Barriers to Intimacy – A Wife’s Perspective

This blog post is a must read for all of us husbands. It appeared in the Fruit In Season blog, written by a wife and mother. All of us need to understand each of these, and diligently seek to “live with our wife in an understanding way”, as we work through them.

Top 10 Barriers to Intimacy 
“I am my lover’s and he is mine…”
~Song of Songs 6:3
In yesterday’s post I mentioned I would post Top Ten Ways to Spice Up Your Love Life, yet I realized that there might be barriers that would need to be broken down to make way for the spice. In my marriage we’ve dealt with most of these barriers at one time or another and now enjoy the spicy love life that is a natural and God-pleasing result of their destruction.
I have listed these in descending order, with the most difficult barriers last:
10.  Time

Everyone deals with challenges related to time.  For you it might relate to work schedules, or kids’ bedtimes, or to-do lists.  But let me encourage you to make the time necessary to share intimate time with your husband.  Work on pushing back the kids’ bedtimes, get the dishes done early or leave them till the morning. Wake him up at midnight for a quickie (yes, he’ll most likely be willing) Nothing is more important than your spouse and his well being.  And how long does a little hanky panky really last anyway?

9. Distractions

I totally get this one.  And I have to say that I am much more guilty of being distracted than my husband.  He can focus like a laser when he wants to, while I am sensitive to every little sound, whether the kids are actually asleep or just “in bed”, the laundry that’s in piles on the floor, and the stuff I didn’t get done.  But it is worth it to capture those thoughts and bring your mind back to your husband.  Make a joke out of it if you must, and be honest about how challenging it is for you, but work hard to give him your fully attention.

8. Pop-Ups

Remember this?  Well, I have pop-ups while I’m with my husband that are eerily similar to the VH1 pop-up videos of the 80’s.
Pop-ups relate to #9 except that they really are all in our heads.  Does this sound like a familiar mental scenario for you when your husband is trying to get you in the mood?
Ooh!  I forgot to turn on the dishwasher!
Did Colin remember to take a shower after karate?
Shoot, I didn’t renew the library books.  Now we’ll have a fine.
Is the door locked?
As with distractions, we need to consciously turn off the mental drip drip drip that inevitably takes our attention and remember who is most important.  Try to have a certain time at night when you decide that work is done and you can rest your mind.  Prayer is very helpful and the Spirit will bless our attempts to focus on connecting with our husbands.

7.  Lack of Energy

I don’t think there’s any mama in the world that has not dealt with lack of energy that then affected her love life.  It’s very simply a part of life.  You get no sleep?  You’re exhausted and thus sex is the last thing on your list. This is where your husband can really help.  If you need a nap, ask.  If you need to get a mother’s helper, get one.  I can almost guarantee that if you tell your husband that you’d like to get some help a couple of times a week so you can be refreshed enough to spend quality time with him in the bedroom, he will gladly fork over the cash.  If your husband desires that time with you, and you really just don’t feel like you have the energy, can I suggest that you take 10 minutes to freshen up and prepare yourself to say yes anyway?  Consider it a long term investment that takes a half hour or less.

6.  Lack of Desire-

Lack of desire can have many causes, one of which is #7 above.  Other reasons may include hormones, depression, illness, or some
of the barriers on this list coming up.  I wanted to include this for a specific reason: this lack of desire is not what the Lord wants for your marriage.  It is biblical to desire your husband and so it is important to work toward that end.  Believe me when I say it is not easy and I have been there.  However, physical intimacy in marriage is foundational and problems in this area seep into every other area.  Figure out what the root cause is and make a plan to fix it.  Read a book, pray, speak to a pastor or counselor.  Be proactive and get your desire back.

5.  Poor Communication

Men and women are different.  While you might not fit the stereotypes exactly, it’s unlikely that you and your husband have the same communication style, love language, etc.  You both come to the table with insecurities, expectations, and family histories which affect the way you communicate and what you hear.  Communicating about sex is no different than communicating about anything else of importance.  You can’t read each other’s minds and hurt feelings and rejection are often the end result of assuming you can.  There are many books and resources out there to help you learn to communicate well in the area of sexual intimacy.  A husband and wife should be able to discuss with love things such as frequency, what  is pleasing/not pleasing in bed, past sins and hurts, etc.  Don’t let this slide.

4. Worldy Thinking

Sex is God’s idea.  We should enjoy it.  We should be creative with it.  The single people of this world do not corner the market on good sex and we need to prove that in our relationships with our husbands.  If you are plagued with the idea that sex is shameful, or should be same-old-same-old, or that your husband is perverted for wanting it a lot, then you are not aligned with God’s heart on this.  A wife’s body is not her own, and neither is a husband’s.  If you have a sexual past, confess it and repent of it.  Then embrace the God-given gift of joyful physical intimacy!  Don’t let the world negatively affect your love life.

3. Anger

I went through a period in our marriage when I was very angry at my husband for my own unhappiness. And while he wasn’t perfect, I had no reason to pin all of my negative emotions on him. Unresolved anger poisons our minds and makes true intimacy impossible.  If there are deep reasons for your anger, by all means find ways to heal the hurts in your life and do the hard work to forgive.  If your anger centers around annoyances, unreal expectations, and petty grievances, work on your own heart and get back to what’s really important: oneness with your husband.

2.  Low Self-Esteem

We are getting down to the nitty gritty and I can’t help as much with these barriers.  Low self-esteem is something that affects so many (the majority?) of women.  Our insecurities may center around our physical appearance, or they many stem from childhood hurts and offenses. But these insecurities are based on lies and we need to learn to speak the truth to ourselves, or find someone who can.  Being in the Word is crucial for combatting low self-esteem.  If the Lord of Creation esteems us and sees in us His precious Son, who are we to disagree?  This is an issue that runs deep and will require a lot more work to overcome.  Find a support system of friends who can speak scripture into your hurts, see a counselor, speak to your husband and be honest about where you are.

1. Emotional Distance

There is no doubt about it: sex and love are intertwined in marriage.  Husbands often need sex to feel loved and wives need to feel loved to desire sex.  It can be a vicious cycle if one or the other of these elements is lacking.  When we are feeling emotionally distant from our husbands, for any reason, we are going to have a very hard time being intimate. In our marriage we have had periods of challenge when one of us has hurt the other deeply and it’s taken a while to heal; and other times when simply the fact that we haven’t spent a lot of time together wears on our emotional connection.  Whatever the reason, emotional distance for women is a barrier that is at the top of the list.  Communication is crucial to restore the vulnerability with your husband.  Believe it or not, being physically intimate can help to heal the emotional gap, but it is hard to really let go and trust God enough to take that step.  If you have serious emotional distance in your marriage, speak to a counselor or pastor.

Do any of these speak to you?
How can you move forward in breaking down barriers to intimacy?

Guys – now you know what is going on inside the heart/mind of your lovely wife. Let’s be more deliberate about helping her through these barriers, instead of holding them against her and creating resentment in our heart toward her.
Love well,
Huz
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About Rob

Married to my high school sweetheart for 40 years. Blessed to be a frequent speaker at marriage and men's conferences, retreats and seminars. Author of 4 books on marriage. Check out resources at allinmariage.org.

3 responses to “Barriers to Intimacy – A Wife’s Perspective

  1. Ann

    Some how someone left the words sex and intimacy out of my husbands vocabulary. Married 40 plus years and sex has always been sparce and intimacy was only something mentioned in the dictionary. The last 30 years there hasn’t been one bit of intimacy or sex. I really can’t remember what it was like. Husband wouldn’t get help nor does he want help from his doctor. He is perfectly happy the way he is. He says there isn’t any problems with him. I’ve wasted my entire married life , 60 years , and my future life without being loved , touched, kissed or held.

  2. Guys if you’re lucky enough to get these thoughts discussed, you only need to ask, “To whom else should I go if not you.” And you know giving can be more fun than getting. Be patient, gentle, and bold with love. She really does value being in love

  3. Markus29

    Wow. Wow again. I can’t tell you how much each of these speak to me. Thank you for this post!

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