Not Tonight, Honey
"I can't. I'm still angry about...."
For lots of women, "giving in" to sex while there are ongoing
conflicts just feels wrong. And while refusing to be a doormat is good, it can
create dangerously long sexual stalemates. "Don't allow yourself to see sex
as a power struggle—intercourse or nothing—because nothing will always
win," points out McCarthy.
What to say to yourself:
"This isn't over, but I can put the argument on hold for a little
while." (It's like deciding you won't go to bed angry.) The message this
sends to your husband is purely positive: Your relationship is bigger than this
What to say to him:
"I want to set this disagreement aside for now, so we can be close."
Dr. Holstein offers another scenario, one that she acknowledges is a little
corny: On a piece of paper, write down a one-line summary of the conflict
("new car"; "work schedule"), then put the paper into a box or
basket located somewhere other than your bedroom. What this tells your husband:
"Sure, we have issues. But we're not going to let them get in the way of
"I know you like morning sex, but I'm really into this 7:00 a.m. yoga class"
It's easy for any couple to let schedules dictate their lives. But if you
don't make time for sex, it can permanently slip off your to-do list. One
solution is to make a weekly sex date—and stick to it. In the Jewish faith, for
example, the Friday night Sabbath is a time when husbands and wives expect to
make love, says Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of Kosher Sex . "I'm
a big believer that all couples should have a Sabbath," he says. "It
doesn't matter when exactly that sacred time is, but there should be a weekly
commitment to retreat from everything else in the world and just focus on each
other." (Many couples have sex more frequently, but this way, at least
you've agreed on a minimum.)
In fact, advance scheduling—whether it's dental work, a week at the lake, or
an hour in the bedroom—is sometimes the only way things happen in busy
families. "Sex is as important a part of marriage as any other part, yet
people make room for everything else," says Gloria Brame, Ph.D., a sex
therapist in Athens, GA. "Women bake cookies for the entire block, but
won't make time for a quickie."
What to say to yourself:
If you feel as if sex cuts into your "me" time, the answer isn't
less sex, but more compromise. You can give yourself three mornings a week for
yoga, but also commit to one or two mornings to be with your husband.