Get Real About Married Sex

Sex is a popular topic. It gets 506,000,000 online searches a month. God gets 55,600,000. President Trump gets over a million. The weather gets 185,000,000. I offer these stats for a little comparison. More people search for answers about sex than answers about religion, politics or the chance of rain.

Sex is a very popular topic. It is also a topic that I think gets over analyzed to the point that we are confused and discontent in our contrast and comparison of what we should or shouldn’t be doing as partners. I think that is a mistake on our part. Married sex is the best but it is not always perfect. Sometimes it’s worthy of an academy award but more often it’s quick after the kids go to bed but before we fall asleep from exhaustion. Everyone has their own reality about sex. Yours is not mine and that is fine because we are all really different. So let me be real about our married sex, in the hopes that it will encourage you to be realistic about yours. I will begin with…

The First Night

Our honeymoon was our first night together. Our wedding was huge and our reception was packed. It was a blast but I never saw the food–ever. We took off for our honeymoon destination at 11:30 pm. It was an hour drive and he was hyper focused–not even talking. I was starving. Someone had thoughtfully given us a box of reception goodies to eat. The box sat enticingly at my feet and I offered some to Mark, but he was totally uninterested. Don’t ask me why I hesitated; I have never been shy about food, but I was feeling a little uncertain about the intimacy ahead. We arrived, changed and once more I asked if he was hungry. He was hungry but not for food. And so we proceeded and it was lovely.

But, I was still starving. So hungry that I could not fall asleep. In the dark I dropped to the floor and crawled around in search of the goody box. Finding it, I quietly opened the box to discover every morsel tightly wrapped in heavy aluminum foil. It made a racket and I sounded like a rat foraging for food. Mark–Mr. eagle ears–woke up and said, “Susan, where are you and what are you doing?” I sheepishly confessed that I was hungry. He asked in confusion, “You’re hungry?” Like how could you possibly be hungry after that? How unromantic could I be?

At that point it should have been very clear to me–sex was more important to Mark than food. 

The First Year

Three months into our marriage I was pregnant. It was a fairly easy pregnancy but the changes to my body were not always comfortable. This definitely interfered with my “intended for pleasure” first year. Sore body parts made me a little touchy about being touched. Two weeks before our one year anniversary I delivered our first. I was out of commission for the two remaining weeks of our first year and the first month of our second year of marriage.

The Baby Years

The ins and outs of pregnancies and nursing made making love a little inconsistent. I didn’t always feel like having sex. Mark, in comparison, was totally undeterred. It didn’t matter to him what condition my body was in, he liked it. For that I should have been thankful but at the time I wasn’t thinking that way. The ups and downs began to take it’s toll on him and left him feeling that “we never had sex.”  I heard about this often. In my mind, we had sex a lot but I had to prove it and make him feel good about it at the same time.

So for Christmas that year I gave him a promise in his stocking. I filled it with five boxes of a dozen condoms (our form of birth control) and I promised that all 60 would be gone by the next Christmas. It was a guarantee and the best gift of time and attention I could have given him–he loved it. The condoms were gone by October and he was a happy man. At that time with babies and pregnancies and nursing and sleepless nights, once or twice a week was a win for us. At that point in our marriage I learned that Mark’s love language was physical touch. The Christmas stocking taught me that it comforted him just knowing  that he was getting quantity time and attention in numbers.

The Years With Ears

Then we entered the years when the ears were listening in our old house with back to back bedrooms and wood floors that creek and echo every sound–five pairs of ears in the night, listening. We would wait for an hour after our five kids were all in bed. Then, we would lock the door. We would put a pillow at the base of the door because there was a two inch gap at the bottom and then I would threaten my husband to shush! Half the time my ears would be straining for a sound beyond the door even as we made love.

Sex was better in these years though, simply because my body had stopped morphing with pregnancies every other year. And because I usually went to sleep in our bed and woke up in our bed, versus falling asleep  in a rocking chair with a baby in my arms or curled up on twin bed with a little one who had a bad dream.

The Years Ever After

We still have some young adults at home but no ears. Twenty-somethings sleep so much more and when asleep they don’t even hear the alarm clock two feet from their face let alone us. Years of knowing each other intimately has brought an ease and harmony to our sex. It is good and I love Mark. He still outpaces me in desire but we have found our way to contentment. And I think that is the point I want to make about married sex–you have to find your way. Intimacy in your marriage may not look like sex as advised by a magazine or portrayed in a movie. A compromise of giving to each other that meets your mutual needs must be decided upon by the two of you.

And remember there are seasons in life when more loving is possible. Your physical relationship may have ups and downs throughout the years but it will get better because married sex is like many things in life that just get better and better with a little time and attention.

What about your married sex? Is it zapped from sleepless nights with babies? Or on the upswing because….?

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  • Sheriff

    Great article and so the truth, I can relate and now I understand my.self even better and why ii went through these phases in my own marriage.
    Thanks for sharing

  • Shannon McFerren

    My husband is suffering from the low testosterone effect of getting older which has hampered our once “2-3 times a week sex life” and that can mess with a girl, let me tell ya! After all these years of him chasing me, now I’m chasing him and getting turned down! So etimes I wonder if its me, but I have to remind myself that it’s him and he’s working on a solution. Actually, we are working on a solution together. We both understand how important sex is to both of us. (Read Shaunti Feldhans For Women Only book and you’ll find out why it’s so important and not for reasons a that you think you know…). Thank you Susan for being real and open…I thought I would be, too! <3 ya!!

    • Shannon–love love love Shaunti’s books. And love you for sharing another facet to finding your way through the ups and downs of married sex!

  • Tina

    This is really helpful Susan. We are coming back from a one month holiday with my husband and I have been working 24/7 during this time, to make up for the ‘we never have sex’ feelings. We were able to talk about and ‘find our way’ of married sex. I am feeling so much better after reading your article. Thanks again

    • Glad you find your way and for sharing your success!

  • So glad I read this! And the other related articles! I feel like this will be us and I’m glad I’m not the only one. I had a 3 yr old when we got married then I got pregnant on my honeymoon and we now have a 4 year old and 8week old. When I was pregnant I DID NOT want sex and about 2 weeks after I delivered (no, I did not wait the 6 weeks) I started wanting it more than him. He wants to have at least two more children-and so do I- but I’m really enjoying actually ENJOYING sex and I’m going to miss this spending the next couple years having more babies. Also, the article about my role in sex was great for me. I felt really guilty I wasn’t interested in sex while I was pregnant and the first nine months of our marriage so I kind of felt like I needed to make up for it but the article was completely right– it’s not just his desires that need to be met. So glad I was able to read these today.

    • Kacy, thanks for sharing your “normal” ups and downs for others to relate too!

  • Dana

    This is so great–I’ll bet there’s not a married person alive who can’t identify with at least part of your journey, and many probably think they could have written it themselves. It’s a process, and it takes work and intention on both spouse’s part. The Christmas gift made me laugh out loud!

  • You probably just described a majority of married couples sex life. Great, and real post, with some good comedy (because I can relate)! Thx Susan!

    • Haha so glad! I hope your wife knows you have new perspective for her.

      • Ha! Yes, she was sitting right next to me reading the post and giggling. We both have new perspectives. 🙂

  • jc4charlie

    Been non existent for over 14 months. Even before that, it would be 2 or 3 times a year. Its emasculating.

  • Megan

    Love this! Thank you for sharing, Susan. My husband and I are busy with two little ones and although our intimacy is regular, I realize that sometimes I am burned out from the day and fall asleep while he is still longing. It’s encouraging to know it is only a season. I am terrified over The Years of Ears! I am also curious what you told your family when they asked, “So what did Mark get for Christmas?” Lol!

    • Hehe, at the time I had 3 children and they were only 6, 4 and 2. He took one look in the stocking, read the note and laughed. They never saw it–too distracted with their own Christmas presents.

  • Wow, thanks for your honesty! I have to say that it has been up and down for us. Right now, it’s more of an obligation than a desire for me. I have about one day a month where I really want to be with him. I’m so tired from taking care of the home and 2 little kids (ages 4 and 2) all day. I hope this passes because I really want to enjoy it more. It’s either too late at night or too early in the morning.

  • I love your real life honesty! We’re in the years with ears but without the squeaky floors, thin walls and gap under the door =)

  • What wisdom! Thank you Susan for another homerun!

  • Valerie Maples

    Thanks, Susan, for being so totally candid and very authentic. It’s not often people are sincere and honest about the different stages we go through.

  • Nicole Nelson

    I appreciate your honesty, but I always struggle with these stories, because my situation is the opposite. I find it hard to get advice when you have a husband that could care less about sex. We had sex pretty regular our first year of marriage and then never regular after that. We have been married 14 years this year. Three kids (10,9, and 6). I gave up. Too many nights of asking him to come to bed and he just falls asleep in the couch and comes upstairs around 4 or 5am. Now I don’t even desire him. He is a room-mate that helps me raise our children.

    • Mrs.Wishful

      I relate so well with your situation because I too have said that I feel I have a room-mate instead of a husband who shares in any desires. I tried to tell him so many times I need attention and he doesn’t care to touch me so I gave up as well. Today is just another lonely day (my Birthday) because I know I’ll go to sleep unsatisfied. In July we will be married for 5 years and even though I love him it hurts being with a man who doesn’t share in love the way that a man and woman being married should. I pray for God to heal our marriage (no sexual contact) and I keep asking so maybe He will answer my birthday wish one day, Praying For You Too Nichole

      • Nicole Nelson

        I will pray for you as well Mrs. Wishful and if I experience a break through I’ll be sure to write you back. Happy belated Birthday. I will say this, God has been clear to me, that it is not me, personally. I don’t allow it to affect my self-esteem. I know its our marriage and/or him. So I say to you, its not YOU! You are wonderfully and beautifully made.

        • clara

          It is hard to tell anyone that your husband is not interested in you. I should have known before we got married but I didn’t know any better or the questions to ask. I felt that my husband didn’t really like women. Then on the first week of our honeymoon I found out the truth. He was very quick to tell me after we got married. If he had told me before hand I would have called off the wedding. The truth was my husband doesn’t get excited about sex with me, he gets excited about thinking about men, but maybe not the sex part. He swears to me that he is not homosexual and does not want to have sex with an acutal male. This has caused all sorts of trouble in our marriage. We are still married after 16 years. We tried to have children but were not able to. Last year I caught him watching male porn on the computer. That has completely put me off trying to have any intimacy with him at all. My self-esteem went through the floor. We are still affectionate with each other. Kisses and hugs but sometimes I cringe when he touches me. I grieve for what our marriage could have been. But we still love each other and I would be lost without him. I appreciate the other parts of our relationship, otherwise he is a sweet and caring man who I know loves me. Marriage is a committment to living life together, with prayer, forgiveness and God’s help you can find contentment whatever your circumstances.

  • SaraL

    I want to thank you for putting yourself out there like this. This article really hit a homerun with me. Our intimate life has had alot of ups and downs with it in our 10 years of marriage and I have made the mistake in the past about not being honest about our sex life with my husband, but ours is on the upswing because I have taken the steps to share my needs and wants with him. I took comfort in what you said about married sex having its ups and downs, but gets better and better with time and attention. Thank you Susan.

  • Theresa Osborne

    Sorry Susan, I know it’s been a while since this got posted but I have not forgotten…We are actually in all stages at once, but I don’t think that’s really my problem… It’s my excuse. You see I always wanted a boy first as my older sister and I didn’t get along. But I have always really wanted a girl. The plan was to have 4 children, a compromise between my 3 and his 5. Apparently neither of which is God’s plan. We currently have 8 ranging from 15 to 4 weeks…all boys. Yes, not one girl in the bunch. This last one was a bit easier, but I have been getting worn down by this promise I know God has for me that I have yet to receive. Number 7 was the worst. I was so sure that the baby would be a girl, I was crushed, devastated when Stephen turned out to be “yet another boy”. I felt so let down that I had no desire to really truly bond with him at first. I made myself hold him, somewhat without emotion. I can’t explain it. It probably took a good day for me to pretend to be joyful, I had to for the rest of the kids. And a lot longer to actually be joyful about my newest son. Inside I cried constantly. I know God has a plan and a purpose. I just wish that somewhere along the way would be my promise. The way it’s been rolling around in my head for years is “I’m scared we’ll have another boy.” So I guess in my spelling it out here before all of you tonight. My problem is not getting my desire and ultimately not liking God’s plan. It isn’t my way. And that’s why we don’t get together intimately as often as we “should”. We joke that we’ve been together at least 9 times (we lost one in 2008). And I know it’s hurtful to him. I am trying to work at it. I need to let go and let God. Problem is, I don’t know how to let go what I feel He promised me back in 2005 (4 boys ago). I can’t imagine how Sarah and Abraham felt.

  • Em

    Wow! 60 times having sex in less than a year is NOT a lot of sex??! We have sex 1-2 times a month and that feels like a lot to me. When our child was younger, it was more like once every 2 months. If we have sex 3 times a month now than we consider it a huge success. however, I have no desire due to pain and nausea/faint/dizzy spells. We are certainly in the years with ears too with an old squeaky house and a 5-yr-old who has walked in on us twice. I feel bad for my husband who has a wife with these issues which have not responded too well to surgery, pils nor therapy. I do appreciate your candidness and clever, well-written blog post here!!

  • Aw

    My husband barely acknowledges me in thought, word or deed…but expects me to be willing to be there for him at bedtime. Not even a kiss. It makes me want to leave him.

  • Your honesty is impressive and inspring

  • Singlemom5

    WOW, Susan that was great and I really enjoyed your story and I feel our stories match 🙂 The laying there listening for those sounds (made me smile)

  • eli

    This makes me feel normal. I guess we are at the listening ears stage.

  • April Miller

    I am glad that I can’t relate to these stories. I feel bad for anyone who feel neglected or underappreciated by their spouse. I have been married for 15 years to a wonderful man who from day one until now has always seen my needs inside and outside of the bedroom. We are intimate 3-4 times a week and there is really is never a time where I feel like it is not right. We don’t feel the need to make it a bang EVERYTIME. Sometimes it’s for him, sometimes it’s for me and most times it’s for both of us. The key is that we acknowledge eachother all the time outside of the bedroom so inside the bedroom is just a great extension of the rest of the day. He understand that sometimes I need a long time to engage while I understand that sometimes it’s ok for me just to “be there” for him if the time frame only allows for that…this means through the baby years and beyond. I personally think that women don’t understand their bodies all that well but yet we expect our significant other to. Ummmm…it doesn’t work that way. You can’t teach someone something unless you undestand it, so why do we expect them to be magnificent when we can’t even tell them what they need to do. Now on the other hand they need to pay attention too. They can’t be selfish and they need to listen as well. It is a definate give and take, but I have never been unhappy. If you find yourself in a slump then you need to be open to communication about it. This once or twice a month crap is crazy. It is an extension of your verbal and emotional love to be able to make love correctly the way God intended and there is nothing dirty or wrong about it.

    • sad spouse

      I feel as you do but my husband won’t participate very often…. He says he’ll try once a week (he’s not great at commitment though – it’s usually about every 2-3 weeks and in between times I’m starved for love). – and he holds that against me as though I’m guilting him into it. I’d make love every day – although i think every 3 days or so is reasonable (and in line with my desire). Sex in marriage is such an incredible gift to give and receive – I revel in it when I can but inbetween times he’s holding out on me and not even allowing a kiss…. and won’t discuss it or go to counselling.

  • Mimi

    It is on the UPSWING because of an empty nest & God’s grace!!!

  • Page Phillips

    I am starting to feel like there is something wrong with me or my husband is having an affair. I want him more and more but i dont even get a your beautiful or any flirting what si ever. I ask him to take me on a date or something but it just doesnt happen. When i plan something (tired of waiting for him) something comes up and I am put on the back burner. When we do have sex it is more like lust then live. Help, is this the way a healthy marriage is supposed to be? I really miss passion, aand feeling sexy…. I am craving it

  • sad spouse

    I’m in the same boat. Love making love with my husband but he rarely will allow the possibility of it. It is very painful. We hear very little about women who enjoy sex and whose husbands hold out – in my situation I’m pretty sure it’s a control thing. I’ve tried to make him feel like he’s in control of as much as possible, ensure I’m not critical but encouraging and honouring in every way I can. It hasn’t helped yet…. He appears to have decided to become asexual regardless of his wedding vows and the Word and my feelings……

  • Ashley

    Nonexistent….. Completely nonexistent. Him getting as much sleep as possible completely overrides any intimacy with me. Sometimes… more like most times… I feel it’s a coverup for not wanting to be intimate with me… In fact, I can’t even remember the last time we were intimate.