One of the most frequent questions we get is: “How do you find time and energy to have an exciting sex life when you’ve got kids, jobs, church, and everything else going on?”
Sit down. I will now explain something to you that is very simple to understand, but very hard to execute:
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.
Yes, yes, I know: all the things you do are super-important… but is your sex life just an optional luxury? Not if you want your marriage to thrive! It’s easy to neglect your sex life because it’s not urgent, but don’t fall into the trap of mistaking urgency for importance.
Steven Covey created the Importance-Urgency Matrix, which is one of the best self-management tools that I’ve ever seen. The matrix divides your activities into four groups based on urgency and importance, and it’s best insight is that many urgent things are not important.
- Quadrant 1: Activities that are both important and urgent. These are emergencies that you need to handle now. Most people have no problem prioritizing these things.
- Quadrant 2: 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: Activities that are urgent, but not important. It’s so easy to get sucked into these. These 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 these activities if you aren’t extremely diligent.
- Quadrant 4: Activities that are just wasteful. Some people can get trapped in these lazy, pointless activities, but most adults can recognize this garbage. Checking your email every five minutes. Surfing Facebook. Worrying. Pouting. Substance abuse.
This is all basic time management stuff, but don’t lose sight of the fact that it applies to your sex life. Your sex life with your spouse should generally be in Quadrant 2 — important and not urgent — so don’t sacrifice it for deceptive Quadrant 3 junk.
Here’s the application: Identify the Quadrant 3 stuff in your life and stop doing it. It’s simple to say, but hard to do because many Quadrant 3 activities are bound up in your responsibilities and commitments to other people. You may not be able to quit immediately because you gave your word, but you can immediately start 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.
If you don’t have time and energy for a great sex life with your spouse and you don’t have a newborn or a serious illness, then it’s your fault. You need to cut out some of your other activities. Be brave. Stand up to other peoples’ expectations and say no to Quadrant 3.