Sex should be a fantastic stress-reliever within marriage. But I’ve seen stress do the exact opposite: the anxiety it produces leaves one or both spouses exhausted and sexually unresponsive.
This isn’t too much to worry about when it happens from time to time. All of us go through seasons of stress, for various reasons. But when it happens regularly, it can create deep frustration for the spouse whose sexual needs are being ignored.
We can’t ignore the fact that we live in a fast-paced culture. Every year, there seems to be more and more demands on our time and attention. Jobs, children, housework, financial pressures—all of these can bear down on an individual or marriage.
How do we respond when stress begins to overtake our lives? The first thing we must do is prioritize. Regardless of what some people think, you can’t have it all. A successful life must be a prioritized life. Every priority must be protected from competing demands.
God created marriage to be the highest priority in life, with the exception of our personal relationship with him. When we are experiencing stress, we need to examine the things that are making physical, emotional and mental demands on our time—because those things are leaping ahead of marriage on our priority list.
If we realize that the greatest priorities of our lives (God, marriage, our children) are being robbed of their rightful place by lesser things (friends, work, sports, hobbies, entertainment), then we must be willing to change. We have to re-prioritize. Sometimes we even have to remove the lesser things from our lives.
That happened with me when it came to golf early in our marriage. I used to love golf, but I gave it up for several years because of this very issue.
I would go directly from work to the golf course and then come home exhausted and unwilling to meet Karen’s needs. But I expected her to serve me unconditionally and meet my sexual needs. This made her deeply resentful, and it became a major issue in our marriage.
I’d turned golf into an idol. I’d given it too big a place in my life and created a misplaced priority within our marriage.
That’s when I decided it was time to take a step away from golf. Giving it up was a sacrifice for me, but it was a small price to pay for the incredible intimacy we have today.
If you aren’t happy at home, it doesn’t matter how successful you are at work. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. The size of your business doesn’t matter, nor does the kind of car your drive or how well you can hit a golf ball. Nothing in life has the potential to make you as happy or as miserable as your marriage. Because of this, it is worthy of the highest level of sacrifice and investment.
Are you stressed? Is stress impacting your marriage? Put your marriage first and make whatever sacrifices or changes are necessary. Do whatever it takes to give your spouse the time and energy he or she deserves.