Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it. Today’s is one that lots of people struggle with: what do we do if we’re just too tired for sex?
What advice do you offer women who are married to men who are a little older and say they have the desire to have sex but just don’t feel up to it? I’m 36, hubby is 56. I have lupus, he has injuries from the war in Iraq. Neither one of us are rock stars. But I married a sex crazed man four years ago and now I’m doing good if we have sex once a month. It’s hard not to take it personally. When I try talking to him about it I see the hurt in his eyes, like he feels he’s letting me down. How do I accept that this is just the way it is? How do I protect my heart and mind?
Okay, ladies, it’s time for a bit of a pep talk today!
Maybe I’m just in an energetic mood because I finally finished all the major revisions for my new book (9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage) and got it off to the publishers, and I feel like I have my life back, but let’s think positively today! I’m going to comment on the general issue of feeling too tired for sex, and not on this particular letter writer’s issue, because I really don’t know what his health condition is. So let’s think of some general principles:
Live out your priorities–If you’re too tired for sex, are you too tired for everything else too?
I’m not trying to diminish the reality of being exhausted. I know many people are–especially when we’re getting little sleep because of shift work or because we’re in school studying for exams or because we’re pregnant. And when it’s a short term thing–like exams or pregnancy–grace should abound.
But look long-term for a moment. If sex is a priority (and it should be), then make sure you prioritize it! Don’t make it come last. If you have health issues, then you are only going to have energy for certain things. Make sure sex is one of them. Don’t overcommit yourselves to stuff. Don’t have all kinds of energy to clean the house or work on a hobby, and then collapse into bed. Make sex one of the first things on your list–not just something you do at the end of the day “if” you have energy left.
I’ve written in previous posts about how scheduling sex can work for some people, and in this case it may be a very good idea. If you know, we’re going to make love Tuesday night, then you can make sure that Tuesday you get ready! You don’t play video games until 1 in the morning. You don’t work late if you don’t have to. You get ready for sex!
Read it here: Scheduling Sex
Wasting time makes you more tired
Here’s another truth: when we’re tired, we tend to gravitate towards inactive things, like watching TV or surfing the internet. These activities, however, SAP your energy. They don’t preserve it.
That’s true for several reasons, but here are just a few: we know that these things don’t actually add tremendously to our lives, in the same way that talking to a friend, doing a hobby, journaling, or taking a walk do. And because of that, they tend to sap our souls. There’s nothing wrong with them in moderation (and I knit now when I watch netflix, which turns it into a hobby!), but have you ever spent an entire day watching TV and then at the end of the day thought, “where did today go?” It’s depressing because that’s time you can never get back. And if you have tendencies towards depression already, screens tend to make it worse, while fresh air tends to make it better.
God created us for a purpose, and when we spend too much time on activities with no lasting value, we hurt our own souls (and we contribute to mental health issues, which is often a reason that we feel too tired for sex).
Also, when we’re tired and in pain, sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time tends to reinforce that pain and that exhaustion. I have a friend who suffers from circulation issues due to severe burns she suffered as a child and rheumatoid arthritis (and she’s relatively young)! She recently got one of those pedometers that counts the number of steps you take a day. Her average is 16,000–and she doesn’t really go for walks. She’s just always on her feet at home. I took her out to dinner last Saturday for her birthday, and we sat at the restaurant and talked for a while. It was much longer than she usually lets herself sit down. When we got ready to go, she was really stiff.
“That’s why I don’t let myself watch TV,” she said. “If I were to sit and watch a movie, I’m done for. I have to keep moving.”
Of course this depends on the severity of the problem, but in the vast majority of medical issues, moving helps, and sitting in one place hinders. Another friend of mine with fibromyalgia qualified as a life guard when she was 50 and now teaches Aquafit. If she doesn’t swim, her body stiffens up too much. Of course it’s hard to get the motivation to move when you’re in pain, but ultimately it can help get that pain under control.
Again, it depends on the condition (certain back issues, for instance, make any movement too difficult). But sitting in one place watching a screen is rarely a good idea.
Do you get enough rest?
The average person needs eight hours of sleep a night. Certain chronic pain conditions, of course, make it difficult to get a full night’s sleep.
However, most people just don’t sleep enough today because of screens. We get watching a show and we stay up later than we intended. Or we stay up until we fall asleep on the couch. That increases our chances of depression and makes our sleep far worse. If you want to sleep well, turn off the screen at least 45 minutes before you intend to hit the pillow.
If you want to make sex a priority, set a bedtime when the screens go off! Head to bed at 10 and just talk with each other. Give each other a massage before bed.
Read it here: Adults Need Bedtimes, Too!
Make sex happen
As we get older our bodies fall apart, and some of us will have conditions that will cause that to happen more rapidly. It isn’t fair–but it’s life.
The question is: what will you do about it? And likely there is so much more that you can do than you think!
Talk to your spouse and say, “I want us to have as much fun as possible, and to have as much energy as possible!” And sex, of course, increases your energy levels because it releases good hormones, relaxes you, and helps the quality of your sleep.
Many of us have bodies that are falling apart because we just aren’t treating them well. We live far too sedentary lives, we don’t feed them well, and we don’t rest enough.
So schedule sex. Turn off the screens. Move as much as you can. Go to bed at a decent hour. Give LOTS of massages. This won’t work for all health conditions–I’ve written before about what to do if health issues make intercourse impossible. But I think many of us are settling for crumbs in life when we can still have so much more! Sometimes we get into these bad habits because it’s just so easy. We’re tired at the end of the day, so sitting in front of a screen seems enticing. But it won’t really help in the long run.
Ask yourself: is the way I’m living my life sapping my physical and emotional energy, or giving me more? If it’s sapping it, do a re-examination. Sometimes it just takes a few tweaks for you to find you have your life back!
Let us know: what have you found? Have you had something in your life that sapped your energy and made you too tired for sex? How did you get rid of it? Or did you find another way to boost your energy? Leave us a comment and tell us!