My Many Mental Browser Tabs

Are you a multiple-browser-tab woman married to a man with a one-track mind?

Like many men, my husband has a one-track mind.

That isn’t to say that he only thinks about one thing ever. It’s more that he only ever thinks of one thing at a time.

When he is thinking about what he wants to eat, that is what he is thinking about. When he sees an interesting article on his Facebook feed, he reads it right away and then is done. If he is thinking about sex, that is all he is thinking about (and trust me, that definitely has its benefits for me!). When he is on the computer, he has only one browser window open at a time, with only one tab. The same can be said for his mind.

Me, though? I don’t have a one-track mind. I always have multiple things on my mind—what we’re having for dinner, upcoming bills that need to be paid, whether my husband has clean socks to wear to work the next day, what appointments I need to schedule, current projects, the grocery list, the weather forecast, and so on. I have a mind made of tangled-up Christmas tree lights, and all the lights are on.

When I’m on the computer, I’ll see something that captures my interest and will open it in a separate browser tab to come back to later when I can give it more focused attention. Or I’ll start working on something and then realize that I need to go to some research before I come back to it—but I don’t want to lose where I was, so the tab stays open. Or I’ll decide I need to go to something else so my mind has a chance to percolate what I’ve been working on. I’ll move back and forth between the tabs, closing some and opening others.

It is typical for me to have around 30 tabs open at any one time. One time my husband asked me to count my tabs; I had 53.

Whereas my husband’s mind uses only one browser window and one tab at a time, I always have multiple open tabs up and running. At the moment, I am thinking about this post, hoping we have Dijon mustard for the recipe I’m using for dinner, trying to figure out the best way to describe fried cheese curds, remembering that I need to start the rice cooker, and wondering if I remember how to write a limerick—and that’s on top of the on-going projects I haven’t had a chance to tackle yet today but are on the mental back burner.


Our ways of thinking—his one-track mind vs. my multiple-browser-tab approach—can make sex just a little interesting.

When my husband is in the sex zone, that is all he is thinking about—what he wants to do, how he feels, what he can do for and to me, how awesome I look, how much he loves, me, and . . . well, you get the picture. When his mind is on sex, the train on that one live track is rarin’ to go.

But here’s what happens: Big Guy’s train will be midway through the journey to Happy Town, and I’ll still be back at the station, trying to close all my browser tabs so I can get in gear and join him on the journey.

Just imagine . . . he will be intensely kissing me, thinking about how much he likes kissing me. I’ll pull away and say something like, “Hey, don’t forget to remind me that I need to get toilet cleaner.”

Mentioning something has always been what I do in order to get it out of my mind. Saying that I need to get toilet cleaner allows me to close that mental tab. When I am trying to focus on sex, my inclination is to blurt out random things so I can clear them from my mind.

For Big Guy, however, my random comments during sexual activity are something of a mood-killer. Because he thinks of only one thing at a time, he has assumed that if I mention something it’s because that is the one thing I am thinking about.

For a long time, he thought it was because I would prefer to think about cleaning the toilet than having sex with him. We would both come away feeling unloved—him because he thought I wasn’t thinking about him and me because he got upset with me when I was trying to focus on sex. It dampened the connective value of the sex we had (if we actually had sex, seeing as how sometimes my comments would lead to a big argument and sex just wouldn’t happen).

I would come away feeling even more disconnected from Big Guy than I had before our encounter—and every negative sexual experience became one more challenge the next time I thought about having sex.


A lot of my work in our marriage has been about improving self-awareness and communication. Several things help me deal with my many open mental browser tabs during sex.

Communicate. The most important thing I did was to explain to my husband that my random blurts were my efforts to focus. I am trying to eliminate the distraction of all that is .in my mind. He really hadn’t known this. Once he did, he was better able to not take it personally or get angry.

Time for transition. When I have time to wrap up tendrils of thought, make notes about things I need to attend to later, and generally close out a lot of what is happening in my mind, I am better prepared to focus on sex. My mind starts to shift from to-do-list mode to sex mode. If I have twenty minutes of transition time, I’ll be starting sex with far fewer browser tabs open. A slow start to sex aids this transition even more.

Acknowledge and move on. Now that my husband knows what is going on, if I blurt out something during sex, I can simply tell him I’m closing a browser tab and he knows it is because I want to be more fully present with him. Sometimes he’ll even ask me if I have any other tabs I need to close and will patiently wait while I say all the things I need to in order to close out those tabs.

Overwhelm the senses. Although a slow start to sex can aid with the mental transition, I’ve also found that overwhelming my senses with sexiness can help. Scented candles that we use only for sex, the feeling of silky lingerie, romantic music, putting scented lotion on, a good massage, or a barrage of simultaneous sexual sensations can all help me forget all about those browser tabs. It’s a way of enlisting the body in overwhelming the mind.

Let it go. When a random thought pops into my head, I sometimes find myself just telling myself to let it go. If it’s important enough, I’ll think of it again later (I hope).


Are you a multiple-browser-tab woman married to a man with a one-track mind? If this has affected your sex life, how do you close those tabs so you can get on track with your husband?

Image credit:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

23 Comments on “My Many Mental Browser Tabs”

  1. I can empathize with Big Guy. My first wife was like that, too. Except that it was a given that she didn’t like sex, at least with me. “Hurry up. I’m getting sea-sick.” “That’s NOT how I like it done.” “Don’t you know anything?” “We need to paint the ceiling.” We need new curtains.” “Did I tell you about what happened at work, today? You won’t believe it!” “You’re the man! You’re supposed to already know what I need!” “What do you want for supper?” To name a few.

    My current wife is much better at communicating what pleases her, but, like you, can’t close her “tabs” before the initiation of sex. I’m like Big Guy before you got him to know you weren’t thinking of other things because your head “wasn’t in the game,” so to speak. Still, I can’t see any reason the woman’s mental tabs can’t be closed BEFORE hand. To me, sex is THE most intiment and most defenseless action to a man’s psyche, he can do. To me, why can’t the woman understand that and be ready to totally focus on the action, just like her man?

    I’ll say, that if Bug Guy were to talk about all manner of various subjects while having sex,with you, you’d be rather insulted and maybe, humiliated, too. I know I was.

    During sex, my focus is totally on giving my wife what pleases her. Most of the time, I make sure she’s had her orgasm BEFORE we work on mine. It really upsets me to hear her talk about non-sexual topics when I’m giving my all, trying to please her. If she can’t care enough to have cleared her mind of extraneous thoughts BEFORE sex, then, to me, why waste the effort. I’ve cleared my mind. Why can’t she reciprocate?

    Don’t get me wrong. We love each other. Sex is great, now! But, it took a while for her to realize that it was extremely hurtful to me for her not to have her head in the game, the same as I did/do.

    1. My current wife is much better at communicating what pleases her, but, like you, can’t close her “tabs” before the initiation of sex. I’m like Big Guy before you got him to know you weren’t thinking of other things because your head “wasn’t in the game,” so to speak. Still, I can’t see any reason the woman’s mental tabs can’t be closed BEFORE hand. To me, sex is THE most intiment and most defenseless action to a man’s psyche, he can do. To me, why can’t the woman understand that and be ready to totally focus on the action, just like her man?

      I’ve now learned some strategies for closing those browser tabs–which was the point of this post. 🙂 If I know far enough in advance that we will be having sex, I can make a point of mentally preparing in this regard. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as clicking with a mouse. Your wife may be able to reciprocate in clearing her mind, but how she goes about it is different than how you do. (And if you are anything like Big Guy, you don’t clear your mind for the purpose of having sex. If you’re thinking about sex, there is nothing else in your mind to be cleared.)

      If you’ll notice, the list of things that help are a combination of Big Guy and me. Some of it is what I do (mentally wrap things up, push things out of my mind, and wear something sexy), but my husband makes just as much effort (letting me blurt things out without reacting and helping to overwhelm my senses). Your wife should be making an effort to close the tabs as part of the preparation for sex, but it might also mean that you need to make just as much effort by understanding what is going on and helping her close the tabs.

    2. With thanks to Mark Gungor. This video is well worth the time. It explains some of the things Chris is talking about. My advice, for what it is worth, is learn to let her shut down her tabs on her own pace. To steal a line from Jeff Foxworthy, a woman is a lot like a diesel engine. She may take a while to warm up, but once she is, she will run for a looooong time.

    3. I am like your wife, and for the most part, it genuinely is not possible for me to clear my mind ahead of time. I am a stay at home mom and have no one else to talk to, so I need to get those things out with him and it usually comes out as we begin our sexual encounter. I call it “verbal foreplay,” and explained to my husband exactly as Chris does here that that is what I need to do SO I can focus on sex. Sometimes it does mean hitting pause during the action, or we just talk during. My hubby knows that once it is all out I can then focus fully on him.

      I guess I see it like this. Maybe this isn’t true for all guys, but I know it’s true for a lot, and my hubby is one, that sometimes guys have sexual “pop-ups” at random inopportune times such a during work that they have to shut down; well, for almost all women it is often the opposite. We have NON-sexual pop ups that occur during sex, no matter how focused we are. I guess this is a good instance of the quote from Love and Respect: “Not wrong, just different.” I’m so sorry that is hurtful to you about your wife, but I can testify that the vast majority of women are wired that way. It is not a slight to you and what you are doing; I promise! I *wish* I had a man’s kind of focus, but that just isn’t my reality. But those random nonsexual comments during sex actually ARE an attempt to focus. Sheila Wray Gregoire has a post about this sort of thing too, haha, where it used to drive her husband nuts when they would start kissing and she would pull back and ask about soccer practice. It’s not that we aren’t enjoying ourselves, it’s that we have to get those things out so we can enjoy ourselves more!

      1. If you have a link to Sheila’s post, I’d love to include it here. I wanted to link to it but couldn’t find it. The pop-up concept applies to me, too. It’s just like in pop-up videos. That’s exactly how my mind works!

  2. I don’t know… i think we are actually both multi tab, cray cray highly distractible individuals. As you can imagine, that makes things super interesting. We both have trouble getting into it if we have lots on our minds. We both need to work on this.

  3. Not buying this any more than Kevin is. I’m a man who typically has 50 or 60 literal and mental browser tabs open. I’m constantly juggling multiple trains of thought and lists of things to do, investigate, check into. Yet I’ve never had a problem focusing my full undivided attention on a sexual partner; never felt the need to blurt out some [erection]-killing observation about the need to buy drain cleaner or carpooling to soccer practice on Thursday.

    I’m willing to bet you suppress this impulse in other situations where it is socially unacceptable. I doubt many women would enjoy hearing monologues about tax deductions or baseball stats during sex either, any more than my bosses would like it if I whipped it out at work during one of those spontaneous sexual pop-ups. I can appreciate you may have an inclination to blurt out stuff, but it’s not a requirement.

    If you must entertain them, why not just let these digressions pass as silent thoughts rather than obtrusive speech? Or just have an intimate conversation first to relax and unburden yourselves before moving on to sex? Beyond the implied lack of focus, it’s just plain irritating & frustrating to alternate repeatedly between arousing a a partner and stopping to vent any random thought that happens to distract you.

    1. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to approve your comment. Frankly, I’m doing so only so I can reply to it in hopes that other men see what I have to say.

      There’s nothing for you to buy or not buy here. This used to be a problem in our marriage, and now that my husband and I both understand what’s going on, it isn’t. I make a better effort to not make random comments, and he makes an effort to remember that it is simply me in the process of focusing on him. Besides, I didn’t write this post for you. I didn’t write it for men at all.

      I write this blog for Christian wives–to help them understand themselves, to help them understand their husbands, and to encourage them in making changes in their approach to sexual intimacy. I know a lot of men read here. If it helps them be better husbands to their wives, that’s great. If they make comments to ask questions so they can better understand their wives or to help other wives better understand their husbands, then that’s okay–if it is done without disrespect and judgment. What is not okay is for men to come here and dismiss what wives have to say and what they feel.

      In 1 Peter 3:7, the bible tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way. I know that my blog helps some men do just that. Men who want to focus on their own needs and on what women are doing wrong shouldn’t be reading here at all–and they definitely shouldn’t be making comments.

  4. The browser tab analogy attempts to describe how some/many women and men experience thoughts. As with any generalization, there are exceptions. Even when we are given to certain ways of processing, we can make strides in changing those methods. There have been times in my life when I had so much going on, I had to learn to compartmentalize my thoughts in order to survive and function.

    Years ago, my husband did not care to listen to me during the others parts of the day/night, and it was only during sex that I had his attention. Conversation was my vehicle for intimacy, so during foreplay, I would spill my guts. I don’t recall that I was verbalizing a task list or ridding my mind of thoughts that impeded my focus; I was attempting to share my heart. He would tell me to stop talking, to be quiet. That was a very lonely, isolated time for me.

    Kevin said, “During sex, my focus is totally on giving my wife what pleases her.” Perhaps what pleases some wives is to be heard and they are given no other opportunities than when they have their husbands’ attention during sex. Perhaps being heard ranks higher for her than sexual pleasure. Perhaps sex brings no pleasure unless she is heard.

  5. I can sort of understand shutting down and trying to get closure on things to better focus.

    But what confuses me is this. Example: how is it that when the wife/mother is so exhausted and 50 browser tabs open in her mind. If the say 6 year old child comes into the bedroom upset after having a scary dream, the wife and IMMEDIATELY switch gears and focus on loving and soothing the child and spend the next half hour or more calming them, loving them and focus on them to get them back to sleep. It seems nearly effortless and natural.

    But somehow so many women find such immense difficulty making a similar change to love and soothe her husband and spend a half hour making love to her husband? How can she immediately set aside the open tabs for a child but. It her husband?

    As a man this is confusing. As it would seem to demonstrate pretty vividly that the child is a higher priority and is willing to overcome the open browser tabs and fatigue, while the husband is not worth that level of effort. Actions sometimes speak louder than words.

    When a husband sees his wife drop everything time and again over and over, yet not get the same level of respect or response. It sends a pretty clear message to a husband.

    Now it may not be the message the wife intends to send. But that is the message conveyed and very clearly so.

    1. I used to always drop things for my kids like that, too. I didn’t see it as an issue of priority but one of immediacy. When I thought there was an immediate need, I could minimize all my windows and do what needed to be done. The thing was that I figured my husband was a grown man and could take care of his own needs. He did not need me to do a quick shut-down–not like the kids did.

      Now, of course, I understand that he was getting just the message you describe. I didn’t understand that sex was more than just a physical release, and I didn’t understand how much my husband needed to see that he was important to me. Sadly, I realize now that my husband truly wasn’t my priority.

      Because of how my mind works, there was a cost every time I did this for the kids. After I would get things settled back down, I would have to re-open all those tabs, one at a time, hoping I didn’t forget anything. It was very frustrating for me to have to interrupt things to deal with the kids. The fact that my husband would make the same complaint as you express would frustrate me. From my point of view, I had already had to interrupt myself for the kids. Now he was being demanding, too? It seemed that I was always doing things for others.

      Now, though, I understand that my priorities and my heart were not where they should have been. Part of that, though, was simply that I didn’t understand what it was that my husband needed or why I had to be part of that..

  6. Perhaps we don’t close those browser tabs, we minimize them? I wonder if browser tab is too light a term. Perhaps we aren’t dealing with multiple tasks, but multiple roles and identities.

    For women whose work is key to their identity and who consider raising their children as part of this identity-related work, their work is never done. Regardless of whether they also work outside the home, this applies. She’s not a wife for part of the day, a mom for part of the day, and a [insert title] for part of the day. She is all of those all of the time. Even while she’s BEING a wife and having sex with her husband, she is still BEING a mom and BEING a [insert title.]

      1. I can set aside the doing, but I AM the roles. To set the roles aside would be to set myself aside. I would disappear. (not arguing with you–just articulating my perception)

        1. Do you think it is healthy to be your roles and have no self left? It wasn’t a good thing for me when I was doing that. My roles have to do with who I am for others. Even when I was having sex, I was being wife–for my husband. It was one of the reasons I so often felt used during sex. I needed to learn to recapture a sense of my own self, as God’s creation who experienced pleasure and joy and sorrow and the whole lot. Maybe that is why so many women struggle to want sex for themselves. (That’s just me mentally meandering. :))

  7. I understand that your roles remain your roles.

    So does a man’s role stop when they come home?

    Do most women believe that a man stops being a provider, a proffesional, a father or husband when he comes home?

    I’m not sure men and women are really that different that the remain who they are despite where they are.

    1. My husband is able to compartmentalize his roles better than I am. That’s what allows him to have a focused one-track mind. His roles never stop, but he is able to occupy just one role at a time in a way that my mind struggles to do.

Leave a Reply!