Ever just feel too tired for sex?
Most of us do at some point or other. And because for women are sex drives are primarily in our heads, when we’re too tired to concentrate on sex, our bodies often don’t get in the game. And then sex doesn’t work well.
One interesting study I came across found that 25% of people reported being too tired to have sex.
That doesn’t surprise me, actually. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not higher. I remember when the children were little, and didn’t sleep, and I was so desperate to get at least 6 hours a night (even if it was broken up), that sex was far down on my priority list. It didn’t mean we weren’t intimate; it’s just that I was far more attuned to my need for sleep than I was my need for sex.
But as I wrote in To Love, Honor and Vacuum, exhaustion isn’t just about lack of sleep; it’s also about lack of downtime to recharge our batteries. It’s feeling like you’re working all the time–which is mentally exhausting, even if you’re not physically exhausted.
So let’s talk about that today: what do you do when you’re exhausted and you have no time for sex?
How do you get to the point where you are actually available to yourself and to your husband, both with time and energy?
Here are 10 ideas that will help you STOP being too tired for sex. And remember our Top 10 Tuesday philosophy: don’t try to do them all. Instead, pick ONE or TWO ideas that especially speak to you, and try your best to follow through and implement them this week.
Taking Time to Emotionally Recharge
Exhaustion isn’t only physical; it’s also emotional. When we aren’t doing things that feed us, we’ll chronically feel exhausted, even if we’re getting 9 hours of sleep a night. So let’s start with emotionally recharging.
1. Recharge Your Batteries Appropriately.
Some people are real extroverts, and they won’t be charged unless they get a lot of time to actually talk to people. If you need it, you don’t have to feel ashamed of it. Just schedule in some time everyday to talk with a friend, or go out for coffee after dinner with her. If you’re an introvert, and you need time alone, tell your husband this, and ask if he can do the bedtime routine so that you can have a bubble bath. In other words, be realistic about what you need.
If you don’t need time alone to feel invigorated, but you need time outside, then take a jog. But don’t feel guilty for taking time away from the kids! They can stand to be with their dad for a while, and he’ll be happier if you’re available to him later. It’s like the quadrant idea I shared with you last week: we all need to do those “important” things that recharge us if we’re going to have energy to pour back into relationship. So even though it feels selfish, it’s actually the opposite.
2. Find Someone to Watch the Kids.
If you’d love to try #1, but you don’t have time to yourself because of the kids, find a teenager in your neighbourhood to watch the children for two hours after school a few times a week so you can get some time to yourself. Don’t just use the time to do errands that won’t replenish you; put a priority on doing what you need to do to feel awake. Or ask your mother or your sister to watch the children for a while. Find someone to be your ally!
3. Schedule Half an Hour of Me Time During Your Day
Don’t let yourself come last in your list of priorities. Schedule time in now, during the day, for you to rejuvenate, whether it means taking a jog, doing a craft, having a bubble bath, or just praying. Take your lunch break at work; when the kids nap in the afternoon; in the early evening when your husband does kid duty. When you do have free time, use it for you, don’t only fill it up with more “things” that you really should get done. The most important thing to get done, after all, is to pay attention to your marriage.
It’s easier to spend time on yourself when you see the benefit in it. You know your marriage is important, but realistically how much time do you dedicate to nurturing it? Do you only pay attention to all the “things” you can do for your family, rather than just being there for your husband? He needs you, not just clean laundry. And when you feel connected to your husband, you also feel more energetic and more excited to get that housework done later!
4. Take One Thing off of Your Schedule
What is making you too busy today? Is it your church commitments? Your children’s schedule? Your hobbies? Whatever it is that is causing you to stop thinking about your husband and start thinking about other things needs to stop. We all need downtime. So find the one thing that is sapping your energy the most, or causing your mind to wander the most, and get rid of it if you can.
5. For One Week, Keep Track of Your “Highs” and “Lows”. Write Them Down.
Not sure what those things are that sap your energy? Try this exercise.
Everyday, think of your “highs” and “lows” for that day. But don’t think only in terms of “when I was happiest” or “when I was saddest”. Think instead of it like this: “When did I feel most invigorated, like I was in the groove and making a difference?” and this: “When did I feel my energy most sapped away, like I was doing something I hated and could barely get through it?”
This is a fun exercise to do with your spouse, because you learn so much about each other (and you learn stuff about yourself, too!) But if you trace this for a week or two, you may find a pattern to when you feel your energy the most sapped. For me, for instance, it’s when I have to deal with my email inbox or when I have to decide what comments to let through on this blog (I get a lot of mean ones or just plain unhelpful ones). It’s exhausting. And after realizing that these two things completely stressed me out beyond all proportion, I hired someone to start doing it for me!
6. Practice the art of compartmentalization.
Men are wonderful at keeping things in their place. They’re not as distracted nearly as much as we are because they’re not naturally trying to multi-task. We do. We multitask naturally, all the time. And believe me, sex is not a good time for multitasking! You should not be writing grocery lists in your head while you’re being intimate. You should not be planning vacations while he’s kissing you. When you’re with your husband, practice being with him. Concentrate on what he’s saying. Concentrate on how he feels. And above all, stop thinking!
If you’re finding that difficult, then when you are making love, keep asking yourself, “what feels good right now?” You’re not judging him; you’re forcing your mind to pay attention to your body, and that can help you focus and concentrate.
Taking Time to Physically Recharge
7. Go to Bed at a Decent Time
Adults need bedtimes, too! If you have to be up at 6:30, that means you have to get to sleep at 10:30. If you want the chance for other things to happen, then you have to be in bed by 10:00.
That may seem early; but the average person needs eight hours of sleep to function at their peak (and I know that’s really hard when you have little ones!). So go to bed.
8. Teach Your Kids to Sleep on Their Own
If your children need you to lie down with them to get them to go to sleep, or need you to rock them, or rub their backs, you’re going to find your nights are taken over by their bedtime routine.
Children who need their parents to get to sleep will also need their parents to soothe them whenever they wake up in the night.
Here’s why: they’ve associated you with sleep. You do this, too. Think about your favourite pillow. You need it to sleep. What happens if you wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow isn’t there? You turn on the light and try to find it. You fully wake yourself up because you can’t get back to sleep without your pillow. But if you wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow is there, you likely roll over and go right back to sleep without anything even registering.
If you’ve taught your children to associate you with sleep by “putting them to sleep”, then your children need you to sleep. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they will call for you. And that’s not healthy for anyone.
Kids need to be taught to self-soothe. That may mean a rough week when you stop rocking them, or lying down with them, or rubbing their back until they fall asleep. They may cry a lot. But they will learn, and then it will be over, and you’ll have your nights back again.
9. Treat Your Body Well
Exercise a little bit everyday, even if it’s just going for a walk after dinner. Eat fewer carbs and more protein. Stretch a lot! An inactive life makes you more tired. A poor diet makes you tired. And not using your muscles makes you tired. Start small if you have to: take a walk, do 10 minutes of stretches with your children every day; start getting rid of the packaged foods and the bread. You’ll find if you do small things, your body will start to like it, and you can add more small things to your routine that do add up!
10. Recruit Help for Evening Chores
What keeps you busy at night, and stops you from relaxing with your husband? Is it the laundry that’s piled up? The dishes that need to be done? The bills that need to be paid or the emails that need to be answered?
If you find yourself working, especially after the kids go to bed, then that’s a problem. We all need downtime, and if you’re doing chores at night, it will be much harder to transition to romance time.
So take a look at what you’re doing at night, and ask yourself: can it be done earlier? Can I recruit other people to help me with some of this? Can I talk to my family about sharing the load? Can I hire a housekeeper to do some of it? Try to rearrange your schedule so it doesn’t need to steal your energy late at night.
Here’s the truth: often we think we’re exhausted when the issue is we just have too much on our plate, and thus too much constantly going through our brains. Turn off the constant noise in your brain telling you to do more, and turn on that part of your brain telling you to slow down, and practice being in the moment. You’ll find you’re less tired, and much more in the mood than when you’re always focusing on all the things you “should” be doing.
The biggest “should” in your life is about your marriage. You should be enjoying your husband. Are you? If not, learn to! Make it a priority. And turn everything else off!
Which of these 10 ideas would help you NOT be too tired for sex? What has made the biggest difference in your life? Let me know in the comments!
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