Last updated: September 19. 2013 7:36PM - 556 Views
JULIE SIBERT McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Until recently, my calendar had been taken hostage by our son’s baseball schedule.

Baseball is over, but football is champing at the bit to set up camp on all those empty calendar spaces baseball has left behind.

Can you relate?

With children’s activities and other demands, do you ever feel like your life is running you way more than you are running your life?

I get that. In many regards, I think no other aspect of our life suffers more in this chaotic dynamic than our marriage.

We always believe there is more time “down the road” or “around the bend” or “when the kids are raised.”

Sadly, many married folk arrive at those future rest stops, only to discover they don’t have much of a marriage left. They’ve emptied themselves into every other endeavor — parenting, work, ministry, elder care — only to find their marriage has been damaged or destroyed in the wake.

One of the more common aspects of marriage that is put on the back burner is sexual intimacy.

I often hear from people who talk about weeks, months and even years passing with little or no sex in their marriage. One or both spouses rarely says “yes” to sex. “Yes” has become the exception, rather than the steadfast rule.

I know there are many ways to strengthen marriage, but I write about sex in marriage, so I have a heart for speaking hope into that particular aspect of intimacy.

If “yes” to sex is your exception, not your rule, consider this…

Doing well in everything else is pale satisfaction if your marriage is in shambles.

I have talked to enough women to know that sometimes their internal dialogue goes something like this:

“I’m a really good mom. That’s enough. I know I should make time with my husband a greater priority, but these kids need me more right now.”

To be fair to wives, I know that sometimes it is the husband who is denying sex and not making the marriage a priority. His internal dialogue may go something like this:

“I want to be a good provider. I have to put in the extra time at work so I can take care of this family. I’m out of energy at the end of the day, but at least I’ve provided well for my kids.”

Each marriage is unique, so I don’t know what dialogue is ringing in your ears and heart. And I don’t have easy answers as to how to tame the schedule in your marriage. (Honestly, I don’t think there are easy answers or otherwise more people would do it).

But, I do know that by carving out that time for your marriage, including sex, you actually are better equipped to walk in all your other roles.

Sure, the old saying is “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I think a better truth is, “If mama and daddy aren’t happy and healthy, no one else is going to be either.” (Yeah, not as catchy, but you get the point).

It takes effort to make sex a safe and nurtured place in your marriage. If it is far from being that, humbly look at why.

Are there big issues with which you have not dealt, whether it is past sexual abuse or promiscuity from prior to your marriage or struggles with pornography? Were you always told sex was dirty or wrong or just your duty? Do you struggle with experiencing pleasure and being uninhibited in bed with your spouse?

If saying “yes” to sex is your exception, not your rule, figure out why and resolve to bring about healthy change in your marriage. There are countless couples who have moved sex up the priority scale and been pleasantly surprised at the profound effect it has had not just on their marriage, but on their overall outlook in life.

You can get there!

You’ll have to say “no” to other things in order to have more time and energy to make “yes” to sex your rule. Initially, this will feel uncomfortable. It may even ruffle a few feathers as those around you get used to you setting healthier boundaries.

Remember this, though: Saying “no” more frequently to all those extra activities does not mean you are saying “no” all the time. You’re not saying you will never volunteer for ministry or your kids’ classroom parties; you’ll just not commit as often. You’re not saying you’ll never drive your kid to practice or help out with elder care demands; you’ll simply find creative ways to share those responsibilities with others.

Honestly, I think you will discover that setting realistic boundaries won’t have quite the negative impact on others as you think it will. It is humbling and refreshing all at the same time to realize we aren’t quite as indispensable as we would like to believe.

Making sexual intimacy a greater priority endears us to our spouse and fosters healthy attitudes about sex in our home and family. I’ve long believed there is no sweeter form of godly worship in a marriage than to savor and nurture authentic sexual intimacy with the person we married.

So, how about you? What will it take for “yes” to sex to become your rule, rather than your exception?

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