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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
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.