What’s on Your Spreadsheet?

Do you keep track of how often you have sex?

Do you know how often you and your husband have sex? If you say “no” on more than an occasional basis, my guess is that even if you don’t know, he does.

During my refusing years, I would often think we’d had sex just the week before. When my husband would point out that it had been several weeks, I was surprised. Sex just wasn’t on my radar enough to pay attention to how recently it had taken place.

It seemed to me that my husband was constantly after sex. As deprived as he was, the need to connect with me continued, unmet, from one day to the next—so every day, there was something—an outright request, a hint, a comment. Every single day, I was dealing with his sexual needs. Of course, “dealing with” meant “looking for ways to turn him down without making him angry.”

We argued about sex frequently—at least one extended argument a week with several exchanges snide remarks sprinkled throughout the week.

Keeping Track

My husband isn’t one to remember dates and times much, but one time, he rattled off the date of our last sexual encounter as well as the times he had approached me since then. The fact that my husband had clearly paid attention to and noted those dates shocked me.

I remember feeling like he was pulling the things he didn’t like about me out of a hat, examining them one by one, and giving me a big list of my failures as a wife. I was incredibly hurt—yet I was shocked to realize that more time had passed than I had realized. It was also one of the things that made me realize how important sex was to him

When I began to work on the changes in our sex life, I began to keep track of our encounters on a small paper calendar I kept in my nightstand. I did this to make sure that even if I didn’t remember how long it had been, I could quickly find out if I wanted to.

For about six months after my changes began, my husband and I continued to have our arguments about sex. Although he noticed he was having more sex, his expectations and responses were still grounded in the lessons my refusal had taught him over a period of years. There were a few times when he would begin with a “we never have sex” speech and I would pull out my calendar to show him that I was actually doing better.

A Sexually Unhappy Husband

A story has been popping up on the internet about a man who recently sent his wife a spreadsheet listing all the times he attempted sex with her, her responses, and her reasons for “no” over a six-week period. (Read the story at your own risk. The comments include salty language.) The circumstances in which he sent the spreadsheet made me cringe (he sent it to her work email while she was on route to a ten-day business trip, and he included a message that said he wouldn’t miss her), but the spreadsheet itself hit too close to home.

The lack of sex was an issue in our marriage every single day. If my husband wasn’t asking, he was making comments that I perceived as him trying to guilt me into doing something. (I now realize that those comments were a genuine expression of his hurt and confusion.) Meanwhile, I was doing everything I could to deflect his sexual interest so he wouldn’t ask in the first place.

I look at the list of the reasons this man’s wife gave him for saying “no”:

  • Watching TV/movie
  • Soreness from sex the day before
  • Too much to eat or drink
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling gross

I can relate to every single one of these reasons; they are things I remember saying frequently.

Now I recognize that these reasons were excuses. They held a seed of truth but were not the real reasons I was refusing to have sex with my husband.

Seeing them on a list from another marriage is hard for me. I am far enough removed from the experience of refusing that the list of reasons looks flimsy. Part of me wants to remind the wife that the TV shows can be watched later, she was sore only because she hadn’t been having enough sex, she could eat or drink less, she could sleep more, and she can shower.

At the same time, I remember how frustrating it was to be dealing with my husband’s sexual interest every single day and having to give some reason why not—when all I really knew was that I just didn’t feel like it. I also know that at the time, my desire to not have sex felt serious and deep—far from flimsy.

My early journey included a lot of learning to reframe my reasons. Instead of “I had too much to eat,” I learned “I had too much to eat, but in an hour I should be okay.” Instead of “I feel gross,” I learned “I feel gross so could I take a shower first?”

Do You Track Sex?

This story has elicited quite a few comments on various sites. Reading the comments is sobering. Both husband and wife are taking a lot of hits. I know if I’d run across this story when I was refusing, I would have come away from the comments pretty emotionally battered.

I know of quite a few husbands who track sexual activity. If you ask your husband whether he keeps track of your sexual encounters, what would he say? What would you see on your spreadsheet?

If you are walking a journey away from sexual refusing and gate-keeping, I encourage you to consider tracking your sexual activity—your husband’s requests, your responses to those requests, and your own efforts to initiate.

Tracking for yourself is a good way to pay attention to what you’re doing, and it may show you patterns that you can work on. If one or two reasons show up frequently, working on those areas is likely to have a big impact on improving your sex life.

At the very least, when your husband asks if you know how long it’s been since you’ve had sex, you’ll actually know the answer.

Read these posts for more on keeping track:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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12 Comments on “What’s on Your Spreadsheet?”

    1. Thanks, but don’t let me stop you from writing about it, too. 🙂

      I actually started writing this post a while ago, and the story just gave me what I needed to fill it out.

  1. This is a good idea. It’s a bit like tracking what you’re eating when going on a healthier diet; it can be a real eye-opened once you actually write it down. You suddenly realize things aren’t nearly as healthy as you’d led yourself to believe.

    Thanks for sharing this idea!

    1. This was definitely a big wake-up call for me.

      I didn’t start tracking until after I started to make some changes. At that point, I was no longer giving excuses–but I made note of the excuses I’d felt like giving, the things that had become so automatic that I barely thought about them. It showed me that I had let one particular aspect of my health become the driver of our sex life. Learning how to work around that one issue made it easier for my excuse mindset to evaporate.

  2. Many moons ago, more than I care to count, we attended a Young Marrieds Sunday school class. There was a “mature” couple who shared with us that they kept a calender with someb kind of mark (heart, smiley face,…) on the dates they had sex. It was not so much to settle arguments about when or how often they had sex but rather it provided a sort of relationship thermometer. If frequency began to drop off, it meant things were likely slipping in other areas and it wad time to sit down as a couple and shore things up. Sometimes in the routine of life we can get sloppy and start neglecting the little things and they start to add up to big things. Sob it can be used as a warning sign or a confirmation that things are healthy.

  3. I would recommend that if you are on the end of the sexless marriage, that you NOT do this. It does way more harm than good – unless you are using it as a precursor to filing for divorce.

    I’m in a sexless marriage (ie less than 10 times a year – we average about 5), and about ten years ago after a fight about this, and she claiming that it really wasn’t that bad, and even if it was, it was because I didn’t ask enough, and thus was my fault. So for 4 months (24 weeks), I kept, in exacting detail, of when I asked, how I asked, what I was doing before I asked (ie, making sure I was “keep up my end of the marriage”), if I was being romantic or not, her responses, her actions before and after. It turned out in 24 weeks, I asked 42 times. Roughly twice a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). Out of those 42 times, 39 rejections, and we made love 3 times. Out of those 3 times, 1, just 1, was what would call “normal” – mutually agreed on (but lovemaking still onesided – my side). Of the other 2: one, I got a big roll of the eyes, a big sigh and shake of the head, and basically a “whatever.” and lasted about 10 minutes. The second she asked ME (first time in 2 years) “I guess its been a while, and I’m not busy, so I guess we can”, but was again about 10 minutes.

    So if you really want to stretch it, it was 3 times in 42 “attempts” over 4 months, 2 of which were so bad I still get depressed about it. But still, our “average” of about every other month.

    When I presented this “data” to her, she blew thru the roof. How dare I keep track? Am I grading her? Is it another checkbox? etc etc etc. We didn’t have sex for 8 months after that. In other words, it doesn’t matter what I, as the person wanting a normal sex life does. Whether its this or not. Maybe if the other side did it, like you, it might help. But I doubt it. She would just do a “See? See how I can’t have sex even once a month?”

  4. It’s amazing how viral this post has gone – both in the liberal and conservative web sites. And the responses on those are a very sad statement of marriages today. I praise the Lord that He blessed with with an incredible wife. Thank you for all that you and your sister sites provide!

  5. I have an app on my ipad called My Days. I use it to track my cycle & sex (it puts a little heart on the day). My husband likes to check it to see when my period is going to start to make sure we don’t miss an opportunity.

  6. I do track the frequency, not because I think that it will have any positive impact or outcome, but just because I want to see if there are any upward or downward trends each year. Sadly, the trend is ever downward.

  7. I can’t help but see a connection between our contraceptive mentality and women’s refusal to have sex. Funny how taking away the natural consequence of conception from the equation lead to women feeling like objects. People who compare a woman’s need to talk and share emotionally with a man’s need for sex are on the wrong track imo.

    I don’t see treating another human being like something more than a receptacle for a pent up biological function as a good thing. Sex without potential conception is meaningless. It’s a matter of friction and nerve endings. Any other human body can fill this “need.” Frankly, I see sex as nothing more than another bodily function like waste elimination and vomiting. It’s just as gross to see other people doing this (like in so many movies these days) as happening upon something going to the bathroom.

    Whereas having a conversation with two people take turns talking and sharing their thoughts and feelings takes effort and caring. You have to clue in that the other person is a real human being that is made in the image and likeness of God. People say God made sex so it must be good. God made sexual intercourse as a consequence of original sin. He made us to rut like animals to perpetuate the human race. Prior to the Fall, more people likely would have been created the same way Adam and Eve were. But our punishment included this animalistic act to perpetuate the species and to put a big stumbling block in the lives of both men and women.

    See it’s all a BIG TEST to overcome our base natures and elevate beyond this rutting in the dirt kind of existence. Remember, marriage is not the highest form of serving God and attaining Heaven. The highest form is virginity and celibacy.

    1. I’m so sorry that you view sex this way. Sex serves a unifying function in marriage. The hormones released during orgasm helps us bond with each other in unique ways. The intertwined spiritual, physical, and emotional intimacies help us grow closer to each other. Sex is so much more than a physical release and a path to parenthood.

      Sex–with or without potential conception–is full of meaning. I’m curious. Why do you believe sex is a consequence of the fall rather than part of God’s original design?

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