Mike Berry knows why you’re not getting it on any more—and what you can do about it.
Someone once told me that if you put a marble in a jar every time you have sex during your first year of marriage, and then continue to do that every year after, you will never place the same amount of marbles in the jar as you did in that first year.
When you and I really think about it, this is true. When we first got married we were having sex every day, sometimes two or three times a day, if we were lucky (no pun intended!). Heck, if we worked close to home, our lunch break was spent doing the deed. But then slowly, that began to change. Maybe not after the first year, but by years three and four, a shift had occurred. We were no longer having all the sex we were in the first few years of our marriage!
Why? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Why did something that is such a powerful need and source of intimacy for men and women become such a lost art? And how did the woman who was once so into us suddenly become a human being we sleep next to every night, instead of with every night?
First off, let me be clear—this happens. There is not a married man on earth who hasn’t struggled with this at some point in his marriage. Even the man in your office with the so-called “perfect” marriage has had the well dry up on him from time to time. It happens to the best of us because that’s just life. When you first got married you were probably a combination of broke, on your own in a new city, at home a lot because you had no kids with lots of time on your hands. Of course you had sex. What else was there to do? Watch non-cable TV and eat Ramen noodles? Not exactly a life-sustaining model to live by. Plus you were still hung over on infatuation booze—you know what I’m talking about—that moth-to-the-flame feeling you had for one another all through your dating days and into the first year, or so, of your marriage?
Life changes quickly. You begin to have kids, you move to a new city and take a job with more demands. You learn to deal with each other’s idiosyncrasies. It’s a big adjustment. Time alone begins to decrease because that’s what happens when life takes over. We no longer spend quality time together, because we don’t have time and each night—we’re just lucky to make it into bed at a decent hour and nab six hours of sleep before it all begins again the next day.
But, there’s something else at play. Something we men need to be aware of and pay close attention to. I say this, because this is exactly what I’ve had to learn to pay closer attention to. There are reasons why our wives stop wanting to sleep with us, and it’s our responsibility to change them. These reasons relate to things that subtly begin to play in the background of our marriages. They are easy to overlook but end up becoming big problems down the road …
1. She’s an afterthought. I was having coffee with a good friend the other day when he confessed something to me: “My days are so slammed that I don’t have anything left thought-wise to give my wife and kids when I get home each day.” I completely understood where he was coming from. When I worked in an office where the demands were high and the pace was lightning-fast, my brain-power was sucked dry. There were so many days when my wife was … an afterthought. I felt like I had nothing to give. But the more I reflected on it, this was not inevitable but a choice I was making. And I had the power to choose differently.
2. Your affection is divvied up. Slowly, but surely, we start passing out our affection to lots of stuff over the years—our favorite sports team or hobby, golfing with our buddies on the weekend, fishing trips, projects at work, tinkering around in the garage or our home-office every night after the kids are in bed, writing (eh-hem), etc., etc. Before we know it, we’ve passed our affection out to so many other things, of less importance, that we have little to none left for our wives.
3. You’re not paying attention. Between our iPhones, our iPads, email at work, what’s going on on our Twitter feeds, or the video that so-and-so posted on Facebook, we just aren’t paying attention to her. Now that it’s March Madness, and baseball season is starting, our distraction-level is growing. Our attention starts going to ESPN.com or the sports ticker on our phones. She’s an afterthought because she’s not in our attention-scope any longer. Newsflash—women don’t want to give the most intimate physical connection known to mankind to someone who’s not even aware she’s around.
4. You’re cheating on her. I’m not talking about a sexual affair. Surprised? We always go to that place when the “A” word is used, but more times than not, we’re not cheating on our wives with other women. We’re cheating on them with work. We’re cheating on them with our hobbies. We’re cheating on them with our interests. We’re passing out our time, attention, affection, and energy to everything else besides the woman who promised to never leave our side. We’re choosing to cheat on her with all the stuff that has piqued our interest and captured our attention. There may be no other woman, but this still constitutes a betrayal.
5. You’re putting yourself first. If your wife is a stay-at-home mom, she works way harder than you ever will. And, she routinely enjoys a gourmet blend of oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly, dashed with some cold coffee, and a crusty finger printed iPad screen to boot. To add to this, her conversation outlets go back and forth from the dog to the two-year-old who constantly tugs on her pant leg. Her days are all-consuming. Yours are too, but you’re with adults. It’s easy to get home and keep your focus on what you need, instead of dialing in to what she needs. Even if your wife works outside of the home, she’s exhausted. And she probably does more than you do to run the home and manage the kids, unless of course you’re a stay-at-home dad. I’m not saying you’re not exhausted, too. What I’m saying is that you would receive a lot more physical intimacy if you put her needs at the top of your list when you arrived home each day!
Here’s the good news—unless you’ve passed the point of no return (meaning you’ve flipped the emotional breaker and your wife is completely detached from you after years of neglect), you can change the direction in which your marriage and sex life are headed. But it takes work. It’s not an overnight fix, or even a one-week or one-month fix. It takes time and space and commitment.
The most important thing you can do is intentionally guard thought-space, affection-space, attention-space, and servant-space in you, daily, that is only for the woman you love. Nothing, or no one else. This is a choice only you can make. You need to serve your wife a prime cut of each, not just your left-overs. The second most important thing you can do is do this consistently. You’re not going to be perfect, but you can be consistent. The way you mend your marriage, and create a better sex-life, is by choosing to do things differently, consistently, over time. Trust me. Things will change. She will notice.
Then, you will start sleeping with her, instead of next to her!