Wifey Wednesday: Sex Should Be a Habit

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and you all can comment or link up your own post below.

Today I want to talk about habits–and the habit of saying no.

Getting into the "Habit" of Making Love
When kids come into the kitchen and say, “Mom, can I have…” we default to “No.” We assume the words “ice cream” or “chocolate” or “Cheetos” will finish that sentence, and so the No is out of our mouths before they even stop talking. It’s habit.

And the same thing can happen with sex.

When you get in the habit of not making love for weeks, that becomes your default.

Researchers say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. I’m in the process of trying to develop a new way of handling my morning routine. Some things are so full of habit for me–I get dressed, and then I make the bed. I can’t NOT make the bed. It would bother me to no end. Making the bed naturally follows having a shower. But I distinctly remember at 14 hating making the bed. Sometime between 14 and 42 I figured out that making the bed is an important habit, and now it bugs me if the bed isn’t made.

But while I’m really good at making the bed, I’m not as good at breakfast. So I need to figure out how to make that more of a habit, because I often forget to eat, or else can’t be bothered.

Many of us have made a habit of NOT making love. We routinely say no. We may have other habits, like reading in bed, or falling asleep to the TV. We may take a bubble bath before bed, or check Facebook. We have things we do at night, but in general, it doesn’t involve sex.

How else do we explain the over 42% of women who reported making love less than once a week? Even when I took out the women who reported having a higher sex drive than their husbands (because in that case it may be the guy’s doing that they make love so infrequently) I still ended up with 40% of women making love less than once a week in my research for The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.

We have developed the habit of saying no–or not saying anything at all. Just rolling over and going to sleep.

And we are creatures of habit.

The more we say no now, the more we’ll say no in the future. We’ll start thinking of the evening as “me time” when we do things without our husbands. We’ll start to develop habits that don’t involve him. And we’ll also lose our libidos (because libido is largely a use it or lose it phenomenon).

So why not start trying to develop a new habit? Sometime after dinner, connect by sharing your hearts and concerns. Go for a walk or a hike. Do dishes together. Do some activity during which you can unload some of the burden of today, so that it’s not impeding your ability to enjoy making love later.

Then flirt! Make it a habit to do one flirty thing a day, like in this 16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband post.

And then, make love. When you go upstairs to bed, ask him to come, too.

Instead of always asking yourself, “do I want to tonight?”–because the answer will likely be no–ask yourself, “Do I have a really good reason to say no?” Make the expectation that you will say yes, not no. Then, you’re more likely to jump in!

Here’s how it works more practically. I know what I do in the morning.

  1. I get on the computer.
  2. I do my devotions.
  3. I take a shower.
  4. I make my bed.
  5. I throw on a load of laundry.
  6. And then I forget *ahem* to have breakfast.

It’s quite predictable–as each step is a link in a chain, naturally following one another.

'chain' photo (c) 2010, pratanti - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Now, let’s examine the chain and say, If I want to remember to have breakfast, where’s the best place to put it? It makes a lot more sense to put breakfast after devotions and before the shower, because by the time the shower is over I’m so busy running around doing tasks on my house that I often forget. So I’m going to try to disrupt my chain and put it right there, because that’s where the habit is most likely to stick.

Why not turn this “habit” thing to your advantage at night, too?

Maybe your chain could look like this:

I go for a walk and talk to my husband. I put my kids in bed. I spend an hour doing something I enjoy. We watch an hour of TV together (or read together, or play a game together, or whatever). We head to the bedroom together. We talk as we crawl into bed together. We pray. We make love.

Each link in the chain naturally follows another. Break one link in the chain and it all falls apart. So what does your chain look like at night? Maybe it’s more like this:

We put the kids in bed. He gets on his video games. I get on my computer. When I get tired I turn in. He comes to bed later.

That’s certainly what many of you told me on this Facebook post, or in our Facebook chat last week! Bedtime was difficult, because you were often doing different things.

Or perhaps your chain is like this:

We put the kids in bed. We watch TV together. I get on the computer. He pulls out his files. I head to bed alone.

If that’s your chain, maybe you could reverse it, and spend your alone time–you on the computer, him on his files–earlier in the evening, so that you’re together later.

Write out everything you tend to do in the evening, and then think, if I wanted sex to become an easy habit, how would this chain have to change? What in our current chain of activities is rendering making love less likely? What would we need to do instead? What more naturally follows so that it leads up to making love?

And then do it!

Don’t default to no. Default to yes. Your marriage will never be the same.

And if you need help on making sex a habit, why not work on my 31 Days to Great Sex with your hubby? Work on it for 31 days, and after that 31 Days you’ll be more used to spending time together at night!

Note: if you’re having a difficult time with sex because of porn use, or physical problems, or simply having no libido, I’ve got a ton of posts here that can help.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Leave a link to a marriage post in the linky below–or please leave a comment that tells me what  you think about this habit idea. And don’t forget to hit “Pin” or share on Facebook!


Comments

  1. Sheila, great post! I agree with you, habits are huge!

    For the higher libido wives and with minor adjustements (since they may be changing their evening habits to flow with his, as much as it’s possible), i believe this helps too. The general goal is usually to build friendship and connection, so changing their eveing habits to flow with his might be very helpful.

    Awesome post, as always.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…I am Not A Perfect Spouse…And That’s OkayMy Profile

  2. I love this idea of making it a habit! I’ve made my life easier in so many other ways by building new good habits so why not with sex?

    My problem is that I’m not sure where I could work it in on my list for the best chance of success. My husband is a police officer with an unpredictable schedule, and the most likely time that we would regularly have together is also right when the kids get home from school, generally a very chaotic time for me. Hmmm…I’ll have to think about this one.

    • That IS a challenge! When you have shift work interfering life gets doubly challenging. Maybe you need different habits: Like Schedule A when he’s on nights, Schedule B when he’s on afternoons, etc. Blessings to you!

  3. This is such great advice. We need to be intentional about the things that are important (and sex is very important) until they become habits. Once they do become habits, we will benefit so much – but it takes effort to get through that “being intentional” phase.
    Gaye @ CalmHealthySexy recently posted…Healthy During the Holidays – Is that Even Possible?My Profile

  4. Great post!!
    My husband and I have been married 22years and have 3 children 12yo and younger. We had a nightly habit of those in the surveys. Going to bed at separate times, making love 1or 2 times a week. After awhile I realized it was not the life I wanted, but didn’t know how we had gotten where we were or how to fix it. (I just found your website) We made a conscious decision to change some habits. It’s only been 3 -4 months but it has been the best change we could have ever made. We go to bed together nightly and I started sleeping naked (he always wanted this, loves to feel my skin against his). This led to us making love almost nightly. (I have to confess if we don’t I miss it)
    This has changed many other areas of our marraige. We communicate more and better. We help each other with chores. Our closeness has increased significantly. We flirt and are more playful with one another, and I can’t wait to see him when we are apart. We are both more relaxed.
    I pray that others make changes to their habits and reap all the wonderful benefits it provides.

  5. “We put the kids in bed. He gets on his video games. I get on my computer. When I get tired I turn in. He comes to bed later.”

    Sounds familiar. Of course, I am in the 2% that you took out since I have a higher drive. But… that’s us.

  6. This used to be a problem in our marriage until I started a daily quota seven months ago. We have a rocking sex life now and still have a daily “meeting”. This really revolutionized our bond and relationship. I went from hating sex to loving it at least as much as he does!
    Jennifer recently posted…The Importance of SurrenderMy Profile

  7. We go to bed at the same time, even on the nights when the hubby needs to be there by 8pm. :) Its amazing what can happen if you are both in the same place.
    This is a shout out to Sheila for bringing sex and marriage out in the open and telling the world it’s great. Our marriage is so important and we love spending time together and think skipping sex more then 2 days is horrible. :)

  8. While going to bed at the same time definitely makes having sex more convenient, it’s not a mandatory component. It can also be that we may need to rethink the “when” of sex… while it’s a great way to get ready for a good night’s rest, by no means is that the only time a couple can enjoy it.

    If you go to bed at different times (either as a result of hobbies or work schedules), what does the REST of the day look like? There might be some other times in there where you and your spouse can retreat to the bedroom for some together time before pursuing other separate interests in the remaining time before bed.

    Not that this is a sure fire fix (there’s always somebody who is eager to protest about how he/she is an exception… sometimes it’s true, sometimes it smacks of excuse), but it’s something to consider. If your husband is doing World of Warcraft raids late into the night, why not try a little encounter earlier in the evening?

  9. This is something we’re trying to figure out right now. We’re in a season of young, unpredictable children who often throw our plans out the window. It can get really frustrating for sure.
    Melissa recently posted…This Current SeasonMy Profile

  10. Here’s a tip for making sure love making happens on a frequent basis. Put the kids to bed ON TIME (at our house that is 9:00) and then you and hubby head straight to your bedroom. Make love then, before you are too tired and go your separate ways. There is no rule that making love has to be the last thing you do before you go to sleep. For many men I know it’s an sleep-inducer, but for women it can be reviving! In any case, it’s not unusual for us to have a love-making session that ends by 9:30 and then I have time to read my book until it’s lights out. That works for us!

    • This is great advice – not only will everyone have more energy, but those couple of hours after kids fall asleep is when they tend to sleep the most deeply and will be less likely to interrupt the festivities …

      Our issue is that my husband commutes, and only arrives home as the kids are being tucked in. He usually needs to put in a couple of hours of work after that. Due to the nature of his job his work days are spent on the phone or in meetings. so after hours is the only time he has to think and actually get real work done. I like the idea that he might be able to work after – I always thought he would get too tired after sex but maybe that’s not the case! And maybe if he knew earlier in the day that there would be “quality time” that night he might work a little differently so he would have time that night.

  11. Sheila, you are spot on! And porn is a huge problem… even in the church. It too becomes a part of our habitual “chain” that keeps true and lasting intimacy at bay. If it helps, here is another article about porn and how it changes us… whether we like it or not!
    http://restorationcs.com/offsite/blog/articles.php?id=238743104499248812

  12. You aren’t the first person who has pointed out that sex is a use it or lose it proposition, and it’s definitely made me rethink some things. For instance, my husband can get stressed out with his job, and that leads to him staying up late and/or tanking his libido. Being a normal guy he’ll eventually cycle back around, but by then my libido had curled up for a long nap. This isn’t an all the time situation, but when we’re in that cycle it results in us having sex when he’s “trigger happy” and I’m having trouble getting into it. Not so great for either one of us. A lot of secular blogs will say “just encourage your wife to masturbate daily,” but since we believe sexual energy should be shared/directed at each other that’s not going to work either. (Potential TMI warning) What I’m hoping will work for us is if he starts stimulating me more on days when he’s not into it – not just because I want some jollies but because it will be better for both of us when he wants it. By the same token he prefers to abstain during my period, but there’s really no reason why we have to abstain from all activities. Pro-tip ladies: get a diva cup (or similar). I cannot say enough good things about mine. They’re very comfortable, reusable, and keep things clean if y’all decide to play together during your period. There’s a short learning curve (maybe 2-3 cycles), but I really can’t believe these things aren’t more well known. You’ll save money too in the long run.
    Natalie recently posted…Eternal GraceMy Profile

  13. Always offended to hear that women are still stereotyped in this “NO” role. No one is talking about when the shoe is on the other foot and its the man saying NO!

    • Actually, Jackie, I write quite a bit about this. You can find a post here, and then there’s tons of links to other posts on the topic.

  14. I couldn’t agree more! We must make sex a priority. It is such an intimate part of any marriage that you can’t just let it fall by the wayside. Leave the dishes in the sink, go make love to your husband and fall asleep together. Eventually those things around the house will get done and I bet too, you’ll find your husband in a happier mood and more willing and energized to help you out!!!

  15. livinginblurredlines says:

    My only caveat about this post is the “habit pendulum” being swung too far in that sex because such a routine habit that it’s just “going through the motions” and no real effort or enjoyment is being had. Some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering what in the world am I talking about! LOL!

    It’s true, though. It can happen. For a while it happened to us. Sex was just something expected to happen at certain times and it became so routine and vanilla and one-sided and just another thing to check off the to-do list that neither of us were really pleased with it. There were other issues, of course, but the “habit” was part of it.

    So, my caveat is that while we should be into the habit of saying yes to sex, we should also put effort and excitement into it and not let it just be another thing to check off the to do list next to brushing our teeth and checking our email.

    • Very good point! And if I can do a shameless plug, that’s where the 31 Days to Great Sex comes in! Lots in there about how to shake up the routine.

      Shameless plug over now. :)

    • workinprogress says:

      I hear what you are saying. I try to allow for one or 2 nights a week to be maintenance sex, and the other one or 2 nights are more creative. We have the house to ourselves once a week, and that night is almost always on the creative side. Meaning, we might light the fireplace, or fill the tub, or play strip cards or another silly game that I think up, since we have more time to enjoy the evening. I have found that by putting creative effort into it at least once a week, we aren’t as rushed on the other nights… I guess we have learned that everyone has more fun when we take our time :-)

  16. We sadly have the routine of put kids in bed, get on our computers while watching our favorite shows together and then maybe sex. At least two times per week. But I want to change this, as I know more frequent sex “should” increase my libido. So…that being said, I am going to try to initiate more and try to make it a part of the daily routine. I just have to figure out where to fit it in (ha-no pun intended) between putting the kids in bed and taking my Ambien at night. If it weren’t for never knowing when I’ll fall asleep, it may be easier. But, that’s an excuse too and want to be more intentional…great post!
    jamie recently posted…Another AnniversaryMy Profile

  17. Sheila, I really enjoyed this one today. Gave me so much to think about and chat with my husband about. He is really busy and, unfortunately, each day looks different & as he no real routine due to his job. However, I love the idea & would love to use it to possibly make a “you get home before the kids go to bed” routine and a “you get home at 9 p.m. or later” routine.

    Thanks for the wisdom today!
    Annabel recently posted…Is my husband’s lower drive my fault? (Pt. 2)My Profile

  18. kristina delk says:

    I agree about habits, but I don’t need another “should” to make my marriage better! We are all in different circumstances.

  19. But what if it’s the other way around? I absolutely love the blogs and suggestions, but I can try everything under the sun to try and get him out of the “No” phase. Nothing seems to work. We go to bed at the same time, but he falls asleep almost instantly. He gets up extremely early and works extremely hard, long hours, and his job is stressful. Meanwhile, my job is quite easy and almost 100% stress free. Human contact is so important, and I am so desperate to have it from my husband. I’m feeling that no matter what I try, it’s thwarted. I’m lucky to maybe have relations with my husband 1 a month (gasp). I have even tried to get away (without the 14 and 10 year old), but all he seems to want to do is catch up on sleep, and maybe have sex once. How can we try and make it a habit? Different time of day (example: when he wakes up?) HELP!!!!!

  20. Great post indeed Sheila. I’m married for 3years now and I’m the one who doesn’t seem to look forward to it. I feel my husband doesn’t make an effort to romance me, to make feel wanted. He wants it, that’s it. No foreplay, at times a little of it. Then it’s over. Not interested in doing anything together or want to talk. He gets angry when I initiate the sex topic. I kinda feel used. Hurt too.

    • I don’t know how this would work in your marriage, but would a little bit of push back work? So when your husband initiates sex you can tease/hint/flirt that after you get a little of what you want you’re going to go to town on him? Basically, don’t reward him for bad sex when you’re fully confident he could be doing better (ie this isn’t a quickie, he isn’t super stressed, you both have energy). It’s not as though he has the unconditional right to have sex exactly how he wants it and you have no say in the matter. It’s great to be kind and gracious and respectful, but next time he gets mad at your for bringing up sex I’d suggest a simple (non-angry) response along the lines of “Sex is about what I want and need as much as what you want and need. Your anger is misdirected and inappropriate and needs to stop.” Just be pleasant and act as though your presence in the marriage merits respect and consideration. My two cents anyway.
      Natalie recently posted…Eternal GraceMy Profile

  21. When the kids were young I made a point to get them in bed by seven and husband in bed by 8:30 so we could have adult time without staying up too late…how is watching TV better than having sex anyway? Now that the kids are older I can stay up a little later but we have always made it a habit to have sex, never miss more than two days in a row….After 25 years of marriage it’s better than ever. Good advice Sheila…I second it!

  22. Good Morning, Sheila. I tried emailing you but it doesn’t work. I was wondering if I could use the picture of you and your husband kissing in the kitchen for a post I am doing next week. Just email me if it is okay. Thanks, Lori Alexander
    Lori recently posted…Dangers Of Breast ImplantsMy Profile

  23. A couple of years ago, we made this change in our marriage. The ramifications have been so much more than anyone realizes, from becoming more loving towards each other to my being more homecentric instead of workcentric. People have no idea how big of a deal this is. Plus, it’s a huge ego boost to know, as a husband, that you can have sex any time you want (within reason), instead of knowing that your going to have to beg and go through a whole production just to get your wife to consent to sleep with you.
    Jay Dee recently posted…Is There A Good Way To Tell Your Husband “No Sex Tonight”?My Profile

  24. I agree about habits, but I don’t need another “should” to make my marriage better! We are all in different circumstances.
    Tulisa recently posted…Melt Your Man’s Heart Review – Can You Really Get Your Ex Back?My Profile

  25. This has me in tears to read…I was rejected once again last night by my husband. We’ve been married 6 months and it’s been almost 2 weeks since he’s touched me last. I don’t know what to do. I feel so unloved, so undesired, so defeated.

    • I’m so sorry that you’re going through this! It is an increasingly common problem for women who are just married, and I talk about why in this series on what to do when HE’S the one who doesn’t want it. I hope it helps you!

  26. I ink vocalizing it to your spouse would help, too. My husband and I will often make some comment about “getting lucky” and then we both know to wrap up our evening tasks soon enough that we aren’t too tired. Wrapping up our tasks early enough is typically the one thing that stands in the way of sex for us and just mentioning it as “a plan” at some point during the day seems to work for us, to make sure we’re both on the same page about it and make time.

  27. My husband had been on anti-depressants for several years. Our nightly routine consisted of me going to bed, then him coming whenever. He works 3rd shifts, so our sleep schedules are way off anyway. The last year, I started reading about how to be a more godly wife and started initiating sex, where I hadn’t before. Sure, it wears me out to have sex in the evening and still do my nightly chores, etc. But almost a year of a few times a week, a very small sacrifice on my part, has made for a much, much happier husband. He actually went off of his medication (doctor okayed it) a few months ago because he felt like he didn’t need it anymore. He admitted to me that my advances and making sure we are intimate a few times a week has done a lot for his overall self esteem and he felt so much happier in general. A little time out of my evenings/nights a few nights a week is so worth it. I’m so thankful I stumbled upon this blog. It has really opened my eyes!!

    Disclaimer… I know some people are on medications for various reasons and regular intimacy with a spouse may or may not help that. In my case, it did, but always refer to what your doctor says. =)

    • What a great story, Heather! Thanks so much for sharing it! I do think we underestimate how HEALING sex and intimacy can actually be to a person. You’re right–they don’t solve every health issue, but they can go a long way to solving some.

  28. and sometimes…..very rarely I know, but sometimes there are husbands who are the ones saying NO…..true story

  29. Colleen Shah says:

    Do you have a list of several recommendations for a book of devotionals for husbands and wives? A top 10 by category? Nothing terribly long, just to keep us connected. Maybe this is in your archives, but I can’t find it.

    Thanks

    Colleen

  30. Are we the only ones who normally have sex when we wake up?? A few times a week.. We do both start work late.. it just seems like everyone always talks about sex in the evening. Rarely do we go to bed at the same time in the evening… My husband always has a lot to get done!

  31. My husband and I have been married 9 years. We have three kids and I’ve been home with them full time from the beginning. I’ve had talks with my husband about expectations and how often he would like to have sex or what his expectations are. He said 3-4 times a week. The part I struggle with most is he SAYS that, but never initiates. I think his way of initiating is by groping, fondling, talking about sex or commenting on my body but doesn’t do anything else. He only does that when he wants sex and then it seems like I don’t matter, I’m just here to do the chores and take care of the family but I’m not an intimate partner. I was sexually abused when I was young and he knows this. I’ve expressed that when he does this it makes me feel like all he cares about is sex and that I’m an object he can use to meet his desires but I NEED to feel like I am a person, not an object. I will initiate even when I’m the least bit interested, sometimes because I’m tired of how he is treating me and I know it will stop if we have sex and the other times are because I know he needs that release. When we get to our worst, he is so focused on the physical and trying to get it done that he doesn’t pay any attention to me or my response. Then he gets frustrated because he wants to get me to orgasm so it isn’t just about him but I can feel it is completely forced, he isn’t doing the right things and gets upset if I make suggestions. I just feel like I can’t “win” for a lack of better term. He reads your posts and will send some to me and I send some to him. We have times where things seem good, he’ll put his arm around me, give a nice hug, etc but it doesn’t last long before we’re back in the rut again and any touch feels like it is to get sex. He leaves for work and gives a little peck, same when he returns, same when we go to bed. In public he almost seems embarrassed to have any kind of physical touch and if I try to kiss him he acts like we need to hide it. If I give him more than a peck then he acts like I must want sex and the grabbing, etc starts. It breaks my heart. We’re married, we have kids, it isn’t like the other adults around are going to be shocked if we kissed each other (I don’t mean make out or anything.) I want our kids to see that it is okay to show affection without being embarrassed. I feel like they give me more affection than my husband. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] …Many of us have made a habit of NOT making love. We routinely say no. We may have other habits, like reading in bed, or falling asleep to the TV. We may take a bubble bath before bed, or check Facebook. We have things we do at night, but in general, it doesn’t involve sex…  […]

  2. […] …Many of us have made a habit of NOT making love. We routinely say no. We may have other habits, like reading in bed, or falling asleep to the TV. We may take a bubble bath before bed, or check Facebook. We have things we do at night, but in general, it doesn’t involve sex…  […]

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