Help! Work is killing my sex life

February 7 2014 | offbeatbride
Sad kitty, empty bed. (Photo courtesy of the  Yours  Mine  and Noir's bedding set)
Sad kitty, empty bed. (Photo courtesy of the Yours Mine and Noir's bedding set)
My husband and I, after many years of slog in the trenches, have finally emerged with jobs that we both find fulfilling and interesting. Now that we've finally reached a level of experience and graduated from junior status, we are finding that our jobs require more of our effort and more of our time.

So much so that by the end of the day we are both so zapped out that we can barely do the household things at home before collapsing in bed, which has totally killed our sex life!

Holidays are great and full of sexy times, and after a sleep-in we manage in the weekend, but I'd really like to have more intimacy in our daily lives so that we have a better balance of personal needs.

I'd love to hear how other Homies have managed to retain the energy and carve out the time for sex when your jobs are demanding. -Cinnamon Girl

We've talked about getting your sex drives in sync, and here was some of the best feedback from Homie MoonCatMSW, who was also a sex therapist in-training:

First off, it is in fact really, really normal for the mutual sex drive of a couple to diminish/get out of wack after a couple of years. Neuro-biologically speaking, the way we store memories of our significant other actually changes after we've been with them for about 18-24 months. We go from the "OMG can't get enough of each other" romantic love (stored in the mid-brain or limbic system, responsible for emotional memory processing), which is intense and sexy, but a little overwhelming, to the longer-lasting pair-bonded love (stored in the frontal cortex where we think about preferences like "I love purple") — that is more manageable long term… so you can go an hour without texting/daydreaming/fantasizing about your partner, but sadly a little less hot and heavy.

So that being said, there are things already talked about [in this post]:

  • mixing up routines
  • making sure you're getting enough rest
  • taking some "me" time
  • having hobbies that are your own/for your own pleasure
  • have a good diet
  • and maybe get some exercise too

These are very helpful for run-of-the-mill lulls in your sex life.

However, sometimes people find that when they've left the aforementioned sexy-times window of early relationship bliss, they discover that, in fact, they have a different level of desire than their partner. Other times, people may be struggling with physical issues (not enough hormones/hormone imbalances, erectile difficulty, difficulty with orgasm), mental health issues (stress, anxiety, depression, body issues, etc.), or relationship issues beyond lower sex drives (dealing with affairs, trouble with communication styles or fighting styles between partners, differing expectations about what constitues "sexy"), to name a few. If your trouble is in one of these categories, please look up a certified sex therapist for a consultation — the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists is the accrediting body for Sex Therapists in the US, and they have a lot of resources for folks in North America.

We are here to help with exactly this sort of thing, and we're trained mental health professionals, so we can talk about the down-and-dirty details of sex and sexuality, as well as complicated questions of relationship issues. If you're having on-going trouble, I highly recommend seeing someone professionally, as well as doing your own trouble shooting!

SUPER-SOLID ADVICE. But what about when you totally know the cause of your sex life lull, and it's not something you can change?

What happens when work is totally being a cock-block and killing your sex drive?

  1. I've been going through something similar as well. Here's what helps me.

    1. Pamper yourself. Do whatever rituals make you feel gorgeous and sensual. For me, that means shaving, putting on some yummy scented lotion, or sometimes just taking a bubble bath.

    2. Give each other massages. Bonus points for naked massages. For me the trick here is to simply enjoy being naked around each other. If fun sexy times happen, great! If not, you have physically and emotionally reaffirmed your love for each other. Great!

    3. For me when I'm stressed and drained, I feel decidely unsexy. So I will occasionally offer to pose for my husband while he does his thing..and then it occurs to me that it is my sexiness that is turning him on, and then I want in on that.

  2. I've been going through some of this and I think there are two things that I have found help:
    1- Just do it. Honestly, sometimes I'm tired and sleep seems like a better (non)use of my (non)energy, but I'm always glad to have participated after the fact.
    2- Make it a priority. When I get home from work my first thought is "what am I going to make for dinner". But my partner and I have begun to get down to business as soon as we get home.

    • Hi! Good idea about making it a priority when we get home. I totally have the "what do we have for dinner?" as the first thought when coming in the door.

  3. I'm looking forward to hearing from other Homies on this issue. Grad school has totally killed my sex life and my husband and I are really working at trying to get it back on track. Between classes, student teaching, and volunteering, I can barely keep the apartment clean, let alone find time for myself and sex.

  4. Totally going through this right now. Throw him classes for my husband four times a week after work and our 3 year old and we are walking around like zombies! So yesterday we decided to play our favorite game. Its called 7 in 7. The rules are simple.You pick a goal, like 7 days and make a bet that you can have sex 7 times in that time space (or what ever numbers sound impressive to you). Its pretty much just making Sex your priority and it makes it fun again. There's no real way you can lose, because at the end you always feel like a sex champion!

  5. I found that if I exercised after work, it would give me that extra boost I needed to be into sex that night. Even if it was just 30 minutes walking on the treadmill listening to music. It was a physical boost and it gave me a chance to get out some of my work stress without bringing it home. Plus I always feel a little prettier after a shower and stuff anyway, sometimes I would use it as an opportunity to surprise the dude with some little sexy pajamas or something. Once the sexy pajamas are on, you are committed to doing this!

    I did not have the same results exercising before work. I would feel great at work, but I was pretty much dead by 8pm.

    • This works for my husband. Not only does the gym clear his head, but he's getting physical and thinking about himself in a positive/sexy way, and so he feels like having sex after a good gym session.

  6. If what you want is more sex, then the advice to make sex and feeling sexy a priority is probably the best advice. If what you want is more intimacy during the week, which may or may not mean sex, then you could try some no pressure physical intimacy, like snuggling for a few minutes before sleep, or setting aside 20 minutes to be together and talk before you tackle the housework. When I went back to work after 3 years of school and being the at-home parent, we felt kind of out of touch for a while. We started having a cup of coffee together immediately after work while the Kid did homework. It really made us feel closer and more in tune with each other. That's not necessarily super hot, but I notice that I feel less of the easy to fall into, low level, "why can't he pick up his fucking socks?" kind of boner killing irritation with my partner when we hang out and get on the same page each day.

  7. If your new jobs come with pay to match the seniority (and I know this might not be the case), how about putting some of that towards outsourcing some of the home chores, so that you both have more energy for more fun things? I'm thinking a cleaner, or laundry / ironing service, yard work etc.

  8. One of the best pieces of professional advice I've ever had is this: Set your boundaries and protect your non-work life. You will be more motivated to work and get the job done if you allow yourself recharge time at home.

    This might mean that you absolutely, no exceptions, do not stay late Wednesdays and Fridays (or whatever days work for you). If your work regularly has weird hours, then each week pick out different days that you and your partner will be free by 5pm. Try for at least two a week (in addition to your weekend). And those nights, no working from home either.

    Maybe have a regular eat-out date, or eat-in. Maybe when you both get home, order delivery & then fool around until the food arrives.

    But the advice to just have sex even when you're tired is valid. I often feel much better rested even though I sacrificed a little sleep for sex if we've had a little dry spell. Sex is a great stress releaser for many… and I guarantee that your new workload comes with at least a little stress.

  9. Laundry service is my new Religion. The increase in cost is there, but the time saved and the fights avoided and the keeping-the-bedroom-pretty-and-not-covered-in-laundry makes for a much better couple-y atmosphere. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. My advice with all sexytimes is to count your interactions as successes, regardless of the outcome. You sexted through your lunch hour? BOSS! You made out for fifteen minutes before you fell asleep? That's awesome! You started to do The Deed, but you were too exhausted for orgasms? You still did The Deed, so winnnnn. You gave your hips a shake on your way out the door to your incredibly busy morning? HOT! Masturbated in the shower while your partner took a nap? Cooool; you took care of your needs so your sexytimes can focus on the fun! People discount the power of positive thinking, but I promise… it helps!

    • My husband and I went to sex therapy shortly after getting married. Redefining what "sex" meant to us was a huge help in getting us to feel more sexually fulfilled in our marriage. Even just naked-times laying under the covers together, or touching & caressing eachother lovingly counts as "sex."
      Sex does NOT have to equal orgasm.

  11. Write it on the to-do list. It's on the list, you "HAVE" to do it, and since you're checking off items on your to-do list, you don't feel guilty. It also defines it as just as important as all the other tasks on your list, and still gives it a degree of spontaneity since it's not scheduled for a certain time.

    • Put it on the calendar! I had a bit of slump with my husband a couple years ago and two things really helped get us back to where we wanted to be: 1) We scheduled sex into a shared calendar that sent text alerts to both our phones, this was huge, it was a priority for us so we carved out time for it, even if we didn't end up having sex at all those times we got the alerts, were awake and spent the time together, and 2) we moved sex to the mornings, when we both had more energy. Right now we own/run two businesses and each have offsite part time jobs (for social interaction), the plate is pretty full, when things start to feel like they are getting off track we bring those text alerts back in and it really helps.

    • I get excited by to do lists and itineraries, not sexy excited but it can happen, my partner loves how excited I get by ticking things off of the list. Often my partner will add "sex" to the to do list, then sex happens twice, once so I can tick it off, and a second time because I ticked it off the list.

  12. Schedule it in. I know that sounds weird and unromantic, but we do it when we hit a lull or we're both exhausted, and it totally works. We realized that we kept waiting to have sex till we were going to bed, and by then we were already exhausted, so sexy times wouldn't happen. So whenever that starts happening, we literally schedule sex.

    "As soon as we get home from work tonight, we're going to have sex."

    It's actually really fun to look forward to, you prioritize ABOVE all those tiring/non-sexy things like cooking and cleaning, and you get it in while you still have a decent amount of energy. It works for us, anyway.

  13. Can you push some of those "household things" to the weekend instead? Let the dishes and laundry pile up a bit, it's fiiiiinne.

    Also, sexting (and if you can pull it off, sex-g-chatting, which has no snappy name that I'm aware of.) Build up tension all week long until you've finally got that time and energy to make use of it.

    • I totally agree about putting off some household things. Have a night or two a week when you do food prep and tidying up and agree that the others will be spent just enjoying each other.

      Oh, and sexting too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. 1. 6 p.m. Not after dinner, when you're full and have to do the dishes. Not before bed when you're lazy. When you get home from work, want to decompress, and have missed each other all day.

    2. Wider definition of sex. Do stuff naked. Cuddle. PIV is not a requirement.

    3. Give yourself permission for it not to be mindblowing every time. This was hard, because for the first few years my husband and I were dating we only got to spend one night a week together at most. So yeah, that night was usually ALL sex. Not realistic when you live together, and, if we're honest, not desirable either. Sometimes it's actually a relief to just go with the position that we know works for us, have 15 minutes of fun, and call it a night. Makes it easier to have times that really are special, and it makes us both more giving.

    • I totally agree with #2, my fella and I take our showers together. Sometimes it leads to sexy-time, sometimes it doesn't. But what its DOES do is remove distractions (like phones) from the equation and really force us to be intimate and converse with each other. some of our best relationship talks have come out of shower time.

    • I definitely second #3. My partner and I had a cross-country long-distance relationship for a year in the beginning, so every time we did see each other it was very romantic and ALL THE SEX. It was hard to adjust to everyday life once we moved in together, and I found myself turning down sex often because I wasn't in the mood for those long, intense, often creative sex sessions. When I realized that we were having very little sex because of this we had a talk about how it was okay to just have a quickie a lot of the time. That helped a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I have found recently that my sex drive has been pretty low (We joke that I need to stop working at the sex shop because it has turned sex into work for me, haha) But the real reason is that I work 2 jobs plus freelance and sex isn't as high a priority for me as it is for my fella. To combat this, when I have free moments in my day I shut my eyes and fantasize (or read a little erotica on my phone or tablet) nothing to get me TOO horny (that would be annoying at work) but enough to sort of plant the seed that I can sort of tease and cultivate throughout the day so by the time get home my excitement level will be a closer match to his (instead of me feeling like I need to catch up to him) it also makes the work day much more interesting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The other thing we run into is a difference in sexual taste. I am FAR kinkier than he is and for a while I wasn't getting anything out of our romps because we did everything the way liked, but made no room for my turn ons. I began to resent it a little because it just wasn't as fun for me. We talked about it and when he's comfortable he lets me bind his hands or blindfold him, nothing too extreme but enough to get me going. He has also become more comfortable around my kinky friends and while we don't "play" we have evenings where we show and tell toys and stories and I think it helps take the edge off of "kink" for him a little.

  16. My husband and I both have very demanding jobs, so we've dealt with this.

    Personally, it got better for us when we stopped equating intimacy to sex. I learned this from a friend of mine who is actually in a (nearly) sexless marriage. She and her partner are asexual people who basically do it to have kids (no, I'm not kidding). But they're the most loving, stable couple I know. So, I asked her. Her answer is that you do not need sex to be close or intimate together.

    One thing my husband and I agreed upon was to always fall asleep in physical contact together (like spooning or somethin else). We also always try to make some time each night to just talk (for us that's during workouts). I think people always feel a sense of panic when the amount of sex they're having decreases, when in reality, that can be normal. Couples vary wildly in the amount of sex they have. The American average for couples is somewhere around 3-4 times a month (last I heard). That sounds awfully low, doesn't it? But lots of people are happy with it. If you only have sex on the weekends, you're practically at or exceeding the American average.

    I think you need to start with a frank discussion. Is the decrease upsetting to you? It is upsetting to your partner? Why does it upset you? Look at the barriers that hold you back. Are those household chores equally distributed? Could they be re-distributed to make them more equal (and free up some time)? Are there chores that could be done once a week, every other day, etc.? I think a lot of people feel guilty if they prioritize sex or intimacy or pleasure over more routine things, and that's a shame, because intimacy is part of maintaining a healthy home.

    Overall, my advice would be to do an honest assessment of what's going on. A decrease in sex by itself is not a reason to worry, if it's not negatively impacting your life. If sex becomes largely a weekend affair, that's okay if both of you are fine with it! But I think the "must have more sex" goal can quickly become a burden – it can set up unrealistic goals and also sets up sex as the goal, when really, intimacy is a better, more achievable goal. I'd give myself permission to NOT have sex! For me, personally, when I stopping caring about how much "sex" (and by that I mean PIV sex) I was having, the actual relationship got better.

  17. Is there any reason sex has to be done when you get home from work? Is morning sex an option? Having the occasional nooner? Can you have sex as soon as you get home (after sexting to get yourselves in the mood) and say "Screw it" to household stuff for a night?

  18. Joint bath and shower times have been great for intimacy between me and my husband.
    1. you are both naked. naked is always good.
    1b. It is a sexy/romantic situation. It is a chance to have wet-slippy-soapy-naked times which is excellent. We always try and add something to give it a romatic/sexy edge like nice bath things, good shower gel and something nice to drink.
    2. Its a time to properly talk to each other. Not just about functional things (like 'I paid the community tax today, did you get the pets booked in for their shots) but how each others day has been, how we are feeling about things from something at work to opinions about something we read in the paper.

  19. One thing that has been helpful for my partner and I is a "no screens for an hour before bed" rule. This means no computer, phones, or TV. So whether or not it becomes sexy time, we at least spend a bit more time cuddled up on the couch reading, spooning in bed, talking, etc.

  20. Just make sure the reason you're not having sex really is because you're tired/overloaded from working all day, rather than avoiding sex for other reasons.
    I ended up in couples/sex therapy with my husband shortly after getting married. We both basically had to re-learn sex-ed in the process. Some things that really helped me get over my sex-avoidance:
    -Get really comfortable, so nothing distracts from time with my partner. I turn the heat up and get an extra blanket to keep me warm, toys & lube are within easy reach.
    -Find something to make you excited about sex when you otherwise wouldn't be thinking about sex. I have become an avid reader of romance/erotica novels, and I love shopping for new bedroom toys.
    -Talk about sex with your partner, what you like, what could make it better, how you feel when you're having sex together.
    Lastly, don't feel like you have to do everything. Feel present in the moment. So you get home from work thinking about cooking dinner, taking out the trash, doing dishes, checking your email… that can all wait. If you think you want to have sexy times with your partner, just do it and let the rest wait – it will still be there in an hour, but your desire for sex may not be.
    Be present with how you're feeling, too. If you're feeling tired, have lazy sex. If you're angry from work, use up some of that energy… you get the idea.

  21. Our problem has been that our schedules are set up where we don't see each other. I have to be out of the house before he gets up, and he's home long after I need to be in bed for work the next day. Our days off don't mesh either and are rarely two days in a row (if that were the case, we could at least get something done). Plus our schedules fluctuate constantly and aren't like a set 9-5 or any normalized type of hour set up. Thus is life I suppose, gotta work to eat and house ourselves.

    • My partner is an ER nurse on the night shift. I'm up all day with the toddler. Sometimes, I just tell him to wake me up when he gets home or, if I have a rare morning where I wake up before the little guy, I wake him up. The person doing the waking does most of the work and the other person just gets to lie back, feel great, and then drift back to sleep. Honestly, I've come to like half asleep sex because I'm lazy and selfish ๐Ÿ˜› You wake up for real hours later and it's like remembering a great dream.

  22. Sexting while at work. It is fun/ exciting and knowing that a dirty text or picture might be read accidentally when your boss could walk in…ads a danger element and feels flirtatious. I guarantee after that you'll have energy!

    Shower sex in the morning before work.

    Ignore some housekeeping…it'll be there later…

  23. My husband and I are all about the sexy banter. We were friends long before we dated and what pushed us over the edge was an increase in "friendly" sexy banter. For instance I had a job at a library in the adult services department and had to answer the phone "adult services how can I help you". I was talking in a group of mutual friends about how awkward this phrasing was and my future husband spoke up saying "[he] wanted to know all about my adult services". This type of banter has always helped bridge the gap between sexytimes.

  24. A big thing for me, too, has been recognizing that our sex drives are not constant – there's an ebb and flow to things. For example, when it's the middle of winter, NEITHER of us want to bang as much, because it's cold and dark and we're expending all available mental energy just dealing with OMG WINTER. The first year we lived together, this terrified me – we'd only been living together for six months! We were no longer interested in sex! …and then spring sprang, as it is wont to do, and we both rediscovered our sex drives, and all was well.

    So, you know, definitely think about scheduling and all that – but also think about the impact that various seasonal changes might have on your sex life. Maybe it's winter, and everything is night forever, and taking off your clothes sounds like the worst choice possible! Maybe it's the beginning of [x] season, and you are super stressed at work because of [y]! Maybe your partner has seasonal allergies, and sex is super unappealing because OMG BREATHING. Recognizing the underlying causes – and recognizing that they are temporary – can help a lot with feelings of frustration. Just because you're boinking less doesn't mean you love each other any less!

    (also, let me second everybody who mentioned JERKING IT. If Partner A is not feeling it, but Partner B needs it bad, ain't nothing wrong with a little self-love.)

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