Today is our second guest post by friend and fellow blogger, Scott Means. He and his wife Jenni host the Journey To Surrender blog. We love their honest approach to dealing with common issues all marriages face. What is uncommon is the tenacity with which they fight the various struggles they’ve encountered. Married for 30 years this month, we pray their story will greatly encourage and equip you in your sex life with your spouse.
The Lazy Lover Syndrome
At some point or another all marriages hit the sexual doldrums; those seasons when sex becomes routine, slips down on your priority list or maybe drops off your radar altogether. It can happen after a baby is born, during illness or whenever life just gets crazy. We’ve had several of those seasons in our 30 years of marriage. In fact, we had one just recently.
A toxic combination of significant stress, physical issues, age-related challenges and an insanely busy schedule recently added up to put our sex life in a gradual downward spiral.
Maybe you’ve been there? Maybe you are there?
My wife, Jenni, and I were both unhappy with the situation and both felt responsible, but neither of us knew quite what to do about it. We were stuck in a rut where frequency was down and passion was waning.
To my dismay, after some serious reflection on state of our sexual intimacy, I discovered that I had become a lazy lover. I had succumbed to what I’ll call the lazy lover syndrome; I knew things weren’t how they should be, yet I had stopped trying to make them better. I had gotten lazy.
Being a lazy lover meant that I had settled for less frequent encounters than had been our usual norm. I had backed off from initiating and pursuing. I put almost no effort in being creative and imaginative, which was something that I’d always prided myself on. I accepted lower intensity and passion levels in our lovemaking.
Case in point: During this recent lull in our love life, we were away together on a ministry trip that included an overnight stay in a hotel. Typically for us, any night that includes a number on the door is an automatic invitation to passion. Exhausted and distracted, we passed a few hours resting in the room during the afternoon. Jenni, who had been hopeful for an encounter but held back from initiating, pointed out the missed opportunity. Truthfully, the thought hadn’t even occurred to me. Yes, it was that bad.
As hard as all this is to admit, it’s all sadly true. I was being a lazy lover, and it was clearly hurting our relationship. We were doing pretty well in other areas of intimacy, but the deficit in the sexual arena kept a cap on how close we could really be. Genuine intimacy in marriage requires intimacy in all areas: spiritual, emotional and physical.
The first thing Jenni and I realized is that we needed to be more attentive to our sex life. We had allowed circumstances to run roughshod over our priorities, to drain our energy and to divert our attention from one another.
On a practical level, we knew we had to be more deliberate about a few things:
- Get more sleep – we were exhausted and physically drained, with not much left to give each other.
- Be more careful with scheduling – we used to be pretty diligent about sitting together and looking at our schedules with the intention of keeping from getting overcommitted.
- Make sex a priority – we had allowed sexual intimacy to take a back seat to almost everything else. Sleep and schedules were part of the trouble, but I also realized that I sometimes needed to stop writing about marriage and start doing marriage. Sometimes, it even meant being willing give up a little sleep rather than do without sex.
- Work on the issues – we encountered some age-related arousal and lubrication difficulties that needed to be addressed a bit more intentionally. Part of the solution was for us to take more time during our intimate encounters. It also meant engaging Jenni to help come up with some helpful suggestions.
- Unplug – I posted recently on another blog about our realization that we were missing many opportunities to connect because our hands and eyes were engaged with our cell phones instead of each other. (You may want to read that post, entitled “Are You Missing Your Marriage,” on the Hope at Home Blog.)
Even if you aren’t currently suffering from the lazy lover syndrome, it is a good idea to take a few precautions to keep your relationship from becoming afflicted with this dreaded disease.
- Evaluate – the first preventive measure is to be watchful over your physical intimacy. That means paying attention to what is or is not happening in your bedroom. Take your sexual temperature once in a while by noting the frequency and passion level of your intimate encounters. Even if you think everything is okay, check with your spouse.
- Innovate – routine can be safe and comfortable, but routine is not necessarily a formula for passion. It pays to mix things up a little. Try a different location, throw in a new position once in a while, take turns being in control with an “as you wish” night, or exchange a few flirtatious text or emails. Do something different.
- Communicate – it’s not always easy to talk about sex with your spouse, perhaps not with anyone, but it is critically important if you are going to keeping things on track. Talk about your expectations for frequency. Talk about new ideas you might want to try out. Talk about your level of satisfaction with where you are. Caution: sex is a very sensitive topic for most people, so never be demanding, demeaning or critical. Speak honestly, but with lots of grace. Another tip: touch while you talk (hold hands, snuggle close). It can help diffuse negative emotions. If talking is too difficult, trying writing a letter or email. Our recent rebound began with an email I wrote to Jenni while I was on a trip.
- Don’t Medicate – when life gets difficult, painful or stressful, we all have a tendency to medicate our souls against the negative feelings. The problem is that we can’t selectively numb specific feelings. Whether your anesthesia is food, work, alcohol, pornography, television, video games or shopping, it will only serve to distract you from the things that can actually make your life and your marriage better; like having great sex.
The good news is that all challenges can be overcome with patience, focus and prayer (yes, it’s okay to pray for great sex). Getting creative about the issues you face can actually lead to finding new territories of excitement and can energize your sex life dramatically. I know that as a result of coming out of our doldrums, we are experiencing a new “honeymoon” phase – just in time to celebrate 30 years of marriage this month!