Those little ones need you. Who else is going to do all the picking up, cleaning up, diapering, folding, sorting, shopping, cooking, breaking up fights, tying shoes, nurturing, and the endless tasks that consume a day?
It is all utterly exhausting, and by the time you come home after a full day or your husband walks through the door, the last thing on your mind is what might be on his. When everyone is finally put to bed, you don’t want to hear the words, Mom, Mommy, Momma, Mother, or any word that resembles, “I need you.” That includes from a husband who might “need” you.
It’s understandable why you want a moment where no one is clinging to your tired body. Intimacy, especially when little ones are in the home, can be a struggle.
During the years when sleep deprivation was the norm, I recall pretending to be asleep at times so no one would bother me. That included my husband. But over the years and four kids later, I have come to understand the importance of cultivating intimacy within marriage. As children grow more independent, so does our capacity for clearer thinking and less fatigue, but even while your children are young it is imperative to understand how physical intimacy is a vital part of your marriage relationship.
Be a safe and devoted place for your husband.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Heb. 13:4)
Nothing should replace your enjoyment of one another. Not just inappropriate relationships outside of marriage or pornography, but sensual movies, novels, and entertainment that derail your energy and thoughts steal the intimacy that is meant to be shared with your husband. Each of you have a personal responsibility to maintain integrity and devotion to your marriage.
In a world where pictures of seemingly perfect bodies surround you, it is necessary to look deeper than the bedroom. Consider how you desire to communicate and engage with your husband on deep levels. You want to feel connected. You want a sense of vulnerability from him as you express your heart. You don’t want him to be looking in places he shouldn’t or engaging with other women in ways he shouldn’t. You want to be the safe place where he lands. The physical aspect of intimacy is obviously real, but trust in one another is something that should continue to grow. It is a vital component of a healthy marriage in the years ahead.
Know that your body is a gift to him.
For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Cor. 7:4)
It won’t always be romantic. It won’t always be convenient. Perfection isn’t the goal and neither is satisfying unrealistic expectations. But recognizing the fact that your body is meant to be for the satisfaction and pleasure of your husband and vice versa, means that you are meant to share your body. That might mean some trust on your part.
There might need to be a shift in your thinking. The thought of one more person asking for something may repulse you (or tempt you to lock yourself in the bathroom). But even when you are retaining water, dark circles sag down to your cheeks, and your thighs are rubbing together, your husband thinks you are beautiful. Even when you don’t feel like it, you are a gift. You are God’s gift to him. It may sound rather conceited to say that, but it is true. Not just a gift, you are the gift that has been given to your husband.
You are the one that’s meant to come alongside your beloved, offering your tenderness, affirmation and gentleness. There is not one other voice in this world that can speak in his ear as you do. You can either tear down or build up. You can give all of yourself or withhold. The emotional intimacy you desire isn’t easy for him to reciprocate when you start building a barrier with your body.
Your husband’s desire for you is a gift to you.
He doesn’t see the imperfections that you see as you stand in front of the mirror. He looks at you with desire. To him, all of your body is good and precious. Allow yourself some grace in how you look. Our bodies do incredible, miraculous wonders and are left with reminders: stretch marks and wider hips. To have a husband who desires you is a tremendous blessing. There are countless women who are experiencing the pain of loneliness and lack of intimacy within the walls of their home, and that is an excruciating sorrow.
Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor. 7:5)
There are seasons in life where it is necessary to abstain from physical intimacy. However, when you are healthy and able, God calls you and your husband to come together, even when there are little ones who demand so much of your time and energy. What you have to offer, even with all the physical attributes that you wish were different, is what your husband desires. You are the real thing, in the flesh and available. Withholding can lead to him feeling undesirable and shamed. It can open the door to a growing distance within the relationship.
It doesn’t mean that your husband will always approach you perfectly or be perfectly patient. But you are meant to be where he finds comfort, and he is also meant to be that for you. God designed your body perfectly for his and his body for yours. He fashioned you to be the sole person that would bring him delight, and equally so, his body should bring delight to you.
Make the most of the gift of intimacy.
There might be the need for a shift within your home. It might look like getting a babysitter more often so that you can have time alone with your husband. It might mean having some honest conversations about ways you have neglected one another in this area. It might mean letting the dishes or laundry go for a day so that you have energy for your husband.
Being a mom is the hardest, most exhausting, heart-wrenching, glorious job you will ever have. You don’t easily walk away from all that is begging for your attention and affections. But for the most part, the to-dos will be there and won’t even notice that you didn’t continue to put checkmarks on the list. In all honesty, it will never be all done. There will always be one more nose to wipe, one more basket of laundry, one more call to make, one more school form to fill out. Life will not cease to demand from you.
In the meantime, there is a relationship that, outside of your relationship with God, is the most important one of your life. Moments quickly turn into months. When given the choice to savor a few moments with your beloved or conquer the kitchen counter, choose savoring moments because there will continue to be messes on the counter. (My thirty-five years of marriage experience will gladly back you up in that decision!) A particular opportunity to enjoy one another’s presence will never be retrieved again. Once the day is done, you cannot gain back that time. It doesn’t always have to mean sexual intimacy. It might look like having a time of conversation where you don’t allow your children to interrupt. It might be sharing an extended hug, no matter how many toddler arms drape around your legs.
Be willing to take your desire for being more available in both body and mind for your husband to the Lord. Ask Him to reveal to you ways that you have neglected your husband. When God reveals areas, go to your husband and ask his forgiveness. Being willing to take some ownership of things that are lacking in your marriage will go a long way. Even if you do not get the response you hope for from your husband, you’re walking in obedience when you do this.
One of the best gifts you can give to your children is to love your husband well. To see firsthand a close, trusting relationship between parents is to give children a godly blueprint for marriage. Do not be discouraged if your marriage isn’t doing so well at the moment. It is normal to struggle. There will be ebb and flow as you mature and as the seasons of life change.
No matter what condition your marriage relationship is in today, there is hope. God deeply cares about what goes on within your home. The best place to begin is on your knees with the God who designed marriage and intimacy. You can trust that God desires to help you and your beloved as you foster and maintain a relationship that is rooted in trust, love, and holiness.