My husband and I continue to have problems in one main area of our marriage. You guessed it: sex. We have three preschoolers, and I am mentally and physically exhausted at bedtime. My husband thinks we are having problems in our marriage because we only have intercourse once a week or so. I try to explain about stress, exhaustion, etc., but all he sees is that I don't desire him. I almost think God has played a cruel joke on mankind by giving men such a strong sex drive, but not the women. My friends with like-aged children all say the same thing. Their husbands are always thinking about sex and they could go months without it.
Barbara: A lot of young moms face this problem—I know I did! By the end of the day you feel you just don't have anything left over for your husband.
Dennis will take more time to answer this question because he has some good exhortations for husbands. But here are a couple points for wives: First, examine whether you want to improve your sexual relationship. For some, this may mean praying, "Lord, create within me a responsive heart for my husband. For others it may mean making it a priority to improve this area of your relationship. All this spells, "Time." Set aside the time you need with your husband to develop a relationship and grow spiritually together.
Second, make sure you are getting the rest—physically and spiritually—that you need. Be sure you are spending enough time with the Lord. Take a nap in the afternoon if you need to. Take advantage of weekends to catch up on sleep. Sometimes these simple steps will go a long way toward improving your sexual intimacy.
Dennis: I've got several applications for the husband. First, he needs to reaffirm his commitment to his wife. Then, he needs to demonstrate this commitment by seeking to understand her emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. He could start by reading the Bible to her and praying with her. Remember, men, that our wives long for real intimacy with us.
It also may mean making a greater effort to help his wife out around the house. There are some men who never help their wives by cleaning the kitchen, or helping put the kids to bed. And then they expect their wives to meet their sexual needs at the end of the day when they've done nothing to meet their mate's needs.
Barbara: Some men just don't realize how much servant leadership like this means to women. Sometimes mopping a floor or ironing your shirts is the most romantic thing you can do for your wife.
Dennis: This should move the husband to a practical project where he asks her what her pressing needs are. He may need to step in and take responsibility to protect her from the kids controlling her life.
If running the kids to two or three outside activities each is exhausting the wife so she has nothing left over for him, they need to pray about the amount of outside activity they're taking on. I'm concerned that many couples allow these activities to rob them of the romance they need to keep their relationship fresh and growing.
Also, he ought to make it a priority to communicate expectations and needs with his wife. When we don't understand one another's needs and expectations, we are setting up a relationship for disappointment, anger, and even an emotional affair. Whatever he does, he should not declare this area off limits for discussion!
Finally, I would encourage the man to be careful what he allows his mind to dwell on. The images we receive from magazines, television, or movies can fire up a man's sex drive and cause him to be insensitive to his wife's situation.
Going back to the question of whether God has played a cruel joke on couples in this area...I think there's another way to look at it. God wants you to enjoy a mutually satisfying sexual relationship—it's an essential part of marriage. I believe God is at work in our marriages, constantly calling us to deny our natural selfishness and meet each other's needs. We will never have a great marriage or be a disciple of Jesus Christ without practicing self denial.
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