If you surround yourself with enough women in committed relationships (both online and in the real world), you will inevitably talk about sex. There will be the usual complaints about satisfaction, being too tired, not being interested or not getting enough. There will be questions about positions, fetishes and fantasies. There will be lots of candid, healthy discussion on a normal part of life.

And then someone will say something to the effect of, “Hubby hasn’t been pulling his weight, guess who ain’t getting any tonight?” I am sticking with heterosexual relationships as they are the ones I am most familiar with. (I do not assume this sort of thing doesn’t occur in gay or bisexual relationships, nor do I assume there are no straight men who would ever withhold sex from their partners.) Most of the responses will be laughter, or hearty words of support commending her for showing her man what’s up. They are almost all happy. I have a lot of feelings when I hear this, and happiness isn’t one of them.

I feel jealous. Jealous of the crazy amount of sex she must be having to afford to go without it to prove a point.

I feel angry. Angry that something which is so important to a healthy relationship could ever be reduced to a mere bargaining chip.

I feel ashamed. Ashamed that while we have come so far as women, our sexuality is often seen as our only source of power.

Mostly, I feel sad. Sad that the only way she can get through to her husband is to go without something in theory both partners should enjoy.

Sad that maybe her sex life is so unpleasant she would so freely go without.

Sad that this is seen as a badge of honor and not as a sign of a troubled relationship.

Let me be clear: no one should never ever feel compelled to engage in any sexual activity. Forced sex in a marriage is still rape. Nobody “owes” anyone sex. It doesn’t matter if it’s his birthday, he got a promotion or he did the dishes. I have just as big an issue of using sex as a reward as I do with using it (or not using it) as a punishment. If sex isn’t something both parties are into, that is a problem.

If we withhold sex we aren’t merely denying your partner. We are denying ourselves. We are denying ourselves the opportunity for connection. We are denying ourselves gratification. You are denying ourselves  something which is quintessential for a thriving marriage.

I realize there are those who may read this, and think, I should lighten up. They will say withholding sex is the only way to get anything done right. They will say they’re not hurting anyone. They will say sex is not that important, and if did mean so much to their spouses, they would be better partners.

And perhaps they do need to be better partners. I doubt any of us can say the man in our life is perfect. I doubt any of us are perfect, either. Relationships are always evolving and will encounter many challenges. Challenges that should be dealt with healthy discussion between the two parties, and, if necessary, with the help of a licensed therapist.

I might have a unique view, but for me, holding sex over your partner’s head, using your body as a bribe for “better behavior,” is as about as cruel a thing as one can do. Before you start saying, well if he did x, y and z, I might be more in the mood, I agree. So speak up! Tell him how you feel. Get angry. Argue if you must. Then move forward, and up to the bedroom.

I venture to guess that for many women, the issue isn’t whether their husbands do the dishes or treat them to romantic dinners. I know sex is often the last thing on our minds, and maybe it is easier to look to our partners for our disinterest and not toward ourselves. We need to confront our own issues with sex, intimacy and relationships and work with our spouses to foster a healthy partnership. We must treat our sex lives with the same respect and care we devote to our kids, our work and our finances.

Because sex isn’t just some superfluous side dish; it is the main course, it is the meat and potatoes. It is the essence of a relationship. And whether you are a couple who enjoys doing the deed daily or are content with just knocking boots a few times a year, let it be motivated by love, compassion and respect.

Life is too short to be sexually petty.

You may also like:

Don’t Stop Having Sex Because You Have Kids

“What’s Wrong With Me?” When Sex Isn’t Great

What If Tonight Was Your Last Chance To Have Sex With Your Husband


So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Her View From Home

Millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith. Join our growing community. 1,000+ writers strong. We pay too!   Find more information on how you can become a writer on Her View From Home at https://herviewfromhome.com/contact-us/write-for-her//

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking www.herviewfromhome.com

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading