As a mom of four and practicing mental health therapist, I am in a season of life where I hit my emotional and physical touch quota by 10:30 a.m. By the time my husband gets home from work in the evening, all I want to do is read a book, take a long bath, and eat a Twix candy bar while hiding under my bed covers so my little boogers don’t smell the chocolate! (You know what I’m talking about!) You can imagine that sex and intimacy would not be on my agenda on those days!
And intimacy is infinitely more than just sex. It is the act of deepening the bond with your spouse on a physical, chemical, psychological, and spiritual level. I envision not having intimacy in a marriage is like walking through a desert with a glass of water always out of reach. But even knowing this, I feel that in the beautiful chaos that is raising kids I’ve become desensitized to my own need for intimacy!
My husband and I together see a mentor to bring wisdom, healing, and energy into our marriage and parenting. I love his 4 suggestions for how to get your marriage intimacy back on track.
1. Power of Communication
Intentionally communicate daily to talk about our days, our feelings, our disappointments, even if only for 10 minutes. We feel connected and renewed in our relationship when we feel heard and loved. This creates intimacy without sex, a necessary interaction in a healthy marriage. And if you need ideas for what to talk about, try our Marriage TALK Conversation Starters.
2. Clue Him In
If your husband never knows whether you’re “in the mood,” give him big clues that it’s ok to initiate. This is important for both spouses to dialogue before putting into practice, instead of just assuming the other will understand the clues. For example, I gave my husband what I thought was the obvious “wink wink” only for him to be oblivious until the kids asked if there was something wrong with my face!
3. Consider establishing frequency expectations
Another suggestion was to discuss with your spouse a frequency expectation for sex. If both spouses know that sex and intimacy will happen within a certain time period, it allows the anxiety and frustration to dissipate; as well as allowing sex to be more about the mood than fitting it into the schedule.
And as I believe each relationship is unique and needs its own creative additions, here’s what I added to our mentor’s suggestions:
4. Grace for past behaviors
Talking about past behaviors related to our intimacy or lack of. I am more patient and forgiving when I understand the root behind a behavior, and I know my husband is the same way. So explaining my feelings or giving him examples of previous mistakes we’ve both made helps him to make successful and confident choices in initiating intimacy moving forward.
My goal in practicing these suggestions is to not only create a sense of security for my husband in approaching me for intimacy but for me to be reminded that marriage can be a place of refreshment when life is chaotic!
So my new plan the next time I have a long day with the kids and work: He and I can both hide under the sheets and share my Twix candy bar!
Let’s Talk: How is chaos interrupting intimacy in your marriage? Which suggestion will you try to regain your connection?
Paige Clingenpeel is a licensed teen therapist and has worked on TV, radio, and web-based media. Her passion is creating health, hope, and humor for youth and their families.