I really hope that you didn’t think this week’s blog would about how I don’t like sex anymore. I mean, do you even know me?? In the words of my late, great friend, Jim Smith, “[Sex] is THE MAD NOTES!”
He’s right for the most part. For me, sex has been such a weird recurring theme (for good and bad reasons). When I was young, I couldn’t wait to get married because I was so obsessed with sex. Growing up in my shared room with two other brothers who had similarly raging libidos, we kept swimsuit model photos on the walls, watched Cinemax when we weren’t supposed to, and made sex talk our dirty little secret.
At the same time, I also grew up in a very religious household where sex wasn’t really talked about except for, “It’s for marriage.” Youth group was all about “purity rings” and how being “a real man” meant respecting/preserving a woman’s purity (as a feminist, a little bit of me just died inside writing that).
In short, sex became very taboo--and therefore insanely desirable. This led to a variety of issues moving forward. Pornography, weird encounters during college, and worst of all: guilt. Serious, serious guilt that I still struggle with to this day. Sex is an amazing thing, but the guilt kinda ruins it for me.
But then I met a woman. A beautiful woman (both inside and out). She helped me to become a better person, we set really healthy boundaries for physical intimacy, and sex seemed like less of a stronghold in my life. We got married after a few years of dating and the first thing I thought was, “Ah snap! Jack gets to have all of this awesome, guilt free, married sex for the rest of his life! STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM NOW WE’RE HERE!”
And for a while, that was the case. Until it wasn’t.
Somehow, the sex naturally stagnated. It’s not like I didn’t want it, I feel like I always want it. But for whatever reason, it became obscured. We would go weeks without having sex until Annie would remind me: “Hey, do you think we’ll have sex tonight? It’s been like...a while. Is everything ok? Do you still desire me sexually?”
“What are you talking about? It couldn’t have been that long!” I would say.
And then we’d count the days and feel really embarrassed about it. She was right! I had let sex fall through the cracks, which floors me. Considering my background, it just didn’t make sense for me to let this slip.
As I began to be more intentional about this, it started to make sense why things were progressing in such a dull direction. I’ve identified 5 reasons why I put sex on the back-burner, and perhaps of a few of them resonate with you:
1. Work Stress
I have a love/hate relationship with work. I love making money, I love working with my students, I love the life I can afford because I’m gainfully employed. Something else of note: I have 4 jobs. Academic Advisor, Worship Leader, Life Insurance Sales, and occasionally I’ll drive Uber/Lyft so that Annie and I can go on fancy dates and vacations. I like my work life, but it does ZERO favors for my sex life. When I get home, I’m beat. I want to sit on my couch, watch an episode of The Office, and get to bed by 9pm. MLIA. And because all of my energy goes to work, there isn’t much left for sex.
2. Intimacy Kills Desire
I’ve actually written about this before, check it out here. A lot of times, unbridled intimacy can get in the way of a robust sex life. Mainly because intimacy and desire have objectives that are significantly antithetical to each other. Intimacy relies on security, mutuality, reciprocity, and a deep capacity for selflessness. While desire requires adventure, jealousy, mischief, and freedom through selfishness. The balance between intimacy and desire really should be at the forefront of any marriage.
3. Sexual History
As I said above, my history isn’t perfect. And while I’ve certainly worked as hard as I can to move on and forgive myself for the damage that’s been done, issues still exists with me that I have to be intentional about. Research at BYU has found that the more variety people have, the lower the sexual quality, communication, and relationship stability is during marriage. Possible reasons: The more relationships you’ve had, the easier it is to cut and run; skills like communication and compromise aren’t fully developed. My mind is getting bored because it’s been conditioned to think, “Jack, who’s next?”
4. Time and Priorities
Like I said above, my routine had stopped allowing for sex to really be in the picture. A mentor always told me that you know what a person cares about most by looking at their calendar. If it makes your calendar, you value it. I never thought that I’d need to make space for sex, I thought that somehow I’d always make time for it. Also, scheduling sex into my iCalendar just feels super weird and WHAT IF MY MOM SEES IT??
5. Relationship Turmoil
Quite often, resentment of your spouse can be the biggest killer of one’s libido. It’s definitely happened with Annie and me. Maybe there’s still a lingering bad energy from a previous fight, maybe you just haven’t forgiven your spouse for something, or whatever. I think that it’s so important to identify relationship turmoil and bad energy. It pays dividends in the long-run, plus make-up sex might be my favorite kind. #heyo
It’s weird, ya know? I’ve spent the first half of my life obsessing about sex and fumbling over a variety of different problems. Now I have zero obsession with sex and I’m still fumbling over a variety of different problems! Please God….when will be my time??
I’ll say this, though: sex is important, sex is a gift, and sex is something we should talk about more.
It’s important to prioritize sex in a marriage because sometimes words just aren’t enough. I overflow with love for my wife and when words fail me, our bodies say the rest. And when our bodies are silent, we set the rest of our marriage up for a serious intimacy dry spell. With sex, sometimes you just gotta fake it till you make it. Sometimes you have to put it in your iCalendar. Sometimes you need to call out your partner and say, “Yo! Do you still want me?” There’s nothing wrong with that. It just shows that you actually care, which is more than half the battle.
I also wish that we stopped viewing sex as this taboo thing and really treated it like more of a gift. It’s fun, it helps us truly connect with our partners, and it has the potential to bring life into this world (but hopefully only after college). When we treat it like this dirty, unspoken thing, we degrade the gift. Even worse, we cause serious problems for ourselves between the sheets. I wish that my parents gave me a more sex-positive explanation of sex. It would’ve made a huge difference for me. I wish that society in general were more sex-positive. There’d be less misogyny, sexual frustration, and unhappy marriages.
And of course, we need to start talking about sex more. Especially considering how fun it is to talk about! Whenever I bring up the topic with my friends, it starts off super awkward but then it normally turns into a really fruitful discussion. By talking about it, we understand it more. By understanding it more, we become more intentional. The more intentional we become, the better sexual experiences we’ll have. The better sexual experiences we have, the better our marriages become. It’s probably not that simple, but it’s a good place to start.
Ok, so now that I’m done writing this, I’m going to read this blog to my wife so that she can edit it and be proud of all of my hard work. Hopefully proud enough to have sex later. Wish me luck!
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Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.