How Not to Think About Sex


Sex is for you, too!

I was doing it all wrong, I realized yesterday on my drive home.

It took me years to figure out how to think about sex.

Early in our marriage, I thought of sex as a thing I was still trying to figure out how to do, a reminder of my failure as a woman. In my mind, it was still a thing to conquer. Even once I figured that out, though, I wasn’t thinking right.

When my kids were in the “I always have so much to do and never enough time, and my body and mind just can’t keep up with them, not to mention my marriage or my job” season of my life, I thought about sex as something on my to-do list, something I needed to get out of the way so I could move on to the other things I really needed to do. It was something that needed to be done because my husband wanted it.

At some point, my husband began to express discontent with our sex life. We both thought I had a low libido, because I was just never interested. I tried to pick up some pointers from magazines—Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, and Cosmo. I would read tips like “dress in underwear that makes you feel sexy” and “try to think about sex throughout the day.”

I immediately dismissed the sexy underwear tip. There was nothing that made me feel sexy in my mama body. Besides that, underwear would show too much of features I didn’t like, and even basic boring white bras were a strain on the budget. Body image got in the way of sexy underwear.

But thinking about sex? I was pretty sure I could do that. So I gave it a try, off and on, for years. My husband would point out that he felt less important to me than the kids. He was right; he was. So thinking about sex would help me remember what he wanted and that he was supposed to be a higher priority.

The To-Do List

I would be in the shower in the morning, thinking about what I was going to wear for the day and what I needed to do when I got home from work. The list would go through my head: do dishes, fill out forms for kids’ school, look at topic for Bible study, make grocery list, and have sex. There, I thought about it. While I was at work, I would inevitably be asked by a colleague what I was doing that evening. I would typically respond with, “The usual—laundry, cook dinner, grade papers, make lunches for tomorrow . . . ” and I would mentally add have sex. On my drive home, as I was decompressing from my work day and gearing up for my work at home, I would make a point to remember to think about the fact that I would be having sex that night.

Much to my surprise, it didn’t work. My husband was still unhappy about our sex life, and I was unhappy with our “discussions” about our sex life—so I was willing to do something to make it better, as long as it was something that could fit into my life. My husband would ask me, “Did you think about sex today?” I had, but it didn’t make me look forward to sex. It didn’t help me enjoy it any more. It didn’t improve sex for my husband, either, since he knew that he was an item on my to-do list that I was checking off. Even when I ended up enjoying it, sex was a chore for me. Thinking about sex just reminded me of one more thing I needed to get done before I could go to bed and get some sleep. Why didn’t it do what the magazines had said it would do?

By the time our kids got older and my sleep needs had changed, we had laid down patterns in our marriage. Sex was something my husband didn’t have enough of and that I didn’t often feel like giving. But every now and then, I would try to think about sex throughout the day—and wonder why it never, ever made me look forward to sex like it was supposed to.

Sex Is for Me, Too

Yesterday, I figured it out. Our marriage bed has seen an upswing in activity (at my request—go figure), so I knew it was pretty likely that something sexual would be happening last night.

This week has brought a lot of stress at work. Yesterday as I tried to get some work done at my desk, my mind kept drifting to my husband. I was thinking about how much I looked forward to the comfort of his arms.

On my drive home, I found myself thinking about sex. I thought about what I could be wearing that would make my husband’s eyes glow. I imagined how he would respond. I thought about what I might ask him to do for me to both relax me and build me up to a sexual release. I smiled and squirmed in my car all the way home, anxious for us to be together.

It occurred to me that I was thinking about sex and that it was helping me build anticipation. Why is it working now when it didn’t work before? I wondered.

The difference is this: I had learned that sex was for me just as much as it was for my husband. In the past, I would be thinking about his interest in sex, wondering what activities he would want, and being able to cross him off my list of things to do. In the past, sex wasn’t for me at all. Even when I began my journey of change, I was improving the quantity and quality of sex—to make my husband happy. Eventually, I got to a point where I was making the changes because I understood that sex was good not just for my husband, but for our marriage.

Now, I have finally come to embrace the knowledge that my sexuality (and my husband’s) is for me, too! God created me with a sexual body. He gave me skin that shivers when it is caressed. He gave me a clitoris that is filled with glorious nerve endings that serve no purpose other than my physical pleasure. He gave my husband various body parts that can be used to help me experience pleasure, just as my body can do the same for him.

Accepting God’s Gift

The very act that defines marriage is the thing that makes us one flesh. When my husband and I are one flesh—physically, sexually, emotionally, and physically—as we both fully participate in sexual activity with each other, I feel more whole than at any other time in my life.

It is easy for women to let things interfere with fully embracing our sexual selves. We have baggage from past relationships. We have body image issues. We struggle with sexual pleasure or experience pain so we learn to avoid sex. We are products of teaching from church or parents that say “good girls don’t” but never the teaching that should say “good wives do.” We see the world’s sex-drenched approach to life, and in an attempt to not be of the world, we avoid our sexual selves. We were sexual outside of marriage and felt impure and ungodly so try to do everything differently once we are married. We fear letting go sexually because we aren’t able to fully trust.

So much gets in the way of us seeing ourselves as sexual creations of God, but that is exactly what we are. God created us as sexual beings, and it wasn’t so we could just pack it away in the back of the closet and pull it out when chores are done or on special occasions. Our sexuality is part of who we are all the time, just like we never stop being human or stop being women or stop being who we are. It is God’s desire that we fully unleash this aspect of who we are with our husbands. Sex brings great pleasure to each of us, and the act of sharing that pleasure is a glue that bonds us closer together in our marriages.

All those years that I saw sex as something primarily for my husband, I was rejecting one of God’s great gifts to me. I was thinking about sex all wrong. I’ve now learned to see my sexuality as part of who God created me to be. Finally, I got it right.

And it is very, very good.

Sex is for you, too!

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15 Comments on “How Not to Think About Sex”

  1. This is still a struggle for me at times. For many years I felt as if our sex life had nothing or little to do with me. It’s easy to fall back into that thinking if I’m not careful. Thanks for another powerful post.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Gaye. Unfortunately, my years of refusal and gate-keeping had also taught my husband that our sex life was for him rather than me. His own growth past this view has helped me learn better, too.

  2. Several years of painful sex at the beginning of our marriage really cemented this type of thinking- that it’s part of “husband maintenance”.. and even on good days, that feeling of it not being for me too sneaks in the back door and sets itself right up in my kitchen. Thanks for this article- describes so perfectly the problem- once making love stopped being painful, then I had to retrain my brain too.
    How would you say your husband has grown past this view? Because we have a lot of that- it was just for him, no doubt, for a long while. Not in a selfish piggish way, but in a way that says “I have a need and you can take care of it” rather than “Lets enjoy each other”

    1. My husband has grown in this area partly because I have called him on it when he says something that implies or states that sex is for him. I’ll say something like, “This isn’t your sex life. It’s our sex life. I didn’t realize that for a lot of years, but I realize it now.” I haven’t always been good about being direct about things with him, but I am working intentionally on that.

      Whenever I find myself starting to get sucked into the “it’s what I deserve for how I treated him” script in my head, I make a point of looking at whether it’s about his sex life vs. our sex life.

      It’s been a while since he’s made any of these comments, though, and that has freed me to work on being able to be more direct about what I would like or need.

      As I think about it, I also remember that when he would ask for something, I would try to make a request for something, too–to help us both retrain our minds to know that sex was for both of us.

  3. I agree with this. As a reformed sexual refuser myself, I definitely thought of sex as something that was more of a duty than something enjoyable. Like I’m “gifting” my husband by doing it. And I love how you “thought” about sex. Like, yep. Sex tonight. Done. What a difference when you actually think about it “in detail”! They should put -that- in all of those magazines!

  4. I struggle with this too. Nothing really works for me, so it’s inevitable that it ends up being mostly for him. He tries, but we can spend an hour on foreplay and not get anywhere, and then decide we’re too tired to try any longer, so it just fizzles. You say things like “[God] gave me skin that shivers when it is caressed.” But this doesn’t happen to me. It’s pleasant to be touched (hugs are great too), but it’s rarely exciting or arousing for more than a moment.

    1. It wasn’t always shivery for me. Even if you get just sporadic moments of pleasantness or arousal, close your eyes and embrace those feelings. Use your sexual time together to give and receive hugs. Sometimes, even great foreplay isn’t enough to do it for me, so I try to just enjoy the sensations I do feel. Hang in there, Reiko. You’re on my prayer list. 🙂

  5. Thank you for a very refreshing viewpoint. I praise God for openness such as this. I identify with almost everything written. I have a question though: Would you have any suggestions about how to overcome the “I always have so much to do and never enough time, and my body and mind just can’t keep up with them, not to mention my marriage or my job” season of my life? When much of the things we enjoy just fall as a lower priority, how do we make sure that our enjoyment of sex is not just another deferrable pleasure?

    1. Thanks for your question, Allison. I’d like to encourage you to read Sex Is a Rock. Like other important things in life, you need to be intentional about it. In other words, make sex a higher priority than other things and you’ll find that the rest of your life adjusts to take care of the rest. If that means that you need to schedule sex for a while, then do so. (Check out Is scheduled sex helpful for a marriage? over at Sex Within Marriage.) If it means that you set your alarm for 2 am twice a week so you can have some sex that is sleepy but uninterrupted, then that’s what you do.

      Meanwhile, When you view your husband’s arms as a sanctuary for you, a way to get away from the craziness of life, it will be easier to look forward to. It is far too easy for many women to put themselves ahead of others–especially when it is for pleasure rather than for sustenance. If that’s the case with you, then reframe how you see the role of sex in your life.

      You know how when you’re on an airplane and they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before you help anyone else? This is basically the same thing. A healthy sexual relationship is the oxygen of a marriage. It helps the marriage stay alive and healthy. It isn’t just about having orgasms. It’s about maintaining an intimate and emotional connection with your husband. It is a reminder of what God has joined together. You are maintaining the foundation of your marriage and family, not just experiencing pleasure.

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