My husband loves to play sports, but it eats up a lot of our family time. Do I have a right to demand that he quit?
I used to watch my husband, Greg, play on a men's softball team, but eventually I stopped and just stayed home with the kids. Then softball began to feel like his "mistress" so I insisted he quit, failing to recognize how it kept his physical, mental, and emotional batteries charged. He soon withered and became more stressed over work, which negatively affected our marriage. He was snippier toward me and the kids. He just didn't seem as loving or "there." I regretted my demand once I realized the ripple effects it had.
We talked it over, and Greg now plays basketball during his lunch hour so he doesn't take away from our family time.
Obviously, a man's love of sports (or any other recreational hobby) can grow out of balance to the detriment of his family. But before throwing out demands, consider three things:
- Don't take it personally. Even though it may feel like it, chances are, he's not trying to escape his family responsibilities. Just as women need social outlets or shopping excursions or a quiet moment at a coffee house, men sometimes need more than just work and home to thrive.
- Inspire vs. require. Demanding more time will make him defensive. Instead, creatively inspire him to spend more quality time together by suggesting activities you both enjoy.
- Create a balance. Compromise on the amount of time each of you spends doing your own thing. For example, divide the four Saturdays each month—one for him, one for you, one as a mini marriage retreat, and one as a family day. Everyone comes out a winner.
Remember, when you encourage him to do the things he loves and is energized by, he'll most likely return to you with a greater desire to connect with his biggest cheerleader.
When He Has a Headache
My husband isn't interested in having sex any more. What's wrong?
Depressed male libido has become a commonly reported issue. Several explanations are possible:
- As a man enters his 40s, 50s, and beyond, his libido often declines but doesn't usually diminish altogether. If he isn't ready for Medicare, this probably isn't the only issue.
- Women aren't the only ones who need to feel safe, secure, and emotionally connected to feel sexually aroused. So do men. If a wife repeatedly rejects or criticizes her husband, she will extinguish his flame, and it takes more than simply offering sex to re-light his fire. Offer unconditional love and acceptance first. Draw his heart toward you, and his body will more than likely follow.
- Has your appearance changed significantly? While it's painful to consider that our looks, hygiene, or frumpy wardrobe may be diminishing a husband's sex drive, God created males to be visually stimulated. Most men's sexual appetite is tied to the images he sees. That doesn't mean wives have to look like Barbie dolls or supermodels, but we can't let ourselves go either. Striving to look better (regardless of your size, shape, or age) will also help you feel better.
- Some medications depress the sex drive. If your husband's on a prescription medication, ask his doctor or pharmacist if this is a side effect. If it is, check to see if he could switch with a medication that doesn't have that result.
- He may be receiving sexual release through pornography and masturbation, or through an affair. If you discover this to be true, seek counseling together. If he's unwilling, seek counseling on your own. You need help sorting through feelings and examining appropriate response options.
If none of these explains your husband's disinterest in sex, he could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance, poor testosterone production, or erectile dysfunction. Encourage him to see a doctor about his diminished sex drive and to find out about any drugs that may help remedy the problem.
Shannon Ethridge, M.A. is the best-selling author of numerous books, including the Every Woman's Battle series and The Sexually Confident Wife. She lives in east Texas with her husband and two teenage children.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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