Q&A: What if I Don’t Feel “In the Mood?”
Q: I would like to see practical tips for how to make it a priority and how to feel ‘in the mood’ when I am so tired…
A: Well, since you asked a straight question, I’m going to give you a straight answer.
I think waiting and hoping to feel “in the mood” may be part of the problem.
I have a few thoughts on this–
#1- Help your husband know how to “help” you be in the mood… for example, if you’re distracted by dishes, invite him to help you… “Hey, if we get these knocked out together, we’ll get to bed sooner with me less tired.” Or, “it’s hard for me to relax at the end of a long day; would you mind rubbing my shoulders for a bit?” Or, “if you’ll get the kids to bed, I’ll hop in & take a hot bath & be ready to go (wink/smile) once we’re both finished.” Etc.
It’s OK to ASK for things that will help you connect with him.
#2- Decide in advance that you’re going to expect it to happen. Some friends have shared that it helps them to go to bed each night with the expectation that something will happen. I think that’s a good attitude. I’ve found it personally helpful as well. Unless one of us is sick, it helps when I mentally expect that we will (more often than not) be together. It doesn’t always *happen* with that regularity, but I expect it and then am almost never caught off guard.
#3- Mentally set your attitude toward–
- a desire to be affectionate & connect with your husband at all times
- gratitude that your husband desires you
- the truth that your body belongs to him
- a willingness to be amenable to his desires
- the same feeling you would want him to have toward you (serving you in love and with genuine heartfelt affection) if there’s something you desired from him.
And then decide in advance that you will act in line with those truths.
I’ll never forget when I first heard Carolyn Mahaney teach about being amenable. In her wonderful teachings on Titus 2, she encouraged wives that one way to love our husbands is to be amenable. Being willing to go along with their ideas is one of the ways that we defer and show kindness. Not because of some twisted creeped-out idea of being a doormat, or a pushover, but because we LOVE them and want to show them kindness and preference and tender affection for them.
From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Simple Definition of amenable
willing to agree or to accept something that is wanted or asked for
willing, disposed, fain, game, glad, inclined, minded, ready
And this idea of amenability applies to physical intimacy as well as what to make for dinner, or how to drive to the park. Most of us, I think, can work at being more amenable than we currently are.
Even when you don’t physically feel the bells and whistles going off (which, truth be told, I think few of us do when things BEGIN), choose to act in line with those truths. For many (most? nearly all?) women, we’ll find that our physical bodies can warm up to being “in the mood” if our hearts and minds are set toward loving affection.
#4- If physical response is an issue for you, I’d be glad to e-mail more specifically with you about that challenge.
Or you might benefit from these helpful books on the topic:
- Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex
- Intended for Pleasure: Sex Techniques & Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage
- A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy
- Intimacy Ignited: Discover the Fun & Freedom of God-Centered Sex
I’ve found each of the previous books to be helpful in regard to discussing and understanding practical, physical processes as well as other dimensions of sexual experience– how past sin/abuse/hurts affect our experiences, how we can relate to one another and minister through the sexual relationship, etc.
#5- For couples who are in a “rut” or for whom the wife never experiences climax/physical sexual fulfillment, I’d encourage a few things:
- If there is any past sexual sin, molestation, or rape, I would strongly encourage BIBLICAL COUNSELING. Yes, there’s a reason I said biblical counseling (ACBC or CCEF are great places to start), rather than Christian counseling, or just counseling. Sharing from my own personal experience, there really are ways to work through the shame and hurts that come from sexual sins against us, and sexual sins we’ve committed. It is possible to come to a place where you can not only “survive” the sexual relationship but truly enter in to the physical relationship with delight and heartfelt joy, without an ever-present sense of guilt, shame, fear, humiliation, or bitterness. Let me encourage you, if you have ongoing issues in one or more of these issues, to take time to deal with the baggage. There is no shame in counseling. In fact, going to biblical counseling may be the first step in letting go of your shame.
- Perhaps things need to be purposefully SLOWED DOWN. The saying “men are a microwave; women are a crock pot” can apply here… sometimes the relationship settles into a rut of “quickies” and times when the wife is not “into it” and it becomes “dull.” Instead, by taking more time for a shoulder rub, conversation beforehand, spending time (as perhaps happened more frequently in the early days) kissing, snuggling, hugging, all the foreplay activities that help us women “warm up,” we can often find that we get “into it” much more easily than we thought possible. Make room for your sexual relationship by allowing plenty of time, without the pressure, to be together.
- Finally, I’d encourage you to take time to EXPLORE & FIND WHAT IS PLEASURABLE. For couples where the wife has never experienced sexual climax, purposefully set aside a time (weeks/months/a year?) to thoughtfully explore what physical sensations are pleasurable to the wife, and even potentially use physical/sexual toys/tools to further that process. Some couples too quickly believe that “she can’t have an orgasm” or she can believe, “sex just isn’t pleasurable for me”… where, in actuality, with some combination of counseling & physical exploration, she might find her way to enjoy physical pleasure (and even experience orgasms) over time. Sometimes just the act of giving up on the search makes this entire aspect of the relationship feel “rote” and dull for the wife who then is resigned to a physical relationship with no prospect of enjoyment for her. It doesn’t have to be that way, and with some work and input, there could be much enjoyment ahead!
#6- One final, practical thought: Take naps! It’s so easy to use nap time to “get stuff done” because the baby is finally sleeping, or whatever, but it’s worth it to prioritize this part of our relationship so that we can connect with our husbands over the long-haul.
(I would also let him know this is what you’re doing. “Hey darlin, just want you to know; I’ve been a sleepyhead lately, but I’m gonna start taking naps on Tuesdays and Thursdays so we can make love on those nights.” He’ll be thankful for those times, and for your desire to make HIM a priority in your heart & day.
#7- Actually. One more. Talk with him about this. Openly.
“Hey. I’m overwhelmed with the new baby… or since we started homeschooling… or with the increased laundry load since adding a third baby… or with all these hormones from menopause… and I just want you to know, that mentally, it’s difficult for me to make “space” for sexual stuff when I’m thinking about curriculum, or know the laundry pile is staring me down, or whatever… but I want this to be a priority.
So, could you help me by not making me feel guilty about the laundry pile… or by hearing me out about the math curriculum dilemma I can’t make up my mind about? (Or whatever?) ”
For my part, Doug & I have found that if I’m mentally preoccupied with something, I find it extremely difficult to set that stuff aside for intimacy. But with anywhere from 5-30 minutes of conversation beforehand, we can connect sexually without me experiencing NEAR as many mental “distractions.” Actually, that mental “braindumping” can happen at any point in the day (not just “right before” sex), but it often does need to happen in one way or another before we spend that sort of intimate time together.
So for us- a huge part of getting sexually in-tune with one another was figuring out that I often need that time for a mental brain dump, so I feel that soul-connection before intimacy.
If your “thing” is that the dishes haven’t been done, or that the 13-year-old won’t stop sassing you and you’re discouraged, or that you aren’t sure what to do about the 3-year-old’s new variety of tantrums, talking honestly about those things with your husband, listening to his suggestions, or even just “being heard” may be a key part of connecting with him and helping him understand the mental/physical “hurdles” you’re facing down as you seek to connect with him intimately.
OK, there’s my brain dump on that.
IN THE COMMENTS: What’s YOUR advice to a gal who wants to feel “in the mood?”
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