About nine months after my oldest child was born, I was putting away a load of laundry when I noticed some lingerie tucked away behind some sweats. I realized that it had been months since I’d last dug into that drawer. I hadn’t needed the lacy little teddies recently. I’d barely had sex since my son’s birth. As I sat back and stared at the hidden contents of my pajama drawer, I found myself wondering what had happened to my husband and my own vibrant sex life.
Kids had happened, obviously. Our son was only just beginning to sleep through the night, and both my husband and I were busy with work and childcare. We were both sleep-deprived and exhausted by the end of the day. But I knew there was more to our problem than that. I couldn’t blame our dead sex life on our son. I was most of the reason why our sex life had come to a screeching halt.
I didn’t like sex anymore.
I was tired and sleep-deprived, but it was so much more than that. At the end of the day, I just wanted to be alone. I was tired of being touched, of constantly being in contact. After my son was finally asleep, all I wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch TV. I wanted to pull on sweats and be as comfortable as I could in the skin that still didn’t feel like my own. My body didn’t feel like mine yet, but my sweats did.
I was just never in the mood. After putting my son to bed, I just wanted to sit in silence for a while, and maybe engage in some adult conversation for a bit before I went to bed.
Having sex just seemed like too much work. Sex wasn’t supposed to feel like work, was it? It was supposed to feel good. I was supposed to enjoy it. But whenever we came together, I couldn’t seem to get out of my own head. So many tired thoughts. So many things to do. So few hours available for sleep. And on more than one occasion, the thought was sex really the best use of my limited free time?
The short answer? Yes. As much as I didn’t want to have sex and never felt like having it, I needed it.
I needed sex for the sake of my marriage.
I needed it like I needed my husband. We were one team, one family, and we needed to be one flesh. Marriages that are healthy and holy generally require a sustainable amount of prayer and sex. Marriages that don’t involve prayer and sex tend to fail.
Marriage makes for crazy math. One plus one makes one (and later three, when children are born). The two become one. Two individuals share in a one-flesh union of love. And sometimes that love gives life to a third. How insane is that?! How incredible?! How miraculous?! Marriage turns two individuals into one family. It creates a bond so strong that it is life-giving to a third. But that bond needs to be sustained.
That bond is both physical and spiritual. The two become one on the altar when we exchange vows that promise fidelity until death do us part. We become spiritually united before God and man. But the exchange of vows is only the beginning. Marriage is an exchange of love, of persons, and that exchange is physical. Every time a couple has sex, they become one. They renew their vows. They literally make love.
As I sat in front of my pajama drawer, I knew that sex was never a waste of time. I knew what it meant to have sex. Sure, there are times when we must say no even when our husbands ask nicely. There are nights when we will be too tired, too busy, too uncomfortable. But other nights we need to say yes even when a part of us wants to say no.
When we say yes to our husbands, we say yes to our marriage. We say yes to love.
In the months that followed that night, I made a vow to say yes more often. And not just a physical yes, but a spiritual yes as well. Even when I was tired, even when I would have rather spent my evening lying around and watching TV, I would say yes with my whole being. I would wear the pretty lingerie. I would be the one to initiate from time to time. I would be a joyful giver and do whatever was necessary to put myself in the right state of mind when I didn’t feel like having sex. I would give myself to my husband—body and soul—because that was the promise I made to him on our wedding day. It’s the promise I make to him every morning and every night.
So even if you don’t like having sex, have it with your husband anyway. Maybe not every time he asks, but probably more than you’d want to. Do it for your marriage. Do it for your husband. If you feel like your marriage has lost some of its fire since the birth of your children, have sex more. And talk more. And pray more (even if it’s just you doing the praying). Committing to more sex changed my marriage. More sex meant more connection, more conversation, more intimacy. It was what we both needed.
Even when we don’t want sex, we want intimacy.
We want someone to love us completely. We want someone to know us, inside and out. We want to be seen. So let your husband love you. Let him know you. Let him see you. Even when you feel unlovable. Even when you barely recognize yourself. Even when you want to hide. Marriage makes us vulnerable, but vulnerability makes us beautiful. We might not feel like we need more sex, but we all need more love, more intimacy, more communion. We need it all, and it all can begin with sex.