It’s time for habit number three in our series, The 7 (Sex) Habits of Highly Successful People.
Habit 3: Put first things first. Execute on most important priorities. To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.
Habit 1 says, “You’re in charge. You’re the creator.” Being proactive is about choice. Habit 2 is the first, or mental, creation. Beginning with the End in Mind is about vision. Habit 3 is the second creation, the physical creation. This habit is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It happens day in and day out, moment-by-moment. It deals with many of the questions addressed in the field of time management. But that’s not all it’s about. Habit 3 is about life management as well–your purpose, values, roles, and priorities. What are “first things?” First things are those things you, personally, find of most worth. If you put first things first, you are organizing and managing time and events according to the personal priorities you established in Habit 2.
In our post on Habit #2, “begin with the end in mind”, we walked through a process for creating Individual Sex Life Visions and then combining the individual visions from both spouses into a Marital Sex Life Vision. Habit #3 is about making that vision a reality. The purpose of a vision is to drive your behavior — your Marital Sex Life Vision is the guiding star that leads the decisions in your sex life. When you have a choice to make, you evaluate your options in the light of your vision and move in the direction that brings your vision closer to reality.
Assuming that your vision is in line with God’s will, you will also move closer to him as you pursue your vision. This passage from the Old Testament is an example of how badly things can go when your priorities aren’t right. The Israelites were focused on building their own wealth and neglected rebuilding God’s temple.
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house [God’s temple] remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.Haggai 1:1-15
Even when your vision is lined up with God pursuing it can be easier said than done. For the purpose of this blog post we’re going to assume that you and your spouse were able to create a Marital Sex Life Vision that is in line with God’s Word and also satisfying and agreeable to you both. If that’s not the case, then you’ve got more work to do. This blog post doesn’t talk about how to negotiate your vision. Don’t skip creating your vision together — go back to the previous post if necessary. Creating your Marital Sex Life Vision is fun and rewarding.
But just because you and your spouse agree on your vision doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy to implement. Sometimes it may even seem like circumstances are conspiring against your sex life: kids, jobs, health, church, anxieties of life, friends, hobbies, electronics… the list is never-ending. When you have more things to do than you have time, that’s where prioritization comes in: putting first things first. We’ve written about How to Have Time and Energy for Great Sex, and some concepts from that post will be helpful here as we talk about Habit #3. As we wrote previously:
You can’t have everything, but you can have what you want most if you prioritize it.
Your time and energy are finite resources, and everyone around you will drain them dry if you let them. Your boss will let you work as many hours for free as you want. Your kids will spend two hours eating dinner and stay up until midnight if you let them. Your church will let you serve every day of the week. Your friends will let you help them with every project. People on the internet will argue with you 24/7. Netflix will create more shows than you can possibly consume.
No-one will stop you from exhausting yourself for their benefit — except your spouse, if you’re blessed. The only one who can protect your time and energy is you.
Here’s an exhortation: if you don’t have time and energy for a great sex life with your spouse, that’s because it isn’t as important to you as all the other things you spend your time and energy on.
Is that exhortation convicting to you? It convicted us when we wrote it!
Steven Covey created the Importance-Urgency Matrix to help people understand how they’re prioritizing, and we’ve found it to be an extremely valuable tool.
Everything we do falls into one of these four quadrants.
- Quadrant 1, Necessity: Activities that are both important and urgent. These are emergencies that you need to handle right now. Most people have no problem prioritizing these things.
- Quadrant 2, Effectiveness: Activities that are important, but not urgent — this generally includes your sex life, unless you’re super-horny right now. It also includes all kinds of long-term personal growth: learning, planning, relationship-building, serving. Quadrant 2 is what usually suffers when we mistakenly focus on…
- Quadrant 3, Distraction: Activities that are urgent, but not important. It’s all-too-easy to get sucked into these. Distracting tasks are often important to someone else who has made them urgent for you, but they aren’t important to your life. Just because something is urgent doesn’t mean it’s important! Say it out loud. This quadrant is tricky and deceptive. You can fill your entire day with distracting activities if you aren’t extremely diligent.
- Quadrant 4, Waste: Activities that are neither urgent nor important. Some people can get trapped in these lazy, pointless activities, but most adults recognize this garbage. Checking your email every five minutes. Surfing Facebook. Worrying. Pouting. Substance abuse. It’s important to know that not all relaxation or hobbies are wasteful — the waste happens when these non-productive activities become excessive.
So where’s your sex life in this matrix? Your sex life should be in Quadrant 2 — it’s of critical importance, but hopefully not too urgent! Don’t sacrifice your sex life for junk that belongs in Quadrant 3 or 4.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—Song of Songs 1:2-4
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Identify the Quadrant 3 stuff in your life and stop doing it. This can be hard to do because many Quadrant 3 activities come from your commitments to other people. You may not be able to quit immediately because you gave your word, but you can immediately begin to unwind your commitments. Be warned: people will try to make you feel guilty — this is a trap! You don’t need to feel guilty for quitting unimportant activities.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-42
May your fountain be blessed,Proverbs 5:18-19
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
As for Quadrant 4 activities, you and your spouse will need to use discernment to determine if they’re excessive or not. Are Q4 activities preventing you from achieving your Marital Sex Life Vision? Facebook and television seem to be especially pernicious. You need to be ruthless in cutting back or eliminating Q4 activities until you have plenty of time and energy for Q2, including your sex life. Try finding some relaxing hobbies that you and your spouse can do together!
How long will you lie there, you sluggard?Proverbs 6:9-11
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.Ephesians 5:15-17
Putting first things first in your sex life means that you say no to activities that aren’t important, and you say yes to activities that move you towards your Marital Sex Life Vision. Your vision should include elements like frequency of sex, how you will communicate, how often you’ll try something new, how you’ll feel before and after sex — all of these things take time and energy to pursue! Throw away the Q3 and Q4 activities that are weighing you down and preventing you from running the race with your spouse.
What are the things you plan to put first in your life so that you can make your Marital Sex Life Vision a reality? Share in the comments!