Does sex have to die when life gets busy?
We’re in the middle of a series this month talking about the different stages of sex in marriage, and we launched it last week with the “Figuring Things Out” stage. This week we’re moving on to the next stage: what happens to sex when kids come and life gets busy.
But first, here’s the podcast.
This month I’m trying to work through a huge backlog of reader questions, and I decided that the podcasts this month would be a great chance to look at the different questions related to each stage of sex. So for this podcast we focused on three:
Reader Question: He’s a Night Person, I’m a Morning Person
Keith jumped on the podcast to answer this one with me (since this matches us pretty well, except I’m the night one and he’s the morning one. Either way, though, he needs way less sleep than me and always has!) Here’s the question:
I keep hearing the importance of going to bed at the same time as a couple but my husband is a night owl and I’m a morning lark. There’s no way I could stay up as late as he does and still get up with our toddler in the morning (he only gets up 15 minutes after me but I guess he just needs less sleep?). Plus he says that he needs his “me time” after the rest of us are in bed (gaming or watching shows) and that he’d just lie there awake for hours if he did come to bed at
the same time anyways (around 11 pm). The most helpful advice I’ve heard is for the night owl to lie down with that morning lark until they fall asleep and then sneak away, but I can’t really see him agreeing to that. He’s already heard the stat that couples who go to bed at the same time have more sex but that’s not enough motivation even though he wishes we had sex more often.
Keith and I went around on this one for a bit, but my big suggestion would be to have him go to bed at the same time as you, but then get up early and have his “me” time in the morning (gaming and watching TV is the worst thing to do right before bed anyway; better to do it in the morning). But listen in!
And then check out this post on why adults need bedtimes, too!
Reader Question: My Husband is Fine. Is It Okay to Want More Than Fine?
A reader writes in that she wants marriage to be exciting and passionate, but her husband is pretty satisfied with just hum-drum.
My husband is fine. I guess that’s the big issue. My husband is fine with things the way they are. He is a fine husband. He does things well enough. I don’t have a ton of room for complaints, I know, but I’m still sad. We recently did the 5 Love Languages together, and although he’s got an idea of what his love language is, he seems fine not really figuring out how I can love him better. It’s very obvious what mine is (physical touch and quality time), but he also is fine not going out of his way to do either.
He’s a good husband in a lot of ways. We share parenting responsibilities, household chores, financial issues, etc without as much conflict, but he’s fine with that being as good as it gets. Our sexual relationship is good- he makes sure it feels good for me, but again, he is satisfied with how things are. I’ve asked him to take a bath or shower with me, play “would you rather” sexy games, go to bed naked, etc., but he says he doesn’t want to.
I find myself in this weird place where I know I have a really good marriage compared to a lot of other people, so I should be thankful; but I don’t want things to just be fine, you know? I want to have a hot sex life, and be crazy about each other. Am I asking for too much?
I get it. She wants to feel swept off her feet, but he’s not there. Keith jumped in on this one, too. Certainly it could be personality differences–often we’re attracted to our spouse’s steady nature, but then that becomes boring once we’re married. But I’d also say that finding things to be chronically upset about isn’t healthy in the long run.
If you do just want some passion occasionally, though, it’s okay to ask for that. Like I said, you can do the “His Nights, Her Nights” game. I’d definitely suggest my Sexy Dares, because you can do one or two a month, and then normally you just do the “regular”. So it’s not asking him too much. And even if he doesn’t want to do these things, you can frame it like, “I love you, I love our life, I love our marriage, and this isn’t a criticism of you. This is just something that’s important to me. Can you do this for me?”
Listen in, see what you think, too, and then let us know in the comments!
Does your marriage need some spicing up–and some fun?
Reader Question: My husband wants to buy a new gaming unit two days after our third baby is due
Here’s a note from a very tired mom who is worried her husband won’t support her once the new baby comes:
My husband and I have been married for almost 10 years and have 2 young kids and I’m expecting our third. My husband and I are doing well right now after a few years of bumpy roads, but an issue we’ve dealt with throughout our marriage is the fact that he doesn’t really cope with stress well. Mainly he uses phone app games to de stress and unwind. We’ve talked about his lack of other coping strategies when things get stressful–and stressful is pretty much how our lives are going to be for a while.
Now, he’s decided he wants to buy an X Box for his birthday next year. But his birthday is right after my due date with the next kid. This is sending up a million red flags for me, since he’ll be buying a gaming system when I desperately need his help more than ever (and don’t want to have to drag him up from the basement to beg him for it). He already has a tendency to spend too much time on his phone, and talks all the time about wanting to go to bed earlier but he just stays up too late on technology instead.
I don’t want to assume the worst, but I really can’t see how any benefits outweigh the potential for disaster here (especially for someone with a tendency toward addictive behaviours already). To put it bluntly, I’m terrified of what this could do to all our progress we have made. Am I borrowing trouble, or am I right to be concerned?
I totally understand her fear. And I think that she is perfectly right to say, “your responsibility is to the family; you have a history of getting caught up in technology, and I can’t handle that right after a new baby comes. It’s too risky. We need to re-evaluate this.”
If he still wants to get it, then you can set up a contract with him. Say something like:
You know that you don’t handle stress well, and that you have a habit of getting carried away by technology. You’ve said that’s not who you want to be. You’ve said that you want to go to bed earlier. So let’s set up some guidelines so that we’ll know when things are getting out of hand and we can do something about it. And then let’s appoint a friend/mentor that I can call if things get out of hand, that can come and take the XBox for a time until you can handle it again.
This is serious stuff. You need your husband to be engaged with the baby. So talking about it beforehand–what will be the signs that he thinks means that he’s on it too much–and have him agree to that can help make that conversation easier.
Rebecca tackled this one with me, since she and Connor have dealt with video game issues. Connor now plays, but limits it quite well, so it can be done. But he has to realize that his family responsibilities come first.
Some other posts that can help:
Other Video Game Posts:
Get Your Marriage On!
Have you tried the Get Your Marriage On app yet? I talked about it in previous posts, and I think it’s a super fun way to enhance your marriage.
Get Your Marriage On! The Marriage Counseling App that is Fast, Fun and NEVER BORING! Frankly, we could all use a tune up time to time. But it’s more than just counseling. It’s for any couple that’s looking to connect with their spouse better.
It’s a fun app to go through, with teaching videos and quick exercises, but also lots of games and conversation starters. For all of you who don’t want to sit down and read a whole book, this has bite-sized videos and immediate action steps so that you can learn small bits, put them into practice, and move on. Check it out!
Finally, don’t forget to sign up for the emails.
I gave away some prizes on the podcast this week to some new subscribers–sign up so that you can win, too! And we’ll probably send the first baby pictures around via the emails rather than the blog, too, once the baby finally comes!
How would you answer some of those questions? Let me know in the comments, and let’s talk!
Let me know in the comments how you would answer these questions, let’s talk!
Fun podcast today I enjoyed the baby updates and Becca I hope you pop soon he he he. I really enjoyed the Rehder question with the unsatisfied lady I totally related and it was helpful I struggle with wanting to keep improving our marriage and it seems my wife is just satisfed. But that’s not true when I first got to this blog there were walls in my marriage those walls are gone. I have to remember that Working on my marriage is a process. I also like the discussion about bedtime verses getting up together Grace and I Are on different schedules when it comes to sleep and get up time so but mostly happens is I adjust so that we can get up together sometimes or sometimes go to bed together and we strike a balance that’s what a good marriage is all about good stuff today thanks have a great day
Thanks, Phil! Hope you have a great day, too!
I’m so glad you both talked about resetting sleep schedules. That was helpful to hear. It was refreshing to hear you both talk about even different sleep needs for both you and Keith and yet it wasn’t a tit-for-tat complaint that one person gets more sleep than the other.
In these sleep-deprived young child rearing years in my marriage, it has become an argument for us over who gets more sleep and kind of who “deserves” more sleep. When I was up all night nursing newborns, I felt like I had to defend that it’s not “sleeping in” if you haven’t slept yet. 😂 Sleeping In implies that sleeping has already happened and is continuing to happen. What I was doing was more like working the night shift. (Ha!)
I have tried pointing out that we can’t compare apples to apples with sleep, but my husband feels like he is the breadwinner and I am the stay-at-home-mom so when he clocks in I should too. (I have no problem getting up in the night with sick kids or with my son who is a toddler with sleep apnea issues we are trying to get resolved with his ENT, etc when it happens because I can be groggy the next day where he has to be at a job).
I don’t know how to get us out of this tit-for-tat way of thinking. For myself, I have been trying to give a simple response like “I was up last night while you slept and so I slept a little longer to make up for being awake in the night.” (Usually a half hour to hour I’ll get up after him during the work week if I was up at night).
And then I try to not feel guilty for that because I think it’s wise for my health…but I don’t want this to continue to be an argument.
Any ideas for how I can approach this differently?
Hi Aspen – seems to me the argument is not about sleep But rather wether or not being a stay at home Mom is a job/work. I would start a conversation around that and if he is still not convinced I am sure their is something you do for him such as his laundry or making dinner as part of your stay at home Mom responsibilities. Pick one and don’t do it for a week and he will see that in fact you do have a job and you happen to work swing shift! Just my 2 cents based on the info you left. Best wishes to you and I hope you can work it out!
I like the way you think Phil. You’re so right that it’s more about whether or not a SAHM is “working.” I like the idea of removing a benefit like laundry if he doubles down that I’m not working as hard as he is. I’ll keep that in my back pocket. Thanks.I hope we can work it out too.
Do you clock out when he clocks out ?
I wish! Typically he is pretty stressed coming home especially this time of year since he works in the agriculture industry so it’s almost like my second and harder shift starts when he comes in the door. He is getting better about being intentional playing with the kids each night so that’s a win, but it’s been slow to give me credit for taking care of little people all day not just physically but emotionally sorting through their budding emotions in a healthy way leaves me exhausted. But I do love kids…so I think to him he feels like if I’m doing something I love I shouldn’t be tired?
Aspen, you need your sleep. You just do. Totally. And I think framing it like that–“I need X hours of sleep, but when I’m up with the kids, I’m not getting that sleep, so I need to sleep in.” is good. And if he doesn’t like it, then I would suggest that you take turns getting up with the kids! Honestly, it’s great that you do since you can nap during the day and he can’t, but then I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that you need to sleep in. You can also do something where on the weekends he’s up in the middle of the night with the kids. We did it so that I was always up in the night because Keith worked such horrible hours, but if he ever had a light rotation one month with no call, we took turns. That may help him understand how tired you are!
Thanks Sheila. He’s not interested in taking turns on weekends and I’ve asked multiple times…but that is a great idea. Lately I have just started taking a nap on a Saturday if he is home and not asking about it. Just doing it and letting him deal. It’s a tricky dance when your spouse just doesn’t get it so I typically try to explain and then take some steps to take care of me. It’s not what I want, but I think it’s just where we are. To be fair, he grew up with a single mom who was a perfectionist so she quite literally did it all and all alone. I’m just not her! And that’s ok.
Like Sheila asked, can you switch for a few days? I know that when I got pregnant with my third and we needed to night wean my second, my husband would get up with the baby because he couldn’t give her the milk. It really helped us bond for him to actually live it and see that I really wasn’t playing up my exhaustion.
With our first I really struggledwith the tit for tat thinking though. Sometimes I wouldn’t let him do something because I didn’t want to feel like he was ahead a favor! Redefining marriage as 100/100 not 50/50 helped my mindset, though I do still fall back when life is getting really tiring.
Thanks Ina. He’s not typically interested in switching if I’m around. He did keep the kids once for 3 days and nights alone while I went off to a Women’s Conference for the weekend and I had high hopes that he would get a good dose of what it was like! 😂 He said everything was great though and it wasn’t a big deal so why do I get frustrated over sleep or itching for adult conversation, etc. Not what I was hoping for! Ironically though he’s not interested in doing it again, but this parenting thing isn’t a three day sprint but a multi-year marathon. So I’m not sure. I think he has to see it, but likes the status quo? He also was raised by a single mom so I think he can have the view that his mom did it all so why can’t I? “That’s what moms do.” Single moms ARE pretty amazing…but we’re married…so…I’d like to not be a single mom?
I think Phil had some good ideas for some practical boundaries we could start to set.
I’m not a SAHM, but when I was on maternity leave one of the ways we dealt with sleep was that I would go to bed super early, like right after supper (which was hard, because I’m a night owl). My husband would stay up and take care of the baby until she needed to nurse again, then he would wake me up and we would switch. I would take the “night shift” of getting up every time the baby needed me (she never took a bottle), but at around 6am my husband would get up with me and take over so I could go back to bed and sleep in a bit. So I had the night shift, but he had the early morning and evening shifts, and that worked pretty well.
But also, maybe reach out to your friends who are SAHMs and see if any of them have a husband who seems to really get how hard their job is! Then invite them over for dinner occasionally or schedule two-family outings so that the husbands can get to know each other. Maybe/hopefully your husband hanging out with a guy who has more understanding and compassion for SAHMs will help him to see what you’re trying to say in a new light. Sometimes hearing it from a different person is just what is needed.
Great idea. It’s worth a try. Thanks.
I wanted to comment to the lady who wants more passion in her marriage. She sounds a lot like me! I am a very passionate person and feel things really deeply. Early in our marriage I think the depth of my emotions overwhelmed my husband and he just didn’t know how to enter into it with me. A couple things that made a difference for us:
Around year 10, I made a conscious decision to stop wishing that my husband were different. Not to bury my desires, but to just appreciate who God made my husband to be and love him for who he is. Even though the change wasn’t visible to my husband, it changed my attitude and he began to seem more at ease around me. Gratitude is such a huge theme in scripture, and it really helped change the dynamic in our marriage. I think he could sense my constant disappointment before I made he change.
Second, I would take your desire for passion to the Lord. Scripture also teaches that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. And that He satisfies the desires of the righteous with good things. I don’t know that will look like in her life, but I do know that God created our hearts and cares so deeply about us! As we draw closer to Him, he do things in our hearts, lives and marriages that we could have never imagined.
My husband is still the same man…he is never going to write me poems lol. But our relationship has gotten deeper and richer, and the passion has continued to grow over the years. I think I used to hide my heart from him a bit because I was embarrassed that I was so much more emotional than him. I don’t anymore. I go ahead and be as mushy as I want and he appreciates it now since he doesn’t feel pressured to act a certain way.
Great thoughts, EM! Thank you!
This is some serious wisdom right here. Thank you so much.
Thats a nice story thank you for that.
Thank you EM. That made better sense than the answer on the podcast which left me feeling as if different personalities was the reason and that there wasn’t much that could be done about it. I didn’t hear much in the way of constructive ideas but i will have another listen to see if there is something i missed that i haven’t already tried. If you’re married to a shy and reserved Englishman you’ll know what i mean!
Good post from Aspen. I’ll make a few comments.
Being a stay at home parent IS work, no question about it. Anybody who thinks otherwise is welcome to spend a week getting up (or staying up) at all hours feeding and changing and holding a screaming baby.
The “breadwinner” gets paid, but only because he (or she) works for a third outside party.
Both parents need sleep, rest, downtime, etc. It should be as equally balanced as possible, but it’s not always possible for both parents to be on the same cycle at the same time
Thanks Nathan. I agree. I think balancing it all makes for the best marriages.
Thanks for a good podcast today! A couple of thoughts about the XBox couple – in addition (or really just an extension) to all the good suggestions you made, it seems like it would be good for them to just have a heart to heart, where they can hear out each other’s desires and fears. Talking about why he is excited about this, and why she is worried, where they can really hear each other.
Regarding the “check in in 6 months” idea – they could even put the money for the Xbox aside for his birthday, and plan to get it in 6 months with that money.
I can’t wait for the baby announcement!!!! I chuckled at Keith liking the bird analogies the first writer used.
I really appreciated the response to the 2nd writer. Oh, how i wish to have a steady, stable and reliable husband like hers. He sounds exactly like my dream guy. That’s the type of man i have always prayed for because i didn’t have it as a child. I loved your response to her because there many people who would love to have the beautiful things others feel discontent with. Contentment, is such a virtues value to have in a culture that screams “buy more, have more, take more, look for more, etc.”
Sooooo happy for the baby! Yay!
Great episode! Love having Keith on (though my only comment would be to adjust the microphones or maybe the sound editing, as Shiela’s and Keith’s voices have different tones and I find myself with my finger on the volume button DJ-ing it throughout the episode. But maybe that’s just me. My husband and I have been listening in the car the past several weeks, so maybe that’s been effecting our sound quality).
Also, some encouragement, Rebecca: I went 10 days overdue with my second baby, and that was as only cuz I went to an acupuncturist and told her to do her worst to me lol. Baby probably would’ve stayed put otherwise cuz he was nice and comfy (& I didn’t want to get induced cuz that would’ve increased my risk of uterine rupture since I was a VBAC). Now THAT was the longest week+ of my life!!! 😝 Hope you don’t go that far overdue.
Also, I totally identified with the young mom feeling like her whole world was motherhood and like she needed/wanted more. That’s definitely been a huge contributing factor in me focusing on improving our sex life and marriage.
On the sleep issue. I’ve always been a morning person and even in college needed to be in bed way before my friends. I totally identify as a “long sleep” person.
I’m in my 50’s and need to be in bed no later than 9pm. I get up every day around 5am and get our kids that are still home in school ready and take them to school then off to work. This is the bare minimum sleep that I can function with. Anything shorter and I feel like a zombie. I’d prefer to go to bed at 8. I dream of the day I can get 9 to 10 hours of sleep, but I’ll likely never get that again. I get my best sleep before midnight. When I go to bed I have 1 single thing on my mind: sleep. Do not mess with me because by that point my tank is on E.
My wife is the opposite. She can stay up until midnight or later every night and gets her best sleep in the morning. Prefers to not have to get out of bed until at least 8. If she goes to bed early she just lays in bed awake and usually ends up on her phone because she can’t sleep. She’s fine on 6 or 7 hours of sleep, but that would totally make me useless all day.
Sleep patterns are not something you can easily change and I’m not sure you should mess with this. People are different and can make temporary accommodations, but telling a person they need to adjust sleep patterns to fit your wishes is not healthy. Trying to make both people fit into the same sleep patterns is not realistic and damaging to health and emotional stability. It’s just going to create even larger problems.
Excellent podcast – some really good questions that I identified with.
I am struggling with self-control re mobile gaming, so I totally got the discussion about the XBOX. Some good advice was given, and I [particularly enjoyed the snippet about a contract. 🙂
You are in the middle of a series on stages of sex, and I have a question for you: What if you skip the honeymoon phase and marry someone that brings a young child into the marriage? I’d love for you to approach this from that angle, as one obviously hits responsibility from day one (if not before), and I can only imagine how this complicates things. As it is, my wife and I had our first little one within months of getting married, so I sort of have an idea of how much stress it puts on the relationship. It took us 15+ years to finally start getting our intimacy sorted out.