More Or Less Sex During Lockdown?

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While my website was on hold during redesign, the world changed. A novel coronavirus spread like wildfire, and as of this writing, there are over 1.9 million cases. The health and economic toll of this global pandemic has been challenging in some places and severe in others.

What has also spread like wildfire is anxiety.

Not everyone worries about getting the virus, but everyone I know has had additional anxiety, perhaps about:

  • Contracting the virus
  • A loved one dealing with the virus
  • A job or business loss
  • Retirement or savings funds
  • Access to other medical care
  • Caring for or homeschooling children
  • Securing groceries or home supplies
  • The temptation of addiction during times of stress
  • Relational conflict

Even the boredom some feel while stuck at home can cause anxiety or at least restlessness.

How is your marriage coping?

I’ve been asking that question, in way or another, of people I know personally as well as those in my higher drive wives community. Some are dealing even better than usual, some are feeling challenged but on the same page, and some are struggling.

Scrolling through Twitter, one can see the challenges of quarantine life taking hold in marriage, like this tweet:

Hope I made you smile there for even a moment.

And hopefully, you’re not dealing with a fart-happy husband. But there are other struggles for many marriages, including time stretches or time crunches, working from home or schooling at home, and financial worries or new opportunities. Even something as simple as she’s an extrovert used to being around a lot of people and now she’s stuck at home 24/7 with her introverted, not-so-talkative husband can be fresh challenge. (I just described my daughter-in-law and son, by the way.)

A husband and wife who love each other very much may handle anxiety differently. You may not even see the global pandemic in the same way—one of you taking it very seriously and the other not so much.

If you’re having additional marriage challenges, understand that’s normal, share your heart with each other, extend more grace, and apologize quickly when you mess up. If things get extra tough, recognize that there are options for online counseling and seek them out.

How’s your sex life?

Whatever the current state of your marriage, your sex life can be challenged too. Or it might be better than ever.

We already have data showing recent increases in condom sales, sex toy purchases, and Viagra. Plenty of jokes have been made about the baby boom coming in about nine months. And the Christian Friendly Sex Positions website has reported all-time traffic high during this COVID-19 lockdown, as presumably married couples are trying out new tricks, so to speak.

Your sex life might be thriving now with:

  • more time on your hands
  • less work-related stress
  • more overall interaction with your spouse
  • general boredom you can fill with sexual activity
  • relief of anxiety through connection and sexual release
  • desire for reassurance from your spouse
  • more opportunities to explore one another’s bodies
  • finally getting to read that marriage book or watch that webinar
  • the stark reminder of what really matters in life—which includes your beloved
Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Other couples are finding sexual intimacy extra-difficult right now. The stress hormone cortisol can have a dampening effect on your sexual interest, and while some of you have more time, others have been pulled even deeper into work and work stress. Especially if you’re a healthcare provider.

You may also have:

  • medical conditions not getting the full attention they would during non-pandemic time
  • sleep disturbances
  • children home 24/7
  • new homeschooling duties with those children
  • grown family members quarantined with you
  • eldercare and managing the additional risk they carry
  • clinical depression or anxiety rearing its ugly head

For some of you, sexual interest is low to nonexistent. You’re just trying to keep your head above water, so you’re not thinking about anything below the waistline. (Oh, and don’t think much about that waistline either—you can get rid of your Quarantine 15 later.)

Hey, both responses are normal: wanting sex more, wanting sex less.

But isn’t sex important?

Yes, sex is important. It’s an integral part of marriage—not icing on the cake, but a full ingredient in the recipe for marital love.

But crisis can alter your situation, and it’s crucial as a couple to recognize when that happens and how to best navigate it…TOGETHER. Talk about what intimacy will look like during this time.

One of the most important questions to ask at any time during your marriage could be even more important to ask your spouse right now: What does sex mean to you?

You may discover that to your spouse, right now, during lockdown, having sex would mean that you’re still on the same team. Or give comfort and reassurance. Or provide a brief and pleasurable respite from anxiety.

Or you may discover that to your spouse, right now, during lockdown, having sex would mean one more thing on an already exhausting schedule. Or be difficult to manage with health issues not fixable until our medical backlog is resolved. Or require more concentration then they feel they can currently give.

Once you know better what your spouse is dealing with, you can better address it. If both of you can share, you can talk through the issues and look for creative solutions for maintaining sexual intimacy.

What if you can’t have sex?

Some couples are physically separated while one essential-worker spouse sleeps away from home or in the guest bedroom. Other couples had a spouse who was scheduled for a needed or elective surgery that would have improved their sex life, and now that’s on hold. Some couples are hosting family members or friends, and space has been reallocated in such a way that sex is difficult, if not impossible, to have.

So what if really just cannot happen?

Then it can’t happen.

Grieve that it can’t, but then focus on what you can do. You can use this time to support one another in other ways. Attend to other forms of intimacy: emotional, recreational, spiritual, intellectual. Talk with delicious anticipation about what the future holds, as soon as you can get back to your bedroom activities.

Look, I’m a big advocate for frequent sex in marriage. But my husband and I went without sex for over four months while awaiting our second child. Was it my favorite time? Nope. But our priority was saving our child’s life so the decision path was pretty clear. And not only did we survive, I’d say we made up for that lost time.

How will lockdown impact your marriage?

The answer to that question is up to you. This could be the time to:

  • Have more sex, because you and your spouse have the time and opportunity.
  • Talk through the challenges you’re facing, including what sex means to each of you, and figure out how to address them together.
  • Invest in other areas of intimacy, thus keeping the marriage strong until you can have sex once again.

61 thoughts on “More Or Less Sex During Lockdown?”

  1. I hope my marriage makes it through this time. I really believe it would be more likely if my husband and I were on the same page about sex. I could be together almost every night and he is fine checking in a month from now. Oh well, nothing new here except for more arguing because he is home a lot more.

      1. Thank you. We have been together for 24 years. I married him knowing that sex never seemed important when we talked about it. I figured he was just keeping temptation away while we were not married. It is what it is and i have to just concentrate on what is good.

    1. Same here. Zero before, during, and most likely after. Don’t care anymore. Can’t care anymore. Won’t care anymore.

      1. I suspect you do care. Or you likely wouldn’t be here and commenting. But you wish you didn’t, because then maybe the pain would go away. Sorry you’re in this situation, John. Praying for you and your marriage.

        1. Like John, my situation is the same. No physical intimacy for years (sadly). Being home more makes it worse for me in that the forbidden fruit is before me more often. I too welcome you’re prayers.

        2. I really just don’t get how, male or female, someone wouldn’t want to participate routinely (exception for abuse etc). And I’m coming from someone who has had MS for 15 years with horrendous fatigue being my main symptom. I get I have an unusual high drive, but even if I didn’t, I would hope I would be there for my husband when he wants intimacy. Since my husband rarely initiates, even the nights I’m really tired from my ms, if he shows up, I get myself in the mood. Always happy when I do. I believe it’s a duty that stems from love for each other and God, but I do get praying to not care so much. It’s hard as a woman with a society that is always talking about the man interested in sex. I’ve dealt with a lot of self-esteem issues because my husband doesn’t want me. I guess the benefit of menopause, when it comes, will be that my libido may die out.

          God bless everyone and take care.

          1. Nancy,

            I admire your attitude. My wife has pushed me away so many times that I have just about lost any desire to be with her. She has made it abundantly clear that physical intimacy is not a priority. My children are now my primary focus. I hope a miracle will come along and your situation will change, the same way I hope for a miracle in my life.

      2. I suspect that’s the story of most every husband who follows this blog. All looking for a clue to the puzzle…

        1. This is so true. I’m beginning to lose faith that there is such a clue. I did the good therapy thing of finding other areas of life to accentuate — y’know, finding validation in other areas of life, but it still hurts. My wife recognizes the problem, but won’t share in a solution. I don’t recall signing up for this part.

  2. I’m a nurse so coming home and thinking I could be carrying this virus is probably the most unsexy I’ve ever felt!!! It’s an emotionally and mentally exausting time!

  3. Adult children home from college. We were just starting to enjoy some empty-nesting (sex? Here? Now? Why not?), and that’s stopped like an 18-wheeler locking up on the freeway. My wife’s work has become more complex with longer hours and I’m struggling to keep a company running and employees paid. Sleep isn’t the best. Schedules don’t synch. We could both use more physical and emotional intimacy. It’s much like the four months you described in your post: We both realize things aren’t operating at an optimal level right now. With hope, that will change. Thanks for the great post; helps to spell these things out and open up the discussion.

    1. Similar situation with an adult child home for college my wife won’t do anything. Me, thats what a closed door is for or a shower. The wife doesn’t want to get caught or even give the impression with a closed door that we are intimate. Showers to her are personal alone time even though we have a large double shower

  4. I made the suggestion a few weeks ago that we could now try out a “nooner” since that’s likely frowned upon in an Elementary School.

    So far, no nooner.

    1. Huh. A nooner sounds like a great idea for a couple stuck at home! Here’s hoping you can get that one worked out somehow.

  5. I have zero sex drive/interest at all. Sex is painful now and I’ve built a wall between us to keep my husband away from me. I don’t know how to fix it.

    1. Does your husband know it’s painful? That seems to be the place to start: telling him that you not having sex with him is because of how bad it feels to your body. And then, you need to figure out why it feels bad. Sex is not supposed to hurt, so if it does, there’s something going on that can likely be addressed. This may be hard to do right now, but I highly recommend starting with a visit to your physician, particularly a gynecologist, and talking about your experience. The doctor should ask questions, perform a physical exam, and perhaps order blood work to check hormonal levels. If you’re on medication already, that can be an issue, or you may have pelvic floor problems that a therapist can help you work through. If you have sexual trauma in your background, then that should be addressed with a specially trained trauma counselor. Those are just some of the possibilities, but start by taking some steps to find answers. And let your husband know what you’re doing, so that he sees you making an effort, even if it may be a while before you can engage sexually. Praying for you! I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    2. My wife is essentially in the same place. We have tried to talk through it but she clams up, presumably out of embarrassment. Tried counseling, that went no where. I’m looking for an outlet or distraction. Cheating is off the table. But some other form of human interaction is needed. Loneliness in a 35+ year marriage sucks.

      1. Did you try just one counselor? Because I honestly think you have to shop sometimes for the counseling that works best for you as a couple.

  6. What I wouldn’t give to be quarantined right now with just me & my husband!!! What fun we would have! It’d be like the honeymoon we never had because we were too ignorant and uneducated and out of touch with our own sexuality. Instead, we have small children who are completely off their usual routine and schedule, who have no play dates or group activities or parks to go to and expend their energy, one of whom has recently been waking up every 2-4 hours in the night, which usually results in one of us spending the remainder of the night in his bed or him in ours. How nice it would be to quarantine with more self-sufficient children or no children at all. To all the childless couples or those with older children, you are blessed! Enjoy!

    1. Oh, I feel so much for parents with young children during this time! Do what you can, go easy on yourself and them, grab the moments you can have with your husband, reminding each other you’re in this together, and know that this too shall pass. Praying for you!

  7. Everyone,

    After reading all of the responses in this very important addition of HH&H, it feels humbling to view what is going on in the personal lives of everyone here. All of us are affected by coronavirus.

    I hope that spouses can at least hold each other at night and make the other feel emotionally safe.

    Since this pandemic has begun, I’ve looked into my own past and have realized that I have taken my wife for granted way too many times and have also realized with the sickness and death this virus has produced, how empty my life would without her.

    As for those that are feuding, please take J. Parker’s advice and call a “timeout”.

    When a “quieter” moment arises during the day, have mind stimulating thought provoking conversation about being better communicators, without raising your voice or saying something that isn’t polite or force feeding one another’s will on the other. It is easier than you think.

    When voices elevate or words are said that shouldn’t, within the first 30 seconds, one or the other can say “oops, we agreed not to do this” and immediately it feels like we have put the brakes on.
    (you may immediately find yourselves holding one another saying “I’m so sorry” and end up forgiving one another right there, instead of waiting days or never forgiving one another at all)

    When you can turn a disagreement into a discussion, trust me, that can mutually stimulate both of your minds.

    To protect one another’s emotions during a discussion, treat each discussion like you are on a drive going from one traffic light to the next. What are we supposed to do when we see a Red Light? History proves that if we don’t stop, we end up running it and get into a terrible accident and usually someone gets hurt and our vehicle gets totaled.

    We should be treating our marriages more carefully than how we are driving our own car. (for lousy drivers, that should be a snap) I can say in order for my wife and I to view our marriage as more sacred, we had to stop verbally running through red lights and immediately put the emotional brakes on and come to a screeching halt, whenever the light turned yellow.

    What a relief it was for the both of us when we figured that part out. Why did it take 30+ years for us to figure that out (?) heck, even 20 year old newlyweds could embrace that, when counseled to think and communicate properly.
    (of course many of us weren’t counseled and had to figure it out after we gave it to God)

    Don’t wait 30+ years to approach God in order to figure this out. Our minds have greater capacity to put the brakes than any of us can imagine.

    Sometimes couples just need to remember they are on the same team, even if they aren’t mentally wired the same. (being different can be fun, if we allow it) They should be able to merge their ideas without insulting one another, always remembering that running an emotional red light in their marriage, is extremely dangerous.

    Spouses may discover that stepping on the brakes will cause their relationship during this Pandemic (and any circumstance) to become more emotionally attached, instead of becoming emotional adversaries.

      1. Thanks, as you know, I don’t always proof read like I should.

        I sent a proof read version to my wife and she like it. We teased each other about how she likes to drive her car, stereo blasting with Christian Music.

  8. My wife’s sex drive has shot up big time in the last couple months. We went from doing it about 2 times a week to nearly every day. Not sure if it is cause of the extra time, exercise and she has more energy, or reaching her sexual prime. (We both turn 30 in the next 2 months. Her may mine in June.) Don’t know what has cause the increase but it’s nice.

  9. Our sex life has taken a dive. We average about 10 times a year (not new, it’s been like this for the whole marriage). She’s never been interested in sex, but now we’re never apart from each other and that makes it worse. It’s most of the way through April now and we’ve only had sex once this year so far. There are no kids in the house and it’s just the two of us here. There’s no reason why we can’t have sex 5 times a day in every room of the house. She’s not interested. She keeps finding home improvement and repair projects to fill our days up and a never-ending stream of DVDs and Netflix to watch. Being together 24/7 is making it worse.

      1. On every single occasion over the course of our marriage when I have tried to talk to her about sex, it quickly devolves into an argument. She doesn’t want to have sex and is immediately defensive if I want to talk about it. She’s not comfortable talking about it. I can’t bring it up anymore. Occasionally she’ll feel guilty about what she is doing to me and go through with it but she has never in our nearly 12 years of marriage expressed actual desire for me. Even on our honeymoon, she only had sex with me once (5 days into a 10 day trip) after flat out telling me she felt guilty for depriving me and felt sorry for me. I have told her how much it bothers me that she doesn’t show interest in me but that just triggers her angry reaction.

        The difference now is we’re together all day every day. It’s getting harder for her to hide her distaste with me physically. I think being with me physically was easier for her to tolerate when she had some time away from me. Without the workday apart, it’s harder for me to hide my hurt with the constant preemptiverejection and avoidance. Our marriage has always been bereft of passion but now it’s getting brought to the front of our attention. I’m not sure our marriage is going to last through this. It was never good but I tolerated it because I thought if I just “tried harder” I could change her feelings for me. I spent 10 years of my life blaming myself and trying to do everything, and be everything she wanted. It was all a waste because nothing I ever did mattered. I finally gave up and just accepted that I would spend the rest of my life nearly celibate. I would never get to be a father because I was never given the chance to be a husband. I thought I could be satisfied with the rest of my life: work, friends, etc. Now due to this lockdown, I have nothing left but my empty, passionless marriage.

        1. I just teared up reading that. Honestly, in situations like this, I feel like you have to force the conversation a bit more. Not force her to have sex! Please no one read me wrong on that. But it could be that you set up marriage counseling and bring it up there where your wife cannot wriggle away from the topic. Clearly, something is a huge barrier for her internally, and she is depriving not only you, but herself and your marriage.

          I’m praying for you to have some kind of breakthrough here.

  10. All these HD wives complaining about LD husbands. I’m not sure i believe them. How ’bout it, J? You think they’re legit?

    1. They’re 100% legit. I’m fully convinced.

      First off, I know there are higher drive wives and lower drive husbands, because that’s my marriage now and has been for several years. My husband would admit that too. Also, I have a higher drive wife community with women sharing about their situations. Believe me, they want sex more than their hubbies. And I have many more comments and emails from wives like this too.

      But beyond my personal experience, the research shows it’s true as well. While experts have guessed that HD wives/LD husbands comprise 15-30% of marriages, the best study I’ve seen (good data collection, participation sample, etc.) indicates it’s about 20% of marriages. That’s still one in five. With some tweaks, those spouses might be more matched, but that’s true of HD husbands/LD wives too, and even then, some marriages would still have a higher drive wife.

      Why don’t other men hear about these situations? It’s not the common scenario talked about, so much so that people in those marriages often feel like freaks and don’t share with others. Moreover, as difficult as it can be for a wife to have a much higher drive than her husband, it can be even more so for a LD husband who feels his man-card is at risk if he confesses that. Imagine the feedback an LD husband would expect from a circle of his male friends. It’s likely not positive. So those men don’t speak up, and their HD wives tend to admit their situation only to close friends or to safe communities like mine.

      I get that it’s a challenge for many men to understand the flipped scenario, but I encourage those men to accept its truth and watch how they talk about their own situation. We can all help by not assuming that the male is always the higher drive partner; although that’s the case in more marriages than not, HD wives and LD husbands are still millions of marriages out there.

    2. Bill, I’m part of an online anonymous support group for refused spouses to talk about our situations with others going through the same thing. Half the members are women. It’s a totally false stereotype that men are always higher drive.

    3. Bill, I’m offended which is usually hard to do since I am known to be easygoing. My situation is very legit. For men and women there is a bell curve. There are some all the way on one side and others on the other side. My husband is on the very low side and I, as an athlete even with MS, am on the very high side. We high-drive wives already feel like oddities because society always makes the jokes that men want it all the time and women don’t, and now someone is questioning whether we are lying. Not cool but luckily, not only am I easygoing, I am also forgiving.

      1. Nancy, I certainly did not mean to offend. Deepest apologies! I’m just genuinely confused because it IS such an anomaly, at least in my experience. I suppose every HD spouse, whether male or female is just trying to make sense of things, and figure out how to cope with the realities of the prison they find themselves living in.

        1. Bill, Thank you for your apologies and I agree, often it does feel like a prison. I spent many years praying that God would change him, but now I pray acceptance and contentment with all that my husband does right. Divorce/infidelity will never be the answer, so I will keep my eye on God.

  11. My drive has definitely been up the last several week. I think its bc I’m home and less stressed. Unfortunately husband is essential!

  12. Our frequency took a nosedive in lockdown. She allowed sex to happen twice earlier this week (which itself is shocking to happen twice in the same month). Other than that, there was one time in the end of March and that’s been it so far this year. Last year, there were months with no sex, but not a stretch that long. For almost 3 months this year she neglected me. At least before, I could go to work and get away from the rejection, but now I’m stuck 24/7 in a house with a wife who feels no desire for me. It’s torture.

    1. You explain what happened, but why? Why is she reluctant to have sex? Knowing that reason could help you figure out what next.

    1. It’s not nothing. It’s something. But I know others have gone through far longer stretches, and I feel deeply for them. Including, apparently, you. Praying.

  13. Less. My wife struggles with OCD and other issues and that makes it difficult to be intimate. We also seem to have less time as while we are working from home the myriad of possible distractions have cut down on work efficiency.

  14. Less. Or roughly the same. Frequency took a nose-dive last year with moving, changing jobs and buying a house.
    My job is more stressful and DH is semi essential. He was also not feeling well last week.

    I’m just exhausted and have roughly zero interest. It’s hard to force yourself to not only participate, but also initiate when you have zero interest yourself. For some reason he’s just not willing to initiate.

  15. Less. Down to once every 10 days. Mostly because of kids being home and her inability to leave them for 5 minutes sprinkled in with her health issues. Just had a huge argument last night and the night before. There won’t be sex for a LONG while.

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  17. I’m a little late to this article and have read the comments. My husband and I don’t have any health issues or work issues. I want to be available to him. Our intimacy was pretty good before the pandemic. But its SO hard for me to relax my mind and body because there’s so much going on. There is just so much unknown. We also have teens in the house. So I read the article from a few years ago you recommended in one of the comments. Is anyone else feeling this way? Thanks for any advice.

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