You crawl into bed next to him, completely exhausted. You had a long day at the office, followed by PTA meetings, facilitating homework, and kids thinking your thrown-together dinner is “scusting.”  Finally, the moment no one needs me!

When he casually scoots his pillow closer to yours you realize you thought too soon. It’s pretty much the telltale sign after a decade of marriage that your husband wants sex tonight.

What are you going to do?

1. You could totally go with it.

It’s no small accomplishment to still be wanted sexually in your tattered t-shirt, flannel pj pants, and night cream. Honestly, these are the days so many young women dream of. Not having to dress up to impress their man. And not having to do much of anything but rest in the fact the you are the woman he wants to be with.

What a concept to not be taken lightly or for granted.  He isn’t out there looking at—or for—someone else. Your husband desires sex with you. Use that as an idea to help find the energy to respond.

2. You could make up an excuse.

Headache, anyone? I know it’s stereotypical, but I think we’ve all used it. Wives mean well when we say this. We don’t want to hurt our husband’s feelings. It’s the married way of saying, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

And to be honest, some nights I have actually had a headache. But also to be honest, that headache didn’t prevent me from making dinner, bathing my children, reading bedtime books, singing lullabies, and whispering bedtime prayers. So looking at it that way really does make it feel like a lame excuse that didn’t excuse any of my other choices to love and serve the people who need me. 

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3. You could communicate openly.

It’s nice our husbands want us. And we can admit that some nights we really have given ourselves to so many other good things during the day—that likely still serve our husband—that sex just feels totally off the table.

Is it ever okay to deny his advances? Everybody needs an occasional raincheck, right?

My husband got to weigh in on this piece. So I asked him that question. He jokingly wondered when and why I’d ever want to miss out on him?! But we agreed together that yes, marriage is a mutually understanding relationship where compromise is a regular requirement.

Even—or maybe especially—in the bedroom.

Open communication is key if you’re really not feeling up to it. You don’t have to fake a headache or quick, act like you’re already dead asleep! (Speaking for a friend…) You can talk about it.

Remind your husband that he’s important to you. Assure him that he’s desirable to you. And affirm that it really isn’t that you’re not interested altogether, it’s just the timing isn’t right.

Talk through the details of your day that have exhausted you. Share the concerns that won’t let your mind go toward intimacy with him. Ask him to join you in prayer for the emotional burdens weighing on you. Connect emotionally in other ways instead.

If for some reason there’s something that stands between you and him that’s keeping you from being interested, tell him that, too. Might as well resolve stale issues that are still hanging on. Sort through the small annoyances of the last few days of an unreplied text, an impatient word, imbalance in help with the kids. Whatever it might be.

Put it on the table so you can hear each other out and move forward in growing together. Even if the talk doesn’t end in immediate make up sex!

While shelving his desire is a fair choice on occasion, wives cannot deny that sexual connection is paramount to our husbands. In a recent podcast, Married with Benefits, Shaunti Feldhan talks about how much the act of sex gives to our husbands long after the moments of sex are over. I think you’ll agree, if you listen to her, that as wives we’ll want to use our rainchecks sparingly.

4. You could plan for next time.

In the beginning of marriage, I naively thought spontaneity would be the key to romance. Ten years later, I know that the well-planned working mom and dedicated wife I am wants to know what is, and isn’t, on the docket for tonight. Who’s with me? The much maturer, tireder, mid-thirties version of myself has gladly admitted that planning is in fact the key to regular romance.

Next time you need to turn him down in the bedroom, do it simultaneously with an upcoming scheduled night for action. Fine, Tuesdays aren’t good because you work late that night. But Friday evening, when you know you can stay up late because you don’t have early morning demands the next day, would be a perfect time to pencil in a little after-dark connecting.

When you plan your intimacy, you both build the anticipation that raises excitement. And as a woman you know to reserve some of your energy and attention for him at the end of the day.

A regular schedule can be the best detail of helping you take advantage of your marital perks!

Sex isn’t always easy to have or easy to talk about. But sex is certainly a gift that God gives husbands and wives to enjoy. Facing this delicate and sometimes divisive issue with open communication can help you connect on even the tired nights in the bedroom.

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