HE’S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: too tired for sex

“… my lover is content with me…”

Song of Songs 7:10

Dear girls, 

Last week we unlocked the reality that for some of us at certain times, we no longer look forward to making love with our husbands.

Sex has lost its allure and all we want is to be left alone.

Not exactly the hot topic at bridal showers.

I listed three reasons I am hearing from women for not wanting sex:

1. Feeling disappointment with your husband’s lack of romance

2. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted

3. Feeling unattractive

There are other causes, of course, but these are the ones most of us will encounter at some stage of our lives. These are reality, life as it really happens.

And just like I told you last week, the solutions are simple… and oh so hard.

In your own strength, you’re doomed for failure, girls. But if you can learn to come to the real Lover of your soul to be filled over and over again by Him… He’ll spill all His great love over you with enough left over to splash passion all over your husband– whether he “deserves” it or not.

Today I want to talk about those times of your life when “you’re too tired, too busy, and your to-do list is too long” when you have “too many little ones touching you and taking from you all day and into the night.”

You know your husband has desires but you’re so busy meeting everyone else’s needs you just add them to the list of to-do’s that don’t get done.

Ah yes, the best years of a woman’s life… (sarcastic twinkle inserted here with a bit of a chuckle at the ridiculousness of those words!) It’s so easy to romanticize and reimagine what the reality of babies and toddlers is really like.

I had babies and toddlers and teenagers all at the same time. When Matthew was temper tantruming his way through grocery stores, I had adolescent daughters overdosing on hormones. Oh yeah, fun days. And I well remember the feeling that if one more person touched me I’d shatter into a million fragments.

My nest is now empty. It stays clean. I pop into the grocery store all by myself to pick up whatever I need without anyone crying or fussing or demanding or needing to go to the bathroom. I make one bed every morning and it stays made until I pull back the covers at night. No one wakes me up in the morning. No one interrupts my quiet time. No one leaves great gobs of toothpaste smeared over the counters and onto the towel.


But for many of you, I’m fully aware that you’re facing a different scenario. The thought of going to the grocery store alone shines right up there with 5-star resorts and white sand beaches. And the thought of one more person needing something, anything from you is enough to send you into your own tailspin of door-slamming temper tantrum.

Sex is the last thing you want before you fall into your unmade bed to snatch a few desperate hours of oblivion.

But, dear daughters of mine, I’m here to prescribe the most restorative, rejuvenating, and relaxing treatment possible for your exhaustion. Sex.

God made sex to be good for you.

As in really good.

As in if-I’d-known-how-much-I-needed-this-I’d-have-moved-mountains-to-make-it-happen kind of good for you.

Here’s what I mean:

When you give yourself to your husband fully and passionately, your body releases drugs into your system that make you feel good. Great, in fact.

Drugs like DOPAMINE, which feeds your brain with “feel good” effects. It is called the reward hormone, in that it immediately works to flood you with hope and out-going assertiveness. It is also responsible for those “feelings of falling in love” in both men and women.

Having sex with your husband will actually make you fall in love with him all over again… and he with you.

And then there’s SEROTONIN- the very thing sleep deprived mothers don’t ever have enough of. Guess what? A potent orgasm releases vast reserves of serotonin into your system, making you relax and leaving you feeling emotionally satisfied. Doctors call it the “happy hormone” because it has the same effect as anti-depressants.

Feeling kind of distant from your husband these days? OXYTOCIN is known as the cuddle chemical because it causes both men and women to want to be close and intimate. It is the same hormone released right after birth, that high that instantly bonds a mother to her baby. It is “the chemical basis for our capacity and longing for romantic attachment and causes feelings of love, tenderness and wellbeing.”

Seriously, girls, sex is good for you! And good for your marriage. God designed a woman’s body to thrive by giving her body to her husband passionately.

However… when a woman uses her body to steal illicit sexuality from a man, these are the same physical responses that leave her feeling used and betrayed and deeply scarred by what should have been and wasn’t. That is why God so adamantly warns us to wait for marriage. Girls, take heed!

So… drumrolls, how does a mother of babies and toddlers and teenagers summon up the energy to send those signals to her husband that yes, she does want him? How does she convince herself?

And that is exactly what I’m hoping you’ll help me with.

Moms- tell us, please! Talk to each other here by leaving comments and advice and ideas and what’s working for you now.

Older women, can you remember those days? Did you give up and regret it? Or did you figure something out and flourish?

Please, please, please pass on your wisdom here. Leave comments or send emails. If you’re aghast at the idea of talking about sex so publically then post anonymously.

Be tasteful, but be honest. I’ll compile your wisdom and pass it on. Together we’ll figure this out and do all we can to help marriages to thrive.

And next week I’m posting about what worked for me… one Secret Switch that worked like magic to transform me from mother to lover during those baby/toddler/teenager years.

I love you girls!

From my heart,



July 15, 2013
Charming, Features
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28 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Lacey


    I anxiously await your weekly post and just want you to know how much I appreciate your honesty and sharing what’s on your heart!!


  2. Steffi Webb

    When our son was little we lived away from family. Having a date night was just out of the question. When my hubby and I wanted, no needed, and evening, he would make sure our son got to bed on time. That made time for me to take a bath, light a candle, or just sit for a few. We forget how much more energy we can have when sitting quietly for fifteen minutes or so can happen. Our “date nights” became those times after our son was in bed. Yes, there needed to be a little planning, but not much. The two of us did this for years and have no regrets at all. For those ladies out there with little ones, you can still be creative in this area. And my last thought it this, talk with your husband. If he has stopped buying the flowers, tell him how much you might still need them. We kept talking, and in doing so, were able to figure out those much needed romantic evenings.

    • Steffi Webb

      Just a small addition. It is very easy to hear people say all the science and stuff behind having sex with your husband. That even if not in the mood, to just do it anyway. For me, that just feels empty. Linsey is right in that a lot of it starts in the brain and you need to think about it all day long. A woman should want to spend this time with her husband as the incredible gift that it is. It should not ever be a chore. That is where the talking come in.

      • Steffi, I so agree with you- TALK to him, tell him your heart’s cry, and then just love him right where he is. Thanks for your wise insights, dear friend.

      • anonymous

        I have to think about it too or I do not feel ready when the moment is right. For me appreciating my favorite pictures of him around my house helps me appreciate my husband. Usually they are of him doing cool things with our kids or of us when we were your younger. Also watching my wedding video helps me feel romantic toward my husband. Talking helps me also even if it is also an argument that we work through.

  3. Anon

    thank you so much for this Diane! I love being reminded of why God created sex, and isn’t it amazing how he created those chemicals within our bodies for our own benefit!
    Things we do (and we have four kids):
    -Day Sex. While two of our kids are down for their naps, we send the older two outside to play for a little bit.
    -We only have a couple nights a week together bc of my husband’s work
    schedule, so at nights we priortize. Sex first, then dishes or downtime. If you don’t have time for both, get rid of the tv or leave the dishes for tomorrow.
    -Keep in mind, it really doesn’t take that long 🙂 and usually, if you’re not in the mood when you start, you’ll be in the mood by the time you finish. Also, quickies are acceptable and only take a few minutes. Give your husband release, so he isn’t forced to look elsewhere.
    -If you’re still postpartum, there are other forms.
    -If you need help feeling sexy, wear lingerie.

  4. Linsey

    As a mom of a newborn and 3 year old it’s an interesting journey for sure! When I finally get both kids to sleep and realize I’ve got 5 hours of less of sleep ahead…every. minute. counts!! If I stay in this mindset…I will roll over say goodnight to my husband and wake up at 4am to feed the baby resenting the fact he gets to sleep and feeling like the overworked roommate…I’ve done this a time or two and I don’t like it. For me what works starts much earlier in the day…before I’ve been frustrated by work, discipline, nursing, potty training etc…it starts with remembering that I’m loved, blessed, and beautiful…then a text to my husband…I fun one..a sassy one…that gets my brain in the right place…then lighting a candle in the evening before he gets home or listening to music. Then the best part…simply asking for what you need. I know (GASP) talking about sex…it’s SO important!!! I ask for a simple back rub..and the rest is well you know;) wink wink

  5. Kim Kollie

    Diane, THANK YOU so much for Reinforcing the importance and priority of sex in a marriage. There is so much pain and distance created when advances for intimacy are rejected. I live by 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. ….. No withholding your body from each other without mutual consent. Lets agree together to love and respect each others bodies under the convenient of marriage . Besides, it’s a great way to burn calories.

  6. Megan L.

    I love this post. My daughter is 14 months old and finding time with my husband wasn’t as much of battle as it is now that we’re expecting our second. This pregnancy has brought with it all of the expected extra aches, pains, and nausea that didn’t seem so bad the first time around. You know, before there was a toddler in tow.
    I find myself playing somewhat of a mind game with myself. I have choices to make. I have to make the decision that pain and exhaustion are part of this season of life and Instead of letting it replace sex, it will just be an added part of life. The nausea is trickier. If I’m glued to the toilet I’m definitely not going to push my body to try to be sexy. So basically if I find an evening where I’m tired and sore but not sick, I’m going to put the vibe out :)….even though its not quite what I want, it’s always worth it!

  7. Mandy

    My husband has the libido of a 14 year old, if he had his way we truly would be doing it twice a day. So after a year of marriage I finally had to ask for a compromise and talk it out with him and he was so gracious. Now after 2 babies and 6 years of marriage love, respect and above all communication has made our love life flourish. We do it roughly every other day and to get myself in the mood when he isn’t helping I think about all the past times that were awesome and amazing and how much it blessed us. Thank you Diane for talking about this subject!

  8. Jodi Stilp

    SCHEDULE SEX! We make time for what is important to us. Moms with a passel of young kids do not have time for sex if they don’t make time for it. I’d write the initials “T.S.” on my calendar (Think Sex – idea stole from Intimate Issues, a book by Linda Dillows and Jody Pintus) on the days we were having a “date.” It helped me adjust my mind to be ready to be emotional and physically available to my husband. Somehow we managed to keep our intimacy thriving in those days of babies and sleepless nights and I know scheduling times for love making were the key.

    • Jodi Stilp

      Should have checked the author first. The authors of the book I referenced: Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women ask about Sex are Lorraine Pintus and Linda Dillow.

    • Beth Viducich

      This would be my thought too…. sex will not ‘just happen’…. our husbands are tired too, but if we say ‘YES’ and can remember what we were like ‘before life happened’, so many more positives happen afterwards. It sounds super unromantic, but planned times together are often the best. Another bit of wisdom an older lady told me… panty liners were not created for periods only… say ‘yes’ during the day too… everyone ‘napped’ on Sunday afternoons in our house. Enjoy!

  9. Tori

    Oh boy. This is a tough one for me. (Also, I imagine, for the single women who read the blog?! For real.) My son is 11 months old. Pregnant sex was basically work for which I did not get paid. Least enjoyable thing ever. All those hormones you are talking about? Yeah, they did not show up for me! Ha. But now, almost a year later, I think sex is as good as its ever been. But of course my husband works up to 75 hours a week, so the time part is still hard to manage.

  10. I concur with all of the above! I have the privilege of leading a ladies’ discussion group focused on a biblical view of sexuality, and one of the resources is No More Headaches. Dr. Juli Slattery does a great job of discussing different tactics for battling sexual fatigue, from sheer toddler-exhaustion to that ADD that can overtake a woman’s mind, even during sex (I’ve found myself thinking about my to-do list at the most inappropriate times).

    The biggest take-away for me is the idea that sexually, we are so complex, so ‘spaghetti’ in our make-up, that giving ourselves all day to think about our time with our husband gives us the ramp-up we need physically, emotionally, and spiritually to be available for our husbands. I’ve used that technique of texting my husband early in the day, too. It really works!

    The other great piece of wisdom is that sex really is a life-need for our husbands in a way that it isn’t for women. (And I believe that this disparity is a great protection for us, not a cruelty from God to be borne. Could you imagine the physical danger we would experience if we were so driven by sexual lust? God has built us perfectly.) My understanding that for my husband any sexual abstinence for more than a few days begets frustration, and that frustration is an ever-building pressure that God has uniquely gifted me to release. Praise God! He has given me such a precious key to my husband’s soul.

    But what really works best is seeing the positive effects on my husband, my marriage, and my relationship with God when I am faithful in this area of sex with my husband on a regular basis. Sometimes, I admit, I have to go in my bathroom, look myself in the eye, and let God remind me of the great gift sex is. This is a ladies’ column, correct? Sometimes I have to be very frank with myself, not self-flagellating, but very mindful and conscientious about this aspect of my marriage.

    God has given me all of the tools I need to build a strong tower of a marriage: a strong tower that is a refuge for my husband and family. A strong tower that protects and allows us to serve from a place of security.

    Thank you for this forum, Diane.

    You are a blessing!


    • diane

      Anne, This is just packed with wisdom! Thank you for taking the time to advise and encourage us.

  11. Linda

    First off, thank you so much for sharing your heart and wisdom in this blog. I have been so incredibly blessed and filled by it. I have told some of my friends about it and we absolutely love it!
    Well, I am a mom of 3. One is off and married, and the two I have at home are 15 year old twins, boy and girl. So, we are passed the tot stage 🙂 Even in this time, our house is pretty full with my mom staying with us and the kids having their friends over often. Pretty busy. Not a whole lot of privacy. Grateful nonetheless. For me, the mindset thing is key for me. Thinking of it early in the day and looking forward to it often works for me. Also, I talk to the Lord about it during the day, praying for protection over this time and for Him to bless our union. I often flirt with my husband through texting and spontaneous phone calls just to say hi… and to let him know that I’m waiting for him! Also, I have found that pampering myself with a hot bath and some of my favorite lotions help me to feel attractive and alluring for him. Like I said, our house is still full, so… if the kids are up late, we have made our big bathroom a sweet retreat for us. Pillows, candles, blankets… whatever else we need. Kinda funny I know.. but we NEED this time together. I feel sooo much closer to my husband after we have shared this time together. So, whatever it takes, we try our best to make it happen. God has brought us to a good place of understanding “scheduling” sex as well as being spontaneous with our times together. Love the freedom we now share because we have shared our thoughts and talked about sex, what we like and what we need. Most important for me though, to be intimate and vulnerable with my husband like this, I desperately need my time with the Lover of my soul, sweet sweet Jesus. He loves me perfectly. Hope this helps in some way 🙂

    • diane

      I love this! Flirting, texting, locking yourselves in the bathroom- and of course the bath… that’s my secret too- amazing therapy! Thank you for taking the time to tell us about real life and real love.

  12. Anonymous

    You’ve said it again… Especially the part about waiting for marriage because of the bad emotional aftermath!
    I just wanted to tell you how blessed I’ve been by your blog and these lessons. I meet guys who want to date me a lot. Since Ive committed to waiting for marriage, the anxiety & insecurity and pressure I put on myself to look cute, be coy, not give into my hormones too soon, wondering if I made a HUGE mistake, knowing I made a huge mistake … All gone. I can enjoy myself, the men, and if/when we part ways I appreciate the experience because I am so thankful to know that I avoided a rabbit-hole of associated drama & that Im one frog closer the the Prince:)
    Thanks for writing!

    • Thank you so much for leaving this comment. Your story validates everything I believe about our responsibility to keep ourselves pure- for the sake of our sexual satisfaction when the time is right.

  13. Jenny

    Man, this is a tough one for me to read. Several years ago, prior to meeting my now-husband, I was in an unhealthy relationship where the man I dated made me feel awful if I did not have sex with him. He guilt-tripped me, coerced me, brought me “just one more drink” to loosen me up… I was very clear with him that I did not want our relationship to be a sexual one. And he’d say that was fine. But then it wouldn’t be, and either I gave into the ever-present temptation or I had a very angry, bitter man to deal with. He made me feel so badly for not making love to him- in his mind, this was a normal thing to want, and I was a bad, selfish, unreasonable person for not loving him the way he wanted and needed.

    Obviously, this man was not following Jesus, even though he kept saying he wanted to, and clearly, I should not have been in the relationship.

    Now, I am married to a man who daily humbles himself at the cross, a man who loves me unselfishly and passionately, a man who never once makes me feel like I need to be sexually available whenever he desires. He knows my past, and we are quite open about the problems it still triggers.

    All this to say, it is so difficult for me to read advice that even if I’m not in the mood, I should do what I can to get myself in the mood so I can be sexually available for my husband. I can’t tell you what a pang that creates deep in my soul- really? is this really no different from that unhealthy relationship years ago? is my job really to just open up every day, every other day, so that my husband’s needs are met, so that he can flourish? Because that sounds eerily familiar to the lines I was fed several years ago. Please tell me I didn’t repent of past sins and experience God’s gracious forgiveness only to find myself back where I started- where sex is expected of me because that’s how men need to be loved. When I hear that, I feel like a cheap, worthless, ravaged vessel with no value other than sex.

    Despite the despair of my words (and the tears that came while unleashing what’s deep in my soul), God is gracious and faithful, and we continue to work and talk through all this, with close peers, elders, and a counselor. Satan is the master of lies, and he is desperate to (again) rob me of what I know to be God’s desire for intimacy. I find it so difficult to trust God in this area, because it has so deeply impacted my core, but little by little, despite Satan’s best efforts, my husband and I are reclaiming what God intends for our marriage. It is so, so hard, and I cry a lot, but God is faithful and He is walking with me through the healing of my past. I praise Him both for how much better it is now and how much better it will continue to be.

    • Andrea

      May I say something here? I say this with the utmost sensitivity because your pain in this is palpable and I would not want to ponk that place further. Having said that, I cannot help but hear bitterness in places of pain. The context of giving and availability that Diane speaks of is Scriptural and is without the perspective of having been taken advantage of or used by a man who did not have a right relationship with Jesus. I cannot help but think that, in looking through this post with those glasses as a history, it would be easy to read into it much cynicism and hostility. The reality is as you say, that God desires to bring healing and wholeness to the broken and tender places. That having been said, I think what has been shared is an important difference between men and women, and it has application as it relates to our lives in a marriage relationship. As a fellow reader it did not seem out of place or insensitive, but rather helps to understand a perspective not innately ours. That it elicits the flinch response that you shared seems more an indication of what is still present than it does of impropriety in the article. The truth is that we all have tender areas, places where the Lord desires to pour out His grace and healing if we are willing to yield them to Him. That can be a scary thing and indeed, is an act of big faith. In the body, there are wounds that are so deep that sometimes, they must be healed from the inside out, layer by layer, rather than be sutured closed from the skin level. It can take some time for complete closure. So too, I have found, with some matters of the heart. Praying for you, sister.

      • Jenny

        Thank you, Andrea, for your sensitive and thoughtful response. I agree that my words came from my place of hurt rather than impropriety in the article. I appreciate your gentle but honest assessment.

        And thank you, Diane, for allowing me to process life via the comments section of your blog. I’m grateful that my messy past is not excluded from these conversations.

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