It’s 10pm. The kids are finally asleep, hugged and watered and tucked in for the tenth time. The baby is asleep after a marathon nursing session. The house is mostly clean and you lay down in bed feeling wrung out. And when you feel a light touch on your arm, you glance wearily to your husband. And he’s got that look. And all you want to do is groan.
Has this ever happened to you?
We love our husbands. We desire them. But amazingly, there are times when we just don’t want to consummate that desire. We might not even want to cuddle. Three feet of personal space sounds like a dream after a long day.
Maybe you were at work all day, providing assistance to your clients and appeasing your boss. Maybe you’ve been at home, shuttling kids, wiping tears, and carting toddlers on your hip. You’ve been meeting the needs of those around you since dawn and all you want is a little time for yourself. Except your husband has other ideas.
It can be so easy to put him off, to offer up an excuse and settle into a book or watch some TV. He may even understand most of the time. But, of course, there will be other times when he’s annoyed and puts on a pout that would put your youngest to shame.
But are we doing a huge disservice to our spouses? To ourselves? To the health of our marriages?
After our third child was born, I noticed that I felt the need for space more and more. I offered cuddles to my children but dreaded hugs from anyone else. I craved time to work on a project solo or just quiet time to read. I can
remember so many times that my husband would tell me to put it away and come to bed. And I resisted.
I couldn’t understand what would make me feel this way when I truly loved being with my husband. I thought the hormonal fluctuations of three quick pregnancies had changed something. But after talking with other moms, I realized they dealt with this, too. They struggled with how to meet the needs of their spouses after spending the day meeting everyone else’s.
Men are so different from women. I know, duh. Where we are verbal, they’re physical. It’s why hearing I love you and getting a sweet card mean the world to us while giving them a foot massage after work and wearing something sexy does it for them. You might offer a hug when he gets home from work and he’ll sneak a tush squeeze. Guys don’t want sex because they’re horny animals or they don’t care about your day.
They want it because that’s how they say, “I love you, I want you, you’re the one for me.” And what girl doesn’t want to hear that. If only we spoke their language.
Like most women, I’ve read books and articles about marriage. I enjoy learning, especially about something I love- such as my husband. And what I’ve realized is that there is nothing wrong with my husband reaching for his wife at the end of long day. What’s wrong is my attitude about it.
Remember that he doesn’t know the day you’ve had. He’s been at work all day while you’ve been at your own job or with the kids. Even if you’ve told him about your day, he doesn’t really and truly know how it’s been.
He doesn’t know that your anxiety is high because of a review at work. Or that the exchange you had with your best friend left a bad taste in your mouth. Or that you’re worried your kindergartner isn’t being social enough and has no friends. He can’t know all that and you probably didn’t tell him because we tend to internalize and analyze things before dropping them into a sympathetic lap.
So cut him some slack. He’s not being insensitive. In fact, he may be trying to make your day better. After all, being with you makes his day better.
He’s looking at sex differently than you are. Don’t think about sex like one more thing on your to do list, one more responsibility. He’s not. He’s thinking it’ll relieve some stress, end a bad day on a good note, and give you both the love and affection you want and need.
Maybe your idea of relaxing falls more in line with laying on your stomach and doing absolutely nothing while receiving an amazing massage. Nothing wrong with that. But if that’s not on the table, enjoy what is. Besides, have you ever had an orgasm and thought, “Jeez, I wish that hadn’t happened!” No? Yeah, me neither.
Rejecting him in bed is like him rejecting your profession of love. Can you imagine if you said, “I love you,” to your husband and he responded with, “I’m just too tired for that right now?” Wouldn’t you be hurt? I know it sounds ridiculous, but if husbands show their love physically and we show it verbally, aren’t we doing exactly that? Turning him down once in a while is normal, but if you’re doing it regularly, how long will it be before he stops asking. He has his pride, after all.
If you love him, take care of him. Marriages are built not only on grand emotions like love, but on small sacrifices that express that love every single day. I’m not saying climb between the sheets like a martyr, not unless you want to kill something special for your both. But welcoming your husband’s affection shows him that you love him. Maybe you are tired, maybe you aren’t feeling it at that moment. But you love this man, his happiness is your happiness, and, I’ll point out one more time, you’ll enjoy yourself, too.
So much of our day is made or broken on our attitudes. When our attitude is self-serving or pitying, we look at everyone and everything as a drain on us. I know because I have felt like this often. But when we choose to be grateful for what we have, to find the silver lining in a tough situation, and take our joy where we can find it, we are rewarded with a better attitude and a better day.
The next time your husband wants you to put away your iPad for him, stop and look at him. Really look at him. This man loves you and wants to show it. Remember how much you love him and how glad you are that he’s sitting right there beside you, tonight and every night. Not everyone is so lucky. Appreciate what you have and listen closely when he says, “I love you.”
In his own language.
Have you ever felt too tired or overwhelmed to show affection to your husband? How have you dealt with it? Let me know in the comments!