number? 😀

      Reply
  8. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    It’s not only screens.

    I’m sorry to be distant, dear,
    but I’m fighting hard to live,
    and let me make this crystal-clear:
    I ask you to forgive.
    This cancer is a fearsome foe,
    demanding all I have and more,
    and the old me that you came to know
    has vanished out the door.
    The person that I have become
    is warrior to the very end,
    and in the ‘qualities lost’ sum
    is what you found as friend.
    I wish it could be otherwise,
    but not only body dies.

    Reply
  9. Natalie

    My husband is a gamer. He does computer games, no console games. He was back in his computer room one Saturday from dawn till dust. We hadn’t had sex in over a week so I went to go seduce him. It didn’t work. I tried for an hour and his after was always “5 more minutes”. I began to feel like his mother, which turned me off. So I just went to bed. Sadly, this happens too often for my liking in our marriage. Not even me offering various sexual acts or walking in wearing lingerie or nothing at all will totally distract him if he’s “in the zone”. It doesn’t make me feel very sexy or attractive or desired, and that feeling follows me around in our marriage and is present when we do end up having sex.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m so sorry. My husband really did have an issue at one point while playing computer games. I once told him, “I could dance naked on the keyboard, and you wouldn’t see me.” To which he replied, “Well, I don’t know. Let’s try it.”

      Seriously, I don’t think they realize how off-putting it is. Maybe you could simply share this article and ask, “What do you think about this?” Then listen before you give your viewpoint, because maybe he’ll get it…at least a little. Blessings!

      Reply
  10. Melanie

    Great article J! I know I gravitate to screens more than I should. If it were just social media, I would be more surprised by this article, because of the people I know, that’s more often the problem for women. I can definitely see how video games and sports are more of a problem for the men. Not a hard and fast rule of course, because there are men who spend too much time on social media and women who get into soaps, sports and news…

    Either way, any man or woman (myself included) who is spending a lot of time in front of a screen, needs to remind themselves that the time with the screen is not quality time with the spouse. Or for that matter, the kids. I’ve seen kids at coffee shops bored out of their mind while the adults at the table stare at screens.

    I’m all for watching a good movie while cuddling on the couch once in a while. Mutual enjoyment is key. Getting out to exercise together? Even better.

    Reply
  11. Mark

    Sex or TV, hmm hard decision.

    I’d rather throw the TV in the dumpster and go have sex.

    But TV also gets in the way of communicating.

    As I look back and up until now, I realize there has been many, many times (with the emphasis on many) that my wife could be chatting with me and I’m not paying attention to a single word she is saying.

    I’m not emotionally stimulating her mind by what essentially is ignoring her.

    Reply
  12. Nire

    To be fair, Myst was immersive in a way nothing else had been to that point. It burned a track in my teenage brain and I still wake up in my dreams in that place. 🙂

    That said, my wife consumes far more media than I do. Date nights are often lonely, with her on FB and texting her friends the entire evening. It means that I fight a losing battle for attention against the best and brightest storytellers and cinematographers of the last few generations. Every time she finishes mainlining another show, there is the faint hope that now she will spend some time with me; however there is always another one queued up and waiting. Her idea of quality time is her watching a TV show on one device, while she plays a game on another, and text her friends on a third. It is “quality time” because I am physically present (not talking during her show, but there in case she needs a snack).

    Or the other way I look at it – Netflix is $15/month, so $0.50 a day; but it feels like I am worth less than that to her.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      That is indeed sad. I have seen several posts telling wives to get off social media, and I agree that can be a problem. In fact…at one point my husband asked me to put my phone during a date we were on. ~wince~ He was right; though I was on my phone for work, I was distracted from our date, so I learned to put it away when we’re together!

      Reply
  13. Chris

    My wife and I have both had this problem, although more so with her. The issue has been phone screen time, ie. Facebook, news, etc., rather than video games. However, we both recognized that changes were needed and have a much better balance today. It is not only better for a healthy sex life but just for better quality time in general. And my wife wouldn’t make it to the keyboard to dance naked as the screen would be tossed aside as soon as she walked into the room.

    Reply

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