By Jason Isaacs
It’s ironic, isn’t it? According to God, you should abstain from sex until you’re married, and then after marriage have as much sex as you want, but for many people, we reverse the order and have lots of sex before marriage and gradually stop having sex after we say “I Do.” Why do we do that?
There are more answers to that question than I have time to answer, serious answers, medical answers, and scientific answers, but for the sake of this article, I’m only going to deal with one answer for why you’re having less sex with your spouse…kids.
Children are a blessing from God, but ask any husband who has sex once a month because his kids are always sleeping in his bed, and he’s probably harboring bitterness that kids have killed his sex life. In a recent survey, 60% of married men with kids said they were dissatisfied with the quantity of sex with their spouse, and 60% of wives with kids said they were dissatisfied with the quality of sex with their spouse.
I have four kids all under the age of 10, so I understand the pressure, stress, and responsibility of parenting. I’m not making light of the need to nurse a baby or provide care for a sick child, but unfortunately, I’ve seen too many couples trade being “man and wife” to be “mom and dad.” I see moms hide behind the need to care for their kid to ignore dealing with the issues in the marriage. It might be physical insecurity or shame with your body after having a child, or possibly medical, emotional struggles with postpartum, or maybe it’s a simple as the fact that little kids’ hands have been touching you all day and by the time the day is done you’re tired of being touched. I get it. But my wife and I decided after our first daughter was born, we were going to keep our marriage the priority over our children. We didn’t come to this decision easily.
After Sadie was born, Andrea and I had probably our toughest stretch in marriage because she was learning how to be a mom and I was blindsided by the changes in a woman blessed with the responsibility of raising a child. After several weeks of hit or miss attempts of sex, arguments, and resentment starting to build, we finally decided something had to change. She needed me to build her up with my words and make her feel beautiful and sexy again, and I needed her to come to bed in something other than pajama pants and a nursing bra. We made the decision that night that our marriage would always come first, and our children would come second. It’s easier said than done, but eight years later, for the most part, we have held true to that promise, so much so that when my oldest daughter asks me, “Daddy do you love me as much as you love mommy?” I say, “no.” I tell her I love her so much, more than I knew I could love someone, but mommy and I loved each other before she arrived, and mommy will always be my #1.
We’ve been criticized over the years for our commitment to marriage first, parenting second, but we believe if our marriage breaks down the damage done to the kids will be more detrimental than any breakdown in parenting.
I know there are 100 different ways to parent, and I don’t claim to know the only way, but let me give you four ways Andrea and I have kept kids from killing our sex life.
1. No kids in the bed
I have to give Andrea credit for this one. I didn’t know how important it would be to set boundaries early on with our first kid, but she did, so from day one, she made sure to put our kids in their room so we could have the bed to ourselves. Obviously, there have been a few exceptions to the rule. We’ve had sick kids come into our room at 4 am, and we’ve laid them with us, or a special movie night where everyone fell asleep, but 95% of the time we keep our bedroom and our bed sacred. Not only has this paid dividends for our sex life, but it’s also helped our kids to learn good sleeping habits. I’ve heard the heartbreak and bitterness in too many men’s voices, wanting me to provide an explanation for why they have to sleep in the guest room or on the couch because their kids get the bed with mom. I promise you if your kids are sleeping in your bed consistently your husband is frustrated. You need to ask him and together work to make your bedroom and bed a sacred place. Make the decision, stand your ground, and let them cry it out; it’s worth it for your marriage. Andrea and I decided we would rather have the kids cry because they can’t get in our bed than cry because mom and dad are getting a divorce because dad did something stupid after only having sex five times a year.
2. Date night
Honestly, we could do better at this, but over the years we’ve made an attempt to take 1 or 2 nights a month, hire childcare, and go on a date. Sir, let me tell you a secret when you handle the logistics to take your wife on a date; it’s foreplay. Andrea and I don’t live by family, so we have to budget to pay for childcare, but it’s that important to us. Now that our kids are getting older, they know when they see mommy or daddy getting dressed a little nicer than normal, “Are you going on a date?” This is another way we keep marriage first and parenting second. But here is the key to capping off a great date night, make sure the sitter has the kids in bed when you get home. Sounds obvious right, but if you walk through the door and the kids are up, and you have to go back into “parenting” mode it kills the spark. Plan your date to get in late enough that everyone is already asleep and you can act like newlyweds, quieter of course.
3. Bed time
This is another practice I give Andrea credit for. I’m definitely a pushover when it comes to bed time. I’m always letting the kids stay up later than they should but early on Andrea made the decision to get the kids on a schedule so there would be time at the end of each day for “mommy and daddy time.” At our house, bedtime is 8:30 pm. Are there nights we break our rule, of course, but consistently all kids are in bed by 8:30 so the parents have a few hours to be together. I understand if your kids are older and you never set this precedent to start now seems like more trouble than it’s worth, but trust me, it’s worth it. Your marriage will thank you.
4. Vacation without kids
When I said earlier we’ve been criticized for our commitment to marriage first and parenting second; this practice is the biggest area of criticism. Andrea and I made a decision a few years back when we were more financially secure to take one vacation every year without our children. When I say vacation, I don’t mean Italy or Paris. Most of the time it’s a long weekend in a neighboring city, or a friend’s condo, the only requirement is no kids are allowed to come. We also take a vacation with our kids, but a vacation with kids is not really a vacation, it’s parenting in another city. Our “no kids” vacation usually consists of laying around. It’s a time to recharge and reconnect. Our most recent vacation was a cruise, that meant for four days we had no contact with our kids. It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was also amazing. By getting away and reconnecting with each other my wife and I are doing a service to our kids, because our parenting is it’s best when our marriage is at its best, and our marriage is at its best when we’re having sex consistently.
Sex is the supernatural superglue of marriage. God made it that way. When you and your spouse make love, you are becoming one, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Don’t let something as incredible as kids keep your marriage from being as strong as God intended for it to be. Your kids will thank you one day for making your marriage more important than them.
About the Author: Jason Isaacs and his wife Andrea have been serving as pastor of Hope City Church in Louisville KY since 2008. His passion is writing and teaching in a way that helps everyone approach God, seeking more relationship and less religion. See more from Jason on his website and Facebook page.